Behind the warehouse doors
Here at Book Aid International, we have a dedicated team of 12 warehouse staff that work to get over one million books out of the door every year. Below we hear from Dave, our shipping and warehouse supervisor, who told us a bit more about how they do it!
The process of getting a shipment on its way starts with booking a container to arrive at the warehouse. To do this, we need to establish when we are likely to finish packing all the books that will be included in the shipment and depending on the number of books donated, whether the container will be 20ft or 40ft.
I then usually contact three different shipping agents to obtain separate quotes to ensure we are as cost effective as possible. Once we agree on one of the quotes, the shipping agent will give us a loading date. On that date a lorry carrying the container will come to collect the books, and myself and another
member of the warehouse team will load the consignment pallet by pallet using a forklift truck and an electric pump truck. The container will then be taken to the port ready to be loaded on the vessel and shipped to wherever it is headed.
From a shipping perspective, Covid-19 caused all sorts of problems and delays at ports, which have now been going on for the last couple of years. For example, last year we experienced severe delays in booking loading dates due to a shortage in HGV drivers, many of whom had returned to mainland Europe during the pandemic and remained there once the lockdowns were lifted. More recently, the cost of living crisis has caused a marked increase to our shipping costs, so we’re constantly looking at ways to keep our costs down and make sure as many books as possible get to the people who need them.
There are a few things that make it all worthwhile though. I find it particularly satisfying when I hear that the books have arrived with our partners, especially when the partner sends me some photographs of the books being unloaded from the container or being put onto the library shelves.
Also, it’s also a great moment when the final container of the year leaves the warehouse. Knowing that we have been able to send over a million books to support our partners and readers is amazing.
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