The warehouse requirements you can't afford to compromise on for air freight forwarding

Tue 11 Sept 2018
Posted by: William Barns-Graham

Article by: Nick Rees is Commercial & ALL Director of Yusen Logistics (UK) Ltd (IOE&IT Corporate Members)

Last financial year, a record high of £620.2bn UK exports was recorded, with UK businesses seizing export opportunities and Heathrow airport, the UK’s leading air gateway, reporting double-digit cargo growth of 10.2% for the 12 months to December 2017.  Further research by Lloyds Bank indicates that this trend is likely to continue, with a recent report stating that two in five UK businesses are planning to export or enter a new market for the first time before the end of the year.

Yet, as exports rise, the continuing UK warehouse shortage dampens potential growth prospects.  According to national property consultancy, Lambert Smith Hampton, there is a predicted shortfall of 25 million sq. ft. by 2020 – and this research was before the impending effect of a potential no-deal Brexit. However, although warehousing space may be limited, there’s some things you should never compromise on when it comes to sourcing an export facility – particularly for air freight. 

Foremost, is to ensure your facility is safe and secure.  Although air freight consignments are not always large, they are often high in value.  The procedures that a site has in place are essential to keeping your goods secure and safeguard your brand; from 24-hour manned security to full site CCTV coverage.  It’s vital you identify the level of security your products need, and your logistics provider should work with you to define these parameters, which typically will vary during the year according to seasonal peaks.  Yet, protecting your products from theft is just one aspect of securing your goods.  Operating the correct manual handling equipment will minimise product damage and specialised air freight equipment, such as roller beds for ULDs, will further reduce touch points to keep your products safe.

When sourcing a facility, ensure that the operation can handle the fast-moving and complex requirements that air freight demands. It’s vital that your logistics provider has the capacity to adapt to rapidly-changing circumstances, handle goods outside of normal working hours and has the inbuilt procedures to deal with fast-moving markets.  With goods often repacked and configured onto aircraft units within hours, a warehousing facility should have the versatility to manage consignments of various sizes and weights quickly and efficiently, together with the added value services to configure orders to your exact customer requirements at the latest possible stage of the supply chain.

Finally, never negotiate on customs compliancy. The customs environment is continually changing.  New programmes, initiatives and regulations are constantly updated at both international and national levels.  Your logistics provider must be compliant with both local and international customs, and their customs controls and procedures must be secure and efficient.  Recent years have seen significant changes such as the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and the introduction of the SAFE Framework for global trade.   Today in the UK, the importance of Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status is beginning to come into play - despite already being largely adopted across other European countries.  This is together with the upcoming introduction of a new Customs Declaration System in 2019 – replacing CHIEF, a system that is nearly 25 years old.

Here at Yusen Logistics, our strategic alliances around the globe provide our customers with the flexibility to choose from a range of freight forwarding service options.  Seamlessly tailored to your precise needs and complete with end-to-end visibility.  In the UK, our bonded and AEO accredited warehousing facility in Heathrow is ideally located in close proximity to the airport’s cargo hub with specialised handling equipment for air freight and an onsite International Freight Forwarding (IFF) team to support with even the most complex requirements.  

For further information about how we could support your export operation, please contact

nick rees yusen logistics

Nick Rees is Commercial & ALL Director of Yusen Logistics (UK) Ltd and also has responsibility for the Asset Light Logistics business unit. In a logistics career spanning 25 years he has undertaken a variety of operational and commercial roles. Key focus areas include driving Yusen’s growth agenda through the delivery of bespoke solutions for current & prospective clients, and the roll-out of Yusen’s award-winning Healthcare 4PL control tower to other industry verticals.