Carlton Forest Warehousing Ltd

Logistics and the supply chain – where it all began


The 3PL, supply chain and warehousing industry is vital to this country and contributes greatly to our economy.

Employing 1 in 5 people (Source: RHA) it has proved, during the current situation, to be the backbone of keeping our country running, our shelves stocked and being able to upscale itself beyond all feasibility to cope with the shift in consumer shopping habits. And that’s not mentioning the vital part it plays in keeping all other aspects of our daily lives ticking along nicely, such as healthcare and pharmaceutical products, components for manufacturing and the ever-growing e-commerce sector.

As the warehousing, supply chain and logistics sector has been making its own history just recently, we thought we’d take a look at where it all began.

In the beginning

In 1898 the term ‘logistics’ was first mentioned in an article and thereafter the term became more wider used to refer to transport and warehousing. The hand truck, still a handy piece of warehouse equipment today, was developed in 1887 and was perhaps the first step towards making the logistics industry more simplistic. In 1905 the phrase’ supply chain’ was used for the first time. Then in 1925, pallets were first used thereby freeing up the ability to store product vertically and, just a few months later, the first forklift truck was used to support this new innovation.

Just a couple of years later, factory production began to become more established with the emergence of Henry Ford’s car plant and this formed the basis for the factory production line that we know today.

It was then that logistics, supply chain and warehousing really came into its own and over the last hundred years the developments have been significant.

Technological developments

It is perhaps technology that has been most pivotal in advancing developments for the supply chain and logistics sector. The age of the computer facilitated the creation of sophisticated warehouse management systems that allowed global transactions, and the movement of goods across the UK to take place with ease, tracking goods, meeting customs and legislative requirements and latterly, giving real time reporting to customers.

Bar codes and hand held scanners were swiftly followed by mobile phones, QR codes and apps and, in the last few decades, the environmental aspect of all elements of logistics, supply chain and warehousing have become more evident and important to businesses across the globe.

It was in 1988 that a certain Jeff Bezos formed his new company Amazon, driving the online shopping habits across the globe and necessitating a new ‘stock and serve’ warehouse and supply chain approach that had never been seen on a consumer level before. It was the beginning of the e-commerce sector and even today, exponential growth is still evident in this area both in terms of consumer demand and the warehousing, logistics and supply chain requirements to facilitate this.

What does the future hold?

Who knows what the future will hold for the industry? The challenges of a global pandemic coupled with the advent of Brexit will undoubtedly impact on industry operations, however, we have already proved in 2020 that we can rise to a challenge with positivity and efficiency.

Further technological advancements will undoubtedly define this – automation and robotics ill become more mainstream as their capability, adaptability and accessibility is unlocked to more businesses.

We expect that demand for warehousing space and all types of logistics businesses will continue during Q4 of 2020 and into 2021 as many businesses scale up supply to cope with demand and build resilience against unpredicted events.

It’s set to be an exciting future and one that the Carlton Forest team is committed to.

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