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Three Trends Driving Change in the Warehousing Sector

The pandemic has prompted a lot of rhetoric about change in many industries, but in the warehousing sector, Covid-19 has escalated trends that were already prompting rapid growth.

At AIS Vanguard, we offer the specialist lifting, moving and installation services needed to support and facilitate that growth. Here we explore three of the key trends affecting the industry and how we’re working with customers to help them adapt, expand and remain agile.

  1. The e-Commerce Explosion

e-Commerce has been gaining ground on bricks and mortar retail for the past two decades and we have seen growth in the warehousing sector to accommodate stockholding for online retailers. The rise of the mega warehouse used by online marketplaces and e-commerce fulfilment companies has been a particular feature of the sector, with stockholding, pick and pack and dispatch facilities all requiring specific equipment and layout considerations.

It’s a fast-moving segment of the warehousing sector and our role is often to deploy our specialist expertise and lifting equipment to respond quickly to changing needs. This may involve operators anticipating spikes in demand or responding to seasonal variations, for example, and our teams are often called upon to install or reposition racking, reconfigure warehouse facilities to optimise layouts or move packing lines as spatial layouts and operational needs change.

Installation and reconfiguration of automation systems is another key area of the support we offer to the sector. With our lifting and moving expertise, along with our mechanical and electrical engineering teams, we can deliver turnkey robot installation projects, allowing operators to drive efficiency

2. Supply Chain Resilience

Covid-19 highlighted the fragility of global supply chains and subsequent events, including end of the Brexit transition phase and the stranded container in the Suez Canal, have prompted a re-think about supply chain resilience.

For many companies, particularly in the manufacturing sector, this has prompted an investment in increased warehousing capacity to store both incoming goods and materials, and outgoing products. We have been supporting companies as they have transitioned to increased warehousing capacity by assisting with fit-out of their new facilities. We are able to operate as principal contractor with full CDM responsibility, enabling customers to fast track fit out of new warehousing facilities or reconfigure existing assets with machinery and equipment moves, installation and full mechanical and electrical engineering.

3. Capacity Optimisation

With so much demand for warehousing accommodation, there is also a need to optimise the capacity of existing assets. This often involves reconfiguring the warehouse, installing high bay racking, moving to very narrow aisle (VNA) layouts and introducing robots.

With our expertise in project management, we are helping companies to carry out phased transformation programmes at existing warehouse facilities. This enables our customer to maintain stockholding and business as usual operations in priority areas of the accommodation, before decanting equipment and stock across as we move on to the next phase. We can carry out turnkey projects, including temporary modifications to the building for ingress and egress of equipment, heavy lifting and moving and full mechanical and electrical services, including robot installation.

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Rewarding Excellence Builds on Your Customer Experience

Here at AIS Vanguard, we know that ‘thank you’ is one of the most powerful words in any language. Not only does it communicate appreciation, it also encourages and motivates people because they feel valued and rewarded for their efforts.

It is a simple principle, but one that underpins our exceptional service levels to customers. Why? Because rewarding our team for a job well done is an integral part of our people strategy, ensuring every member of staff is committed to giving 100% to their role, whether they are on site or office-based.

It was that philosophy that prompted us to launch our Excellence Awards scheme, an initiative that sees our CEO, Matt Ainscough, single out the achievements of a few members of the AIS Vanguard team every month. Each Excellence Award is both a reward and recognition within the business that the recipient has gone above and beyond, demonstrated exceptional skills or supported their colleagues. The awards scheme is aligned to our core values, rewarding teamwork, commitment, attention to detail and hard work and recognising colleagues that have delivered our values of firness and a no nonsense approach.

Usually, our Excellence Awards scheme rewards 3-4 people each month, but, during March, the exceptional performance across the team and consistently outstanding customer feedback prompted Matt to reward every member of staff in an unprecedented whole team Excellence Award bonanza.

Matt Explained: “We have been extremely busy and the teams have worked incredibly hard, overcoming the continuing challenges of Covid-19 to provide outstanding levels of service to customers and demonstrate professionalism and dedication.

“The performance and customer comments we have seen over the past month have made us very proud and I can’t thank the team enough. I wanted everyone to have an Excellence Award so they can treat themselves for their hard work. I am very proud that our team consistently showcases our core values across everything they do.”

As AIS Vanguard continues to grow and work closely with customers to help them navigate complex operational and commercial challenges, the power of a sincere thank you will continue to be a cornerstone of how we operate. Our service commitment depends on the skills, commitment and can-do approach of our people and by creating a community that rewards achievement we have developed a loyal and motivated team.

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Spring is here so it’s time to plan summer shut down machinery moves

We may still be in Q1, but we’re racing through the calendar. After the turmoil of COVID-19 and Brexit, it has never been more important to optimise efficiency by ensuring all your machinery maintenance, decommissioning and installation work takes place during your summer shut down window.

At AIS Vanguard, we are experts in planning factory reconfiguration, machinery removals and machine installation programmes around our customers’ operational needs. The earlier the planning process begins, the more effective we can be in phasing heavy lifting and moving requirements around your operational needs and your mission-critical deadlines.

This year, after the disruption of the pandemic, your summer shut down industrial services requirements may be different from previous years. It may be that your machinery has been run for longer operational hours to accommodate additional shifts due to social distancing or increased output requirements. Alternatively, you may have mothballed some machines due to a drop in demand and be faced with decisions about whether to recommission or remove this equipment during your summer shut down.

Whatever the commercial and operational challenges facing you for this year’s summer shut down, our experience of managing complex industrial services schedules during shut down windows means we can help. And the earlier we get involved, the easier it is for our expert teams to advise you on phasing activity, managing risk and prioritising activity.

Here are just some of the ways we can help

  • Will you need diversions or modifications to electrical and mechanical services to accommodate machinery moves, decommissioning or new equipment installation? We can carry these out in advance of the shut down period, without business interruption, to maximise the heavy lifting and installation activities that can be done during the shutdown window.
  • Can all of the maintenance, decommissioning and installation activity you would like to do during your summer shut down be achieved within the time frame? We can help you plan a realistic timetable with a critical path that will help you prioritise and identify any work that can be done in advance.
  • If you’re installing new equipment during the shut down period, are you certain that delivery dates will be aligned to your decommissioning, M&E services modifications and reconfiguration requirements? We can liaise with equipment suppliers to ensure all activity is co-ordinated and completed on time.
  • Are there egress challenges for removing machinery for maintenance or decommissioning? We can provide full CDM for any temporary changes to your building for machinery removal and, thanks to our wide range of lifting equipment, we may be able to design a lift that minimises disruption by utilising one of our Megalift hydraulic gantry systems.
  • Are there are health and safety or commercial risk factors specific to your requirements and your site? Our team can work with you to develop a bespoke risk assessment and method statement for all activity during your summer shut down period, ensuring the programme runs smoothly as soon as the shutdown period begins.

Get in touch now to optimise the benefits of your summer shut down

With an evolving commercial landscape and pressures on operators to maximise operational efficiency, this year’s summer shut down is more critical than ever for many businesses. There are just 4-5 months to go before the critical shut down period, if you need help to plan and implement business critical maintenance, reconfiguration, decommissioning or installation projects, we can help.

Factory Relocation Health and Safety Industry Guides Latest News Machinery Relocation

Spend it or Lose It – How to Make Sure You Maximise the Value of Your Capex Budget

Spring has been a long time coming this year. Now that we’re nearing the end of Q1, however, the new financial year is fast approaching, which means that capex budgets will refresh. Often the coming year’s budget is allocated based on what you’ve spent this year, so, to secure an increase, or ringfence your capex budget at the same level as the current year, it’s essential to commit any money still available in this year’s pot. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend it all at once.

At AIS Vanguard, part of the industrial services expertise we offer to customers across sectors as diverse as manufacturing, energy, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and defence, is our ability to help you plan phased programmes ahead of time. In this way, we can advise you on how to maximise the potential of your capex budgets to achieve your objectives over the course of the year, while enabling you to hold back a contingency for unexpected expenses.

Our heavy machinery lifting and moving services, decommissioning, installation and mechanical and electrical expertise mean that we can provide a full turn-key service for all your requirements, whatever your plans, throughout the year. That includes equipment moves for maintenance, asset realisation or asset rationalisation programmes. We can also help with machinery installation and removal projects, including logistics and CDM.

At this time of year, if there is money remaining in your capex budget it pays to think ahead about projects that could benefit your facilities or your business over the next few months, and consider what can be done or booked in now to maximise your resources and your capex budget allocation. It may be that reconfiguring your equipment, removing a redundant asset or modifying electrical and mechanical services now will help with productivity or cost-efficiency over the coming year. And, of course, as we look forward to moving out of the restrictions prompted by the pandemic, amending social distancing, team bubble and split shift strategies that had to be implemented for infection control may also involve heavy lifting and machinery moving elements.

At AIS Vanguard, our expert team of industrial services project managers are here to help you identify the practical requirements of implementing your commercial and operational plans. That includes optimising your capex budget and ensuring spend is allocated within the financial year to help you retain your capex budget for next year. It also includes phasing the activity to reduce risk and minimise downtime, while helping you maximise the value of your capex budget. If you’d like to talk to us about how we could help, get in touch with our team today.

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Our Operational Controls Deliver Your Peace of Mind

When you’re relying on your industrial services partner to provide a safe and reliable service that minimises risk and maximises operational efficiency, accreditations count. Which is why we ensure our operational control certification is up to date at all times here at AIS Vanguard.

Over the past couple of months, we have been busy responding to customers’ annual compliance check requests to ensure they have all the latest data from us ready to get projects moving as quickly and smoothly as possible as and when they need us. But operational controls and compliance is much more than a box ticking exercise for us; it’s an ongoing responsibility and one that we take very seriously. For us, compliance with the various accreditations we hold provides an opportunity for continuous improvement and performance monitoring, which means our customers can always trust us to offer them the highest standards of health and safety, quality management and environmental controls.

This year, things are a little different. Due to social distancing requirements, we cannot invite auditors to site to carry out the formal review of our QESH (quality, environment, safety & health) performance and renew our ISO accreditations. But we are certainly not going to let that stop us from completing the audit process or from reviewing our own performance and looking for opportunities to improve.

The audit process for our ISO 9001 (quality assurance) ISO14001 (environmental management) and ISO 45001 (occupational health) accreditations will be done online this year, with an auditor reviewing our documentation and interviewing our team virtually, via video calls. It will be a little different than usual but no less robust. Our team has been busy preparing all the documentation needed to demonstrate the ways in which we are continuously improving both our systems and our practice.

It’s an important element of our business and our commitment to customers. We often work in demanding and hazardous environments which require a best practice approach to health and safety from our team, along with an understanding of the individual safety challenges and policies for each site. For heavy complex and technical lifts, heavy machinery lifting, equipment moves and electrical and mechanical engineering in industrial environments, a small mistake could have huge consequences for safety, environmental controls or the integrity of the asset. That’s why we put so much emphasis on policy, procedure and best practice, which are constantly updated as part of our ISO compliance activity.

The audit comes around once a year, but the focus on these areas is constant. Our commitment on every project is to carry out a bespoke method statement and risk assessment and to follow best practice QESH processes for every machinery lifting, equipment moving, decommissioning and installation project. From a one-off lift to a complete factory relocation project, our operational controls mean the same high standards are always met. And our accreditations ensure those standards are measurable, transparent and accountable.

If you’d like to know more about our accreditations or need us to complete a PQQ as a first step in working with you, get in touch.

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Accelerating Your Business with a Factory Relocation

We’re proud to be on the UK’s leading factory relocation specialists. Both our full turnkey and singular services are led by our highly skilled experienced team who ensure professionalism and a smooth transition during all factory relocation projects.

Changes within manufacturing demand may result in the need to completely relocate your business. We realise factory relocations can cause significant disruption to production timescales and overall output, but for factory relocations, we can confidently say the benefits outweigh the risks.

We explore how a successful factory relocation could help you accelerate your business.

More Capacity

Relocating your business to a larger facility provides you with more room to increase production and overall output. By doing this, your company will be better placed to ensure you can keep up with growing consumer demands across the market.

This is something we were proud to help Aggregate Industries Quarries with.

Closer to Your Supply Chain

It’s important to always think of every eventuality when it comes to your operations. Considering whether it would be more beneficial to be closer to your customers and have a wider supply chain is always a great place to start.

By having a closer proximity to both your customers and supply chain, you’ll help improve your overall service for customers, significantly reduce load times on products and services and save significantly save on transportation, distribution and storage costs.

All of these factors could essentially provide your company with an edge on your competitors.

Improved Infrastructure

Relocating to a factory or location may put you closer to better transport networks links, including motorways, regional and national hubs and rail depots too. Ensuring you’re within reach for customers and suppliers will only help increase output for your company.

Factory Relocation Ready

A factory relocation is a big undertaking and needs to be considered carefully to ensure the most efficient way to relocate without compromising production and output.

Talk to us about how we can help relocate your operations today to help accelerate your business. Call 01257 411111 or fill out our Contact Form and we’ll be in touch.

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Highlight the Importance of Expert Logistics Partners

The Backing Britain 2020 Live events have provided some interesting insights from a wide variety of industry experts and one of the keynote speakers, Andrew Boothroyd, head of logistics, engineering and future solutions at McLaren, had some interesting points to raise on manufacturing and logistics challenges.

Andrew’s keynote speech discussed the ways in which manufacturers had to adapt during the Covid-19 pandemic and the critical nature of the speed of response, particularly for the Ventilator Challenge. He discussed how companies of all kinds had to work together to rise to the challenge of supplying ventilators for the National Health Service’s Covid-19 response, giving an example of a components manufacturer that had component production-ready to roll by Sunday evening, having only received the request on Saturday afternoon. The component manufacturer than ran a three-shift operation, adapting its usual routines and processes to provide the items needed within a short space of time, without compromising on quality and consistency.

As Andrew said during his speech, it’s all about responsiveness, which is a philosophy that lies at the heart of our business here at AIS Vanguard. Many of the challenges for manufacturers he discussed in his speech, around adapting production processes and layouts, were operational concerns that we were able to help with during the pandemic. And our expertise, safety planning, lifting capabilities, M&E resources and logistics provision mean that we are still busy helping manufacturers to adapt as their business changes and they respond to their own customers.

Andrew also shared the challenges that faced McLaren when the pandemic told hold across Asia and Australia just before the Australian Grand Prix. With people, equipment and vehicles stranded in Australia, supply chains halted due to lockdowns, and mission-critical parts needed urgently, working with a logistics partner that could rise to the unprecedented challenges was essential.

Although these circumstances are quite exceptional, moving assets across borders to time-critical deadlines is part of what AIS Vanguard does for clients on a routine basis. During the COVID-19 crisis, we have been involved a wide range of re-shoring and asset move projects and, once again, that work is ongoing.

In response to a delegate question, Andrew also touched upon the considerations that Brexit throws up for British manufacturers, with uncertainty around moving assets, exports, and imports of components or materials. His response was very clear: manufacturers will need to depend on logistics partners with proven expertise in customs and moving assets across borders. His advice was to allow logistics partners to support robust procedures and that’s exactly what we do for our customers. Our teams are able to co-ordinate the movement of assets with our customers’ operational and commercial requirements, factoring in local compliance and documentation, to ensure the movement of assets runs smoothly and to an agreed timeline.

It’s always interesting to hear the perspective of a leading manufacturer and we’re delighted to have had the opportunity to hear these insights from a leader that works for one of the UK’s most iconic manufacturing brands.

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How Crowdguard Technology is helping Social Distancing

A year since partnering with Crowdguard, the technology developed to deter terrorist attacks is now ensuring social distancing

This July marks one year since we began our partnership with Crowdguard, an innovative, award-winning surface guard product which ensures public safety against the threat of hostile vehicles. A short year ago however, we could not have foreseen how Crowdguard would become an important tool used by city centres in the fight against Covid-19.

Like many UK enterprises demonstrating adaptability since the onset of the pandemic, Crowdguard’s solutions are now employed for very different purpose than originally envisioned – namely, ensuring social distancing in pedestrianised zones within towns and cities.

If you’ve strode through a city centre in the UK during the past few months, you may very well have spotted the pedestrian and bike-friendly structures, and perhaps even passed through one yourself.

The permeable, temporary event security panels are modular and lightweight, and can be fitted securely to any type of road and space. These qualities, combined with the ability to raise and lower the barriers within 30 seconds for the passage of emergency vehicles, make them a flexible and effective tool for promoting social distancing and crowd control.

Amid a rise in walking and cycling by commuters in city centres including Manchester and London, the barriers will play an important role in helping consumers to feel safe and secure as they travel to work, shop or dine out.

Thus Crowdguard is helping local authorities to make the key changes quickly in support of safe movement within cities, measures which will be essential to economic recovery post-lockdown as high-street businesses across the country struggle to bounce back.

About Crowdguard

Founded by our CEO Matt and wife Deborah Ainscough, Crowdguard provides a market-leading solution in the field of Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM), delivering effective products which benefit from innovative design, quality build and rigorous testing.

Crowdguard was developed in response to the growing threat to public safety posed by vehicle ramming attacks in the UK and Europe, such as the Westminster Bridge and Nice attacks, and is a practical measure put in place to protect crowded places and throughout the duration of celebratory events, considered by the government to be ‘soft targets’.

Matt said: “When Crowdguard was created in April 2019 in response to the risks posed from hostile vehicles at crowded events it was always the intention to use the skills and infrastructure of AIS Vanguard to facilitate the logistics of this critical equipment. 

“It’s been a busy time and following successful deployment at numerous public events Covid-19 hit in March and Crowdguard evolved to then assist in town and city centre attempts to create more pedestrianised space. 

“AIS and Crowdguard are both forward-thinking businesses aiming to offer the very best service to their respective clients and I look forward to seeing both businesses prosper together in the coming years.”

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A Huge Thank You to Our SUPER-6

A Huge Thank You to Our SUPER-6

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many things. One of the key lessons learned is that heroes come in all shapes and sizes…and a huge array of job roles.

Amongst those on the frontline of keeping the country moving – in more ways than one – during the pandemic has been our team of HGV Drivers. Dedicated and committed to getting the job done, regardless of the challenges involved, our team of Paul Oxborrow, Peter Bolshaw, Wesley Smith, Mark Robinson, Paul Brown and Ken Woods are now affectionately known as the SUPER-6 here at AIS Vanguard, thanks to their central role in delivering projects during lockdown.

Not only was this team key to our ability to deliver time-critical, complex and diverse projects across the country during lockdown, they were also involved in mobilising the Nightingale Field Hospitals. We were part of the integrated team that transformed events spaces into hospitals within days across the UK, and our SUPER-6 team of drivers were at the sharp end of that challenge, with responsibility for delivering the right assets to the right place, aligned to a time-sensitive programme.

It’s impossible to overstate how proud the company is of the way in which the whole AIS Vanguard team has stepped up and approached the crisis with a can-do attitude so that we could continue to keep our promises to our customers.

Our HGV drivers have taken a no-nonsense approach to getting the job done, day-in-day-out, week after week during lockdown. They have worked far away from home, and often over weekends where necessary, to get the job done safely and on time. They’ve consistently gone the extra mile, not just for the Nightingale Hospital projects, but for every job that needed our involvement. Thanks to our SUPER-6, production equipment has been moved from A to B to keep supply chains running, contributing to the whole national effort; from hospitals to supermarket shelves.

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The success of AIS Vanguard has always been built on teamwork; amongst the interdisciplinary team we employ and across the collaborative partnerships with clients. It’s been inspiring to see just how embedded that culture, driving our team to give their all to support our customers and our colleagues during the challenging times of COVID-19.

It’s clear that the ‘new normal’ will continue to require an agile approach and can-do mindset and our SUPER-6 have proved that they have those attributes in spades. On behalf of our colleagues, our leadership team and our clients, we want to say thank you to all six of them, we are very proud of what you’ve achieved.

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Planning for Recovery in the Manufacturing Sector

As some of the countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic begin to ease their economies out of lockdown conditions and talk turns to exit strategies, manufacturers also need to plan how to transition from shut-down to operational status