Investment by Morris Lubricants turbo-charges deliveries to customers

One of the UK’s leading independent lubricants companies has invested £150,000 in a new turbo-charged delivery service to ensure that most customers now receive their orders within 48 hours.

Shrewsbury-based Morris Lubricants, which is celebrating its 150th birthday this year, launched the new service in August after investing in a new delivery fleet comprising a new lorry and a pair of double decker delivery trailers.

The new tractor unit and trailers make deliveries up to three times a day to a distribution hub in the Midlands, from where Morris Lubricants’ products are distributed to customers nationwide.

Morris Lubricants also retains its own fleet of DAF and Scania lorries to make specialist bulk load and hazardous product deliveries and collections from customers across the UK

Graham Fewtrell, Morris Lubricants’ transport manager, explained that, in the past, customers could wait for up to six days for their orders to be delivered when the company had its own fleet of 12 vehicles servicing England, Wales and Scotland.

In an age of next day deliveries in the retail sector, the company decided to “turbo-charge” the delivery of its lubricants products to meet evolving customer expectations.

The faster delivery service means that products spend far less time sitting on shelves waiting for despatch from the company’s Shrewsbury works, making the production and delivery process much more efficient.

“The new delivery service was introduced on August 19 and the highest number of pallets we have delivered to the hub in a month is 2,694 in October,” revealed Graham. “We are delivering an average of 100 pallets daily, which has definitely improved customer service and efficiency within the business.

“Whereas in the past our drivers were delivering two loads per week, they are now delivering loads in the double decker trailers to the hub up to three times a day, five days a week between 6am and 6pm. This way, we can guarantee that all orders will be delivered within 24 to 48 hours.”

Morris Lubricants’ managing director Chris Slezakowski said: “It’s very challenging to service all parts of the UK with a limited number of vehicles. That’s why we have called on the services of third-party hauliers who have at their disposal thousands of lorries to carry our deliveries to wherever they need to be.

“We have also changed what our own fleet does. Our drivers now deliver bulk loads and hazardous products, make collections and cater for specialist orders that require particular attention.”

A new stocking policy has also significantly increased availability of products off the shelf. Until fairly recently, Morris Lubricants operated a ‘pull’ production system which responded to customer orders as the first priority.

“Whilst this is an effective way to respond to demand, it can sometimes place heavy demands on manufacturing, particularly during busy periods, which may result in stock imbalance,” explained Mr Slezakowski.

“With around 3,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) available from our catalogue, we have a wide range of products to make to meet customer demand and it is not efficient to keep swapping from one product to another primarily because of incoming orders.

“What we decided to do is to hold stock of products based on their demand frequency and produce stock according to a forecast. Whilst this is not a new concept, what is new is the way in which we categorise SKUs and the frequency with which we review the forecast. By combining market trends and seasonal demands, we are able to set production plans further into the future and we have adjusted stock holding to suit.

“There is a 92% probability that if you place an order with us, we will have that product in stock and, if it is not in stock, we will typically take no longer than 10 days to make it. With the exception of a few highly specialised products, such as those with a limited shelf life or those which require temperature-controlled processing, we now offer a better delivery service across a wider range of products.

“To improve efficiency, we now have the benefit of our own fleet plus third party hauliers and the transport system is working beautifully. Coupled with our new stocking policy, we are now better able than ever to meet customer demand and further investments are underway to take us to an even higher level of service.

“When added to our reputation for quality and innovation, we believe that we offer our customers outstanding value in today’s market.”

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