I know what you are thinking, you don’t think you need to use a UK based manufacturing solution because you can increase your margins by importing. But, picture this for a moment; you are in a toy shop and your child wants to buy something, but it is cheaper to buy another similar item. You get home and after 5 minutes it breaks. Not only is your child now devastated, but also you have to go and buy a new one that means you have paid more than if you just got the better quality one in the first place. The saying is true, buy cheap, buy twice.
Now let’s edit this scenario a little bit; the toy in question is now a mesh deck and your child is now your customer. You now have an unhappy customer and a cost that you might have to front yourself. Not only this but the customers products might have been damaged in the process. This seems like a lot of risk for very little reward, does it not?
QTS designs and manufactures its mesh products here in the UK in our factory in Pinxton, Nottinghamshire. This means we can offer a great quality product with a great lead time. Still not convinced? See below why importing your mesh could be a mistake…
The challenges of importing from the far-east
The cost of shipping from a remote city in China where now most factories are placed, versus the cost of road transport from somewhere in the UK, will be drastically different. The biggest cost is the import tax placed on goods shipped from China. This will be an area of uncertainty with the current Brexit negotiations in place. In addition, the distance from here to the far east will obviously increase your delivery prices.
There is then the factor of time. If you are looking for a quick lead time on a project, then the far-east import option is not for you. Not only is there the time it takes to actually transport the goods to the UK but there is also all the added time with customs checks and paperwork that is required before you will receive the items. Think about the sales that you are going to miss out on every time you don’t have the ability to meet those ‘last minute’ project time requirements.
Chinese Manufacturing is known to work with far lower profit margins than their western equivalents – just ask Apple why their iPhone is manufactured over there. China can mass produce the iPhone far cheaper than any American electronics manufacturer hands down. This means they can ship massive quantities across the globe in a cost-effective manner. For those of us that don’t run a corporation like Apple, what if your requirements are for smaller quantities or one-offs? The chances are they won’t be able to accommodate your orders or you will have to pay far higher rates than any local manufacturer to get them shipped over.
I think it’s fair to say ‘Made in China’ has some negative connotations and it’s for a good reason. A particular case of this in China was when they started adding the element boron to their steel mix. The boron was found to cause the welds to crack. This would be potentially catastrophic if the deck were holding any products or if any warehouse staff were nearby.
The biggest difference is in the steel. For example, we use a steel with a rating of S280 which means that the steel has a structural yield of 280 n/mm². In the Far East, the typical rating is only at S230 and our Director has even seen them as low as S195. Any material that we import, we make sure that we either test it ourselves or send off for testing. This has paid dividend when, back in February, we tested some steel from a new potential supplier, but it came back at a much lower grade than they were claiming.
All of the wire that creates our decks comes from approved sources in Europe that are tested regularly and have a tensile strength of 700MPa. The cheap wire from the far east only tested at 510MPa. It means that if we choose to use a material with softer properties such as a cheaper wire, we would get more elasticity from our product. If we combine this with a softer support bar material such as a S230 you would see a great level of deflection in the product under load.
If you would like to know more, get in contact with one of our team.
We want to open this blog entry by recognising the hard work and dedication that Marcus Rashford has put into trying to eradicate hunger by supplying and campaigning for free school meals. His recent petition to the government to extend free school meals hit over 1 million signatures just 2 weeks after it was setup. He joins an elite group of petitions that have managed to hit over 1 million signatures online; there has only ever been 4 other petitions to reach this amount. The aim was to get Boris Johnson to make the same decision he did just before summer when he decided to extend free school meals over the summer holidays as a result of the current pandemic.
The reality is, we are entering another nation-wide lockdown that is going to hit the country just as hard as it did before, if not, worse. Whilst experts are predicting that the economic impact will not be as severe this time around, but the social impact will be just as big of a problem. The pandemic has already highlighted the class divide in the country with thousands of people struggling to feed themselves and their families which is why Rashford’s initiative is so vital.
How can we help?
We have had a few meetings here at QTS about what we are doing as a company to help locally. We are currently raising money for Rainbows. It is a fantastic charity that are raising money for children and young people. But, after hearing about everything that Rashford is doing, we have been inspired to do more. We understand that many companies are helping at the moment which is why we want to know what it is that you need so that we can truly make a difference. So, if you are a local charity or are involved in one then please get in contact with Will and let us know what we can do.
If you Cast your mind back 10 years, It is strange to think of a world where robots are running our warehouses; but fast-forward to now, this is very much a reality. Warehouse Automation is just around the corner and its possibilities are endless. However, the correct infrastructure would still need to be in place to protect the remaining workforce and your products along with helping the automation to work effectively.
What is warehouse automation and where is it heading?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is going to head up the whole process of switching to an automated warehouse. AI will offer warehouse managers the ability to stock, pick and manage the inventory of the largest warehouse with minimal human interaction. Data will continually flow through a database management system as all aspects of the warehouse will have to be in constant communication for it to work efficiently. This means, at any point, an operative could have a total stock check, for example, whenever they require.
The main benefits of automation:
- Reduced labour costs (by up to 70%)
- Reduced human error
- Seamless flow from a sale to fulfilment
- No human lives at risk
- Reduced product damage
- Higher customer satisfaction
- Remove bottlenecks from supply chain
There is, however, a large amount of scepticism around trusting robots to do the job; we all know how technology can be so how can we possibly place all our trust in it?
Well the trust will only come with using this kind of technology in practise so to put your mind at ease, here is how our systems could help manage any worry that may come with automating your warehouse.
The rackGUARDIAN™ is an anti-collapse mesh that sits behind your pallet racking system creating a safe barrier between the back of the rack and the walkway behind it. In the instance of automation, if a robot should miss judge loading or unloading a product, it will not be pushed off the back of the system. This will protect anyone walking past from falling objects and protect products from getting damaged.
The rackGUARDIAN™ behind the racking systems will also create a network of walkways (or driveways) around the warehouse. This means that it is easy to design tracks around the warehouse for the new AI robots to follow.
The automated warehouse system is not going to come cheap and will be a relatively complex programme which you would not want untrained professionals having access too. With this, our storGUARD™ would provide the perfect barrier to host any programming software behind a locked cage system. This could also provide a safe space for bots during periods of recharging or inactivity.
So don’t get left behind, check out this video inside Amazon’s automated fulfilment centre to learn more. And if you decide to take the leap, let us help you make it a safe one.
To those of us in the logistics and warehousing industries, being agile will have a slightly different meaning to those who watch too much David Attenborough. However, the premise remains the same; being able to move quickly and easily.
Why is agility important to warehouse management?
Ultimately, for any business in todays climate, you need to be competitive to remain an avid contender in the market and one way to achieve this is through fast and efficient delivery of products. Creating the shortest lead time possible is going to increase the probability of a customer choosing you over one of your competitors. There is also the benefit of organisation within an agile warehouse. When it comes to fulfilling orders, it should be easy for your operatives to locate and access the products that need to go out. A disorganised warehouse will increase the time it takes to fulfil an order and could result in late charges depending on the contract you have with the customers.
How can QTS help improve warehouse agility?
QTS has a range of products that will help keep your warehouse organised which is perfect for optimising agility but below are a few key designs you may not know about.
easySHELF™ – Central ridge:
The central ridge design has been adapted from our regular waterfall easySHELF™ system with a small ridge in the centre of it. The bonus of this is that you are then able to load and unload the bay from either side without the products pushing anything off on the other side or getting mixed up. This solution is generally better for smaller boxes as it will have to fit onto ½ the normal space we offer on the standard easySHELF™ waterfall decks.
easySHELF™ – Upturn Deck:
The upturn deck is again an adaptation of our waterfall deck but instead of a waterfall at the rear, it has an upturn. This means that if you are loading pallets on from the front, the risk of the warehouse operator pushing it on too far and the stock falling out the back. This would run the risk of having damaged stock which will in turn reduce profit margins and potentially increase lead times.
Our mesh partitions are a great addition to any of our easySHELF™ mesh decks. It is the perfect way to divide the deck into sections to split up products to improve stock organisation and thus agility. For example, in a clothing warehouse, you may use the dividers to split different sizes of stock stopping them mixing in together. This would also be complimented by using our powder coating finish to create a smoother deck. Read about our finishes here.
If you are interested in becoming an agile warehouse, then get in contact with one of our specialists today for a quote.
Much like you would not choose to wear an anorak in the Arctic, you would not leave your steel mesh decks un-coated. An un-finished mesh deck would not be up to the job. At QTS, we take pride in providing you with the best possible warehouse solution, which is why we have a range of finishes available depending on your needs.
How do I know what coating I need?
Have a look below at the 3 finishes that we offer and see what benefits they can offer you to help you make your decision.
The benefits of our standard coating: Pre-galvanised
- Pre-galv is the most cost-efficient way to have your easySHELF™ finished.
- Reduced lifetime costs. The molten zinc, which forms the basis of the finish, can form a strong bond with steel, the material which our mesh decks are produced from. This means that maintenance costs will be reduced in the long run
- The pre-galvanised finish can be easily separated with a large amount of heat applied to it; once it is back into a liquid form, then it can be used to coat another deck.
- By finishing our products in pre-galv, we are protecting the steel against damage. This means that in the long run, you will not have to spend as much money to fix or replace the decks as regularly.
What other coatings are available and why would I need them?
Benefits are as above with the addition of…
- Aesthetically pleasing. Powder coated finish provides a clean looking mesh deck which is perfect for those clean warehouses that have lots of visitors. We can also offer any colour on the RAL colour wheel to add that personalised touch.
- The coating removes sharp edges. Mainly useful for warehouses where staff are hand-picking items, the powder coat eliminates all the sharp edges creating a safe environment for your workers.
Benefits are the same as the pre-galv with the addition of…
- Extra protection. The hot dipped option is perfect if you have damp conditions or require storage outside. The additional finish can withstand moisture much better than the other two options.
If you would like to know more about any of the finishes that we offer, then get in contact with one of our professionals today.
You can also read some of our other blog here or keep in contact with us over on LinkedIn.