How Much Would It Cost To Drive the British Coastline in An Electric Van?

Electric van being charged

If you’ve seen the news recently, you may have seen that a man called Nick Butter has successfully completed a challenge like no other: running the length of Britain’s coastline.

That’s right, Nick completed this epic, extraordinary journey after 128 days on Sunday 22nd August 2021. In doing so, the ultramarathon man clocked a whopping 5,255 miles, covered more than 12,000,000 steps, spent more than 1,400 hours running, and burnt out 14 pairs of trainers – a rather impressive feat to say the least!

That got us thinking. The transport industry is up against it when it comes to emissions, and with Boris Johnson having announced his decision to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, everyone is having to start looking at more environmentally friendly alternatives – for example, the humble electric vehicle.

So, inspired by this challenge, van leasing company Van Ninja have delved into how long Nick Butter’s amazing record would take if you were to do it an electric van, rather than on foot like he managed to do!

 

The route

If you were to follow the exact same route as Nick, you’d begin your rather exquisite adventure on the coast of Cornwall at the world-renowned Eden Project, before navigating your way up the coast towards Hampshire, and on towards Kent.

Now starts the extensive journey north, as you travel up the East coast, passing through the likes of Norfolk, Yorkshire, and Northumberland, before crossing the border into Scotland and weaving your way up towards the capital. Then, you get onto the now-famous North Coast 500 (the UK’s best road trip).

Then begins the long descent south, back down towards Dunbarton, Dumfries, Cumbria, Cheshire, and through into Wales. After you navigate your way through the stunning Welsh countryside, you prepare to complete the penultimate stage of your journey, departing Monmouthshire and ticking off Gloucester, Somerset, Devon, and then of course, you’re back in Cornwall.

 

The time

According to Volkswagen, the e-Transporter’s battery can be charged from empty to full in five hours 30 minutes, offering a range of 82 miles.

With this in mind, during the course of the 5,255-mile expedition, you’ll need to stop on 65 occasions. This is based on access to a 7kWh vehicle charging point, which is the standard device in homes around the country and often available at the likes of hotels, pubs, and other hospitality venues.

So, the number you’ve all been waiting for – in order to do a full swoop of Britain’s coastline in an electric van, it would take you 357.5 hours in charging times and 51 hours of driving (if we were able to travel at an average speed of 50mph). If you incorporate the government and RAC suggestions of taking a break for 15 minutes following on from two hours of driving, this will add an additional six and a half hours onto your total journey time.

So, there you have it – to drive the entirety of the British coastline in an electric van, you’d need to set aside 17 and a half days!

But, what about the cost? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that despite taking the same amount of time as a cruise around the Mediterranean, it’ll only set you back 2-3p per mile – meaning you could do this trip for between £50 and £75 in comparison to £745 in a diesel alternative.

 

So, now we’ve crunched the numbers, all that’s left is for you to do is plan your journey and hit the road – and identify where the charging points are in the Highlands!

The Great Digital Overhaul(age)

Blaack HGV with green tech bianry code on it

Digitalisation has transformed every sector in recent years. The implementation of technologies like artificial intelligence and automation have streamlined processes, improved data accuracy, and allowed businesses in every industry to become more efficient.

One sector that has been slow in its adoption of technology is logistics and haulage. In a pre-pandemic PwC survey, only 28% of transport and logistics providers rated themselves as digitally advanced.

However, digitisation is picking up in the sector. In its whitepaper, Using Digital to Drive Your Transport Business Forward, Mandata found that digital adoption is a priority for two-thirds of hauliers in 2021.

Here, we discuss how digital technologies are transforming the logistics sector in 2021 and beyond.

Back-office digitisation increases productivity

When we think of innovative technologies, we might focus on virtual assistants and robotics, but sometimes the best digital solutions are the less glamorous ones. For many years, hauliers and logistics firms relied on manual or paper-based processes to manage planning, jobs, and invoices.

Gone are the days of using spreadsheets, or even easily misplaced sheets of paper, to carry out your operations. Now, transport management software allows you to manage your processes, from order right through to invoice, in one fully integrated system. Not only does this allow you to be more time-efficient, because it eliminates duplicate data entry, but it also offers real-time visibility on reporting or job status updates for key stakeholders like customers and colleagues.

 

Route planning software makes journeys more efficient

In days gone by, your drivers’ deliveries could be impacted by a poor route choice or unexpected traffic. One late delivery can have a knock-on effect on the rest of the day’s deliveries, which can impact profit made on each job, your customer satisfaction, and potentially your customer retention rate.

Route inefficiencies can also cost your business a lot of money – and in a sector with already razor-thin margins, this is the last thing you need.

With real-time status updates and ETAs available, your transport planners will be able to see if there’s anything holding up your drivers and, if necessary, divert them. A live arrivals board will allow you to easily spot any journeys encountering issues and view delivery countdowns.

 

Mobile apps for drivers improve accuracy

Drivers are also benefitting from the technological innovations driving change in the sector. In recent times, many planners would send their drivers a list of jobs via WhatsApp, SMS or even phone calls, which was difficult to track and follow. Prior to that, many relied on paper sheets handed to them at the start of the workday. Paper proof of deliveries also presented a lot of issues for drivers.

Mobile apps for drivers are making their day-to-day tasks easier, allowing them to carry out essential parts of their work in one place and paper-free. They can access their jobs for the day within the app and update them when they’re complete.

One of the most powerful tools for hauliers in these apps is electronic proof of delivery (ePOD). Paper-based PODs were the standard until recent years, but they were prone to being misplaced, lost, or even illegible. Electronic PODs allow drivers to easily capture confirmation of their delivery, whether that’s via a photo or a digital signature. The ePOD will automatically match back to the correct job and when the jobs are ready to be invoiced, the ePODs will automatically be attached. This results in less duplication of work while also providing the ability to complete invoicing in a few clicks, cutting down on hours of manual work.

Many sectors have reaped the benefits of digital innovation, but until recently, haulage and logistics companies have been left behind. We know the industry struggled with the impact of COVID-19, with 73% of hauliers reporting that their cash flow significantly reduced in the first UK lockdown. However, we’ve also seen priorities change as a result of these extraordinary circumstances, as many hauliers are choosing to focus on digital adoption this year.

Consumers Should Be Warned of Buy Now, Pay Later

Buy Now Pay Later

The Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) industry has quadrupled in size in the last year in the UK and the market is said to be worth around £2.7 billion.

From kitchens, clothing and home gym equipment, the ability to purchase something online immediately and pay later is a very appealing premise.

Whether it is the likes of Klarna, ClearPay, LayBuy or AfterPay, the customer can purchase the goods today, but make repayments over 12 months for the item, sometimes interest-free if repaid on-time or rates of 39.9% APR if repayment is overdue.

But a recent report from FT Partners has highlighted the potential dangers of Buy Now, Pay Later – and those struggling to pay are facing huge debts to overcome.

Although used by an estimated 14 million Brits in a consumer-driven lockdown period, 39% of customers used BNPL without realising and 42% did not know what they were signing up for, the studies show.

This becomes an issue when customers cannot make repayments – and whilst it can be interest-free if paid on-time, the late fees start to add up if payment is not made, much like a credit card.

The interest rate of 39.9% APR is on par with the more bad credit financial products out there and is deemed very high, especially when credit cards are around 18% and personal loans start from just 3%.

Labour MP Stella Creasy, who is often very outspoken on the subject of high cost loans, has said that the BNPL is a ‘financial scandal waiting to happen.”

Dan Kettle of finance provider Pheabs commented: “Buy Now Pay Later is a very attractive proposition. Even if you have the money to put a new bed or set of dumbbells, who wouldn’t prefer to pay back at a later date?”

“Ironically, most people buying goods online will have a credit card anyway which is free to use if you pay off on-time, so they are pretty much getting a 30-day payment holiday either way. But with good marketing and the human desire to pay for things later, it is an industry that has exploded in recent years, probably thanks to lockdown as well.”

“But people do need to be careful with Buy Now Pay Later, because the late fees are very high if you cannot afford them, pretty much on par with an unauthorised overdraft or a high cost loan, even if their products yield very high APRs on the surface.”

“This is yet another industry which has grown faster than the regulators can keep up – and no doubt we will see some stricter checks or regulation from the FCA to follow in the coming years.”

Why Staff Retention is the Key to Success in Haulage and Logistics

HGV driving down a road during sunset

The coronavirus pandemic has had an unparalleled impact on businesses across all sectors, but it has had a particularly huge and varied impact on the haulage and logistics sector.

Some businesses, like those who worked in B2C retail and refrigerated food, were able to thrive in the face of increasing demands, using freight exchange platforms to win extra work. Others, particularly those supplying to sectors at a standstill like hospitality and construction, suffered and struggled to keep their wheels turning. All sizes of business have been affected, from owner-driver limited companies to large freight organisations, but smaller companies have particularly felt the pinch.

The pandemic has shown how critical the sector is to the UK; without it, many would have been left without essential supplies. But the green shoots of recovery are starting to show and we’re in the process of leaving lockdown. This means the sector can begin to resolve the next challenge to its operations: the skills and employee gap.

 

The pressing skills gap in the sector

According to the CILT, 54% of logistics companies will see “severe” skills and worker shortages by 2024, particularly in back-office, warehousing, and driving roles. This is driven by a number of factors, including an ageing workforce and around 80,000 EU nationals leaving the workforce in 2020.

The industry’s ageing workforce is one of the most pressing in the UK, with an average age of 57 amongst drivers. A huge 81.1% of transport managers are over the age of 45, with a third over 55. This means a significant proportion of the workforce will reach retirement age within ten years, deepening the employee gap in the sector.

For owner drivers, losing even a small number of key staff members can have a huge impact. The good news is that now is the perfect time to get your ducks in a row and put a plan in place to set your haulage business up for future success.

 

What is the solution?

There are a number of ways that the haulage sector can avoid an employee shortage in the future. Attracting new employees to your business to replace those who are retiring is essential, but it shouldn’t be the only weapon in your arsenal.

One of the best ways you can fill a skills gap in particular is by retaining your existing employees. Not only are your existing employees already experts on your business, it’s a great way to keep them satisfied. And with the average cost of hiring a new employee sitting at £3,000, it’s a cost-effective way to fill your skills gaps.

Here, we cover why retaining your current staff is essential to filling your skills gap and how you can achieve this.

 

Offer internal moves and promotions

With much of your employee base set to retire within a decade, you’ll lose a lot of skills and knowledge about your company and processes. By retaining your existing staff members while adding new recruits, you’ll be able to keep these existing skills. This means when it comes to filling essential skills gaps, you can tap into their knowledge so newer employees can transition smoothly into these existing roles when staff begin to retire. As they’re existing employees, they won’t require as much training as new employees.

This is also a great way to increase your employee satisfaction and retention. LinkedIn’s 2021 Workforce Learning Report shows that employees with progression options stay at their businesses twice as long. This is also being recognised by HR professionals, with 51% saying internal mobility is more important now than before the pandemic.

 

Address on your staff culture

Because many of your people work separately, with drivers often completely isolated, company culture is critical. This gives your employees a sense of belonging and allows them to feel connected not only to their colleagues but to their business.

A good company culture is essential to keeping staff turnover low. It’s one of the most important factors for employees, with 57% of UK workers considering it more important than their salary. What’s more, 27% of employees will leave a business due to a poor company culture. In the logistics sector, communication is key to ensure your employees, from those in the warehouse to drivers on the road, feel connected. In a similar vein, upper management should lead from the front and work to create an environment where workers feel comfortable raising issues.

 

Improve your technology

Many employees find that the technology offered by their employers is old, restrictive, and negatively impacts their ability to carry out their jobs efficiently and effectively. This in turn causes a lot of stress and frustration, which negatively impacts employee satisfaction. Employees in the sector are finding that many processes are duplicated and key information can get lost.

Dell and EMOTIV carried out studies on work subjects to determine how much bad tech affects employees, and the results were stark. Stress levels doubled when users encountered issues, and productivity dropped by 30%. Not only will offering modern, working technologies improve your employees’ stress levels, enhance their satisfaction, and increase their productivity, but they can also help your business in other ways.

From back-office systems that eliminate duplicate data entry to online freight exchange platforms which can help you win more work, implementing the right tech can be the difference between a productive and profitable business and one that is falling behind the competition.

With an existing shortage of 76,000 workers and a large proportion of workers creeping closer to retirement age, haulage businesses must address this as a priority to prevent any effect on their operations. Hiring new employees is a no-brainer, but this is a costly exercise both in terms of hiring and training. Tapping into your existing pool of employees allows you to fill your most pressing gaps with people who are familiar with your business and its processes. By implementing these three tips, you’ll improve your staff retention and prepare your business for the future.

Beware the Hidden Costs of Mispicks

Business Mistakes

Do you really know how much mispicks cost your business? And do you, or should you, care? By Nick Hughes, Sales Manager at Invar Integration

 

Sending a customer a replacement item may sound a relatively small price to pay when pick accuracy is up on 97% or so. But over the year, those costs can add up to a significant financial impact. Much more importantly, several other potentially damaging factors come into play with every mispick and those hidden costs can be far more harmful to the business.

Firstly, looking to the more obvious direct costs. A global survey of some 250 supply chain managers, undertaken some years ago by Intermec, put the average figure of a mispick at around £16, adding up to £282,000 annually for the average business. Most organisations believe they have good or excellent pick accuracy, but good or excellent can be pretty subjective. Even with 98% accuracy that still means two orders in every 100 are incorrect, and with every 1000 orders there are 20 unhappy customers. As order volumes climb, the issues escalate.

Each error costs the business in terms of customer care personnel time, return postal costs, warehouse staff time in checking and processing returned items, materials used in repacking the goods, time taken placing the item back into stock, and then, of course, all the costs associated with generating and processing a new order for the correct item and delivering it to a somewhat disgruntled customer. And if the mispicked item isn’t returned, or is unable to be resold as new, you’ve got the costs of that too.

What’s more, it’s worth noting that the £16 figure mentioned in the survey is just the average. High value items, or those despatched overseas, may involve costs exceeding £70. However, all these costs may well be dwarfed by the potential impact of mispicks on future sales.

What are the costs associated with an unhappy customer? In a fiercely competitive commercial world every customer is valuable. A happy, loyal customer makes repeat purchases and is more likely to be tempted by products from a trusted, reliable brand – much less effort and cost per sale than trying to win over a new customer. However, receiving a mispicked item can be irritating, to say the least. A Voxware survey found that 73% of consumers that receive incorrect items are much less likely to order from that business again.

Bad enough that you might lose that customer to the competition, and miss out on their future business, but with an unhappy consumer empowered by social media, a poor customer service experience can be shared to devastating effect.

Trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. According to a survey of 2000 shoppers, undertaken by retail operations platform, Brightpearl, 46% of shoppers regularly check star ratings for online retailers before purchasing, and two in five consumers have been put off a brand or a retailer they might have shopped with by a single unfavourable review. With negative reviews heavily influencing buying behaviour, a few mispicks can have a very large impact on sales.

Brand reputation is a valuable asset that should be protected. And with that in mind a further point concerning mispicks should be considered.

Consumers are increasingly guided in their purchasing behaviour by a brand’s environmental performance – such as how products are packaged, emissions associated with delivery and waste. Mispicks result in wasted packaging, unnecessary road miles and increased CO2 emissions. So, how many extra lorries are totalled-up over a year taking mispicked products to customers, returning them, and then delivering the correct item? How much packaging is wasted? As businesses are progressively pressed to report their environmental impact, such factors will play an increasingly important role in shaping consumer opinion and where purchases are made.

In just about every case, mispicks are down to human error, and the act of picking is still, essentially, a manual process – albeit, these days, often assisted by technology. Types of errors include: Items may be misidentified, the wrong colour, size or pack quantity selected, single items picked in the wrong quantity – either fewer or more than ordered ­– placed incorrectly into the wrong order tote or box, items may be omitted from the order – and this presupposes that the correct items were placed in the correct picking locations in the first place.

Unfortunately, humans get tired, become distracted and when asked to repeatedly take quick decisions over a long shift, mistakes happen. Even providing the picker with a picture of the item to be selected may prove difficult to mentally process time and time again, and may slow the process down. But there are many technologies that can help, such as: Pick-by-light, pick-by-voice, user friendly and ergonomic workstations or even removing the person entirely with robotics. Regardless of solution, verification of the pick is absolutely essential in driving error rates down.

Radio Frequency technology is an under utilised solution. RF tagging has moved on considerably in recent years and now tags are cheap and accuracy is high.

There are all manner of technologies that can be deployed to drive picking performance, as well as pick accuracy. Flexibility, scalability and accuracy will be important factors in the equation, but the best solution will be determined by the product characteristics, throughput rates and order profiles. A good integrator, with all the necessary software resources at its disposal, will be able to help you design the most appropriate solution using the very latest technologies.

Ecommerce is heavily dependent upon the efficient picking, packing and fulfilment of orders, and as volumes continue to rise, seemingly exponentially, the emphasis for most businesses will be on finding the right technology to boost throughput. But pick accuracy is just as critical. As the number of transactions grow, pick accuracy rises in importance – every negative customer review has the potential to damage sales.

Luckily, there are technologies available that can help increase capacity, whilst simultaneously driving-up pick accuracy. Using automation to bring goods to the person allows for higher throughput rates and when combined with directed picking technology, and item scanning for verification, can deliver the volume increases demanded of an expanding business, along with the near perfect picking performance that ensures excellent, as opposed to bad, reviews. 

Top 7 Business Areas for Misspending

Business Finance

Back in the day, stable revenue streams were enough to measure success. However, as industries grow more volatile and competitive by the minute, organizations have increasingly turned inward to examine how costs can stifle their overall performance. 

With that, here are the seven areas where businesses are most likely to waste funds.

 

Complex Hiring Processes

It may come as no surprise but hiring and onboarding new employees cost businesses money. Furthermore, the more complicated the hiring process is, the more resources companies spend.

Hiring managers frequently slow down the interview process because they are undecided; they are either not ready to cut the candidate or not prepared to hire them. Rather than prolonging the process, hiring managers can include a stage in the interview process explicitly geared to address certain problems.

To avoid unnecessary costs, hiring managers must ensure that the steps in the hiring process are evenly distributed and at regular intervals. In addition, the hiring procedure should not be overly lengthy but rather efficient. Furthermore, hiring managers must be thorough, consistent, and firm in their decisions.

 

Buying Higher Tech than Necessary 

As hardware can differentiate between a successful and unsuccessful start, equipment is one of the most difficult entrepreneurial expenditures. When purchasing hardware, businesses must find the sweet spot between not overspending due to a limited budget and buying the best equipment that will serve them well in the long run.

When the total upfront cost of an item adversely impacts cash flow, companies may need to finance the purchase with an overdraft or a loan. Overdrafts are advantageous since businesses can withdraw them quickly, and, in some situations, companies can expect early loan payback.

 

Inefficient Tracking and Analyzing of Expenses

Failing to implement an efficient and effective inventory management system can confuse managers and business owners alike. When assets do not get tracked appropriately, and work orders do not get executed properly, companies may struggle with unwanted and unnecessary spending.

Thus, companies must have a reliable source for assessing the firm’s financial strength and operational performance since it oversees all of its economic activities and ensures that they adhere to the norms and regulations set forth by competent entities.

 

Conducting Too Many Meetings

Meetings are among the most common sources of wasted funds, especially in large companies. Instead of hosting a slew of meetings to appear busy, businesses should devote more time to performing real work than communicating it. After all, available resources such as managed print services can reduce, if not replace, the need for holding tedious meetings. 

 

Leaving Machines on Standby

Company computers will eventually become clogged with open apps, software, files, and background operations, causing them to slow down. Other than manually disabling non-essential programs, the most straightforward option to resolve these performance difficulties is to shut down or restart the computer. Shutting down one’s laptop every few days, or when one does not have any vital tasks to accomplish right away, is always a good idea.

 

Ignoring Free Marketing Methods

Existing customer marketing costs the company money as sales to these clients frequently take nothing more than sending emails to a client list. Companies may wind up wasting money if they do not conduct adequate research. There are many free and low-cost ways to market your business, but many companies ignore them completely. To dismiss these resources is a mistake, as you are losing out on valuable connections with your target market.

Furthermore, targeting the incorrect audience with unsuited marketing methods would only result in serious, costly waste.  

 

Outsourcing Too Many Tasks

Outsourcing is the process of giving a third party the responsibility and control over certain business functions or operations. As a result, it entails some dangers. If the workload at a company is enough to be burdensome, managers looking for a quick fix may wish to hire new employees or outsource the work. 

The issue is that new hires may require more time to acclimatize to a company’s procedures. Moreover, outsourced employees may also be unfamiliar with your company’s culture and operations. As a result, excessive outsourcing may result in blunders that cost the organization both time and money.

Rather than prioritizing hiring or outsourcing, smarter managers seek to organize the workflow such that any new tasks or functions are dispersed more equitably throughout the organization. Although outsourcing might be beneficial in certain situations, companies must be cautious about assessing its pros and cons.

 

Conclusion

A company’s performance can get irrevocably harmed by poor purchasing and management practices. Companies must put due importance on understanding where their money is going. 

To summarize, companies must eliminate waste in the workplace and direct cash to places that require them the most. The correct allocation and tracking of these funds will improve organizational processes and, ultimately, drive the company towards growth and development.

What is an SOP Manual and Why Your Business Should Have One

SOP

While your business may have general instructions employees can reference to complete daily tasks on the job, does your business have an SOP? An SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) clarifies specific actions and procedures to complete various jobs at work. It can also protect you and your employees during a crisis and provides instructions about what to do in case irregular situations arise. Here are a few insights about what a Standard Operating Procedure manual is, and why your business needs one.

 

What is an SOP Manual?

An SOP is a document that explains and educates employees about how to successfully and safely execute a certain work function. Therefore, an SOP manual is an accumulation of many individual procedural instructions employees can study and refer to if questions arise about performing any particular task at work.  Individual SOP documents should provide clear, step-by-step instructions, as well as safety precautions and troubleshooting tips in case an employee experiences difficulties while executing a task on the job.

 

Why Your Business Needs an SOP Manual

The reasons your business should have a thorough SOP manual are virtually endless. From safety to compliance, an SOP can save you and your business a lot of time, money and even help improve health and safety on the job.  Here are the top reasons why your business can benefit from an SOP manual.

Unified Vision: The process of creating an SOP manual for your business has a way of clarifying your business vision, goals, and objectives.  Creating instructions for individual tasks that need to be performed in your business makes you more aware and more familiar with each detail of your business operations.  Furthermore, a centralized SOP manual accessible to all employees equips everyone with a clear focus about how things are done, and what is expected for each function on the job.

Consistent Results:  An SOP manual gets everybody on the same page, literally.  When all members of your staff are referring to the same procedural guides, then your business is more likely to achieve consistent results. Without an SOP, employees may take different approaches to complete job functions. Multiple work practices lead to confusion and inconsistencies, which costs your business time and money.

Reduces Errors: Having a reference manual for employees not only provides consistency in work performance, but it also reduces costly mistakes on the job.  Thorough and concise instructions as found in SOP documents can help your business avoid substandard or unwanted practices when performing work tasks.  When all employees are executing instructions properly, your business is safeguarded against errors and helps ensure quality control.

Saves Money: As explained, an SOP manual encourages safety, consistency and helps reduce mistakes on the job.  The culmination of all these benefits means your business is saving money.  Almost every business owner is either aware of or has the first-hand experience with how devastating mistakes can be to the livelihood of their business.  One mistake can create crippling setbacks in production or even lawsuits in case of employee injury due to accidents on the job.  An SOP manual greatly reduces unnecessary expenses caused by confusion or unsound employee practices.

Compliance: Not only is creating an SOP manual a smart move for your business but it may also be required to obtain an OSHA safety certification. Depending upon your industry and state or federal regulations for your business, an SOP could be mandatory to ensure the safety and protection of your employees.

 

Putting it All Together: Closing Thoughts About Creating an SOP Manual

Creating a Standard Operating Procedure manual may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many SOP templates online that make the job much more simple and less overwhelming.

Whether you opt to use templates or start from scratch, remember the basics of writing an SOP by including the title (name of the task) and an introduction that explains the scope of the procedure. Write clear, step-by-step directions, and include safety instructions in the event something goes afoul with the task being performed. Also, think about adding illustrations for each step of the work function for easier comprehension.  You may also want to include a contact number of a manager in case there are additional questions about a particular task. 

However you go about creating your Standard Operating Procedures, one fact is clear, an SOP manual is an essential asset to keep your business and your employees clear, compliant and safe while working within your company.

Reharvest Timber: Recycling with a Difference

Reharvest Timber

A driving force behind environmental sustainability and responsibility in waste management, Reharvest Timber is an efficient full-service company that handles timber recycling with innovation in mind. Due to this, it has recently been accredited with the Best Eco-Friendly Landscape Product Supply Firm award for 2021.

Reharvest Timber Products Ltd is a timber waste, removal, and recycling company established in 1994 that creates premium products from wood waste. All its services are eco-friendly and are, as a priority, the safest option they can possibly be for children, animals, and the environment. Having been in operation for over 25 years now, it has enjoyed decades of leading its industry into the future with its innovative and forward-thinking operational model. It accepts a wide variety of general timber waste from factory off cuts to prefab timber-walls, but it cannot take wood treated with loaded paint, CCA treated wood, penta or creosote coated wood, or wood treated by insecticide or pesticide. This is all part of its dedication to creating the products that it recycles this wood into with environmental sustainability and customer safety in mind. In this way, it truly ‘reharvests’ used and unwanted timber, using it to create garden mulch, its playground Cushionfall, and animal and equestrian Cushionride. All the latter are biodegradable and have become highly popular across the country.

Its garden product, Enviromulch, is made entirely of untreated and recycled timber, developed to serve any gardening needs no matter what the plot may grow. It can be laid on both flat and sloping surfaces, making it an excellent solution for all kinds of allotments and gardens across a variety of environments. It is both self-stabilizing and wind resistant. Furthermore, it is exemplary for acting as a deterrent to weeds as they find it far more difficult to take root. It also aids in moisture retention across the board, encouraging the health of what the client seeks to grow and being completely non-toxic. As a final note on Enviromulch, it is also far from dull; this solution is available in 5 different colours. Its playground Cushionfall product is similarly notable in its lack of any harmful substances or treatments, being the only five-star rated surfacing solution in New Zealand trusted by childcare institutions across the nation.

It was also rigorously tested during all stages to ensure the best results and the most effective product, which it was only satisfied with after 2 years of intensive product development and 3 years on on-site playground testing. This incredible attention to detail and the creation of an unscrupulous product has been what makes Cushionfall so widely endorsed. The culmination of all this testing was a strict adherence to New Zealand and Australian playground standards of safety, with the product performing in an exemplary manner on international impact absorbance tests. Since its release, Cushionfall has been the preferred choice for municipal and governing bodies, such as the Ministry of Education, Kindergarten Associations, Playcentres Associations, and Pre School Centres.

Its other flagship project is Cushionride, a woodchip surfacing solution for equestrian arenas and animal care industries. Much like Cushionfall, it is focused on impact absorbance as a specialty; however, it has been specifically developed this time for being load-bearing. This quality allows riders and horses to travel over the surface rather than through it, which tends to be the case with many of its competitors’ products or the general grounding services that can be found in its industry. Travelling over rather than through a surface minimizes the likelihood of joint damage, causing far less strain on horses’ hocks, knees, and lower legs when training or competing. This means for significantly less down-time and recovery periods being needed, allowing equestrians to focus on intensive training schedules without risking damage to the animal.

Cushionride has also been specifically designed to be an all-weather solution that enables stellar performance all year round through any conditions or challenges. In this way, it aids drainage so that it doesn’t freeze, and puddles don’t form that could pose a potential threat to animals travelling at speed across it. It is also dust and stone free, reassuring its clients that they will encounter a comfortable and secure ride. Cushionride has become widely lauded across all equestrian disciplines, from dressage and show jumping to trotting, racing, and even polo. It is also the perfect choice for equestrian establishments such as horse-riding arenas, gallops, horse walkers, and breeding sheds. Across the month of January, it has been active in Wanaka, Taupo, and the Dairy Flats, actively working to improve equine arena surfacing in facilities across the areas, a service that is only improving Reharvest Timber’s reputation as a company that gives back to the community.

In the case of all its woodchip surfacing services, its products undergo thorough testing and performance review before it leaves its manufacturing plants. All its processes have been developed to maximise safety and minimise threat to both the environment and the customer, ensuring that there are absolutely no nails, staples, or other unwelcome debris in its products. To this end, it has even implemented a three-year testing regimen to ensure that it is holding itself to its own impact efficiency and general quality standards. In tandem with this, its dedication to environmental corporate responsibility has earned it an Oceania Business Award for the Best Recycled Products Manufacturer, given to it in 2017. Reharvest Timber also prides itself on its ease of installation, offering means by which its wood chips can be pumped in through large pipes from carparks or roads. This negates the need for any back-breaking work to lay the chip and saves money on heavy machinery. The 100% recycled nature of the woodchip also reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfill, helping in the national waste reduction effort.

Further helping to ensure that future generations inherit a better looked after world is Reharvest’s sister company. This business, Wastewood Management, enables the collection and removal of the wood that Reharvest uses in its products. In handling its own collections, it can assure itself and its clients that its flawless operational process is present in every element of its work. It can also better control the timber that makes its way to its plants, reducing the amount that must be turned away and making itself a shining example of efficiency in the recycling industry. It takes timber that it can discern is up to standard, from wood pallet waste to timber waste wood and box wood removal.

 

Company: Reharvest Timber Ltd

Website: www.reharvest.co.nz / www.wastewoodmanagement

Is it Time Your Business Moved Away from Spreadsheets?

Spreadsheets

If there’s one tool that nearly every business uses or has used in the past, it’s spreadsheets. Whether you’re an Excel diehard or you take advantage of cloud-based Google Sheets, it’s long been a useful tool for personal use and basic data analysis. But what if we told you that it might be holding your business back?

While they’re a powerful solution that many are comfortable using, spreadsheets are no longer equipped to deal with the complex, data-related tasks you carry out for your business. Between 70% and 80% of businesses still heavily rely on spreadsheets for tasks including customer relationship management, reporting on business data, and financial reporting, but they aren’t equipped to deal with these functions at an enterprise level.

By implementing a solution tailored to your business needs, you can improve customer satisfaction, increase staff productivity, and ensure your data is always accurate and up to date. Here, intelligent IT solutions provider Perfect Image explores why businesses shouldn’t rely on spreadsheets for all their complex data requirements.

 

How are UK businesses using spreadsheets?

We know that spreadsheets are still heavily relied on in businesses, with over 90% of employees using them daily at work according to a 2019 survey. While the most common use of spreadsheets in business were personal tasks like managing lists and managing tasks in a plan, financial analysis and budget planning weren’t far behind. 59% of employees use spreadsheets for financial analysis, while 58% use it for budget planning.

Spreadsheets are also commonly shared around businesses, with 30% of respondents saying most of their spreadsheets are shared. Many businesses also still rely on emails to share this company data, with nearly half of respondents in a separate study stating this is the case for their employer. There are four major issues with this:

  • Email communications don’t encourage conversation about the data to identify solutions and improvements – let’s face it, nobody wants to be the person who replies all to a company email about performance.
  • It’s very time-consuming to blend data, so data is not readily available for employees who need to see it, when they need to see it.
  • Email volume is high, particularly now, which means important data is greatly diluted in an employee’s inbox – far from optimal when business data is crucial.
  • Sending static reports means the data is often already out of date by the time you press ‘send’.

Why using spreadsheets could be holding your business back

We’re not saying that spreadsheets are entirely unsuitable in a modern business. They have a lot of good use cases, and many people use them every day. To an extent, they’re great for gathering and manipulating data. However, they are also very restrictive and require a lot of manual input and effort.

Some of the biggest issues with using spreadsheets for all data-related tasks include:

Disparate data sources equal data chaos

You can’t accurately measure or analyse your data without bringing it all together. ’Data chaos’ occurs when your data is disparate and difficult to merge. Manually copying and pasting data from spreadsheet to spreadsheet is time-consuming, manual, and very frustrating. It can be prone to human error, like in the case of Fidelity Investments, whose error of missing a minus sign led to a $1.3 billion loss being reported as a gain and a mistaken year-end payment promise to its shareholders!

 

Your data is outdated and unreliable

If your disparate data isn’t brought together into a solution which updates automatically, it quickly goes out of date and therefore becomes unreliable. For example, the customer data your sales team holds might be different to customer service, marketing, and finance teams. If they’re all working on separate spreadsheets, you won’t have unified information.

 

You can’t cross-reference with older data

It’s difficult to track new and old data, because spreadsheets aren’t equipped to deal with large volumes of information. However, updating spreadsheets with only newer data means you miss out on the ability to spot trends over time or compare insights across longer time periods.

 

You’re not making the best use of analysis tools

You can do a lot of different analysis in spreadsheets, but a lot of people tend to have a handful of graphs they regularly use and feel comfortable with, or pivot tables. This method of data visualisation leaves you vulnerable to data distortion. Data needs to be presented in the right way to find meaningful insights. Line graphs aren’t always going to cut it. It’s easy for formulas to go wrong in spreadsheets too, with a scientific paper on economic recovery incorrect due to a formula mistake. With the paper used by world leaders, this could have been a very costly mistake had a student not identified it!

 

Data security issues

Chances are, you’re using spreadsheets to analyse and process sensitive data, like customer information. Many spreadsheets don’t have strong security features – especially if they’re being shared on email. Using recognised cloud solutions with market-leading security protocols means team members can collaborate on spreadsheets together. However, that isn’t intended for more than a few users at once. Plus, data can be changed or deleted – so there’s usually more than one version of the spreadsheet anyway.

Moving away from spreadsheets will also help your employees avoid opening malicious spreadsheets from hackers. It’s well-established that most cyber-attacks start with an email, and 48% of those emails have a malicious Office document like a spreadsheet attached. If your people don’t have to rely on sharing data in Excel, they can more easily spot suspicious attachments.

So, should you move away from spreadsheets?

Most spreadsheet programmes were designed for data storage and basic analysis. Trying to use it for anything else is going to result in frustration, errors, double data entry, wasted time, and security issues.

There are better solutions that will also allow you to do so much more than basic analysis and storage – generally, customer relationship management (CRM) solutions offer far more than spreadsheets. But the exact solution you need will depend on your unique business needs and what you’re looking to achieve.

If you’re processing, analysing, and storing customer data, you’ll need a CRM system that updates in real-time and has market-leading security features. Leading solutions will unify all of your data into one reliable, up-to-date solution. You never have to worry that different teams are using different sources of data again. You get a full 360-degree view of every single customer, including their history, interactions, and preferences. That means you can build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with them and sell more effectively.

A tool that takes care of data and analytics is essential for wider business data. Merge, blend, cleanse, and prepare data with ease. Drag-and-drop workflows make working with data a breeze. Advanced analytics allow you to ask “what if” questions without the risk of waiting for answers. Data visualisation platforms replace reams of numbers with the answers you need – fast.

These solutions, as well as standalone enterprise resource management (ERP) systems will also allow you to manage and analyse your financial data. You can gain visibility of financials across your whole business. Many leading solutions will integrate with one another, meaning there are no siloes between systems, you can sell better, and optimise operations. It helps you to streamline business processes, improve customer interactions, and make better decisions.

There’s no doubt that spreadsheets have a time and a place, but that isn’t necessarily as the main solution to your business’ many data requirements. Find a powerful solution more suited to your unique needs – don’t let spreadsheet difficulties and data chaos hold you back. It’s time your business implemented a solution that meets all of your needs, instead of struggling to use spreadsheets in ways that they weren’t built for.

 

Andrew Dinning is Head of Data & Analytics Solutions Architecture at Perfect Image, a UK based IT managed services company.

How to Maintain Your Seals During Periods of No Use

hydraulic seal

It is vital to check your seals constantly whether the machinery is being used or not. Especially during periods of no use, this is the perfect time to check your seals for any signs of damage and wear that you may need to address. It’s important to do this as seal failures can lead to equipment problems which may be detrimental to your equipment and business.

Whether you deal with hydraulic or pneumatic seals such as wiper seals, they must be able to withstand a range of environments and practises such as extreme temperatures, high pressures, chemicals and contamination.

In this article, we will give you some tips on what to watch out for when looking for problems in your seals and how to maintain your seals during a period when they are not being used.

 

Proper storage

If a seal is in a period of no use, storing them properly can prevent future failure. Properly storing seals includes putting the seals and their hardware in a cool environment. You must also disassemble the seals and sort each part individually, making sure not to store seal faces together as they could end up losing their flatness.  

 

Lubrication

Lubrication is a must in seals and most machinery as it can prolong the life of seals due to the motion they are usually under. When looking at the seals, check that lube is present. If there is none present or only a small amount, place some grease around the seal. Checking for grease is important to prolong the life of your seal.

 

Contamination

Just because the machinery is not being used does not mean that contamination is not still present in the seal. If the seal has not been checked after its last use, then contamination may still be present. Contamination may come from metallic shavings, powder, dirt, mud, grit, and other solid particles. These may be picked up during operation and can damage the seal when passing through.

 

High temperatures

If the seal has been stored somewhere that has a high temperature, the heat can cause damage to the seal. The heat can cause the seal to harden and degrade quickly. The material of the seal can  break off when hardened, and this can then cause more contamination along the whole machinery or pipe network.

 

Pressure

The pressure that your seal has been under could cause the seal to fail. This might have been because it is over pressurised. Check for pressure strikes in seals. If you can see any, then you may need to replace the seal with a one that is made to be under higher pressure.

 

Chemical deterioration

If there has been a corrosive fluid used, then this may cause a breakdown in the seals’ material. You need to have made sure that the material the seal is made out of is right for the fluid passing through it. Especially when connecting a seal to a hydraulic system using chemical fluid, this may create fractures in a material. The chemical deterioration can cause swelling or shrinking of the seal.

 

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand seals more and how you can look after them after periods of no use. Whether your seals or being used or are in storage, maintenance is important to keep them in good condition for present and future use to make sure they don’t fail.

Aviation industry gearing up for travel as hiring booms

aviation

Specialist aviation recruitment expert, Staffing Match, has reported a spike in demand for baggage handlers, ramp agents and check-in staff as the travel industry prepares for take-off once again.

While the official green light hasn’t yet been given by the Government, the aviation recruitment specialist has already seen larger airlines ramping up hiring across major UK airports including Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham and Manchester.

According to Staffing Match, while the confirmation that international travel can resume from 17th May under a traffic light system is yet to be granted, the fact that many new recruits have been out of action for the last year has led to an early demand for new resources to allow for sufficient training.

Dan Carlin, Business Director at Staffing Match, commented:

“While it’s certainly encouraging to see confidence currently returning for the UK’s aviation industry after what has been an incredibly tough year, the challenge now is getting enough staff on-board and re-trained in a short time frame. Airports and airlines can’t simply flick a switch and return to pre-pandemic levels of flights, so the fact that we are currently seeing recruitment of front-of-house staff ramp up is a promising sign. We will, of course, have to wait and see what happens closer to the Government’s May deadline, but signs are certainly looking promising at the moment.”

6 Ways Water Efficiency Can Save Your Business Money

Close up of blue toned water

Water is an essential resource for everyone. When it comes to businesses, water is vital for daily activities—from the water employees use for drinking and making tea, to flushing toilets, cleaning offices, and ensuring the surrounding landscape is green and flourishing. 

As you might expect, commercial and industrial establishments will use more water than all households combined as they cater to their employees’ and clients’ needs, while also maintaining their offices. On average, office buildings consume 50 liters for each employee every day, and even more if it’s in a manufacturing industry. 

According to waterfootprint.org, a business’s water footprint is the total amount of water used to produce goods or services. This includes water used throughout the supply chain process until it reaches end-users or consumers.

Unfortunately, water is becoming a scarce commodity for everyone. The Water Resources Group states that only 1% of freshwater is readily accessible for millions of people worldwide. They also foresee water shortages by as much as 40% worldwide by 2030.

Water shortage can greatly impact everyone in the future, so it’s about time we make water efficiency a business priority. But aside from being an earth-friendly endeavor, water efficiency can help also businesses save money in several ways:   

 

1. By Reducing Water Bills 

Businesses looking for ways to reduce operational costs can find potential savings in implementing water-saving strategies and technologies. One way you can make sites and offices water-efficient is by detecting and fixing leaks. Taking care of leaky faucets and pipes can reduce water bills by as much as 30%

Also, businesses can install the following water-efficient devices:

  • Spray taps, push-tops, or infrared controls to reduce water use by 50% 
  • Sensor-controlled or waterless urinals to decrease toilet water consumption by 70% 
  • Low-flush toilets that use as little as 6 liters per flush
  • Rainwater collection devices such as water butt taps for watering plants
  • Insulation for cold and hot water pipes and tanks 
  • Low-volume showers to limit water use by up to 50%
  • Eco-labeled equipment for restaurants or canteens 

Fixing leaks and installing water-efficient fixtures and equipment are practical ways to ensure your business is water-efficient. This can reduce overhead costs and translate to noticeable savings now and in the future.

 

2. By Increasing Your Tax Credits

Governments worldwide are encouraging businesses to take part in water conservation initiatives by providing them with grants, rebates, and tax credits to implement energy-efficient projects. Commercial buildings that will transform into green buildings can take advantage of tax deductions for using energy-efficient hot water systems. To give you a better idea, you can get credits of up to $1.80 per square foot in the US if you can reduce energy use by 50%.    

Aside from energy-efficient technologies, tax benefits are also awarded to businesses that use water as renewable energy. They can avail of government rebates and grants when they install rainwater-harvesting systems, wastewater systems, water recycling and reuse systems, and desalination technologies. These innovations treat non-potable water so it can be reused for irrigation or wash-down applications. 

Taking advantage of these incentives will lower business taxes. Simultaneously, it allows companies to obtain government backing for energy conservation and water efficiency efforts. 

 

3. By Attracting Free Promotions 

Your efforts to save water can also work to your advantage by giving your brand an eco-friendly image that most clients and consumers will likely support. Sustainable initiatives can also catch the attention of new investors, even without much advertising. There’s also a growing number of companies that advocate for water conservation and other movements that aim to protect and preserve the environment. 

When your brand is eco-friendly, you’ll likely benefit from free advertising via ‘word-of-mouth’ because environmental advocates aim to get more people on board, and will often promote brands that support their advocacy, all for free. 

 

4. By Influencing Future Business Decisions

Companies can transform water-related savings into long-term financial gains by instituting water efficiency measures as part of their business practice. As more value is placed on water and its importance to daily operations, you’ll be better equipped to make business decisions about its use and disposal. This may also compel you to become resourceful in water sourcing and conservation to mitigate risks and ensure water shortage resilience. 

Business owners shouldn’t only plan on current cost-cutting measures, but also seek to translate them into sustainable investments. 

 

5. By Reducing Impact On Water Consumption Rates

With increasing demand and looming scarcity, water rates will surely increase in the future. This can pose additional expenses to businesses, especially those who utilize water as part of their manufacturing process. It may even result in the government having to set water consumption limits for commercial or industrial processes in favor of household or agricultural use. Ongoing conservation efforts can ensure water is continuously available, and that consumption rates remain stable so businesses can continue to utilize water for their future operations. 

 

6. By Reducing Dependence On Freshwater

Water efficiency has long-term benefits for the business and the environment. Apart from reducing your business’ carbon footprint, it also helps make freshwater more available for the future. 

Reducing dependence on freshwater also compels businesses to seek alternative water sources through water recycling. In the food industry, water is reused for cooling towers and boilers, washing plant machinery, flushing toilets, cleaning floors, and washing vehicles. 

Apart from reducing dependence on freshwater, recycling water also increases water savings and can reduce wastewater fees. Furthermore, it can serve as an opportunity for businesses to expand their services and cater to the environmentally-conscious consumers’ water requirements. 

 

Conclusion 

There are many ways water efficiency can help businesses save money. Properly installed fixtures can reduce overhead costs, while using energy-efficient technologies and implementing measures to save more water will turn you into an eco-friendly company, and earn the trust of water conservation advocates who may promote your brand for free. 

No matter what type of business you’re running, water efficiency offers benefits that will help you endure even when water shortage becomes an inevitable issue.