Hosted by Prologis UK, students of the MSc Supply Chain Management postgraduate degree at the University of Birmingham were given a full day tour and deep dive learning experience into the operations at the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT). This was a result of collaboration between academics Dr Devon Barrow and Professor Daniel Chicksand from the University of Birmingham, and PR Manager Tom Osborne of DIRFT, all keen on exposing students to the real world operations of the UK’s largest and most successful intermodal (rail/road) logistics park.
The day began at The Hub, a large building housing a centre for logistics training and education and home to the Prologis Warehousing and Logistics Training Programme (PWLTP). Students learned about the “Golden Triangle” of logistics, the strategic positioning and impact on the UK economy of the DIRFT site, and the various businesses housed at DIRFT, including Boohoo and Royal Mail. Students were able to ask questions of key staff including Dave Mellow, Director of Development Management at Prologis UK.
A key part of the day included a detailed tour of the end-to-end operations of both the Boohoo facility located at DIRFT as well as being given exclusive access to Royal Mail's new, state-of-the-art Midlands Super Hub. Students were able to see first-hand the logistics distribution operations of the clothes they purchase, from picking, packing and loading onto trucks. Students then walked the 840,000 sq ft warehousing space housing Royal Mail's Midlands Super Hub, observing the robots helping to manage the delivery of large parcels around the UK.
Students got the opportunity to ask questions and gain insight into what it’s like working at the companies.
Thomas Noonan, a student on the programme commented “The DIRFT visit was an eye-opening and engaging trip that allowed me and my fellow students to see the practical implications of what we are being taught. It was very encouraging to see real-world application and I think we all left the trip with a better understanding of the sort of career that could be available to us.”
Another student Dickson Doosey said “As a student trying to acquire knowledge in supply chain management, the DIRFT field trip was a fruitful mind-blowing experience. We learnt about the different hurdles supply chain managers and workers go through to meet consumers everyday demand.”
If that wasn’t enough, the day was topped off by a guided driven tour of the entire DIRFT site including existing warehousing and rail facilities of the likes of Sainsburys, as well as new planned railway expansions. The day was a resounding success providing real-life experiences for students to draw upon during their studies, and a point of reference for their future careers.
Devon Barrow, Senior Lecturer at Procurement and Operations Management Group at the University of Birmingham, said: “The practical learning day at DIRFT was very rewarding. There was so much rich knowledge that was provided that both the students and I found very insightful. The students had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and learn first-hand from experts in the field. I am confident that the knowledge they gained during the day will be invaluable to them in the future.”
A special thanks to Prologis and Tom Osbourne, to Royal Mail and Boohoo, and BNP Paribas for making this a reality and for sharing their expertise. We thank you for your commitment to inspiring the next generation and look forward to our future collaborations.