Question: How did you get into the temperature controlled distribution sector and what is your role within Trans-Bridge Freight Services Ltd?
Trans-Bridge Freight Services Ltd was established in 1991, we quickly established ourselves as one of the leading groupage operators from the UK into Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man.
In the early nineties our key market sectors were the Textile and Manufacturing industries. Northern Ireland, especially, was a strong region with many of the large clothing manufacturers having fabric processed, dyed, and made up along with other large industries such as Carpet manufacturers.
Our strength was a reliable nightly service from the UK mainland into the Island of Ireland with the flexibility to ship consignments from single parcels through to full pallet loads. Towards the end of the nineties it was apparent that companies were looking to reduce costs and shift manufacturing East to benefit from cheaper labour and Ireland saw a lot of its big industry vanish.
We could see a change of direction was needed for us to survive and true to the proverb of “as one door closes, another one opens” I got introduced by chance, to the Distribution Manager at Johnson & Jonson Medical in Gargrave who was looking for a solution into Northern Ireland, to which we leapt at the opportunity.
This led to us providing J&J a daily service of wound management products and medical devices into all the Hospitals, Clinics, and Wholesalers throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic. As with all Global Corporations J&J were constantly acquiring new businesses and selling divisions off, which very quickly expanded our Portfolio of healthcare companies. This provided us, as a business, with the credibility to be able to secure opportunities with some of the key players in Healthcare sector.
Throughout the next decade we continued to evolve and strengthen our position in this challenging market, with the ever-growing appearance on the horizon of enforcement by the MHRA of the EU Guidelines for the manufacture, storage, and distribution of medicinal products.
Temperature control of Chilled Products has always been a specialist area, however, now any product that had temperature sensitive storage conditions had to be carried with the same vigilance and this was a serious game changer.
When one of our major Generic Drug clients was the first to approach us to provide a door to door temperature controlled groupage solution throughout Ireland, we decided to grasp the nettle and create an infrastructure capable of meeting what we hoped would be an avalanche of Temperature Controlled pharmaceutical demand. We now have a broad range of Temperature Controlled assets at our disposal along with WDA (Wholesale Distribution Authorisations) and MHRA GDP Certification at both our Manchester and Antrim, Northern Ireland, sites.
Question: Can you firstly tell us what temperature-controlled vehicles Trans-Bridge Freight Services Ltd operates?
We have a real mixed bag of options when it comes to the temperature controlled distribution. This ranges from 1000 Ltr Thermoking Cubes fitted with Transcan Units and tracking to LWB Vans, 18 Tonne Rigids and 45’ Trailers, all of which are Dual Compartment and Pharma specification. Having a varied fleet of different sizes and capacity puts us in a strong operational position to accommodate consignment sizes at both ends of the spectrum to commercial and residential consignees alike.
Question: What has been the most important technical development in your temperature-controlled bodies and refrigeration systems in recent years and how has it impacted on your operations within Trans-Bridge Freight Services Ltd?
As we are a groupage operator, our biggest operational challenge in terms of providing a multi collection / multi drop solution was to have the entire fleet of trailers with the separate accessibility to both compartments of the trailer as we had with the rest of the fleet. The solution was to have a side door into the front compartment. This allows us to load / unload Chilled products at the front of the trailer, whilst having the rear compartment running at an ambient temperature. Not a unique feature as such, but hard to source, which led us to an individual design plan with Gray & Adams by positioning the door frame as far forward as possible to allow access to the very first pallets loaded when necessary.
Question: Are you using telematics across your fleet currently? If so, what advantages do you see this gives your clients?
We opted for the Seven Eye telematics system. We find that the functionality between the software and the TranScan unit provides us, and ultimately our customers, with not only the critical temperature / location data required for each delivery, but the added reassurance of a highly configurable monitoring and alarm resource.
Question: Customer needs are constantly changing, so what are you finding is now the biggest request from your customers?
I would say that Compliance is now the top priority for our Pharma Clients. Our approach to Quality and Process is very highly tuned, which ultimately assures each of our clients that we have the necessary credentials to provide a reliable and compliant partnership. Our procedures and operational processes have to satisfy the highest standards of compliance, to which our MHRA accreditations are testimony.
Question: What environmental measures does Trans-Bridge Freight Services Ltd incorporate to ensure best practice?
We have a defined vehicle replacement programme which ensures that our vehicles and trailers are being updated to meet ever improving environmental standards. We also believe that with a broad range of assets at our disposal we can ensure that we are maximising resource and minimising waste.
Question: Now that the UK has left the European Union, have you noticed any changes with your business since 31st January?
With the exception of one customer that has a Pan European presence that took the decision to supply the Republic of Ireland directly from Belgium, we haven’t noticed any actual changes in the business. We have been extremely proactive in terms of preparing for a “No Deal” scenario on the 31st December 2020 and feel that we are now well positioned to provide our customers with a seamless as possible transition.
If anything we actually see our Temperature Controlled infrastructure as a significant advantage in terms of distribution throughout Ireland as our WDA licensed facility provides us and our clients with a GDP compliant temperature controlled holding platform, should we need to buffer pharma consignments for The Republic of Ireland as part of the Customs clearance process.
Question: Lastly, would you like to share any news about your company that you feel would benefit the TCS&D readers?
We have some exciting developments in terms of expanding our client portfolio that have been delayed somewhat since the outbreak of Covid-19 but we are confident that once the pandemic is under control things will start to progress again. The message we want to deliver to your readers is that we are always eager to talk with companies that have Temperature Controlled Pharmaceutical requirements who are seeking an affordable, shared user service into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and additionally, to like-minded service providers or 3PL’s that need a Temperature Controlled solution for their client’s needs.
Trans-Bridge Freight are also actively in the process of improving and increasing our online presence in the form of various Social Media platforms as we endeavour to keep up and thrive in this digital age of marketing and communicating with our customers.