Misconceptions of the Logistics Industry

Logistics is one of the most dynamic industries in the world, whether you are a service provider or a client that uses the service. There are various categories and ways to move goods from a one man band to a multi national corporation. It is plain to see that even large providers rely on numerous suppliers to move goods and this requires co-ordination between the buyer, supplier and carrier. Buyers are concerned with their delivery, the carrier is juggling other customer’s loads from bulk consignments all over the world to ensure delivery to the end recipient.

All companies operate across multiple supply chains and how they operate can vary enormously, but the end result must be to deliver the consignment “on time every time”. The logistics industry communicates at varies levels, but it would be foolish to think that any one company can do it alone.

It is imperative to understand that the success of any logistics company is due to flexibility, collaboration and the ability to share information.

For the buyer to understand how the suppliers operate they must understand the various services that are available to them.

Same Day Dedicated Vehicle

When a client books a dedicated vehicle it is usually for urgent items that have to be delivered the same day for a particular deadline. As such that vehicle will only carry that client’s items, follow the quickest route and allow enough time to deliver to the destination on time. Sometimes this process can breakdown if the courier provided carries more than one client’s goods in a bid to reduce their costs. This can result in the items not being delivered on time. Some would say that this increases the carbon foot print, but it does ensure the client’s ability to hit their deadlines and service to their end user. Courier firms are working hard to ensure that the vehicle does not return empty by picking up a backload therefore reducing congestion in urban areas. This type of delivery does come at a cost and often client’s are surprised how much. Often we see tenders going on a cheaper overnight service that are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds and being eliminated before the process has began as they were not prepared to pay for a dedicated service to ensure the delivery.

Overnight Door to Door Deliveries

There are many multi national companies that provide a cheaper overnight door to door service for next day, 48 hour or even timed services. Most of these carriers will guarantee delivery or money back. Often client’s are not aware of what this guarantee means! If the carrier fails to deliver, the item is then pushed to the next day therefore missing the deadline which affects services to its client. Overnight packages go through a sortation system and can pass through many pairs of hand’s before it is delivered. It stands to reason that it is open to more human error and can be sorted incorrectly at a main hub that deals with thousands of packages a night. During busy periods such as Christmas, many carriers struggle to keep up with the demand which can result in hundreds of packages sitting in warehouses while they figure out how to deliver them all. I would therefore stress that the overnight service should be used for non urgent items.

International Services

When companies or individuals try to export or import goods within the EU or Worldwide they must consider individual country restrictions, paperwork and taxes and duties. It can be a minefield to work out what is required when sending or receiving any items, but in general if you follow this guide you won’t go far wrong.

  1. Provide a full company name, contact name, address with zip code and telephone number (Various countries often ring ahead to arrange a delivery time).
  2. Measure each item to provide full dimensions i.e L x W x H. (Large items can be volume depending on the carrier which will affect the price).
  3. Weight of the item as this will affect the price.
  4. Provide a full list and description of what is being sent together with their value.

Commodity codes have to be obtained outside of the EU with a value of the goods. You can obtain commodity codes from HMRC online. Each item that is sent outside the EU must be accompanied by a customs invoice.

Although larger carriers supply a more automated service they can often fail on customer services. Smaller companies provide a more personal service, i.e items are tracked on the client’s behalf and any paperwork is completed by the carrier to ensure that the items are delivered on time.  This gives many clients the flexibility to concentrate on other aspects of their job role, safe in the knowledge that the items are being tracked and paperwork completed which will help with the smooth passage through customs.

Article written by Emma Dyer

Director at Apollo Distribution Solutions

 

 

Apollo Cardiff Discuss 3D Printing in Manufacturing

3D printing in manufacturing

Arguably, 3D printing is becoming more prevalent as a participant in the logistics industry, with potentially astronomical implications on the supply chain. Clearly, 3D printing is evolving rapidly; analysts predict that over the following four years the industry will be worth more than ten billion dollars.

But to what extent could this development affect the logistics industry as a whole? With its involvement in the supply chain at the primitive stages, will we see a 3D printing in manufacturing revolution in our life time? Apollo Cardiff investigates.

How does the process work?

Charles Hull developed the technology in the 1980s to facilitate the production of basic polymer objects. Plenty of industries, from aerospace to medicine, are now heavily investing in 3D printing.

The process relies on the build-up of incredibly thin layers. A printer computes a digital blueprint of the product and then a slow procedure commences in which material is dropped according to said product design. Despite the slow pace of the print, there is very little setup time. The possible intricacy of this technique has enabled extremely precise levels of detail, unachievable in other methods of product manufacture.

How does it affect the supply chain?

As a manufacturing technique, there are clearly positive and negative aspects which must undergo analysis.

Positive impacts on the supply chain:

  • More local production is facilitated. This minimises the costs of shipping goods around the globe. Furthermore, this is clearly environmentally beneficial.
  • Local production additionally allows customers to receive their orders quickly.
  • When products do need to be transported across long distances, the 3D print process often means said products are lighter. As a result, fuel consumption is reduced, leading to fewer CO2 emissions.
  • It is also environmentally efficient to cut out the delivery and assembly of materials at the initial stage, as it can be manufactured at one specific point.
  • Keeping simply blueprints in digital storage would cut down storage space for manufacturers. This will also reduce the amount of energy needed to maintain a warehouse.
  • Material consumption is lowered due to the fact that the process only uses the materials necessary, there is no excess.
  • Highly complex and detailed structures can be produced, that which cannot be constructed by other manufacturing techniques.

There are, of course, negative implications considered here:

  • What does this mean for those employed at each stage of the supply chain that could no longer exist if this technology becomes normality? Low level assembly workers, for example, become largely redundant.
  • Retraining workers in 3D printing in manufacturing is costly and time consuming. The current design software is incredibly complicated.
  • The current 3D technology is not yet anywhere near fast enough to compete with high-speed manufacturing machinery. In addition, it is also not well versed in a great number of materials.
  • The cost of printing in three dimensions is currently costly, not making practical sense for most manufacturers. 

After assessing the above points, Amazon have recently been investing in 3D printing technology, prototyping the notion of printing products on the customer’s doorstep. The way in which this works is with the use of “mobile manufacturing hubs.” These manufacturing hubs contain 3D printing machines which enable local production literally at the location of delivery.

Amazon argue that this method enables a much faster delivery, which additionally eliminates any potential for damage in transit. Warehouse space is also reduced, benefiting the company and bearing less environmental impact. As a result of these points, customer satisfaction is increased, which is clearly financially advantageous.

So what does this mean for the future of 3D printing?

Overall, we still remain in the very primitive stages of 3D printing in manufacturing. Whereas many see its potential to change product manufacture and therefore the supply chain as a whole, there are responses which suggest we’re not quite ready for the revolution yet.

In its current position, 3D printing is often less cost effective than present technique. However, many of these processes do not allow the same level of customisation, which is becoming increasingly more desirable.

The current impact on distribution is low, but this doesn’t necessary stand for the future of manufacturing. The question remains as to how far away we are from its saturation into the industry. Some argue that we will witness its influence on the supply chain within the decade, with the breakdown of a global supply chain and the initiation of high-tech systems of localised and connected suppliers.

Perhaps the most sensible suggestion is the presence of 3D printing alongside other methods of manufacture. It has clear benefits but it seems impossible to consider a total breakdown of the supply chain, at least at this stage of development.

What do you think? Are we miles away or closer than many suspect? Drop us a comment or a tweet @ApolloCardiff and join the debate! #3Dprinting #ApolloCardiff

With thanks to the following sources:

  • Eureka Magazine
  • Cerasis
  • The Verge
  • The Logistics Business
  • The Guardian
  • Robotics Tomorrow

Employment Opportunities in Logistics

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It has been documented by The Bureau of Labour Statistics that employment in the logistics industry is, based on current progression, expected to increase 26% by 2020. Interestingly, this is a growth exceeding the average for any profession.

But why? Instrumental to this swelling is Globalisation. This isn’t a new term and we’re all very much aware of its integrative implications. However, trade walls are continuing to dismantle, many ideological borders are disappearing, custom duties are being eliminated and industry specific technology is typically marching ahead. Accumulatively, this means that the demand for logistical services of the utmost efficiency is essential for businesses of all proportions.

Scope in alternate cities and countries is vital to financial success and a fully integrated global supply chain and logistics industry facilitates this. Additionally, the processing of documents has been greatly simplified and both communication and transport options are faster than ever. Overall, this enables companies to expand their field of expertise around the world.

The opportunities are clearly present to work abroad with the skills gained from a position in logistics- positions in such roles as: customer service, transportation, operations, purchasing, strategy, warehousing etc. Furthermore, foreign language skills are invaluable when embarking on such a career that has global prospects.

Are young people unaware of the career potentials in such a fast-paced industry? Andy Kaye, reporting for Transport and Logistics Online, thinks so. Many education programmes have been established in order to provide young people with a full 360 degree understanding of the logistics industry; many of these courses lead pupils straight into guaranteed employment. Kaye notes that students aren’t shown these opportunities and miss out on “fantastic career opportunities.”

Often, career prospects evolve from idealised notions seen in the media. T&L Online note the sharp increase in popularity in such degrees as Forensic Science emerging from television series such as CSI. In reality, there are few jobs in this sector. This is true of many romanticised positions and perhaps it is in the hands of careers advisors to equip young people with the further knowledge they need to make a more informed decision as to how they will move forward on their paths to adulthood.

What skills are important in the logistics industry in order to succeed? There are a wide variety of roles, all demanding different qualities. However, there are a core few which both students claim to hold and logistic employers deem necessary. Skills such as teamwork, practicality, accuracy, attention to detail, IT confidence and problem solving are all widely sought after. Computer literacy is incredibly important and key to the progression of the distribution industry. Typically responding well to digital advancements, many believe that young people are now vital to this field.

A huge number of varied roles are available, awaiting young and enthusiastic graduates begging for a career in a lucrative industry, predicted to inflate further as we move into the next lustrum. Would you consider a career in logistics? Let us know your thoughts and join the discussion using #logisticscareers on Twitter.

With thanks to:

  • DHL
  • Brazen Life
  • Transport and Logistics Online
  • Financial Times Lexicon

Happy Birthday to us!

We’ve had a typically busy week at Apollo HQ this week, furthered by the fact that it’s our birthday week! We’re leaving our teenage years behind us today and striding into our 20th year of unrivaled customer care and courier servicing.

Two decades worth of experience means we are in the best position of experience ever to provide our customers with the optimum service, tailored to their preferences – get in touch if you want a competitive quote to plot against your current courier or storage company!

We couldn’t possibly see in our 20th without some sort of editable landmark. A huge thank you to Thorntons for their sensational iced champagne bottle!

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In addition to our birthday celebrations, we’ve continued to bridge the frequently forgotten gap between distribution and Blue Peter (stay with me here) with our Valentines Day gifts. To mark the occasion, Apollo has been playing Cupid all week, distributing a different kind of package to our most loyal clients. Several balls of ribbon and boxes of Milk Tray later we arrived at this conclusion, a conclusion which seems to have gone down very nicely.

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We’ll be making the final few deliveries today, so keep an eager eye out for us, we might just be playing Cupid in your office this afternoon ❤

Why Pick Apollo?

There’s certainly a cacophony of courier companies ready to serve your business. What makes Apollo different? How would you benefit from picking us above another?

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We vow to put you first. Customer care is the vital cog to Apollo’s fiery machine and is the reason why our customers use our services recurrently. Our customers are loyal to us because we return that sentiment. Our booking clerks are available 24/7 to book your delivery, deal with any worries you might have, give you live updates and protect your consignments.

We’ll always go above and beyond what your current courier service does for you. The size of our team means that nothing will get lost in translation meaning the safe and secure delivery of your items. There’s nothing worse than uncertainty when you trust a distribution company with your goods, which is why we make sure to provide you with real-time updates and always secure proof of delivery for you.

Most companies operate utilising a call centre system. Which is annoying. Our team operate using one number across a number of lines. We communicate fully within the team regarding each and every existing and potential client. We’ll never lose sight of what you want from us.

Make a noncommittal phone call to our Welsh office today to find out a bit more about how we can shape our bespoke services and prices around your expectations. Meanwhile, I’m going to continue crafting some Valentines treats to deliver to a lucky few next week! We hope you’ll be our Valentine <3.

A Warm Welcome from Jasper and the Rest of the Apollo Team!

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Welcome to Apollo’s brand new blog; the intention of which is to share with you the vast number of bespoke services we can provide for you. I will additionally be commenting on industry specific topics; oh, and there will almost definitely be further guest appearances from our canine pals Jasper and Lily. It’s probably unfair to leave them out.

Existing as my first post, I’ll briefly give you a tour of our business. Apollo Distribution was founded as a family run business in 1995 within Cardiff City Centre, with other branches based throughout the UK. Although we are stationed separately, we utilise their services which enables us to provide Nationwide coverage. Apollo continues to function as a family today, with the exception of one new employee (me) to the team this January (I mean, I shockingly share the same surname so you’re very welcome to pretend we’re plotted on the same family tree).

I shan’t list every service we offer, take a good look at our website for a full list of how we can help you and/or your business: http://www.apollodistributioncardiff.co.uk/

However, needless to say we offer same day, next day, and international delivery and are on call 24/7, 365 days a year- should you ever need us at 3am on Christmas morning? I don’t know what your habits are.

We are HUGELY passionate about our customer care philosophy. Despite our online booking form, customers seem to prefer to speak to us, we’re just far too charming. Our booking clerks know the industry inside out and are able to meet you with the very best service in Cardiff the UK World – let us know your budget and potential logistical nightmare and we’ll endeavour to make everything ok.

Apollo continues to take great strides forward in 2015 and we have plenty of exciting things in the pipeline. So whether you’re genuinely interested in us or genuinely interested in images/anecdotes about dogs (I really hope it’s the former), subscribe to our blog right away! Check out our social media as well (links to the right), I promise not to be disappointing- we really can offer a fantastic service, making your life much easier!