Over the last year, FPS has invested significantly to futureproof the services it provides to the automotive aftermarket. PMF finds out how.
The murmurings of an evolving aftermarket as a result of technological advancements and legislative changes have turned into a resounding rumble. Prudent industry players are sitting up and listening in an attempt to successfully sail through the changing tides. FPS has already put down the groundwork to safeguard the future – not just for the company, but the industry it calls home. In order to continue catering for the growing and more diverse needs of the aftermarket, significant investments have been injected into its warehousing facilities, transport fleet and human resources.
“As the aftermarket approaches all these changes with legislative shifts and technological advancements, FPS is working hard to contribute in building the foundation for the aftermarket’s future,” explained Jonathan Eden, Managing Director at FPS.
Building for the future
In October 2017, FPS started constructing a 15,000ft2 extension at its National Distribution Centre (NDC) situated at Parkway Rise in Sheffield. This extension features a two-storey mezzanine floor which creates 45,000ft2 of new storage space for racking. This proved to be a challenging exercise as the particularly harsh winter refused to release its frosty grip until late-March. Nevertheless, construction powered through and the warehouse extension is now complete. The NDC also saw the addition of a new canopy in the delivery yard. This provides much needed covered space for marshalling products and efficient stock movement.
“Like any period of change, the past year has come with its share of trials. However, our teams have banded together in order to tackle these unprecedented challenges,” said Jonathan.
A matter of teamwork
A blank canvas of empty shelves in a brand new warehouse presents a stockpile of opportunities – provided it is managed properly. Otherwise, it can hinder the efficiency of the warehouse and compromise the safety of warehouse operatives. For FPS, this challenge is further compounded because the new facility is an extension of a fully-functioning warehouse that processes up to 44,000 lines a day. In order to optimise the brick- and-mortar upgrade, human resource and process streamlining needed to follow suit.
The company has a specialised team of experts dedicated to warehouse operations and inventory management. Immersed in the day-to-day warehouse operations, the team is tasked to provide real and practical strategies to streamline processes and shelving management.
warehouse demands means that the science behind stocking shelves goes beyond throwing goods onto empty shelves. As the nature of warehouses and customer needs are so diverse, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution,” explained Duane Trower, Director of Logistics.
“Our teams have to build on a foundation of existing best practices while devising reliable solutions that are well suited to our needs, and those of our customers. It sometimes can be a case of trial and error, but it is part of being at the forefront of the sector’s season of change.
“We are fortunate to have employees who are committed to moving with the times, the growth of the company and embracing change, all whilst being reactive to customer needs,” he concluded.
In April of this year, the FPS delivery fleet was approaching full capacity for the first time. The time had come for FPS to invest in its transport fleet to accommodate customer needs.
Over the last six months, FPS reinforced its logistics fleet with three new artic trucks that have greater capacities, and boosted van runs to cater for overspill in various locations across the network. The branch fleet also saw new and larger vehicles in October.
The company also enhanced staff numbers within the logistics team, and is consistently monitoring and reviewing the fleet team to ensure that goods reach their destination at the right time.
The year ahead
As the aftermarket continues to advance, FPS is working hard to build a warehousing and logistics network that best suits the needs of today, and tomorrow. FPS will be extending its network with the introduction of two new branches in Launceston and Carlisle.
Despite all these avenues of growth and change, it is not all smooth sailing. Due to circumstances beyond its control, the company is in the process of relocating the Maidstone branch. Prioritising the interests of customers, teams have been mobilised to ensure minimal disruption to service during an interim period, whilst FPS seizes the opportunity to move to a larger location within Maidstone by the middle of 2019.
“We are grateful for the continuing support from our customers. Through their honest feedback, we are able to develop ways to better serve the aftermarket. Our commitment in serving the needs of this sector is unyielding and the backing from our customers buoys us during the most challenging of times,” said Graham Knight, Southern Operations Director of FPS.