Page 1: Introduction
One of the most significant economic developments is the internationalisation and globalisation of commerce. Almost every type of business is influenced by global events - businesses now face tough competition in home markets from overseas producers, but benefit from new sources of products, parts and goods which have become available. Companies today have extended their geographical markets as well as the areas in which they purchase and manufacture - creating a much more complex and competitive business environment at a time of rapid growth in world trade.
In order to achieve customer satisfaction, businesses must ensure that products and services are available for customers as promised, at the right time and in the right place. Businesses must operate a range of innovative manufacturing concepts, such as just-in-time production, which affects how successfully they cater for their customers. Just-in-time means that production materials arrive at a customer’s factory exactly as they are needed for production, thus avoiding costs of storing materials until they are used. It calls for close coordination between the supplier and the customer, as well as an efficient distribution system. Logistics is a key element in guiding the planning and development of many businesses. High standards of logistics, for example, might allow a supplier to deliver 99% of customer orders within 48 hours of the order receipt - helping that company to win new customers and retain existing ones.
A key industry which has grown rapidly in recent years is that of Air Cargo. The industry has been supported in its response to the process of change with state-of-the-art technology and some of the latest engineering concepts in the world.
This case study focuses upon a pan-European project which involves GEC ALSTHOM and Lödige who are currently developing a Materials Handling System for British Airways at its New World Cargocentre at London Heathrow Airport.