Customised Solutions is a service of the Toll Global Logistics division, specialising in warehouse and distribution services to a variety of industries including retail, healthcare, electronics and dangerous goods.
Third party logistics is a very competitive market, but Toll’s Customised Solutions has figured out skills give them an extra edge to win customers and work.
Customised Solutions employs over 2,000 people across 35 sites throughout Australia and New Zealand.
“As warehousing specialists it is important our customers feel confident their business is in good hands,” says Customised Solutions business manager Wayne Paterson.
“That’s why our organisation is committed to training,” Paterson says. “The majority of our cost is labour, so getting the right people and skills will help us in the long run. Historically, technological improvements have been rapidly introduced but organisations adopt new technologies quickly and are seeking the next point of difference. I believe that difference is our people and the training we provide.”
Customised Solutions is a service of the Toll Global Logistics division and specialises in warehouse and distribution services to a variety of industries, with 2000 employees at 35+ sites across Australia and New Zealand.
The Customised Solutions Altona North hang wear facility in west Melbourne, where clothes are racked and scanned for retail distribution, has had 51 trainees undertake training in nationally recognised qualifications with Certificates III and IV in Warehouse Operations.
“There are many options under Certificate III and IV qualifications, so tailoring the training to suit the operation was the key,” Paterson says.
The company believes engaging the workforce through upskilling makes them more productive and valuable for the long-term.
Because the third party logistics market is so competitive, it’s critical that Customised Solutions not only identifies, implements and sustains cost savings, but ensures all efforts towards that goal – including training and development – are also cost effective.
“On the training side, it had been easy to be reluctant to take time and people out of the workforce to do the training,” Paterson says. “Training was costly, so the government funding helped alleviate that concern and made a big difference.”
The funding – the National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF), brokered by the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (TLISC), who also developed the national qualifications – freed up cash, which then afforded Customised Solutions extra units of continuous improvement studies in the training program, Paterson says.
Continuous improvement makes and sustains change in tiny increments, and is a method to help Customised Solutions identify any wasteful practices in their operations, Paterson says. “If we can find and eliminate the waste, it helps the business as a whole.”
Most wasteful practices aren’t found at a desk or behind a computer, but on the warehouse floor, so staff engagement in upskilling is essential for success. “To identify and eliminate waste, people need to be involved in decisionmaking, the guys that actually do the job on the floor, so they can see where the waste is.”
In an industry becoming ever more automated, “educating and getting workers involved makes them more productive and valuable for the long-term”.
“From head office, it’s a big commitment: we’ve invested quite a lot of money in continuous improvement and operational excellence. However, this has enabled us to go back to the customer and show evidence of cost savings in the business. We’re reaping the benefits (of training) and those benefits flow on to the customer.”
Benefits to Customised Solutions have included a change in work culture, Paterson says. “I’ve seen more confidence in the team, more involvement, expressing their opinions.
“Before training, all suggestions would come from senior crew members, but now we get ideas from the floor because they’re putting their hands up. That’s the kind of culture we’re trying to breed: having the one team, the one Toll.”
Paterson says his start in the industry in the 1990s was typical of the times. A qualified mechanic, he was “travelling the world aimlessly. I landed in Melbourne and started as a casual, unloading containers of cereal, and worked from a casual to full-timer to supervisor to team leader to site manager to business manager.”
Total value of NWDF program to date: $62,700.
Paterson’s mechanical background “made me want to understand how industry works. Mechanics pull things apart and put them back together again; we problem solve, which has helped me understand the structural organisation.”
He hopes Customised Solutions’ approach to training and development will attract other career changers, as well as school leavers, to discover the industry’s pathways as he did.
“We’re a big company with a variety of customers and environments to work in,” he says. “We transfer people around which allows for opportunities to learn and be involved and trained. This in turn gives them confidence and ability to apply for vacancies.”
“Every three months we have brainstorming sessions for each of the areas. You know, ‘since the last time we met, what ideas have you come up with, what can we improve on? What project will have the most impact?’”
“Then, each project we do, we have a measurement of some sort, whether it be safety, productivity, less costs, more savings: a tangible outcome we can quantify.
“Some say, ‘I drive a forklift, what more can there be?’ Well, there’s a lot more.”
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