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Five reasons everything should stay the same

As we know, the logistics industry becomes more fast-paced every year. The higher customer expectations get, the harder we work. Despite the chaos peak periods can cause, when we come home after a challenging shift at a manual warehouse, we take comfort in knowing we helped to achieve something. Feeling needed makes for a rewarding job. If a machine does the hard work for you, the labour loses its lustre – right?

We understand the appeal of automation, but we also recognise the drawbacks of using robotics in your warehouse. Here are five reasons warehouses should keep running the same way they have been for decades.

A costly choice

The obvious one here is cost. Warehouse automation has a high initial cost, and with payback periods of around five years, its advantages lay mostly in long term business plans. In the short term, it could be a huge cost to the business with very little quick return on investment.


In some cases, switching to an automated warehouse could mean completely changing the layout and processes of the operation to accommodate new machinery and systems. This is likely to cause long periods of downtime or delays to the daily business, which is the last thing you need when you are investing a large sum to implement the new system.

Flexibility of man and forklift

Some operations are simply not suitable for automation. Take a timber merchant for example. In a manual warehouse, if there was a fault and the product began to fall, a human operator on a forklift or sideloader would have the ability to make a quick decision to vacate the area and revisit it to restack the material where it belongs. In an automated facility, robotics wouldn’t detect the fault and expensive machinery could be damaged as a result.

Labour changes

With new machinery and systems comes the need for new skills and expertise to implement and maintain it. The use of robotics in your warehouse may even remove the need for some of the less skilled roles, so you may end up losing employees and struggling to recruit the skilled workers required to run your automated operation. Christmas parties are no fun without the people.

Breakdowns spell disaster

In automated warehouses, system breakdowns can be very costly in terms of repair costs and the downtime they cause. On the other hand, if a forklift breaks down in a manual warehouse, other equipment in your fleet can be used while your truck is being repaired. And usually, fixing a forklift is a lot cheaper and quicker than fixing a robot.

Staying put – the ideal option?

Warehouses have operated the same way for decades – using man’s decision-making ability mixed with the strength and robustness of forklift machinery to get the job done. With a huge range of manual machinery on the market to suit the needs of all types of organisations, there is simply no need to put trust in automation to do a human’s job correctly. That is, until customer expectations reach a point that human workers are no longer able to fulfill.

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Five supply chain innovations every warehouse should use

Whether we like it or not, the logistics industry is changing. These days warehouses are expected to keep up with multiple channels and rising customer expectations. The truth is, everything a warehouse needs to conquer these challenges is available in one form or another today. But it’s the same old story as years gone by – the magic of technological innovation is dissolved in the widespread fear of change. Here are five supply chain innovations we think are worth giving in to the fear.

Electric forklift trucks

Many businesses have already warmed to electric trucks, but there are still misconceptions surrounding the machines. Recent developments on Mitsubishi forklifts means electric trucks are now actually more water resistant than diesel or LPG trucks. Offering dust and waterproof protection to the IP rating of IP54, the Mitsubishi electric forklift is specifically designed for indoor and outdoor use.

Warehouse storage systems

For many businesses, storage space is a real issue. When it comes to the peak Christmas period, some warehouses resort to temporary buildings or even overstocking their existing warehouse. By installing a warehouse storage system, some businesses have managed to increase their overall storage capacity by up to 60%. With simpler returns handling, less stress on workers, and a system that can be scaled to meet rises in demand – you are guaranteed to improve customer satisfaction.

Augmented reality

Imagine if service engineers could log in to a “digital copy” of your warehouse instead of visiting your site to rectify a problem. That possibility already exists today in the form of augmented reality. Some warehouse management systems can collect the necessary data on your operation to enable specified people to view details remotely. This means less time is wasted waiting for an engineer to turn up, and operational hiccups are solved faster.


Checking your inventory can be a time-consuming task, but not if you are assisted by drones that track and count stock. Equipped with RFID reading technology, these little UAVs will simplify your stocktake, so operators are free to continue with the daily task of material flow. Of course, we’re not forgetting that these little flying workers may also be used during last-mile delivery in the future. In addition to Amazon’s ambitious plans to have worker drones deliver goods direct from the warehouse to the customers’ front door, UPS has unveiled a plan for building delivery drones into its trucks to assist drivers at the very last mile.

Smart data

As mentioned previously, collecting data on your operation can go a long way to improving efficiency. Besides the opportunity for augmented reality, a digital copy of your warehouse can also offer you new insight into your operation. It is even possible for this data to help you detect errors before they happen in reality, giving you time to rectify the issue before it causes delays to the operation and unforeseen costs to the business.

Are we ready?

Perhaps the advantages these supply chain innovations bring to operations do outweigh the fear, but are we ready to embrace this change? Much like past developments, like email and social media, there is always a degree of reluctance before it becomes part of mainstream culture – so maybe it’s time to reap the advantages while your competitors remain on the fence.

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1-up for Jofson apprentices

Forklift apprentices Ryan Dann and Dale Moston, the Jofson equivalent of the Super Mario Bros, have received a metaphorical 1-up mushroom after completing their Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeships in Lift Truck Maintenance.

Embarking on their Jofson journey in 2014, Ryan and Dale joined as they began a three-year Lift Truck Maintenance and Repair programme in conjunction with the FLTA and F-TEC.

Jofson runs a continuous apprenticeship programme to support the industry and expand their engineering team with fresh talent. The programme includes five to six weeks of block release at the brand-new F-TEC facility in Swindon. Joined on the course by apprentices from other forklift companies, participants get the opportunity to learn while socialising with others within the industry.

The completion of their Level 3 apprenticeships marks three years of hard work finally paying off. The units the pair completed throughout their course are:

  • Health, Safety and Good Housekeeping in the Automotive Environment
  • Supporting Job roles in the Automotive Environment
  • Materials, Fabrication, Tools and Measuring Devices used in the Automotive Environment
  • Routine Lift Truck Vehicle Maintenance
  • Removing and Replacing Lift Truck Power Plant Units and Components
  • Lift Truck Power Plant, Lubrication and Cooling System Units and Components
  • Lift Truck Fuel, Ignition, Air and Exhaust System Units and Components
  • Removing and Replacing Lift Truck Electrical Units and Components
  • Removing and Replacing Lift Truck Mechanical Handling & Chassis Units and Components
  • Inspecting Lift Trucks
  • Identify and Agree Motor Vehicle Customer Service Needs

But it’s not game over yet. Over the next few years, the apprentices will remain under the tutelage of Jofson’s experienced engineering team to ensure they stay up to date with all the latest product developments.

HR manager and big boss at Jofson, Adele Moore, is proud to see the forklift apprentices progress to the next level. “It’s a pleasure to have Ryan and Dale on the team, they have come so far already by completing Level 3,” she said. “I’m pleased they rose to the challenge and completed this stage of their apprenticeships with flying colours too.”

So, congratulations to Ryan and Dale for reaching the end of World 3 it’s now time to begin negotiating the ‘real world’ level, and collect as many coins as possible along the way. Good luck, and watch out for the Goombas!