Euro-Fit Systems Ltd, suppliers of fixtures and fittings to the UK office furniture, kitchen and shop fitting industries, has introduced software from AutoLogic Systems to optimise and manage their deliveries from the Far East during the economic downturn.
The slowdown in the UK retail, manufacturing and commercial property markets has impacted every level of the supply chain, including Euro-Fit and their customers, reinforcing the need for optimum stock levels in their 55,000 sq ft warehouse in Beverley, East Yorkshire.
Mike Gomme, Sales Director of Euro-Fit comments: "With consignments from the Far East often taking up to four months to manufacturer and deliver to the UK, we have found that it has become increasingly difficult, and costly, to order large containers full of individual goods at one time from our suppliers. We have also found that our customers are moving away from holding large amounts of stock in their own warehouses and consequently we must hold sufficient stock for them, when they want it, often on next day delivery services."
Due to the change of ordering patterns from their customers, Euro-Fit now operate a ‘just in time’ stock solution – removing the need for their customers to hold large stocks of goods and allowing them to order goods when required, knowing Euro-Fit have it in their warehouse.
Instead of individual suppliers shipping full containers to the UK every few months, Euro-Fit now consolidate multiple weekly deliveries from across the Far East using the AutoLogic Systems software. They are able to manage the stock levels received from each factory and also optimise container deliveries on a more regular basis.
"In the past each supplier would receive a weekly order and one lorry would travel from each supplier to the next collecting all orders on the same day. The container of multiple items would then be shipped to the UK. We are now having to stock goods more efficiently in our warehouse to manage the ‘just in time’ solution for our customers.
"However, because of the wide variety of products from each supplier, each factory was using different pallet, container and loading specifications which caused us problems when it came to loading the containers.
"If we couldn’t fit the pallets in to the lorry, they would charge us for any repacking that had to be done which made the whole process less cost effective."
A central warehouse in China would have solved many of the problems for Euro-Fit but the costs and management involved would not make it feasible. Instead, they chose to carefully manage the pallet stacking and container loading patterns internally and subsequently searched for the best load optimisation software on the market.
After trialing five different systems from various countries and suppliers, Euro-Fit selected MaxLoad® Pro and TOPS® Pro from AutoLogic Systems.
"We found that the software from AutoLogic Systems was the easiest to use and quickest to implement out of all the options we looked at. It was extremely self explanatory which meant we didn’t have to study pages of instructions before entering our information. Manipulating the variables was also very straight forward. We were very keen to work with a UK supplier for any software support issues that may arise. Thankfully everybody we dealt with at AutoLogic was extremely knowledgeable and helpful."
"We now have the ideal solution and control the packing process from start to finish. We specify the optimum container and pallet specification from our suppliers at the time of placing the order and issue each supplier with clear instructions on how we want our weekly consignment loaded."
"We are able to test the safest loading configurations using the software and have increased our container load fill from 60% to 87%. These savings make a big difference when the cost of sea freight has almost doubled recently.
"With the logistics and successful optimisation system now in place, we can also offer our customers space within our containers for their own products from the Far East. Thus reducing their shipping costs too and further enhancing our relationship with them."
MaxLoad® Pro also offers a ‘fill’ feature which enables Euro-Fit to add extra products onto a container if there is any space remaining to get the best value out of each shipment.
Mike concludes: "We are currently looking at ways we can incorporate the software into our other programmes and it’s clear that the more we use the software the more we will benefit moving forward.
"Out of all the software investments we have made over the years, MaxLoad® Pro and TOPS® Pro are by far the most economical and effective, and we look forward to working with them more in the future."