Mini Clipper Logistics has risen from its humble beginnings as a one man and a van operation in 1971 to an 8.5 million pound company operating a fleet of 30 trucks from its headquarters in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. Founding Director Mick Masters, now retired, has handed over the running of the company to son Peter and the firm remains very much a 2nd generation family business.
The company has the capacity to store 25,000 pallets in its three main cluster sites and distributes goods for a wide range of industries, including clothing, food & drink, leisure and homeware products for independent stores and leading high street retailers. "Our customers typically have an annual logistics spend of up to £500k, not enough to be a major customer for the likes of DHL or TNT, but ideal business for us," said Jayne. "We're able to give people the individual attention they need and to allow them to have some influence in the way we work together, so their values and brand are maintained throughout the distribution process. That's very important when you're delivering directly to the customer."
As the company has developed, the family has been keen to take full advantage of the latest technology, especially in its warehousing operations which now account for around 25% of Mini Clipper's business. The company has been using a warehouse management system for several years but with the increase in business and the need to store goods across three sites it became obvious that an upgrade was necessary to provide the level of efficiency their customers demanded. Two years ago a decision was made to upgrade to the MACS warehouse management system.
"One of the main benefits of the new MACS system is that it is user friendly," said Simon Light, Mini Clipper's Warehouse Operations Manager. "With the old system the admin staff had to do a lot of the work simply because it required a high level of computer literacy to operate it, whereas now the warehouse operatives carry out most of the order processing themselves which is far simpler and more efficient."
The warehouse staff are now able to pick the items, confirm their order and produce dispatch labels directly themselves without having to wait for them to be processed by the office. In the past orders were often delayed simply because of the time it took to complete the paperwork. The MACS system then produces a Comma Separated Value file (CSV) which is automatically sent to the transport management system giving delivery information and the service level required; same-day, next-day, timed, etc. to the transport manager. Previously this had to be done manually which was slower and vulnerable to human errors.
"The benefits of the MACS system became very obvious last Christmas when we were dispatching orders for a customer in the toy industry," said Simon. The previous year we dispatched on peak around 500 orders a day, and that was a struggle, but using the MACS system this rose to a maximum of 892 without any problems and with the same number of operatives."
Reporting has also become much more streamlined with reports showing stock inventory and end-of-day manifests sent automatically by e-mail with no manual intervention from the warehouse staff. Customers are also able to log onto Mini Clipper's website at any time to view transport POD reports and other key information.
Customers who request Key Performance Indicator stats at the end of each month receive a pick success percentage which, using the MACS system, is very impressive with a typical figure of over 99.6% measured over a recent sample of 27,000 picks.
"Having the MACS system has enabled us to obtain business we would otherwise not have been able to secure," said Jayne. "The blue-chip companies we deal with demand very high standards of efficiency and reporting and without a state-of-the-art IT system a small company like ours would not even have been considered. Using the MACS system means we can compete with our global logistics competitors and still retain the levels of personal service that have been the key to our success."