For any company in, or involved with, the logistics sector in Northamptonshire, there’s an organisation that leads the way in terms of collaborative working and providing representation locally and nationally for a community that is one of the most vital to the health of the county’s economy.
Founded in 2016, The Northamptonshire Logistics Forum is a working group made up of representatives from local businesses, involved with and benefiting from every element of the supply chain, from procurement through transportation, warehouse operations and ‘last mile’ customer delivery. Some of the UK’s largest logistics companies operate in this area.
The forum is free to join and is supported by the University of Northampton to support the sector across Northamptonshire.
In addition to a range of specific workshops and networking events that run throughout the year, there are regular email updates and access to support. Members have benefited from the wide range of topics including debate about legislation, advice on energy-saving best practice, HR and recruitment.
Over the past few years, that voice has needed to be heard louder than ever, as logistics firms have dealt with, firstly, the uncertainty that surrounded Brexit, and where issues still exist, followed by the devastating pandemic that put the industry under the kind of pressure normally restricted to peak times that are both expected and planned for.
Tony Bellott, Chairman of the Northamptonshire Logistics Forum, said: “I think the events of the past year or so have made a lot of people think rather differently about logistics and how the goods they want get into shops, homes and schools. That might be due to the early worries about food shortages, or the boom in online retail as people treated themselves, or kept their households running, during lockdown. It was followed up by worries about lorries facing unprecedented issues moving goods in and out of the country once Brexit became a reality.
“Almost everything we use in our everyday lives involves a ‘supply chain’ and its constituent parts; in the case of Northamptonshire, providing one in seven jobs and being the fastest growing sector in the county. This highlights just how important the logistics industry is. Having The Northamptonshire Logistics Forum, which focuses on the issues facing the industry, helps members protect their interests while providing an opportunity for their staff to be involved in celebrating the success of their contribution – as important now as it has ever been.”
The forum also prides itself in addressing the issues that are commanding its audience’s attention, such as promoting the role of women in logistics. The results, in an infographic, of a recent online survey are on the forum’s website, and the forum is proud to have an ambassador who leads on this key subject for the logistics community.
Attracting more young people into the world of global logistics, for instance, and giving them the opportunity to learn new skills and gain experience through higher education and apprenticeships, would help address the skills shortage.
Similarly, initiatives such as Forces Logistics Northants, which is aimed at helping those leaving the armed forces, and their families, to transition into civilian careers are designed to put to good use skills and expertise gained in service. Supported by five local businesses, Forces Logistics Northants is open to any veteran, dependent or cadet who is looking for a career. The scheme also provides help with signposting to accessing housing, health and education services within the county.
The forum has also been instrumental in developing SEATS – a mutually agreed safety and best practice scheme, fully accredited by JAUPT, that provides a partnership framework between clients, agency and drivers.
The showpiece of the forum’s year is the annual Northamptonshire Forum Logistics Awards, which will take place again this year, having missed last year due to lockdown and social distancing restrictions. The awards, now open for entry, give those in the industry a chance to come together and celebrate the best in the business.
Another opportunity to celebrate success is held through the Northamptonshire Logistic Forum’s annual Forklift Driver competition. Not only does this give a local business the bragging rights but, thanks to generous sponsors, there are some amazing prizes for the competition winners. The inaugural event in 2019 was very well attended with the winning driver receiving a £1,500 holiday voucher.
Len Smith, from Alpro, proud employer of the 2019 winner, said: “Alpro were proud to be represented at the inaugural Northamptonshire Logistics Forum Forklift Driver competition in 2019, and thrilled to have had our entrant, Paul Stafford, finish up as the winner. The event was well organised, well supported, and a great day to both network with industry colleagues and show a little good-spirited rivalry. We are certainly looking forward to this year’s competition.”
Tony Bellott added: “The aim of the forum is to support companies and colleagues in the sector across Northamptonshire, a growing sector in the county and vital to our day-to-day life – but often one which goes unnoticed.”
To find out more and to get involved with the forum or be added to the regular email bulletins email email@example.com or visit www.northantslogisticsforum.com For further information visit www.forceslogisticsnorthants.co.uk