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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!

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AKW takes delivery of Jofson fleet

AKW Global Logistics has been a leading light in warehousing and distribution services since 1986. It prides itself on being able to offer a flexible, customer-focused range of services and has continued to grow in what is a very competitive sector.

In 2004, the AKW Group was formed to create synergies between the two companies – AKW Global Logistics and AKW Global Warehousing. Two years later, the AKW Global Warehousing division was formed, and the acquisition of another contract packing company in 2008 saw the company completing their journey to offering a one-stop solution for their customers.

Based in Manchester, the Group now works with businesses throughout the UK, offering reliable warehousing, distribution and supply chain solutions to a range of industries such as fast-moving consumer goods and food & beverage.

To keep up with the growing demand for their services, AKW required a large fleet of reliable forklift trucks at two of their busiest UK sites. Located just five minutes from the logistics company’s Bond 26 facility, Mitsubishi dealer Jofson Limited stepped in to ensure AKW could deliver on the promises to their customers.

“Our aim is to offer real value to our clients by providing a quality, customer focused and flexible service,” said AKW’s Warehouse Operations Leader, Karl Mould. “We offer a complete range of logistics solutions to businesses throughout the UK, including distribution, warehousing, transport, freight, and contract packing services.”

Twenty machines were supplied to AKW in total, including ten Mitsubishi FG35 Grendia counterbalance trucks, offering the most fuel-efficient engines in their class, plus seven fully refurbished electric Bendi trucks with a complete battery change system to allow 24/7 usage in the narrow aisle warehouses. The new long term contract will see Jofson assist AKW in handling stock as efficiently as possible.

Jofson sales manager, Jason Jordan says the new partnership required a deep understanding of the operation at AKW. “Most of the trucks supplied are fitted with double pallet handlers, and we have several more on standby ready for any eventuality,” he explained. “The entire fleet is fitted with an FTC system; including pre-shift checks, pin code access bespoke to each operator, and impact detection. The counterbalance trucks are also fitted with a blue safety light on the rear of the truck”

AKW’s Karl Mould was particularly impressed with the kit. “The machinery provided by Jofson is really good quality and fit for purpose,” said Karl. “It was also great that we could get a few different types of machines from one supplier. We have lots of customers and therefore a variety of stock, so it was important for us to work with a business with a good range of materials handling equipment and a great local service. The guys at Jofson have gone out of their way to build a relationship with us, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”

Despite working primarily as a Mitsubishi forklift dealer, Jofson also refurbishes and supplies machinery from many different brands, including Bendi and Linde, before renting or selling onto local customers.  In addition to a full range of counterbalance and articulated forklifts and a fleet of over 100 short term rental trucks, the business also supplies warehouse equipment from the Mitsubishi range. Employing over 35 field-based mobile engineers with fully-equipped service vans, Jofson delivers a professional service and a rapid breakdown response.

As the UK’s largest supplier of Mitsubishi Forklifts and three-time winner of the Mitsubishi Dealer of the Year award, Jofson has supported businesses in the Manchester and West Midlands areas since 1977. Jason Jordan continued: “We are extremely pleased to be working with such a high-profile logistics group, providing a thorough and complete materials handling service. I am confident our knowledge and precise delivery will ensure a successful partnership with AKW Group.”