As the government prepares to lift some of the lockdown measures within the UK, it’s clear that life and work will not go back to the way they once were. Alexander Baal, director of sales operations at Jungheinrich UK, explains how flexibility can support businesses in managing peaks and troughs now and in the future.
Flexibility and cost management
Businesses have been seeking ways to respond to the challenges of a 24×7 marketplace for some time, brought about by rising customer expectations. Rental, along with used forklift trucks, is now seen as a compelling solution for businesses and many are rethinking the way rental can be used to their strategic advantage – providing both short term cover to manage volatility and supplementing fleets for a longer term to cover base and core requirements.
The short term rental advantage is that with added flexibility, cost control is maintained. With economic pressure on every business, managers are continually evaluating costs. So while many may be scaling down operations at the moment, the benefit of rental means that they can easily ramp up production again immediately after the lockdown period or once they choose to.
Moreover, those businesses that are maintaining production during the Covid-19 crisis – or in many cases trying to scale quickly to meet demand such as those within third party logistics – rental trucks can be a rapid solution to supplementing their core fleets during peak periods. For lots of businesses, a core fleet is still essential with long term planning and visibility, but by adding to the fleet with rental trucks they also have the flexibility to quickly adapt to situations such as the one we are in right now.
Organisations are operating in an increasingly commoditised environment. Consumers and businesses expect an ‘as a service’ model without any long-term commitment, from renting cars for an hour via an app to the transition towards on demand cloud software. The shift in customer demands is prompting new thinking across manufacturing, distribution and logistics.
One of the key innovations within the warehouse and logistics market is a rental model predicated on truck usage. Instead of a fixed term agreement, this comes down to a ‘pay per use’ model based on telematics data. So, for a business that may have significantly scaled back operations, they can maintain the trucks on site with a standby fee at a fraction of what they would normally pay. Once they decide to start production again they have instant availability of their materials handling equipment. No need to wait for any supplier lead times or to take delivery costs. Effectively, they can pause operations when needed and immediately start again when they need to – an output-driven solution that they only pay for when they use it.
Investment decisions are more business critical than ever before. Businesses are looking for ways to adapt to and thrive against changing market conditions, but without long term commitment and risk. Flexibility is, therefore, essential to build into the business model and for warehouse managers to prepare for all eventualities by addressing short and long term requirements. As such, businesses must partner with a supplier that can support them during and after these challenging times as they seek to remain competitive and futureproof their operations. Those that think operations will return to the normal they once knew will be sadly mistaken. Now is the time to reevaluate their processes and adapt to the new normal, or risk failing.