Markilux Germany is a family business, well into its fourth generation, and is among the most successful and reliable manufacturers of awnings and awning systems in Europe – manufacturing high-quality designer awnings for 50 years.
With years of experience in transport, logistics and warehousing, and working to the highest standard possible across each aspect of the business model, Cargo Express has been able to provide Markilux with the service and quality they require and expect for their impressive operation.
What were the challenges?
Markilux Germany manufactures the highest quality and a huge variety of awnings for their customers, and these awnings are non-standard objects, high value, and delicate to transport and handle.
Many challenges come from delivering such delicate, non-standard goods – and Cargo Express are proud to have a fantastic team that works together to ensure that the high quality achieved by Markilux during their manufacturing process is continued right up to the delivery point for their UK customers.
What does our logistics operation entail?
Our partnership with Markilux has involved providing managed logistics, warehousing, and transportation services for their UK operations for over 20 years, to ensure that all goods are delivered in the same condition that it was manufactured.
We believe our longevity as their logistics partner comes from our ability to react to various requirements daily, having clear and continuous communication between both parties, and respecting the unique and challenging requirements in handling and delivering these high-quality, high-value, non-standard items.
Over the years, we have also adapted and developed in line with market requirements to best support their business through introductions of new legislation, as well as difficult and unpredictable periods.
Below we have outlined the key services and how we have supported Markilux with their logistics operation:
1. Cross-border transport & customs
We collect the awnings from Markilux Germany and transport the goods to the UK – and due to the huge variety of these goods, their UK imports require precision and expertise to ensure the vehicles can cross from the EU to the UK without delay.
Each week varies on how many vehicles are required, on what specific dates and what size vehicles would be most suitable and efficiently utilised.
Prior to our arrival, Markilux inform us what goods will be loaded onto the vehicle, allowing us to complete import declarations before the vehicles have even left Germany. This ensures that once we arrive at customs authorities and borders, there is no delay – which is crucial to ensuring the goods arrive in the UK as soon as possible to begin distribution.
2. Handling of goods DE to UK
Awnings are non-standard sized goods, and are often up to seven metres in length, while only thirty to fifty centimetres in width and height.
The awnings are packaged well, with various controls to ensure no damage is caused in handling and transport. However, extra care is required, as the packaging alone will not prevent damages if goods are not handled correctly.
Markilux load the awnings into stillages, and these are then placed onto our UK inbound vehicles – and these stillages are loaded up to 2.5m in height with various awnings inside. Once loaded, the stillage and goods inside must be strapped and secured correctly and safely to avoid any movement on the vehicle’s bed to prevent any damage.
As the goods are delicate, strapping over the top of the stillages, although required, needs to be done carefully to ensure it doesn’t crush the packaging or put too much additional pressure onto the load. That’s why, before each of our drivers goes to Markilux, they are given training in our Birmingham distribution hub to practice strapping and securing stillages and goods to the bed of the vehicle safely and without causing any damage.
The drivers are equipped with multiple straps and heavy-duty plastic corner protectors to enable them to secure the load and travel from Germany to the UK safely.
3. Warehouse checks & handling
When the awnings arrive at our Birmingham distribution hub, high-security warehousing and 24-hour monitoring of these goods are important due to the potential value of the goods. So, it’s key that our warehouses have full-time estate security and CCTV inside and outside the building. There is also limited access, with only selected staff allowed in various parts of the building.
The awnings are unloaded by the stillage and separated onto our warehouse’s dedicated cantilever racking. As the awnings come off the stillages, it requires at least two people to ensure they are handled correctly and lifted and put in place with care.
Checks are then carried out on each package to ensure they have been received in good condition, as well as to make sure all goods advised have arrived and there are no discrepancies in the paperwork from the material.
4. Logistics & planning UK
We are then expected to deliver the awnings to the required UK destinations within a reasonable period, ideally within three working days.
Our domestic transport planners decide what goods can be delivered most efficiently and economically, taking into consideration the awnings’ lengths and weights, as well as the delivery location and what other material can be co-loaded.
Delivery points can vary from large industrial units to residential addresses, so careful and considerate planning is required to ensure delivery is made the first time, every time – and this is where our varied fleet benefits our customers, providing a practical and economic solution for any type of delivery destination.
Once the location has been confirmed and checked for any restrictions, the length and weight of the deliveries are double-checked to confirm the relevant vehicle size. Our team then inform Markilux’s UK offices of the planned deliveries for the next day. However, we must remain responsive and ready to make changes, such as when Markilux customers request delivery earlier than planners had initially expected, or other customers request delivery to be held or delayed due to their own restrictions.
We must overcome this challenge daily to be able to plan the awnings with the right vehicle, the right driver and at the right time every day – particularly given the various sizes and weights of their goods.
5. Transport and Delivery
When it comes to the transportation of their goods, our domestic planning teams must confirm the delivery schedule for the following date with Markilux UK. This is then passed to the warehouse to load the correct vehicles with the right material, which is usually carried out in the middle of the night when most vehicles are back at the distribution hub.
At loading points, the same handling and care of the goods are required as when unloading earlier that day or week. The warehouse operation will also check the paperwork and order numbers to ensure they match the planning team’s and Markilux UK’s requests.
The UK domestic drivers face similar challenges to the international drivers, having to ensure they are securing the awnings correctly and safely to the vehicle while also ensuring they are not damaged by the equipment meant to protect the load. There is another level of skill required, where the drivers need to account for other customers’ material that may be on the vehicle, they need to ensure the goods do not interact or cause damage to each other while co-loaded on the bed of the vehicle, they also need to ensure they can access the awnings easily and safely when at the delivery point.
The delivery drivers often call the delivery point ahead of time to inform Markilux customers of their upcoming arrival. This is important as it allows the customers to prepare for the delivery and have somebody on standby to assist with the unloading of goods where required.
Once the delivery has been completed, the drivers provide Markilux customers with paperwork confirming what they have received, while also receiving a Proof of Delivery signature back themselves. This is later scanned to the cloud to be passed onto Markilux at invoicing.
How do we ensure our drivers always deliver?
We pride ourselves on our high standards, which have recently been acknowledged with our recently achieved DVSA Earned Recognition alongside the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme.
Our drivers are well versed and trained on company policy and procedures, as well as UK law requirements and checks before going on the road through our driver training programme, which includes an extensive induction procedure and various driving assessments.
As Markilux awnings are delicate goods, even after this extensive training and checks that the drivers undergo, they are then trained separately relating the Markilux goods. This will usually involve the lesser trained driver going on the road with a well-trained and established Markilux delivery driver to get hands-on experience with the strapping, securing and delivering of goods.
We are experts in transport, logistics and warehousing solutions, and pride ourselves in offering diverse transport solutions throughout the UK, EU and beyond – from road transport to sea and air freight.
Our logistics company in Birmingham and the West Midlands is strategically placed near key motorways, providing real-time and cost-effective solutions to our client’s delivery requirements. Plus, our customs declaration services will help your delivery cross borders in no time.
If you’re looking to make an international delivery, or want to know more about costs, you can request a quote from us. Alternatively, you can learn more about our supply chain and logistics solutions by speaking to one of our experts on 0121 384 1323!