Why can Inter Cars customers sleep peacefully? This, among other things, is explained by Wojciech Aleksandrowicz, President and Managing Director at ILS – the Company that is responsible for logistics in the Inter Cars Group.
In 2020, the domestic warehouses of ILS handled the flow of 117 million pieces of goods, sending over 100 thousand cars on domestic and foreign routes. This is perhaps the best indication of the scale that ILS is currently facing?
Over the years of continuous development and expansion of our logistics centres we have reached the point where ILS warehouse floor space in Poland totals almost 200 thousand m2. This mainly consists of three main Logistics Centres: European Logistics and Development Centre (Zakroczym, Czosnów), Western Logistics Centre in Komorniki and Southern Logistics Centre in Sosnowiec. We also manage an extensive network of so-called midi-hubs, i.e. medium-sized warehouses located near large Polish cities (Białystok, Lublin, Szczecin, Łódź, Wrocław, Rzeszów, Pruszcz Gdański).
We also cannot forget about our foreign logistics units. As a capital group we have large warehouses e.g. in Romania, which was one of the first, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece. Such an extensive logistics network requires appropriate coordination and we at ILS strive to provide this at the highest possible level.
How has the technology used by ILS in logistics changed over the years?
The basic technical solution, which was introduced at Inter Cars almost twenty years ago and is still successfully used today, are belt and roller conveyor systems. Of course, today these are much more sophisticated installations, which often cooperate with other, more advanced solutions, but I will come back to them later on. Conveyor systems help bring goods collected at different levels of the warehouse to one place where shipments are put together and packed properly. They are also used in the goods receipt process.
What else is worth mentioning?
Another important modernization was the introduction of radio terminals as a basic tool for warehouse workers. These devices provide our employees with all the relevant information concerning the path of order picking, goods receipt process, packaging and loading. We have been using radio technology in our central warehouses for almost twenty years. Inter Cars branches implemented this solution a few years later. The work with radio terminals, in addition to streamlining the processes, has made it possible to completely eliminate the use of paper documents in the internal work of our warehouses, which also has a positive environmental effect.
The introduction of the “put to light” system in the packaging area was the last major change to be made to the central warehouse in Czosnów (several years before it moved to its new location). This solution was also implemented at the logistics centre in Sosnowiec. This project allowed for further acceleration and simplification of processes.
How does the youngest child of ILS, the European Logistics and Development Centre in Zakroczym, look in terms of new technologies?
When the decision was made to move the main operations to the European Logistics and Development Centre, we started looking for technological solutions which would allow us to prepare for a several-fold increase in scale. After a long search and analysis we decided to implement a modern system, designed especially for our needs, whose “heart” is a very efficient cross-belt sorter. The installation also includes stations for reception of deliveries and product returns, conveyors and a shipping package sorter. This was a major technological leap for our company, which gives our Customers even greater accuracy and speed in their deliveries.
What are the biggest challenges that ILS, or logistics at Inter Cars is facing nowadays?
First of all, we still intend to carry out further bold projects, which often involve the implementation of new, advanced solutions.
Of course, due to our growth, we also face challenges in recruiting new employees. With the growing scale of ILS’ operations, we need more human resources. We are proud to be a growing employer in many regions. The labour market situation means that more and more people from abroad are also working in our warehouses – we currently employ people from as many as 17 countries.
What makes ILS so popular among employees?
People working for ILS appreciate the stability of our company and the development opportunities we offer. For new employees, the friendly onboarding process that prepare them to work is very important. We know that as an employer we are able to compete even with the largest global corporations.
ow about a particular example?
In one of our warehouses, we had a situation a few years ago, where some employees left to join a newly established branch of a global trading corporation, which had excellent marketing and encouraged many people to work there. However, we very quickly saw a large number of returning employees. Ultimately, we found that working for ILS proved to be competitive with being employed by one of the largest companies in the world. This only confirmed that we are a very good employer.
We receive information from the market that in the current situation, i.e. increased demand for parts and disruptions in supply chains, many companies have problems with stocking and timely delivery of orders. Do the Customers of Inter Cars also have reasons for concern?
We are trying to keep up with the increased demand, so the Customers of Inter Cars can stay calm. On the operational side, we are ready in 100%. We prepared in advance for such a situation already at the beginning of the pandemic in Poland. Our large and modern warehouse space provides sufficient space to keep our stocks safe, and our excellent employees make sure that we deliver the orders without any obstacles. All over the world there are problems with the availability of goods, but thanks to the right decisions in the area of purchasing and constructing the product range, as well as earlier investments in logistics, our availability is one of the best on the market.
The flexibility of the ILS offer is often emphasised. How does it work?
We simply tailor our services to the specific Customer, trying to meet all their expectations. We are able to take up realization of virtually any idea. We even happen to surprise Clients with a level of service that is far above the agreed standards.
Finally, let’s look at logistics a little more broadly. What are the biggest changes or trends in logistics in recent years?
For several years, there has been an increasing demand for logistics services related to the operation of e-commerce channels. Both in warehousing and transport services. Pandemic has further increased this demand. The development of IT tools to support these services is also crucial.
Looking at the market more broadly, it is worth noticing that after a temporary slow-down last year, transport is experiencing a “boom” – transport rates, fuel prices and drivers’ salary expectations are rising. This makes the market more difficult.
In international trade, on the other hand, we have seen very large increases in container transport prices from the Far East. These have risen almost twenty times over the past several months. Many companies will be facing this problem in the near future.
Fortunately, we are doing quite well on this demanding market and Customers of Inter Cars can sleep well.
Thank you very much for the interview!