Question: How did you get into the temperature-controlled distribution sector and what is your role within EV Cargo Logistics?
Answer: After several years working in senior roles at Christian Salvesen, Whitbread Food Logistics, Norbert Dentressangle and Bibby Distribution, I took over as managing director of CM Downton in 2018. A year later I was asked to step up to the role of chief executive of the EV Cargo Logistics division.
Question: Can you firstly tell us what temperature-controlled vehicles that EV Cargo Logistics operates?
Answer: We have a combined total of over 400 tractors with a mix of Volvo, DAF, Mercedes and Renault, along with nearly 500 refrigerated Schmitz and Montracon trailers fitted with Thermo King smart reefers.
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 EV Cargo Logistics?
Answer: The advancements of the Thermo King units have been advantageous, with consistently better performance combined with lower fuel usage. We are also about to start a trial on a hybrid fridge power unit to drive efficiencies in line with our global environmental policy.
The entire EV Cargo Logistics chilled trailer fleet has aerodynamic body kits fitted and we regularly test different trailer manufacturers and body designs to get the most efficient trailers best suited to our needs. We have seen the aerodynamic package can deliver fuel savings of up to 5%.
Question: Are you using telematics across your fleet currently? If so, what advantages do you see this gives your clients?
Answer: Yes, we use Microlise which is fully integrated into our TMS. Not only can we be proactive from a customer management perspective with onsite/offsite times, ETAs, driver communications and tracking, but it has also given us the ability to monitor driver behaviour. Each shift is awarded an ‘A to G rating’, considering fuel consumption, harsh braking, idling and speed. We can review standards in line with our KPIs whilst providing a fantastic platform to celebrate drivers that regularly perform well.
Question: Customer needs are constantly changing, so what are you finding is now the biggest request from your customers?
Answer: There are three main points for me. Firstly, working principally with retail suppliers who are under huge pricing pressure, we have continually reviewed and adapted to offer solutions of consistent value. We work in partnership to locate and implement efficiencies, allowing suppliers to invest within their own business rather than their distribution costs.
The second is speed, where the term JIT is becoming more and more prevalent. Retailers are wanting stock earlier and many suppliers want collection times pushed back, so the network is evolving to provide more express transit times.
Thirdly is the use of data and its visibility. The need for live, real-time access to granular information has always been a strong point of ours and something we will continue to develop, benefitting from with the expertise within EV Cargo.
Question: What environmental measures does EV Cargo Logistics incorporate to ensure best practice?
Answer: We invest in our resources to have the most efficient refrigeration technology in the market and implement fuel performance measures through manufacturers eco options like automatic engine cut out, optimised gear shifting settings, economy cruise with optiroll, inhibiting power mode and dis-engageable air compressors. This work has given us the highest possible 5-star award in the government backed Eco Stars Fleet recognition scheme.
All fuel data is analysed by an independent bureau service showing trends for both vehicles and drivers. Fleet Supervisors monitor vehicle performance and report any underperforming vehicles for investigation. Driver trainers use trending analysis alongside telemetry reports to verify achievements. All operational KPIs are reviewed on a weekly basis by management and reported to the board. Carbon savings are reported through the FTA (Logistics UK) scheme.
Question: Could you tell us a little more about your temperature-controlled storage solutions please?
Answer: We have seven cross-dock facilities across the UK, but our main storage site is in Daventry, which has 215,000 sqft of deep chilled, chilled and ambient space developed as a fast-paced picking operation for suppliers to retail, food service and wholesale.
Question: Now that the UK has left the European Union and Brexit has finally happened, have you noticed any changes with your business?
Answer: We identified the risk early, working closely with retailers and suppliers to prepare as best we could. We had a nominated Brexit contact that worked tirelessly, initially planning on a no-deal Brexit with the view that any form of deal would mean an easier transition.
We originally saw change on our inbound stock from France and Italy, with delays in the run up to Christmas. There were challenges with consistency of supply and we had to work closely with customers to amend stock levels accordingly.
Whilst we do not export to mainland Europe, we provide services to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. From the start of January, lead times had to increase to allow for EHCs and port delays. We applied new practices and I must congratulate the team on this, the difficulty was just the sheer volume of traffic at the ports due to the enhanced checks now required.
We are now seeing much smoother transit times as hauliers have adapted, but it could well happen again when more changes are made in April.
Question: Lastly, would you like to share any news about your company that you feel would benefit the TCS&D readers?
Answer: We see ourselves as the most agile and responsive chilled FMCG provider, with excellent peak service levels through a unique ability to flex. Following the acquisition of NFT we are firmly embedded as an EV Cargo branded business, benefitting from synergies across the operating divisions and a diverse breadth of expertise. With EV Cargo’s continued investment policy in both its technology and people, we are well positioned to continually improve our service to the industry.