Question: How did you get into the temperature-controlled distribution sector and what is your role within Manfreight
- Manfreight have been leading the way in the Temperature Controlled Distribution Sector in Northern Ireland for almost five decades and currently employ 450 people. The business is built around Strategic Partnerships in a way that is beneficial for both our customer and our own business.
- Founded in 1973, Chris Slowey Senior started Manfreight with just a single truck and a big dream. The business is now led by Chris Slowey Jnr – his knowledge, expertise and innovative attitude along with an amazing team has allowed the business to almost triple in size in recent years.
- Chris and I have known each other for many years, we both went to University and worked together in previous businesses.
- My role in Manfreight is managing and strategically developing our Warehousing & Storage Operations.
Question: Can you firstly tell us what temperature-controlled vehicles that Manfreight operates?
- Manfreight own and operate one of the most modern fleets in the industry capable of high-level integration. The fleet is continually updated as part of our renewal programme, guaranteeing high efficiency and low emissions.
- In addition to 200+ state-of-the-art Tractor units, Manfreight own and operate over 300 Schmitz Cargobull Temperature-Controlled Trailers.
- Through our partnership with the trailer Manufacturer, Schmitz Cargobull, we have refined and perfected a temperature-controlled trailer that is bespoke to the service we offer our customers.
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 Manfreight?
- Our vision to digitise the supply chain drives us to innovate. As technology and the demand for it expands and changes, so should our operations and processes.
- Our partnership with our trailer manufacturer, Schmitz Cargobull, has resulted in one of the most important technical developments in recent years. Through this strategic partnership, we are able to work closely with their design team in Germany to create a portal that reflects what our team and customers need to see in real-time.
- This portal offers a single window for:
- Remote-Temperature Control
- GPS Tracking providing end-to-end visibility of every movement
- Confirmation of Load Weight when loading and discharging
- Geo-fenced Door-Locking – maximising integrity of product
- Real-Time Data Monitoring – from driver behaviour to vehicle performance – this is used to maximise the efficiency of our fleet
- 100% Traceability across the fleet
- 100% Real-Time Download Availability of Cold Chain documentation across the fleet
Our fleet telematics are second to none. They are also continuously updated and expanded through our involvement in research, development and live trialling of new technology.
Question: Are you using telematics across your fleet currently? If so, what advantages do you see this gives your clients?
- Our use of technology and approach towards innovation gives us our competitive edge. We use telematics across our organisation to maximise efficiency, safety, security and compliance. Through partnership with our suppliers, these systems have been designed to our requirements and quarterly feedback.
- Through the use of advanced system-to-system API integrations we are able to provide our customers with information in real-time, so they aren’t reliant on conventional methods to relay journey details or updates.
- We have always believed in using technology to make our fleet as efficient, safe and secure as possible and we are proactive in pushing each system to its best potential. We’ve been using Trailer Connect Telematics, Scania NextGen and Volvo Connect on our trucks and trailers for many years to monitor temperatures and driver behaviour, and we integrate it with other systems to give us an even better understanding of our operations. Our Driver Training and Compliance Teams can use telematics data in conjunction with our CameraMatics CCTV System, for example to improve driver behaviour and performance and to investigate road traffic incidents or claims.
Question: Customer needs are constantly changing, so what are you finding is now the biggest request from your customers?
- We work closely with some of the biggest brands in the FMCG Sector as well as some of the fastest growing manufacturers in the UK, Ireland and Mainland Europe. Each of these customers have specific processes and a different set of needs. Through strategic partnerships, we seek to provide bespoke service solutions that fit with our customers individual business models.
- Our customers ask us to simplify processes and make working together easy! By partnering with them and becoming part of their DNA, we can deliver solutions much more quickly.
Question: What environmental measures does Manfreight incorporate to ensure best practice?
- Our vision for the future growth of Manfreight is built around our ESG Policy (Environment, Social & Governance Policy). This strategy outlines our steps towards sustainability across all facets of our business and the industry.
- Through investment in new technology and partnering with our suppliers, we have already managed to reduce our total carbon emissions by 18% in just 2 years.
- We have worked with industry leaders, government, council, non-governmental organisations and our local community to create and implement solutions to problems. We have made some real progress in our mission to be a leader in sustainable business within our industry.
Question: Could you tell us a little more about your temperature-controlled storage solutions please?
- We have warehouses in Belfast and Skelmersdale offering multiple solutions for customers including storage, groupage and tailored solutions to meet our customers specific needs. Our customers products are very time sensitive, so it is important our warehouses and systems manage our customers products efficiently and most important accurately.
- We are also building a new state of the are warehouse in Belfast Port. This warehouse will complement our existing groupage operation in the Port and further enhance our offering to our new and existing customers.
Question: The last 24 months has thrown us all a curve ball, how has business been for you since the pandemic started?
- The pandemic was a challenge for everybody – but as a business with a strong team culture -we all worked hard to service our customers ever changing needs. We pride ourselves on best-in-class customer service and we feel we delivered on this.
- The pandemic also gave us plenty of opportunities and we had to adapt and diversify quickly. We can now reflect on the past 24 months, learn, develop and improve our ways of working even further.
Question: If you could give one piece of advice to a newcomer to our industry, what would it be?
- Look after yourself and the people around you. Challenges will come at you thick and fast in this industry and people are your most important asset. Take advice from the expertise around you.
- Mental and personal health is so important, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for support no matter how silly you think the questions is.
Question: Lastly, would you like to share any news about your company that you feel would benefit the TCS&D readers?
- We are very proud to have recently partnered with Fujitsu UK & Ireland, to develop its smart border solution – Atamai Freight. Atamai Freight enables goods to move seamlessly and securely by verifying the integrity of road freight throughout its entire journey.
- By unifying and mapping all elements of the supply chain on a single digital platform, Atamai ensures the most complex customs procedures are completed automatically – saving time and money – and providing customers with accurate arrival times for our customers goods.
- We believe the future of global trader will be digital so it’s important we have an interconnected supply chain using the most advance technology available to all the stakeholders.