2021 MHE market expectations and how Brexit has impacted logistics in the UK...

Torsten Wiecker

After Brexit, will 2021 see a new era of opportunity for logistics in the United Kingdom? Or higher costs and import headaches? In this interview with Torsten Wiecker, Managing Director of STILL UK, we ask has Brexit impacted logistics and STILL as an organisation? Plus, he shares his expectations for the materials handling industry in 2021.


How has Brexit impacted STILL as an organisation?

Like every business that operates with a connection to Europe, STILL has been impacted by Brexit, however so far, we have been successful in not passing that impact onto our customers. We have of course prepared as much as possible, gaining clarity from the authorities on the business implications of the different Brexit scenarios. There was of course uncertainty up until the last few moments until the Brexit deal was finally agreed. Now there are more documents required at the borders resulting in higher administration work. These are challenges which every business dealing with Europe has had to face, and at STILL we have adapted quickly to ensure there is no impact on our customers.


How did STILL prepare for the different post Brexit scenarios?

We prepared as much as possible under the circumstances, of course the easiest scenario would have been a trade agreement, and no changes. But with the level of uncertainty it was hard to create any concrete outcomes, so we felt the best decision was to prepare for the worst case ‘no deal’ scenario.

On a positive note, we received support from our STILL HQ in Hamburg - their expertise and knowledge working with other markets outside of the EU helped us to plan out the potential scenarios and what impact Brexit would have on our processes. For me this is where STILL in the UK really benefits from belonging to a larger, professional Group, we don’t need to “reinvent the wheel” when these situations occur, we have the necessary expertise across the organisation to be able to offer the right support.

Europe

With a European Head Office will post-Brexit service levels change at STILL?

No, and the reason is down to who we are as a business. At STILL, change and continuous improvement is part of our DNA. To be successful over this length of time we have changed products, and optimised processes to adapt to new challenges. We could be operating in the EU or outside - with a trade agreement or without one, for us it doesn’t really matter; it’s simply the next challenge for us to overcome. Our focus is and has always been the customer no matter what challenges we face.


Will Brexit see any delays in STILL products and parts?

Initially, in the first weeks following the Brexit deal we were impacted, but so was every other organisation. All companies as well as the authorities must adjust their work accordingly. The last-minute nature of the deal gave all parties a very short period of time to prepare what was necessary to ensure that there were no delays. Now that the transition has begun, the theoretical preparations meet the reality and only time will tell what happens next, but with the support from our experienced colleagues in Hamburg we will continue to be a reliable partner for our customers.


What post Brexit expectations do you have for the materials handling industry?

If you asked me whether the MHE industry would be better or worse off after Brexit? My answer would be, it’s just different! Rather than focusing on the good or bad in a situation, at STILL we seek out the opportunity. Over the past 10 years, I’ve seen a great deal of changes in logistics and the MHE industry. The rise of eCommerce and the next day delivery consumer expectations driven by businesses like Amazon have had a far greater change to our industry than Brexit.

Man in safety waistcoat

 

Thinking positively about the changes Brexit may bring, my personal perspective is we could see more goods produced in the UK. And as a result, a positive impact for materials handling with more supply chains operating within the UK. The longer-term trends like automation, material flow and fleet management will continue to change and drive improvement in the logistics industry, regardless of Brexit. I share the expectation of BITA that we will see a growing market in the UK compared to 2020. The last 3 months have already shown some positive signs.


How will logistics change after Brexit?

I don’t see logistics changing as a result of Brexit, logistics is of course an essential component in keeping the world moving, but Brexit itself is a challenge for the industry to navigate through. And at STILL we will play our part in supporting our customers.

For the UK in 2021, I believe the key logistics trends will be: further growth in the electric forklift truck market, a stronger emphasis on fleet management software and the introduction of more automated solutions within supply chains. These trends are not only ways for businesses to optimise their logistics operations, but they can also help manage increased costs in overheads or importing caused by Brexit.


Brexit doesn’t need to impact your organisation…

With support from STILL’s intralogistics experts, your operations don’t have to be impacted by Brexit. Speak to our experts to see how our fleet management software, automated solutions or our electric counterbalance truck range can help reduce costs and optimise your logistics operations, contact us to find out more.

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