Our sector, and particularly Multilem, does not work with the common Euro pallet logistics, but with a set of measures and formats that are different from each other, customized parts for clients and different materials that altogether increase the specificity of each task and raise the challenge of daily operations. And there are various examples: Our final product is not always finished. We must unify and organize a puzzle comprising walls, platform, railings, lacquered iron accessories, upholstered, painted or decorated furniture pieces, crockery, heavy suspensions with more, or less, fragile materials, tools and other resources, each of them in countless finishing stages. Some being already finished and others still in a “raw” state, all with distinct characteristics that require us to perform demanding operations along the different preparation and completion stages of the logistics process, that is: in packaging; in defining the separation space; in revising the exact location of objects inside the truck (and in which truck they should be placed, in the first, second, third…); in load planning, taking into account the specificities of each assembly location; and not less important, the return of the material to the warehouse.

And here, a new phase begins, a new key moment in logistics. When the material returns to the warehouse, firstly it must pass the sorting phase, where it is reviewed and all conditions are analysed. Here, we can measure our efficiency as regards the sustainable utilization of materials, and test our capacity and speed of repair – if necessary – as well as regarding preparation, as we know the material will soon have to leave the warehouse again.

Due to the diversity of the tasks carried out in our logistics department as well as the ongoing projects, we must always be ready and rolling up our sleeves, thus being constantly prepared to face any challenge. I can remember several examples: transporting 250 basil plants from Lisbon to Madrid in a car 16 hours before the fair opens (so the plants arrive fresh), taking 2 maritime containers inside a TIR truck to Helsinki 2 hours from starting the event, getting extra crockery just before the event starts because more tables were needed than the number they firstly estimated, and so on.

This is challenging and stimulating, and that is why we cannot just rely on a single approach, but instead, we must have several angles of action. Our projects so demand it and it is here where we go even farther ahead. We are responsible for the management of internal and external goods; the warehouses and facilities; the liaison with the purchasing department; the mobility of people at national level with our fleet, or internationally, with traveling; in addition to overseeing the availability of materials and providing unconditional support to all departments of the company.

However, the daily life of the logistics department was completely altered during the pandemic period, similarly to all departments and so many other companies. Due to the lockdown, trade exhibition fairs and in-person events were cancelled, two of our main pillars of action, everything stopped, but we could not stand still and other challenges emerged.

We faced this pause on the inflow and outflow of materials by directing our focus towards the improvement of the various warehouse functions; rethinking the overall preparation of our materials in what concerns: its cleaning, emplacement and packaging, the allocation of resources, definition of spaces, mapping of all the warehouses and improving our carpentry by setting up more work spaces.

We changed the organization of our two warehouses, rearranged the material in two and three different ways before achieving an optimal configuration for the future. We involved people from different departments and functions in the various tasks as labelling, taking photos, palletising, reordering, planning, and finally, we managed to implement a formula to attain our success.

So, it was with great pride that I saw my department participating as well in these internal and improvement projects not only for the warehouse but also including the carpentry and offices, making use of our numerous in-house capabilities: from metalwork to the creation of customized pieces, organizational inputs and, above all, the willpower to improve so we can turn the page and experience a structure even better prepared for the future.

And as fundamental as having well-defined and organized physical spaces is also carrying out our work with fluid internal communications between all the parties involved in each project. Thus, we have optimized our internal communication tools so that we are able to anticipate actions and work with a higher level of involvement and information for everyone.

Nevertheless, we are aware that in order to put into practice all the outlined plans, we will have to adhere to these new methods and routines and thus ensure the success of the entire process, from A to Z.

After more than a year, we can already conclude that this renovation of the logistics department allowed us to be readily prepared to the much-desired return of the exhibitions, fairs and face-to-face events that finally begin to take place.

Therefore, don’t forget to follow our travels, because we are already back on the road.

Read the latest article on the History, Evolution and Challenges of Multilem España, by Gonzalo Barbadillo. You can access it here.