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Category Archives: Freight Solutions

How to manage inventory

For any business that uses a warehouse or storage facility to maintain stock, inventory management is a crucial process that, if done well, improves the effectiveness of the supply chain. By implementing an inventory management process that works, businesses can ensure that the items they need are available when a purchase is made and materials are available for products to be manufactured. In turn, customers won’t see a significant delay to orders, the reputation of the business will remain intact and the supply chain will run as smoothly as possible.

A fully functioning inventory management process is a key part in the running of a business of any size. As such, it’s important that business owners analyse their own to ensure that it’s not lacking in any area that could cause harm to their supply chain, their business or their reputation. In this blog, we explain the core objectives of inventory management before offering advice on managing inventory and how you can improve the inventory management process.

What are the objectives of inventory management?

The primary objective of inventory management is to ensure that business processes involving inventory are operational in the most effective

way possible. It’s also important that the finances around inventory management are monitored in such a way that the optimum service is provided without overspending unnecessarily. However, other objectives to inventory management include:

  • Aligning with sales activities to avoid financial loss
  • Avoiding overstocking or understocking
  • Building a consistent structure to benefit the ordering process
  • Carrying out both short and long-term planning using relevant data
  • Centralising purchasing
  • Controlling cost of materials
  • Ensuring continuous availability of in-demand inventory
  • Meeting customer demands
  • Minimising losses from damages, deterioration, pilferage and wastage
  • Monitoring fluctuation in the value of the stock to keep prices reasonable.

A warehouse worker managing inventory by scanning item barcodes.

How do you manage your inventory?

As the previously mentioned range of objectives suggest, managing inventory incorporates a number of duties and considerations.

A typical inventory management process is as follows:

  1. Based on the service you provide, determine what goods you need. For example, if you’re a manufacturer, identify the materials you need to make products, or if you sell pre-made goods, focus on having enough stock to sell to customers.
  2. Conduct market research to understand which items are selling and which aren’t. After you’ve done this, use your findings to decide what items you need and which items may not be valuable enough to keep.
  3. Work out the quantity of items you need in your inventory, the cost of delivery for these items and the storage space they use up. Facilitate more stock and storage for items that are more in-demand, and less for items that aren’t.
  4. Calculate a minimum stock level, and when your stock reaches this level, use it as an indication that you need to replenish. You can then identify how long it usually takes for stock to drop and preempt replenishment.
  5. Order items in your warehouse based on demands, with more in-demand items at the front, allowing for quicker shipping.
  6. Use a manual or computerised system to note down specific information about all item details such as name, description, value, location in the warehouse and supplier. You can then keep track of how long it takes for the supplier to provide these items and monitor stock to know when to replenish.
  7. Apply suitable security tags to all items in your inventory as a way of guarding against thieves. For additional theft prevention measures, ensure that the warehouse is secure and only authorised people are allowed in.
  8. Use an electronic programme for scanning barcodes on each item as a way of tracking sales automatically and keeping tabs on stock more easily.

How to improve inventory management process

If you have an existing inventory management process but believe it isn’t entirely effective, you may want to consider ways to improve it. Below, we’ve outlined some factors you should look at that could benefit your inventory management process:

Data analysis –

Using real-time data can help you to understand the inventory management process from an organisational level and see whether or not it’s performing as it should be. At this point, an inventory manager can choose to alter different aspects of the inventory management process depending on their findings.

Mobile management –

Technology is frequently regarded as a crucial tool for bringing traditional processes into the 21st century and, in turn, boosting results. One way of utilising technology effectively is by using a mobile application. Through this type of technology, you can keep track of inventory, document product details, pricing, offers and promotions, and monitor real-time order status and changes to stock.

Segmentation –

By breaking down your existing inventory management process, you can analyse every part, identify what works and what doesn’t, and make changes based on these observations. Carrying out this process could mean minimising operational costs, maximising profits, removing unneeded components and boosting efficiency.

Tools –

With technology constantly evolving, inventory management is made easy with platforms, programmes and tools that automate many of the tasks that were previously conducted by human operators. Bringing one, or several, of these elements into your inventory management process could mean cutting costs, speeding up processes and allowing employees to work on other, more pressing tasks.

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The UK’s top importers pre-Brexit and future opportunities

Brexit has given rise to confusion and concern among businesses and consumers alike where importation is concerned. While the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement is available for all to read, the reality of what the deal means is yet to be fully understood by a lot of British businesses and customers. 

With many asking what the future of UK trade will look like, we’ve created a map of Britain’s traditional trade partners (based on information from the Office for National Statistics for November 2019 and November 2020) and highlighted opportunities that could be exploited despite the challenges that Brexit presents.

Top importers to the UK

So, which countries were the top importers to the UK pre-Brexit? 

 

Germany

Germany sits at the top of the table, having moved £30,875.83 million worth of goods to the UK between November 2019 to November 2020. This European Union (EU) country was one of the UK’s largest overall trading partners between January and June 2020, coming second only to the United States.

China

China was the second biggest importer between November 2019 and November 2020. In total, the East Asian country imported £22,953.33 million worth of goods during this period. China was the UK’s fifth largest trading partner in the first half of 2020.

United States

In third position, the UK’s top trading partner, the United States exported £16,056.82 million worth of goods to Britain in the twelve months from November 2019.

Netherlands

Coming in fourth place, the Netherlands sent £13,268.46 million worth of goods to the UK in this period. This EU country also ranks in fourth position when it comes to overall trading with the UK.

Norway

The UK imported £10,069.62 worth of goods from Norway, making this non-EU member European country our fifth largest importer during this timeframe. 

Future opportunities

Pre-Brexit, the UK benefited from any trade deal the EU had made with a non-EU country. When Britain left the EU on 31 January 2020, the EU had approximately 40 trade deals in place across 70 countries.

The UK has negotiated deals with 63 of these countries that will enable us to continue trading in the same way as before. 

The UK signed its first major trade deal as an independent trading nation with Japan in October 2020. The agreement is designed to benefit British businesses and citizens in a way that the EU deal did not, particularly in relation to digital and data, financial services, food and drink, and creative industries. 

The government has also announced that it would apply to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade deal with 11 Asia and Pacific countries including Australia, Canada and New Zealand. 

Separate talks are being held with the US, Australia and New Zealand to agree on new trade deals that should pave the way for closer trade relationships with these countries.

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A simple guide to importing your goods into the UK

Importing goods into the UK from other countries may seem like a complex process at first – and you may feel even further confused by how it works in the post-Brexit and COVID-19 world that we’re currently living in. However, as long as you understand the basics and follow the correct procedures that are currently in place, you should find that you’re still able to move your goods with ease. 

To get yourself up-to-date on the latest process, check out our handy guide which includes tips on how you can make importing your goods into the UK go smoothly from start to finish.

Get an EORI number

In order to import goods between England, Scotland and Wales and other countries, you’ll need to get an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number that begins with GB. To move goods between Northern Ireland and other countries, you will need a EORI that begins with XI.

You can apply for an EORI number via the government website. It takes around five to 10 minutes, and you should be given your EORI number straight away. This may take a little longer if you are applying for an EORI number beginning with XI, or if HMRC need to carry out more checks.

Decide who will make your customs declarations and transport your goods

In order to import goods, you will need to figure out how to physically transport them into the country, and you will need to fill out the relevant customs declaration documentation too. You can find the documents you need on the government website.

You can make your custom declarations and organise to transport your goods yourself. However, most businesses hire freight and logistics companies to do this on their behalf. For example, you could use a freight forwarding company, such as Freightline Carriers, to help you move your goods and assist you in making the appropriate customs declarations.

If you enlist the help of someone else to help, they can either act as a direct or indirect representative of you, but it’s important to note that they cannot act on your behalf if they do not have written instruction from you. This instruction may be required by HMRC as evidence of authorisation, so it’s vital that you have it in place.

It’s also important to note that from January 1st 2021, if you hire someone to deal with customs on your behalf, you will need to make sure that they are established in the UK. 

Find out the commodity code for your goods

When it comes to completing your import declaration documentation, you’ll need to include the commodity code for your goods. Usually a long string of numbers, a commodity code classifies your goods for import, and  determines the import VAT and rate of duty you need to pay and if you will need an import licence.

If you have enlisted the help of a company to manage your imports, they may be able to assist you in finding the commodity codes for your goods. Alternatively, you can refer to the government website to find the right code.

importing goods

Calculate your goods value

To help work out how much duty and VAT you’ll need to pay, you will need to calculate your goods value and declare this on your import documentation. There are six different methods of working out the value of your goods, all of which are explained in detail on the government’s website.

Check the tariff rates that apply to goods you import

It’s important to check the tariff rates that apply to the goods you’re importing too. The UK Global Tariff (UKGT) applies to any goods that are imported in the UK, although there are some exceptions. For example, it does not apply if the country you’re importing from has a trade agreement with the UK.

The tariff-rate quota (TRQ) may apply for certain products. If there is a TRQ in place for the products you want to import, you may be able to import a specific amount at a lower or even a zero customs duty rate, so it’s worth double checking.

At the moment, some tariffs and VAT have been removed on some products due to the coronavirus pandemic. You can find out which tariffs are subject to these relief measures online.

Check if you need a certificate or licence to import your goods

There are special rules in place for importing certain types of goods, such as animals, plants, high risk food, controlled drugs, hazard chemicals and much more. In order to import these items, you will need to check if you require a certificate or licence. If you fail to get the appropriate documentation, you may face a hefty fine, so it’s best to check first.

Get your goods through customs

At this point, if you’ve appointed someone to help you with your import declarations, they should then get your goods through customs. There are processes that can help your goods clear through customs quicker and easier if you plan on making import declarations regularly – this is known as a simplified declaration. 

Once your goods are ready to go through customs, you may need to arrange for them to be inspected before they are allowed through the UK border. You can find an inspection point on the government website. You will need to let the inspection point know when your goods are going to arrive, and you may also need to pay a fee.

Submit your import declaration and pay your fees

You will now need to submit your import declaration. You must do this within 90 days of your goods being presented to customs, and you will need to provide information such as the commodity codes in relation to the goods you’re importing, the departure point and destination, the type, amount and packaging of your goods, your transport method and costs, and any certificates or licences required.

At this stage, HMRC will also tell you how much you need to pay in terms of VAT and duty fees.

Organise for your goods to be released

You may find that your goods are held up at the border. This can happen for a number of reasons. For example, your goods may not have passed the inspection stage, you do not have the right import certificate or licence or you have not paid the right amount of VAT or duty. If there is a problem with releasing your goods, you will be given instruction on what to do next. Once this has been resolved, your goods will be released and can be forwarded on to their final destination.

To learn about the importing process in more detail, get in touch with Freightline Carriers. Our experts are on hand to help assist you with the importing process every step of the way.

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What is inventory management?

Inventory management refers to the processes a business puts in place in order to organise and control the ordering, tracking and storing of their stock. This can include everything from the ordering of raw materials or finished products and automated stock-check methods to keep this stock replenished, to the organisation of storing or warehousing this inventory. 

Well-implemented inventory management will govern the entire flow of goods, from the point a business purchases them right through to the point of sale. Ideally, this process should ensure that your business always has the right quantities of all items/products needed in the correct location and at the right time. 

However, in order to successfully utilise inventory management, it is important that you fully understand the basics. Read on to learn about the importance of procurement management, the specifics of how inventory management works in practice, and the crucial ‘four questions’ of inventory management you always need to remember.

What is procurement and inventory management?

While inventory management is an umbrella term that covers everything from ordering materials and other items of stock, to cataloging them in a business’ central logging system and physically finding a space to store them, procurement refers specifically to one part of this process. Put simply, procurement is the acquisition of the right quantity and quality of goods, stock and/or services your business needs, achieved at the best possible cost, at the correct time and place to directly benefit your business. 

The key to successfully navigating this aspect of supply chain management includes identifying the right suppliers to meet your stock needs, establishing good relationships with these suppliers and achieving the best possible price when purchasing the inventory you need from them. Keeping track of what your business currently has in stock and knowing what you need to buy and when is also key. In today’s modern marketplace, medium-to-large businesses will typically use some kind of inventory management software to help them properly organise and manage their inventory procurement needs.

a business owner checking inventory figures on a tablet

How inventory management works

No matter how large or small, all businesses should use some kind of inventory management system in place. There are two kinds of inventory systems, periodic and perpetual. Periodic inventory management systems are typically used by smaller, independent retailers and sole traders, and require little technology. Under this system, a business will only carry out a full stock take periodically and list what stock they currently have. They will then use this figure to update a balance sheet manually. These stock checks usually happen only once or twice a year, or, if the business is particularly busy during a certain season – for example, Christmas, Valentines’ Day, or the summer. If this is the case, inventory checks can be taken on an ad hoc basis, as and when the owner feels one is required. From the resulting figures, the business can work out the cost of goods sold (COGS), as well as being able to more accurately decide what needs to be ordered in order to replenish stock.

As the name suggests, perpetual inventory management systems are in operation all year round and tend to be far more sophisticated methods of stock control. Typically used by larger businesses, the inventory count is updated constantly with the help of technology. Online trackers or the electronic cash registers (ECRs), for example, use barcodes to automatically record a sale, and inventory management software will update the business’ records to show that one less of the specific item purchased is available for sale. In turn, this will alert the business owner, or a procurement team, if the business is now running low on that item and if more need to be ordered. Automatic procurement can also be set up, meaning an item can be re-ordered as soon as the number of items in stock hits a certain level. As well as making the inventory and procurement management processes much simpler, automated perpetual inventory management systems can also update the business’ revenue tracker and balance sheets automatically, meaning that keeping your books in order is also much easier.

Why is inventory management important?

Properly implemented inventory management not only allows your business to keep track of its stock and help you decide when it’s time to replenish supplies of a certain goods, it actively saves your business money and helps to ensure you can keep your customers satisfied. The processes involved in successful inventory management allow you to make strong business decisions and the right purchasing decisions. It can also ensure you receive the real-time information you need about which products sell well and which don’t. This allows you to order more of what you know to be a good seller and cut back on the items not performing well, leading to maximised profits.

Additionally, inventory management can prevent you from tying up too much money in stock, which can create cash flow problems and even solvency issues. On the other side of the coin,  not spending enough on stock can hurt your customer service if you are unable to deliver the products/services you have promised due to inadequate stock levels. Finding the perfect middleground is far easier with proper inventory management.

What are the four questions of inventory management?

When it comes to what you need to remember in order to properly implement a successful inventory management system, there are four questions you should always be asking yourself. These are especially important if you are not using inventory management software to help you automate the process. The four questions are: 

What to order?

Knowing which goods/products your stockroom/warehouse is running low on, and whether or not this product is selling well-enough to order more is vital. It’s a fine balance – buying too many could leave too much revenue tied up in stock you can’t shift, however, not having enough to satisfy customer demand can damage your business’ reputation.

When to order?

To answer this question, it’s important to take into account how many specific items you still have left in stock, how quickly they are selling and how long a new supply will take to arrive. 

How much to order?

Once again, deciding on quantities is a fine balance between satisfying customer demand and ordering too much of a certain product. Remember, not only is business money tied up in stock you can’t sell, correctly storing the items could be an additional expense. Seasonal sales could be a key factor when answering this question. 

Where is the customer / where to stock it?

This is important if you have a number of retail outlets/platforms. If the target market for a specific item is located in a specific area, ensuring the inventory is managed with this in mind is key. For example, if you run a sports equipment company with shops located all over the country, you may stock surfboards that are a high-demand product in seaside locations during the summer. With this information at hand, inventory management can prevent you from mistakenly stockpiling surfboards in stores that are not located near the sea.

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How will Brexit affect business?

As of 1 January 2021, the UK officially ended its 48 year relationship with the EU as the Brexit transition period finally came to an end. While some UK businesses may not yet have felt the impact of Brexit, others certainly have, with those that heavily rely on smooth imports and exports from the continent most affected in these early days of post-Brexit Britain. 

Naturally, firms that offer freight services and logistics business have been one of the first industries to experience the initial effects of Brexit, with the process of moving goods between all areas of Great Britain and the EU understandably now more complicated. For many businesses, there are still a number of questions to be answered. What businesses will be most affected by Brexit going forward, is the current disruption at UK ports something freight companies will need to just get used to, and which businesses are most likely to benefit from Britain’s independence from European governance? In this article, we answer all of these questions and more. 

What businesses will be affected by Brexit?

The simple answer is that all UK businesses will be affected by Brexit in one way or another, whether that’s primarily caused by the potential logistical and economic knock-on impacts brought on by the change, or things as fundamental as manpower shortages in some sectors due to a decrease in migrant workers. Although it’s too early to tell which specific businesses in the UK might be affected most, it’s certainly fair to assume that some industries will be hit harder than others. For example, any businesses that either trade internationally, or business-to-business firms that facilitate the logistical processes of imports and exports, are likely to see the greatest change and feel the largest impact. This includes a huge proportion of the UK’s economy and affects every sector from the retail and grocery industries, to fishing, farming and manufacturing.

Naturally, UK businesses that rely on suppliers or customers based in continental Europe should be braced for the biggest impact, along with the freight, haulage and logistics companies that enable them to operate and trade internationally. However, even those businesses that trade primarily with non-EU member states should prepare for a certain level of change and possible disruption, as all foreign trade to Britain is likely to be affected by the loss of access to the EU’s free trade agreements.

shipping containers with EU and British flags reflecting post-Brexit export and import restrictions

How will businesses be affected by Brexit?

Businesses will be impacted by Brexit in a variety of ways. Some of the most common effects on UK businesses will include:

  • Custom changes – with the end of free trade between Britain and members of the EU, any businesses wishing to import/export goods will now have to meet new customer rules which may be time-consuming. This includes filling out more documentation at borders, ensuring VAT is properly paid, and making sure product standards are met, particularly when trading livestock, foodstuffs and restricted goods such as alcohol and tobacco.
  • Supply-chain disruptions – with delays caused by increased customs checks at British ports and airports, disruption to major supply chains, including in the UK’s key grocery and manufacturing industries, are to be expected as the UK adapts life after Brexit. This has already been experienced in early 2021. Increased supply-chain costs caused by hard customs checks and delays at borders all have knock-on effects, but look here to stay.
  • Workforce issues – with no more freedom of movement, UK businesses that rely on high numbers of migrant workers could find it difficult to recruit the staff they need, especially at the same low costs. This is likely to impact low-skilled, labour-intensive work, including farm and factory jobs that are crucial to the UK’s economy. 
  • Regulation – as a rule, the UK largely adheres to European-standards when it comes to trading standards, workers’ rights and consumer protection. How the UK adapts to setting new post-Brexit regulation in these areas could play a huge role in how and which businesses are most affected.

What businesses will benefit from Brexit?

Although it’s impossible to say with any real certainty what businesses will benefit from Brexit in these early post-transition days, it is important to consider that a number of new opportunities for UK businesses could arise as a result of leaving the EU. From the ability to find and forge new trade deals and relationships with suppliers in other areas of the world to, in theory at least, not having to adhere to EU regulations (that some believe stifle business growth in the UK), it will be the businesses that adapt to these various changes the quickest and prepare for Britain’s new business environment most ardently that stand to not only survive but actually thrive post-Brexit. 

How Brexit could change business in Britain

When it comes to how Brexit may change business in the UK, the key areas that are likely to significantly alter all revolve around international trade. As already discussed, customs checks now have to be more thorough and time-consuming, meaning well-established supply-chains have been, and will continue to be, disrupted. While it is still early days, and businesses that rely on international trade may be able to adapt to these post-Brexit changes, many may have to consider amending their business plans and focus more on domestic trade where possible. In theory, this could give the UK’s manufacturing, farming and fishing industries a boost, for example. 

However, for those businesses where regular international trade is a fundamental part of their operations, the biggest changes Brexit is likely to cause – for the short-term at least – are longer waiting times when it comes to receiving goods from abroad, increased import/export costs, disrupted supply-chains, and more complications and barriers in terms of shipping, freight and general international logistics.

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How to pick and pack in a warehouse

Picking errors and slow picking times are among the most common warehousing inefficiencies. Such issues can slow down operations, leading to reduced productivity and increased costs. Packing issues can also cause serious problems for businesses. From using the wrong type of packaging to failing to void fill correctly, packing mistakes can lead to damaged goods and customer dissatisfaction. This can result in reputational damage and lost business. 

As warehousing experts, at Freightline Carriers, we’re well placed to help you to optimise your pick and pack processes. In this article, we explore exactly what’s involved in this vital order fulfillment activity and provide advice on how to do it as efficiently and effectively as possible.

What does pick and pack mean?

Pick and pack is an essential part of fulfilling customers’ orders and moving stock from one location to another. 

In retail, for example, when a customer makes an online order through an ecommerce website, order details are used to generate picking lists. These lists tell warehouse operatives the unique identifiers of the products required and their locations in the warehouse. Operatives travel to the item locations using the quickest routes possible. Once the items have been found, the correct quantities are picked. 

After this, the products are packed using suitable packaging materials. For example, corrugated protective sleeving may be used for glass bottles, waterproof mailing bags might be used for clothing and post storage tubes could be used for art prints and posters.

Pick and pack workers perform a critical function in the overall running of a business. They are responsible for ensuring that goods are shipped on time, that packages contain the correct items and that products are packaged in a way that prevents damage and reduces waste where possible. Their ability to be fast, accurate and judicious can have a significant impact on customers’ experiences. After all, an item being shipped on time and arriving at its destination in good condition can be the difference between repeat business and a bad review.

A warehouse operative carrying out pick and pack.

How to pick and pack

So now you understand the pick and pack process and the important role it plays in your businesses’ success, how do you ensure it’s done properly?

Outsourcing this part of your business to logistics and warehousing specialists like Freightline Carriers can be hugely beneficial. Whether you’re a manufacturing company shipping components or a retailer shipping products, by allowing an experienced warehousing logistics expert to manage what can be highly complex processes, you can ensure that your suppliers and customers will receive the best experience possible.

When it comes to picking and packing, there are a number of steps you can take to improve operational efficiency and customer satisfaction levels. Here are some of the most important:

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What is stock control?

In order for a business to run smoothly, stock control is essential – but what exactly does this mean, and why is it so important? In this article, we take a closer look at how your business could benefit from better stock control and what you need to do to gain a tighter grip on the products you sell.

What does stock control mean?

In a nutshell, stock control means having clear visibility of all the products you sell within your business so that you have enough stock for your customers to buy. It also means having full knowledge of every product type in your warehouse, the value of your stock and how much of each product you need at any given time. 

Sometimes referred to as inventory control, stock control is the process of maintaining a suitable quantity of stock to ensure that your business meets customer demand without delay, as well as keeping the costs of holding stock to a minimum.

How does stock control work?

There are many different stock control methods. The right one for your business will depend on a number of factors, such as the size of your business and how many products you sell, so it’s worth doing your research to figure out which one will work best for you.

Generally speaking, your stock control system should encompass everything, from purchasing, product turnover and tracking, to shipping, receiving products and re-ordering them. Stock control is all about management and maintenance so that you can see what products your customers are buying and where and when you need to replenish your stock. 

A warehouse operative performing stock control in a warehouse.

Why is stock control important?

As a business owner, stock control should be a priority, and there are a number of reasons why it’s so important. First and foremost, keeping tabs on your stock levels will ensure that you don’t run out of the products that your customers want to buy. If a customer is unable to purchase a certain product, you could run the risk of damaging the reputation of your business and in turn, losing the sale to another company who has the same or similar product available. 

Stock control can also significantly improve the efficiency of your business, especially behind the scenes, and you should also find that productivity among your staff improves too, freeing them up to take on other tasks. Keeping on top of your inventory in this way can also help keep your warehouse more organised, making it easier to locate specific items.

How to do stock control

How you carry out the process of stock control will most likely depend on the size of your business. For example, a small business may find that sticking to a basic system of manually keeping track of its stock levels in a stock book or using spreadsheets works best. However, as a business grows, this simplistic style of stock control system may end up becoming inefficient.

Instead, an automated stock control management system which is capable of offering real-time support and can keep track of inventory as it moves may be a better option, especially if you’re running a large business that sells a vast number of products.

When you’re looking for a suitable stock control system, you may even want to consider using a warehouse space where you can also benefit from using in-house stock control solutions. At Freightline Carriers, we offer stock control services whereby we can help ensure an efficient flow of your products or materials, controlling the transfer of items to make sure that your stock levels don’t get too low. Opting for a service like this will mean that your business will operate smoothly and prevent potential fulfillment problems.

What is lead time in stock control?

In terms of stock control management, ‘lead time’ refers to the lapse in time between when an order is placed, to replenishing that inventory, to when it is received. An easy way of working out the lead time is by calculating the supply delay plus the reordering delay.

To work out lead time, you will need to take into account the time it takes for a purchase order to be delivered by your supplier, factoring in the time it takes the supplier to first accept then process your order too. 

For example, if you run out of a particular product, you will need to reorder it from your supplier. However, if your supplier only takes reorders once a week, and you place your order three days before it will be received by the supplier, this is known as the reordering delay. You will then need to take into consideration the amount of time it will take for the order to be processed and delivered to you, also known as the supply delay. If this takes a further three days, the total lead time will be six days. 

The truth is, lead time can impact your stock levels, and the longer your lead time is, the more stock you will need. Once you have worked out your lead time, you should put measures into place to reduce this.

What is the golden rule of stock control?

In short, stock control can be the difference between making a profit or a loss. If you get it just right, it can help make your business run smoother, keep costs down and, most importantly, increase your profitability and growth.

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What to look for in a storage facility

If your business doesn’t have enough storage space for its stock, or you simply require overflow space while you are in the process of moving to a new premises or expanding, your best option is to find a storage facility to rent. From small individual storage units to entire warehouses that can be integrated into your supply chain processes, these facilities can be vital to ensure your business continues to operate smoothly. However, with so many options out there to choose from, what features should you look out for in a new storage facility?

In this article, we explore the key criteria to consider when choosing a new storage facility for your business and what you have to bear in mind. 

How safe are storage facilities?

Although it may sound obvious, security is an aspect that is often overlooked when it comes to looking for storage facilities. Remember, regardless of how good of a deal you may think you have on price, if your goods are not secure, there is no point. Before making your final decision, make sure you do some background research on the storage company in question. Check if there have been any reports against the company regarding lost or stolen goods, or whether any of their facilities are prone to break-ins. 

Once you are happy with the company’s history, it’s also a good idea to check out the actual location you will be renting yourself. Look to make sure security cameras are in place, competent and experienced security guards are used and the state of building is acceptable. If anything doesn’t look right, don’t use that facility and look for another company. While most storage facilities are safe nowadays, it’s essential you do these checks just in case. Afterall, storing your goods in a facility that is not safe could be hugely costly in the long run. 

What is the cost of storage facilities?

Once you have located a storage facility that you are satisfied can keep your goods safe, naturally the next thing you need to look out for is the cost. As a rule of thumb, when looking for a new facility, instead of looking at the overall price, you should look at the cost per square footage of the space you are looking to rent. As well as giving you the clearest idea of the size of space you are actually getting for your money, in the long term having this clear idea of size allows you to accurately predict how much expanded storage space you might need should your business grow. Without having the cost per square foot available to you, you may be limited to storage spaces that may not be compatible with what you require. 

a warehouse worker prepares a package for distribution

When it comes to cost, this will obviously depend on the location of your storage facility, how accessible it is and what additional extras you require. As a rough guide, a small 50 square foot unit will cost around £140 pcm – £2.80 per square foot. At the other end of the scale, a large commercial warehouse of 5,000 square feet could cost around 85p per square foot. The bigger the unit, the smaller the cost per square foot. However, it’s also crucial to remember that you may also be responsible for the cost of maintaining and repairing your storage space during the duration of your contract, and you may also have to factor in gas, electricity and water costs. Always make sure you read all the terms and conditions included in your rental agreement before signing a contract. 

Storage facilities with additional extras

Aside from simply keeping your goods safe, finding a storage facility that offers a range of additional services is also worth looking out for. From stock control solutions that make sure the flow of your goods leaving and entering storage is as efficient as possible, to pick and pack services that make sure your goods are dispatched with ease, warehouse and supply chain management can be so much more than just storage. 

Deals can even be put in place with your logistics providers to ensure complete synergy between the storage, packing and delivery processes of your business. This can not only make life easier and make operations run seamlessly, it can also save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Why use our warehouse storage facilities?

Here at Freightline Carriers, as well as being experts in the field of road and air freight solutions, we also offer state-of-the-art warehousing and distribution services. These services incorporate a range of processes involved in typical supply chain management – from finding suitable warehouse storage facilities to meet even the most niche requirements to sophisticated stock management techniques and pick and pack distribution services. 

Whatever your warehouse storage requirements, you can rely on Freightline Carriers to provide an experienced warehouse and distribution team to meet your every need.

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What industry is logistics part of?

Although traditionally part of the broader transport industry, logistical services now play a crucial role in today’s fast-paced and consumer-driven business environment, not only here in the UK but also across the world. 

Is logistics an industry?

In short, yes. Working alongside other industries, such as retail, pharmaceuticals, events, automotives and more, logistical services have become one of the most vital aspects of modern commerce. As such, this sector has been able to carve out a significant and lucrative area of the economy to operate within in recent years, becoming an industry in its own right.

As a dedicated logistics specialist, here at Freightline Carriers we work with a broad and diverse range of different industries and understand the logistical needs, challenges and best practices associated with each. In this article, we take a closer look at some of the largest industries we collaborate with and specifically how our logistical services work in each field and why they are so vital.

 What does logistics mean in retail?

Logistics play a huge role in the retail industry. Impacting every phase of the retail supply chain, logistical processes are needed for everything from ensuring the transportation of goods and products from warehouses and stores directly to customers takes place on time, to making sure these products are stored correctly.

With multichannel commerce platforms, increasingly demanding customers and hyper-competitive markets, the need for seamless logistical processes in the retail industry has never been greater. After all, even the slightest freight damage during transportation, delivery or storage can cost retailers not only money, but also their reputation, which can lead to a loss of business. At Freightline Carriers, our retail logistical services allow us to oversee the entire logistical process of your retail business, improving every phase of your supply chain. 

a warehouse manager discusses logistics with a colleague

 What does logistics mean in events?

When it comes to events, logistics are essential. Impacting everything from procurement and operational planning to transportation, freight carrying and disposal, logistical processes are needed throughout the entire lifecycle of an event to ensure it runs smoothly and exactly as planned. 

Whether you have stands, promotional materials, AV equipment and other gear to transport to and from a physical location or you are looking for facilities to store and house exhibits before and after an event, event logistics has a solution. At Freightline Carriers, for example, our services can be used at every stage of an event and include ensuring that shipments arrive at the destination safely and on time, complete with shipment tracking features that allow event managers to get real-time journey information from collection to delivery.

What is automotive logistics?

Success in the automotive industry is largely driven by the speed, timing and cost-effectiveness of your processes. This means that when it comes to getting the components and vehicles where they need to be, having a trusted and reliable logistics service in place is paramount. These processes are known as automotive logistics. 

From logistics solutions designed to dovetail with the ‘just-in-time’ manufacturing and delivery methods common within the industry to ensuring that your components and parts arrive at the right time and in the correct sequence, even the slightest error in automotive logistics can throw a whole operation off balance and cost an automotive company a lot of money. Luckily, specialist logistic firms, such as Freightline Carriers, offer bespoke automotive logistic services capable of transporting items from point A to B as part of a fast and seamless process, allowing business to run smoothly.

What is pharmaceutical logistics?

Pharmaceutical logistics refers to the management of the flow of medical and healthcare resources between their origin and their final destination. As well as the transportation of these items, pharmaceutical logistics also covers any specialist storage requirements and real-time monitoring technologies needed to ensure no damage occurs. 

Whether talking about moving standard medical devices, drugs and pharmaceuticals from a supplier’s warehouse to a hospital, or transporting biomaterials, such as organs ready for human transplant or hazardous bio-waste that needs to be disposed of at a specific facility, specialist pharmaceutical logistics processes need to be put in place. This is because hospitals, clinics, surgeries and other healthcare centres not only have to ensure the business aspect of their operation runs smoothly, but they also need to guarantee the safety of their patients/clients and comply with any relevant laws and regulations.

Typically, pharmaceutical logistics processes are outsourced to specialist logistics companies who will manage and oversee all aspects of the supply chain. Here at Freightline Carriers, our comprehensive healthcare and pharmaceutical logistics services use real-time monitoring technology to make sure that the process of transporting items is quick, safe, easy and cost effective.

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What is third-party logistics?

An umbrella term that covers an array of different logistical systems and procedures, third-party logistics, also commonly abbreviated to 3PL, refer to the processes involved in outsourcing an organisation’s storage and logistical services. This can relate to everything from a business’ distribution and delivery systems to warehousing, inventory management and fulfilment services. Whether a business is looking for external help when it comes to small day-to-day logistical processes, such as delivery or warehouse management, or more comprehensive and all-inclusive solutions that operate in tandem and are capable of ensuring the external management of an organisation’s entire supply chain, a third-party logistics provider can help.

But what is a third-party logistics provider, what do they actually do and can 3PL services be useful for your business? In this deep dive into third-party logistics, we answer all these questions and more. 

What is a third-party logistics provider?

To put it simply, third-party logistic providers incorporate their own specialist services into their clients’ respective supply chain processes. When doing this they take into account any specific logistics needs their client may have, as well as any industry norms. They are independent businesses that typically specialise in solutions relating to their clients’ storage, warehousing, transportation, shipping and general logistic requirements. 

Typically, to achieve this, a 3PL provider will put in place an integrated and tightly-managed strategic approach in order to independently oversee all aspects of a client’s supply chain. However, larger organisations that manage certain aspects of their own storage, transportation and fulfilment services in-house may only use a third-party logistics provider for specific needs in which very specialist knowledge and expertise is required. This could include overseas shipping services, difficult one-off liaison services between numerous carriers, shipments with potential customs issues, and storage/transportation management of hazardous, unusual or oversized products or materials.

What does a third-party logistics company do?

A third-party logistics company is simply an independent extension of their client’s organisation that is paid and brought in to consult on, devise and implement a strategy to manage the transportation and/or storage aspects of the business’ operation. 

Regardless of what specific logistical functions they are being paid to manage, a good 3PL provider will have a complete understanding of their client’s entire supply chain processes, from their shipping and delivery procedures to their inventory management systems and warehouse stock control processes. This 360-degree view allows them to improve each and every aspect of a business’ logistical operation by optimising loads, forecasting freight fluctuations, identifying new efficiencies to save money and reducing transportation costs. To achieve this, third-party logistics companies typically focus on four key areas of their client’s business. These are:

A distribution warehouse with trucks awaiting loading

Warehousing and inventory management – Most 3PL providers have the capability to implement new warehouse management systems for your business. If your business owns its own warehouse, this could involve, for example, devising a strategy that makes the inventory management more coherent and enables more efficient and cost-saving methods of loading and unloading deliveries. 

Alternatively, some 3PL providers operate out of their own warehouses. If your business has outgrown its own storage premises or you need a specialist warehouse that can safely store potentially hazardous or oversized products or materials, for example, you can make use of these third-party, off-site facilities.

Transportation services – If you are looking for a 3PL provider to help with transportation and delivery services, typically you will select a company that will use their own trucks and logistics equipment – these are known as asset-based 3PLs. Although handing over complete control of your distribution services to a third-party company can be tough at first, a good 3PL provider is likely to lower freight costs, thanks to their expertise in finding economies and ability to optimise loads. This service is usually combined with 3PL warehousing and inventory management services. 

Overseas transportation – Designed for businesses that trade and deliver goods internationally, 3PL providers that specialise in international freight forwarding can make the process of shipping in and out of the country much easier. Using their specialist experience and professional links with other internationally-based 3PLs, these services can help take the stress out of international transportation and allow your business to improve and optimise its overseas distribution network.

Industry technology services – An often overlooked service offered by many 3PL providers, industry-specific Transport Management Software (TMS) solutions can be an incredibly useful tool in collecting and utilising financial and transportation data. Using this data to improve auditing, better monitor inventory and load movements, and update accounting practices, a good third-party logistics company can help optimise a business’ entire logistics network, saving you money and improving your customers’ experience in the process.

Why use third-party logistics?

Now you know exactly what third-party logistics is and what a 3PL provider does, the question remains, why use a third-party logistics specialist? Well, to put it simply, your business can make use of third-party logistics to optimise its transport processes and storage management systems with the help of an independent industry specialist, resulting in overall cost-cutting and improved customer services. 

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