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11 Feb 2022

Q&A for IntralogisteX 2022 – James York, Springpack

Springpack
James York from Springpack

1. Could you please give me a little bit of background about you, your career path in the industry and any notable achievements? 

3 Years within the protective packaging sector, although the previous 16 years have all been based around providing solutions and improving efficiencies. 

 

2. What is your position within the company and your role and responsibilities? 

Sales and Marketing Director – I get to do all the fun stuff, no day is the same. I manage the most energetic and passionate sales and marketing teams; we work tirelessly to support our customers through innovation, improved efficiencies, and brand awareness.

 

3. Can you tell us any technical developments that you are working on at the moment, or what we can expect from your company in the foreseeable future?

Development of our digital footprint is key for Springpack, with a number ofexciting projects underway. These range from more digital marketing, through to something top secret! We are also looking at sourcing a wide range of new lines during 2022, so watch this space!

 

4. At IntraLogisteX, will you be launching anything new to the market? If ‘yes’, what is it and why is it a must-have product/service for our visitors? If ‘no’, please provide some details about a product/service that showcases your expertise in this sphere?

The key driver for us exhibiting at IntraLogisteX is to showcase some of our eco-friendly void fill solutions. One is a paper-based solution, with the other being air pillows that are 100% recycled, and 100% recyclable, meaning they are exempt from the Plastic Packaging Tax. Also on show you’ll find some our of eco-friendly paper e-tape, and all manner of general packaging products!

 

5. We’ve all discussed the pandemic and Brexit to death. What new challenges are you been helping your customers to resolve?

The switch to offering even more green packaging solutions has been on the agenda for a number of years now, and with more and more of us shopping online, now really is the time to switch. During the pandemic, ordering online has driven companies to use more and more plastic and paper-based packaging. Consumers have literally been left with packaging they either can’t recycle, or find difficult to recycle. This needs to stop, and green solutions really do need to come to the fore.

 

6. How can a warehouse stand up to the rate of innovation and changes to customer behaviour?

First of all, it’s important to understand the issue. From our perspective, we focus on reducing packaging waste, and sometimes, automation will help with this; consistent erecting of boxes is a great example of where a saving can be made, as you can guarantee each box will be identical to the last. Automation also opens upthe door to other savings, such as time, and ultimately operational efficiency.

 

7. How can technology and data be used to make the warehouse and supply chain more integrated parts of retail businesses?

Through technology, such as Warehouse Management Systems, and stock forecasting software, technology can have a big part to play in how warehouse of the future are run. Maximising space, and holding less stock can also lead to cost savings, and general efficiencies. It’s also really important that all of the tech you use talks to one another, otherwise, you could end up for some fantastic bits of kit that you really aren’t using to their full potential.

 

8. For all the excitement around automation, most logistics companies have not yet taken the plunge. What needs to change to make that happen? How do we go from circa 5% today to more? Is automation feasible for most?

The initial cost of implementing a form of automation can often be a sticking point, as well as the overall vision to see the long-term benefits (typically savings). Government subsidies could be an area to explore further here, but realistically a company will only invest if they truly believe in the product. Case studies, demonstrations etc. will all help build customer confidence, as will testimonials from their peers.

 

9. As warehousing automation evolves, there will theoretically be a decrease in demand for low-skilled workers. If this is a concern, how should it be addressed?

All areas of a businesses need to evolve, and remain competitive, and technology can aid that. Re-training, or re-deployment of staff, will mean that some of the low-skilled workforce can up-skill, and further their careers.

 

10. How is the push towards net zero raising the bar for warehouses? What are you seeing in warehouse sustainability developments that you think is particularly innovative, whether it’s a renewable technology or an overall strategy?

Any sustainability strategy should cover all departments within an organisation, but a warehouse environment may have some additional requirements. If you take Springpack as an example, we use a Warehouse Management System, which tells us what to pick, and from where. Whilst this doesn’t sound very green, it means the team travel the least distance to collect the required goods. This will then lead to savings on the charging of forklifts etc. Also within Springpack, our Deliveries fall within our warehouse operation, and by using the most environmentally friendly vehicles as our disposal, we are helping to make a positive difference.

 

11. Planning for peak season 2022 starts now. What is the next big wave in supply chaintechnology to alleviate these seasonal pressures? What are your top tips for negotiating these ultra-busy times?

Plan. Plan. And plan some more! Peak season is, generally speaking, the same time every year, yet it somehow always seems to creep up on us! Given most of us haveseen extreme pressures on supply chains and logistics over the last 2 year, due to the pandemic, we are arguably in a better place, as we’ve had to constantly evolve, and address any issues as we’ve gone along. This is all valuable learning, but as none of us have a crystal ball, it’s vital you engage with your suppliers as early as possible to guarantee your stock, ready for peak.

 

12. New technologies, growth in e-commerce and sustainability are mega-trends that will continue for some time. What new megatrends do you anticipate and what market demands do you see evolving/changing over the next five years?

The market for returns has seen some rapid growth during the pandemic, and we see this as being the next ‘big thing’. Making it easy for a consumer to return an item they have bought online enhances their customer experience, and will ultimately lead to customer loyalty. During the last year, we have launched a range of plastic-free returnable postal boxes, and they have been incredibly popular for us, and we are looking to expand the range further during 2022.

 

13. As we (fingers crossed) move into the post-pandemic era, what opportunities are there now to redesign supply chains to be smarter and more resilient? What important things have we learned as a result of how we dealt with the pandemic in terms of resilience?

Strong teamwork, integrating new technology, and running a business as efficient as possible, aren’t new. But they have been vital to businesses remaining open during the pandemic.

If we’re being honest, how many of us had used Zoom or Teams before, and what percentage of the workforce had previously considered hybrid working? Times have changed, and we now need to move with the times.

It’s really important we learn from the last 2 years, but specifically focus on what worked well, and basically doing more of that moving forward. For example, some of the team at Springpack have worked remotely, so we are now looking at updating our policy for hybrid working.

 

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