Maximising efficiencies in the supply chain is crucial for SMEs

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UK manufacturing has returned to growth in May after hitting a disappointing seven month low in April. However, manufacturing and engineering SMEs in the UK should still focus on maximising efficiencies in the supply chain in order to achieve sustained and strong growth in H2 of 2015.

Martin Cleary, regional director south of Rhenus Logistics UK, explains how to take advantage of third party logistics providers and freight forwarding services to maximise productivity and minimise administration headaches.

"There are three key areas where efficiencies in logistics and transport can be made: route planning, packaging and performance measures. The effective management of routes is something SMEs can struggle with due to lack of sophisticated planning technology which is not able to consider key areas such as taxes, tolls and exchange rates. We have developed a dedicated Road Tariff Calculator which uses this information to calculate the most effective route and this can result in huge savings in both time and money.

"Packaging is often overlooked but by choosing lightweight, protective and reusable packaging options, transported goods take up less volume leading to savings. Further efficiencies can be generated sharing trailer space via groupage services. By choosing a major freight forwarder, smaller manufacturers are able to take advantage of wide networks allowing more flexibility; and consolidating goods can also create further savings on warehousing and transhipment.

"SMEs that are new to exporting can find they are not always provided with the most appropriate services for their needs. Our advice is to ensure you have clarity on pricing structures and how these change with volumes and add-ons. Be sure to check what's included and always read the terms and conditions thoroughly. And finally, look at the criteria by which the 3PL judges itself. We recognise we are a people-focused industry and put customer service at the core of our operations, offering bespoke services to all – no matter how big or small the shipment. Plus, don't be afraid to ask for metrics, focus on the percentage of on-time deliveries made and number of returns to evaluate how well the service is working for you."

Rhenus Logistics UK is a global 3PL and freight forwarding specialist. Encompassing rail, road, air and sea, Rhenus Logistics has more than 75 years' experience in freight forwarding. Specialising in flexibility, Rhenus offers import and export of any weight of goods across all classifications with a proactive approach that is backed-up by a strong team of customer service representatives. Rhenus UK is celebrating a period of growth after a record 2014 which saw the business signing major contracts with a number of blue chip companies in addition to investing in infrastructure and personnel.

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