From manufacturer to consumer, almost every package despatched today has encountered Caljan somewhere along it’s journey. For more than half a century, Caljan has helped parcel carriers, retailers and manufacturers around the world handle loose-loaded cargo efficiently.

Derek Wright
Managing Director at Caljan Limited

Caljan is a global company, owned by Investment AB Latour.

Derek Wright, Managing Director at Caljan Limited spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.

What products or services does your company offer?

The short answer is automated solutions that improve a logistics process.

Often, the issue in focus is the result of a problem, rather than the cause. Observing the process, and talking with the people involved, helps us understand how the issue or bottleneck arises. We then design an automated solution, pulling appropriate elements together. Discovering the need behind the need is key to engineering a solution that is able to handle future requirements too.

Which industries do your customers operate in?

Caljan has customers in numerous industries, typically centred around ecommerce, postal and distribution. We support customers handling FMCG at many stages of their supply chain, from suppliers through to consumers.

Has your company celebrated any milestones this year?

This year has been magnificent for Caljan. Both at national and group level, we celebrate our largest growth ever, with record turnover in all areas of the business. From a manufacturing perspective, the group has produced the highest volume ever, setting new records in Denmark, Germany and Latvia. A manufacturing plant was opened in USA earlier this year too.

UK customers have totally bought into our ability to provide automatic labelling and document handling solutions. In 2021 we have successfully delivered a large number of these projects to the world’s most popular e-commerce company.

Another significant milestone is the move to the new national HQ, which will be completed in December.

Do you have any examples of a project you have recently completed?

We’ve continually pushed the bar this year. One project we are particularly pleased with is successfully delivering automated SLAM labelling solutions to 27 different UK sites. Replacing manual handling with a fully-automated process, this customer increased throughput by 30%.

Another customer asked us to help them by engineering a solution that could handle consumer documentation automatically. The system we installed inserts documents automatically in packages moving along a line before printing and applying the carrier-specific address label. Automating this part of the despatch process is becoming increasingly popular.

Another notable project was integrating Rapiscan X-ray screening and air cargo handling equipment for an international parcel carrier.

We also brought to market, a new sortation chute. We developed and manufactured this ourselves, integrating it with a Regal & Intralox sortation system.

How did your company react to the Covid-19 outbreak and consequent lockdowns?

For us it was pretty much business as usual. Our service team, classed as essential workers, were amazing. They were willing to put themselves on the line to keep the industry flowing.

Covid-19 actually encouraged development. In a world that was changing day by day, I have been impressed to see that everyone at Caljan stepped up to the challenge, demonstrating agility and 100% focus on safety and customer delivery.

Over a year on from the start of Covid-19, what lessons has the company and the industry learned from the pandemic?

A reactive and agile approach is very much part of our DNA, so we’ve coped well with Covid-19. We’ve managed to maintain the mental changes. Employees have a strong trust in the business, knowing we will make the right decisions to keep them safe. We’ve actually become more nimble.

Do you think some of the trends that began or were accelerated during Covid-19, such as the increase in e-commerce, will become permanent?

For sure. Covid-19 has switched the dynamics of shopping. For example, the social aspects of click and collect – with the convenience of shopping online and the social element of visiting the store — have typically appealed to older generations. Covid has taught us the importance of social relations, in particular family time.

So we can’t talk about a digital generation anymore, all age groups have transitioned to online shopping. It has become the new standard.

The environment was in focus during Covid too, as restrictions prohibited travel. This may have promoted a shift towards more sustainable solutions. Retailers and their logistics partners are starting to explore more efficient transport solutions and different methods of packaging. Networks are becoming more dense, with larger volumes of hubs and mini-hubs, to facilitate cross-docking and reduce trailer traffic.

What products or services will you be introducing in the next year?

Caljan will extend our manufacturing offering outside of our traditional products. In addition to our range of straight, curve and boom conveyors we will develop and produce components used in automation. A good example of this is the chute that we use in solutions requiring sortation. In this instance, we can increase parcel-fill rate and accuracy of sortation into the chute.

By increasing our scope, we will be able to manage quality, working closer with the customer to design a component that is bespoke to their need.

What training do you provide for your staff?

We have always trained staff to meet industry requirements. From next year onwards, we will elevate our program, starting with the inauguration of The Caljan UK Training Academy. Investing in our people isn’t just about expanding their skill-set so they can do their day jobs better, we want to provide personal development too.

What is the company’s commitment to social responsibility?

For Caljan, social responsibility, environment and governance go hand in hand. We are conscious of our obligation to future generations, focusing on UN SDG 8, 12 and 13 — which encompass energy consumption, CO2 emissions and other environmental aspects as well as workplace safety, gender ratio and work ethics.

The footprint of an automated solution is very small compared to the carbon footprint of the entire build. So from the development and design phases through to service, we strive to be open-minded and aware of opportunities.

What improvements have you made to your customer service recently?

We are known for providing reliable quality products and being an agile, reactive business. Far from being complacent, we are keen to continue improving. We take a philosophical approach to every customer enquiry whether it relates to a solution or a service. We study the journey. We talk to the people involved, reconciling the assumptions with what is actually happening.

Customers tell us we are hands-on and exceptionally flexible.

Are you helping customers boost the level of automation in their business?

Absolutely. Finding the RIGHT level of automation is crucial to success. It has to be a targeted partnership between the customer and Caljan. We must learn about the customer’s process then educate them about the possibilities, and the consequences.

Some customers feel that automation is the answer, without being clear about precisely what the problem is. Our job is to analyse the enormous amount of data available and turn it into valuable insights. We can then develop a solution that matches the business today, and agile enough to change with demand — meeting the needs of the future.

Do you help customers maximise the use of their existing warehouse space?

A frequent question is ‘How do we get more from the same space?’ Often a mezzanine or a picking tower helps utilize MORE of the space available. We enable customers to ‘sweat their assets’, so their business can grow gradually, evolving over a number of years.

We also look into reconfiguring existing systems, adding performance upgrades so customers can handle higher volumes within the same footprint.

Will you be investing in your premises over the next 12 months?

Towards the end of 2021, multiple outposts will be combined with a new national HQ. Located in central Milton Keynes, we will have double the space we have today. In addition to light, airy office space, the new facility will include an assembly area and a Training Academy.

Will you be exhibiting at any major trade shows in 2022?

Many customers are keen to see the new facility, so our focus will be on Open house activities.

What industries do you believe offer your business the most potential over the next year?

We are not limited to specific industries. Any item delivered to your door, can touch a piece of Caljan technology.

How would you sum up your company in three words?

Agile. Flexible. People-focused.


01908 648900


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