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Logistics: The Low-Down

It’s an undisputed fact that we are all consumers – each day, we collectively buy millions of products up and down the country – from computers, smartphones and stationery to food items, appliances and clothing. But how many of us give any thought to where our products come from – and how they get to us?

Way back when

The UK (especially the North) was once an international hub for industry and innovation. Manchester and surrounding towns became hives of industrial activity, with the goods made (mostly textiles) shipped all over the world. The famous Manchester Ship Canal was an integral part of that – with huge barges filled with crates headed down to the docks at Liverpool for export to America and beyond. Later on, Manchester was home to a pioneering new advancement in transport with the opening of the country’s first steam passenger railway here in the city.

So, what’s changed?

We now import a staggering forty-five billion pounds’ worth of our products from overseas – and many of our goods come to the UK on heavier haulage such as container ships, cargo aircraft and HGVs. Cars, computers, clothing and food are all constantly coming in to the country via each of these channels – then they are passed on to logistics companies and couriers (like us!) who bring the items to retailers or directly to you.

In recent years, technology has vastly revolutionised the way we do everything – in a very short period of time. Now with smartphones at our fingertips, we can track a parcel as soon as we have made a purchase. We can order in the evening and have our item delivered the very next morning. This requires depots and delivery services to run round-the-clock – and it simply wouldn’t be possible without the complex databases and ordering systems which have been developed within the last ten years.

The future of logistics

The future of logistics looks faster, leaner and greener. Eco-friendly cars and vans are already creeping into the mainstream market, including fully electric and hybrid models which are said to be able to cut emissions by up to 100%. A heavier use of technology should continue to cut delivery times – but of course with conventional transportation methods such as road, air, rail and sea still in use there are lingering limitations when it comes to speedy distribution. There have been some advances in this area, however – drone delivery is one such proposition – but it’s currently struggling up against health and safety fears at the moment. Who knows what the future may hold? Perhaps one day, we will watch as our order instantly manifests before our eyes using telepathic technology!

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