Over the last 10 years the number of delivery vans on our roads has increased by 71%, and on our already congested roads in Cornwall, this is causing major problems particularly in the height of the season.
The rise is partially due to the popularity of internet shopping, by also attributable to businesses keeping tighter controls on stock and ordering on a ‘Just in time’ basis to avoid locking up space and capital.
With many different delivery companies operating in competition, this often leads to half empty vans criss-crossing the county, causing increased congestion and pollution. The delivery industry is highly competitive with drivers often being under significant pressure to stick to tight time schedules.
Business must work smarter
At the same time, businesses are aiming to increase productivity. With unemployment at its lowest for 17 years, and declining numbers of overseas workers choosing the look for work in the UK, increasing productivity is not just a case of growing the workforce. Businesses have to work smarter to remain competitive and look for new initiatives.
Focus needs to be on making the best use of all resources to ensure that there is no duplication or wasted effort, and one area that some organisations have identified as being crucial is transportation.
Storage and transportation solutions
Recently, I was invited to visit M-Store at Victoria Business Park in Roche, just of the A30 in the heart of Cornwall. It was there I was introduced to some ideas that could help many businesses both within the County and based elsewhere but operating within Cornwall.
A recent visit to this storage facility highlighted some great initiatives to reduce unnecessary journeys whilst maximising opportunities for bulk buying.
M-Store in the heart of Cornwall, just off the A30 trunk road, is a state of the art secure storage facility with 24/7 access. The obvious uses of facilities like this are for temporary storage, but more businesses are looking at them for long term space solutions and to create a single, easily accessed depot for delivery and collection.
Consider a holiday cottage rental business which outsources laundry to a third party. These businesses are often located in coastal towns and villages which are hard to reach in the main season. The laundry company has to negotiate several locations and many different businesses to fulfil their service.
By renting units at M-Store, several holiday cottage businesses have avoided storing clean and dirty linen at their offices and facilitated easier collection and delivery by the laundry business. This is a great solution for all parties.
How about businesses who need to collate items from around the county for delivery to a location out of county? For example, samples that need to go to a central testing site.
Hubs and spokes to drive efficiency
A small accessible unit could be the answer. The unit acts as a delivery hub, from where all the samples or items can be collected and a single delivery out of county is made, thus reducing time and road miles.
Where businesses have multiple sites, it often makes sense to have a central store for items such as tools, equipment or supplies. This avoids duplicating resources or blocking up space that could be used more productively.
Businesses are now choosing to rent secure space that can be accessed at all times to make maximum use of premises and reduce time spent travelling between locations. It also facilitates bulk buying which can offer economies of scale.
With the advent of GDPR next year, many businesses are considering how to ensure they are storing paperwork securely whilst allowing easy retrieval. A storage unit will free up space and ensure records are stored securely and in good condition.
Businesses relying on on-line sales could find that a storage unit offers a more flexible way of working. Orders can be packaged up and left in the storage unit for collection thus avoiding having to take them to a depot or post office, or wait around for collection.
Creating hubs and spokes could reduce the delivery traffic on our roads and make them more efficient. It could also lead to a reduction in reliance on diesel powered vehicles, with the potential for electric vehicles and the resulting improvement in air quality.
Being more productive doesn’t necessarily mean producing more stuff, it is making better use of what you have, and that might be space or time. Working more creatively can help provide solutions, and utilising space off site could support this.