In recent months, Hexstone — the UK’s largest wholesale supplier of fasteners, fixings, hardware, ironmongery, and associate items to the engineering and merchant trade —has been pulling out all the stops to meet ever-growing customer demand.
As the parent company behind leading fasteners and fixings experts Galaxy Fasteners, Icon Fasteners, JCP Fixings, Owlett-Jaton, Stainless Threaded Fasteners and Unifix, effective stock management is an integral factor in servicing its European customer base.
Size is everything
Boasting warehouse space of 250,000 sq. ft. — the equivalent of approximately three football pitches — and capacity to hold up to £18 million worth of stock, the company is well-equipped to serve multiple industries across the UK.
Head-quartered in Stone, Staffordshire, the facilities hold 10,000 tonnes of products, with 50,000 different lines, enabling them to offer a “one-stop” solution. These cover the following areas: fasteners and fixings, agriculture and building products, locks and accessories, hardware, ironmongery, abrasives, sealants, and adhesives.
Not only does the product range cover a diverse range of usages, the majority is available to order 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via next day delivery, ordered through the sales office network, or online.
Cutting-edge warehouse technology
In addition, Hexstone also recently invested £250,000 into a warehouse picking system — a cutting-edge technology for this industry in order to manage product lines efficiently. The new system enables orders to be picked both reliably and cost-effectively, which is a necessity for a company that processes approximately 2,500 orders per day. The hand-held terminals work through wireless barcoding reading, and are voice-activated.
Nick Simpson, Logistics Director at Hexstone, commented: “Accuracy and efficiency have significantly improved since the introduction of the picking system. Instructions are given through the headset to the operator, informing them of which location to go to, the quantity to pick, the weight, and number of boxes. The operator confirms each instruction by voice, as well as the last four digits of the bar code. The system then informs the operator which location to go to next, and the process repeats.”
People: the driving force
The warehouse workforce comprises 145 members of staff, operating on a 24 hour shift system; 23 of whom are dedicated to the packaging department. There is a dedicated purchasing department, who monitor the stock levels at Hexstone, purchasing from 25 countries around the world. All sales staff have access to live stock levels listed by individual product, and can then check this against all orders as they are processed.
With an average of 10,000 lines per day, it is important that the team at Hexstone are fully dedicated to their role in order to meet demand. Monthly KPIs are kept to manage stock availability by product, with staff analysing the statistics regularly. They ship over 1,200 deliveries per day.
John Barker, Purchasing Director at Hexstone, commented on the processes put in place to ensure that customers can remain confident in stock availability: “The benefit of having good stock availability is customers having the confidence to place orders and know that they will get the product the next day. Our staff understand that they need to preserve stock levels — that customer confidence is actually more valuable than the sale itself.”
When asked why he believes stock availability is important to Hexstone’s customer base, John responded: “Knowing that we are able to meet demand and have a consistent stock holding gives our customers continued confidence. In fact, our customers are even starting to keep less stock themselves because they feel they can rely on us more, which highlights that loyalty.”
The six faces of Hexstone
Galaxy Fasteners was established in 2001, and has grown to become a leading supplier within the Structural, Engineering, Agricultural and Steel Framed Building sectors. The growing product range features: Assembled Bolting, Square Hexagon Bolts, Cladding Screws, and allied products. The range is available with Galaxy head markings, covering requirements for the initial fabrication stage, through to the fully cladded structure. Galaxy can deliver across mainland UK with a next day delivery service, and with full product traceability for customer confidence.
Icon Fasteners specialises in the supply of standard and non-standard products to a wide range of markets, including: Automotive, Agricultural, Structural, Energy, White Goods, Furniture, Windows, and General Engineering. Icon is a leading stockist of High Grade Alloy Fasteners, Socket Screws, and Hexagon Fasteners in Grades 8.8, 10.9, 12.9, and 14.9, available in self-colour, zinc, and galvanised finishes. Icon also offers a wide range of other finishes and patches as required, and is able to supply PPAP parts. The in-house Specials team can source and manufacture parts to specification and quality approved to BS EN ISO 9001 – 2000.
JCP Fixings is a specialist supplier of Construction Fixings to Distributors. Since its launch in 2000, JCP has grown to become a leading force in the UK fixings market. All products are supplied with a full technical specification, and in a number of cases, European Technical Approval (ETAG). JCP offers on-site testing of products via an external Technical Sales team, and in-house anchor load calculations. JCP also has an Anchor Calculation Programme which is available as a free download from: www.jcpfixings.co.uk.
Owlett-Jaton is a leading supplier of Fastenings, Fixings, Hardware, Ironmongery, and associated products to the Merchant and Distributor Trade. Owlett-Jaton has an enviable reputation for high quality products, and an unbeatable customer service. With over 30,000 lines in stock and next day delivery to most of the UK, Owlett-Jaton offers consistency of supply and customer confidence. With a network of sales offices throughout the UK, customers have access to experienced staff, whilst the online ordering website OJ Trade gives customers access to prices, stock availability, and more.
Stainless Threaded Fasteners is one of Europe’s largest distributors of Stainless Steel and Brass Fasteners. STF offers in excess of 10,000 items of A2 (304) and A4 (316) stainless steel and brass fasteners, and can supply distributors on a next day delivery across mainland UK. Additionally, STF carries a range of A2 (304) stainless steel Security Screws, A4 (316) Marine Fittings, the well-known REDtip Solar Mounting System, Action Can Industrial Aerosol Products, and Ace Hose Clips. STF also has a dedicated Export and Marine Division, and can source non-standard products manufactured to specification.
Unifix has a long and established history as a quality fittings brand. The strong portfolio of products such as: Thunderbolt, Vortex Screws, and Kliplok Pipe Clips has an enviable reputation for consistent quality. The uniquely designed collection of cable clips is recognised as a brand leader in the fixings market. The new Unifix range is bigger and better than ever with the introduction of associated products from the Hexstone portfolio.
Hexstone will also be attending the Torque-Expo exhibition at the Silverstone Circuit in October, where all six companies will be showcasing their diverse range of products. For more information, visit: www.torque-expo.co.uk.
For more information on Hexstone, visit: www.hexstone.co.uk.