Rob Cockroft explains how implementing a cost-effective, flexible and established supply chain can help manufacturers maximise profits

Despite persisting uncertainty over the UK economy, manufacturers and logistics providers alike remain bullish over the future. Manufacturing companies are continuing to grow, with the UK currently the ninth biggest global producer and the industry employing around 2.7 million people. And where there is industry, there will inevitably be a requirement for a robust and flexible supply chain to allow manufacturers to deliver their products. The current macro-economic circumstances aside, one thing that is unlikely to change is an expectation for fast, efficient and costeffective transportation of goods.

Growing alongside industry
Over the last decade or so, logistics providers such as Redhead International have enjoyed growth alongside their partners in industry. To successfully meet the needs of clients in the manufacturing sector, logistics providers need to be both flexible and reliable. The capacity to swiftly scale up and down to meet customers’ exact requirements is therefore key.

Third party logistics providers have noted an increase in the demand to move for smaller batches of goods, with many manufacturers choosing to downsize consignments and take advantage of freight groupage services, a development which reflects current leaner manufacturing processes. A company compiles a variety of small-batch consignments which are delivered swiftly to a disparate customer base, helping manufacturers scale back on warehousing and storage.

Excellent standards set by companies offering such services have helped allay concerns over reliability and sharing space with competing products. Technology, too, has played its part in increasing visibility, with the evolution of capabilities such as track and trace helping to augment customer confidence.

Smaller, part-load consignments of between 35kg and 2500kg are an ideal choice for SMEs or those who only require a handful of deliveries per week, while customers who require larger, daily transportation solutions can take advantage of the full load option.

Another attraction of this system is the potential to reduce a company’s carbon footprint. A major cost to all logistics providers is fuel. Nobody wants to invest in a modern, fuel-efficient fleet only to have to trunk around empty trailers. Consolidating part-load consignments is, by nature, an eco-friendly way to manage logistics which helps maximise the profit margins of all concerned.

This multi-user approach can see manufacturers in a range of sectors, from textiles and paper to electronics delivered to customers in the required quantities, to a ‘just-in-time’ framework which fits with today’s leaner operations.

A market for the world
As the global marketplace looks set to grow, finding a logistics provider with a proven track record in exploring new markets is key. Networks to export to such as Scandinavia, North Africa, Eastern Europe, Russia and the Baltic States do exist, and manufacturers may wish to make the most of these channels.

Working with long established international logistics providers can ensure deliveries to multiple locations across many territories, enabling significant savings to be made in terms of both time and costs. Companies with customers and suppliers in a number of different countries can also benefit by eliminating the need for goods to be imported back into the UK, for them simply to be reexported back to desired locations across Europe.

Following a reverse integration with the UK land division of DB Schenker early last year, Redhead International, for example, boasts an impressive daily reach into more than 40 countries across Europe, Scandinavia and North Africa.

DB Schenker acquired a 75 per cent stake in Redhead, and as a result, the experienced Redhead management team has been able to tap into the German giant’s considerable resources – including some 21,000 land staff operating from 430 depots, 15,000 Collection and Delivery vehicles, 9000 tractor units and more than 19,000 trailers – and established routes across Europe in order to offer an enhanced service.

This partnership has delivered something of a win-win situation for customers. Redhead is able to continue doing what it does best – providing reliable, affordable and flexible services to its customers in the manufacturing sector – with the added benefit of accessing DB Schenker’s extensive resources and routes across Europe and beyond.

Regardless of current economic uncertainty, a logistics provider with the agility to meet manufacturers’ fluctuating needs – and a comprehensive and established network of routes – will be in a strong position.

Rob Cockroft is sales director of Redhead International. Redhead International was founded in 1978 and became part of the DB Schenker group in 2016. Based in Bradford, West Yorkshire, the company employs more than 350 people and handles in excess over 50,000 consignments each month from 11 UK and Ireland locations, to destinations throughout the UK, Ireland, Europe, Scandinavia and North Africa.