Quiet please!

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On a tour of a car manufacturer’s factory in Germany recently it was perhaps not surprising just how noisy the bodyshop is, as robots meticulously cut a variety of body panels to size for the range of cars being produced. However, what was surprising was that manual staff working in the bodyshop did not appear to be wearing any form of ear protection.

So it is interesting to see that a quiet environment within its logistics centre is a must for CIBA Vision (see p18). The company distributes contact lenses and related care products to European customers from its Eurologistics centre in Germany, and automation – it has mainly been supplied by Interroll – within the centre is relatively quiet.

The company emphasises that a quiet environment is better for its manual workers, who have to concentrate on made-to-order shipments. According to CIBA Vision, a noisy environment would interfere with that concentration.

Materials handling equipment manufacturer Still has also taken the operator’s viewpoint into account with its latest offering, the MX-X Series of very narrow aisle (VNA) order picker/stackers (see p7). The modular design MX-X truck features electric damping which provides jerk-free transition from free lift to main lift, and gives the operator a quieter and more comfortable working environment.

Warehouses, distribution centres and parcels hubs are notoriously noisy places. Materials handling staff are under enough pressure as it is to get the job done quickly and efficiently. Using quieter UK fashion retailers alone are losing up to £300M in lost sales a year because inefficient stockroom management is leading to a lack of available stock, research by Tibbett & Britten Fashion & Lifestyle (T&B) reveals. This means that apart from a very few luxury items, fickle consumers will not wait for what they want if the shop does not have it when they go in.

According to the research, inefficient stockroom management also results in poor sales floor availability and higher wage bills for high street retailers.

T&B undertook the survey to mark the launch of its new service – StoreCare, which takes a one-stop stock management service right into the individual store and potentially frees up additional sales space, allowing retailers to pick the services that they want, exactly when they want to use them.

Key findings in the survey include:-

l76% of respondents cannot carry enough stock.

l86% have to recycle or dispose of cardboard transit waste.

l£23Bn is spent on staffing duties in store stockrooms.

l60% of respondents said stock files are inaccurate.

The survey also highlights the yawning gap between the experience of store management in the high street and the perception of the same issues held at retail companies head offices. Because the stores appear to make it work – burning the midnight oil to ensure the stock is checked, and meeting targets – head office does not see the problem. Furthermore it is a problem that is losing retailers £300M of potential sales every year, often negating any benefits of multimillion pound ad and PR campaigns.

Efficient logistics is a critical part of the new “Fast Fashion” retail scene, which seeks to respond immediately to customer/sales trends – providing store by store those items which are selling fastest, and avoiding the potential loss of sales and profit when stock availability is not monitored and managed properly.meeting demand, or notThe chances of local DIY stores stocking all the

products that keen DIY-ers would have required for the last Bank Holiday were very slim, according to Strategix. The company identified ten products that would have been in demand, and found that only one out of 15 leading DIY stores had all items in stock.

The study reveals that on average the stores had two thirds of the stock available immediately; five had half (or less); one had only three of the ten; and just one had all ten available.

Peter Lusty, Strategix chief executive, comments: “Given the fact that stores are aware of the holiday and that they’re sourcing merchandise from all around the world, they need to be able to plan and stock up accordingly.”

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