Question: How did you get into the temperature-controlled distribution sector and what is your role within Chiltern?
Answer: I started Chiltern 25 years ago this year with our first contract delivering sushi throughout the UK. My current role is managing director.
Question: Can you firstly tell us what temperature-controlled vehicles that Chiltern operates.
Answer: Our entire fleet is multi temp with a full range of vehicles including 7.5, 18 and 26 tonne. All vehicles are satellite tracked reporting on location, vehicle telemetry and temperature. We also have a fleet of Mercedes sprinter vans, which have a capacity of 3 pallets with a total payload of 1,100 kgs.
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 Chiltern?
Answer: Over the past 25 years refrigerated bodies have become lighter in construction with much better performance when it comes to insulation, making them more efficient. Fridges have also become more efficient in terms of fuel usage and noise levels.
Question: Customer needs are constantly changing, so what are you finding is now the biggest request from your customers?
Answer: We have to move with the times and try where possible to meet the needs of our customers, but generally customers have smaller deliveries more often and adopting a “just in time’ approach.
Question: What environmental measures does Chiltern incorporate to ensure best practice?
Answer: All vehicles that we run are Euro 6 and our oldest fridge trailer is 4 years old. We are constantly looking at ways of reducing our impact on the environment. One key way is driver training. We track our drivers performance as it relates to fuel consumption and driving habits.
Question: And the last question is such a ‘hot’ topic currently – would leaving the EU have an adverse or positive effect on your business?
Answer: Who knows!! For Chiltern, as with many other hauliers, we have a lot of concerns regarding Brexit. The main factor is the uncertainty. We regularly run to Europe with goods from the UK and vice versa so any form of border or customs control would undoubtedly add both time and cost to an already low margin sector. I am old enough to remember the days of check points across Europe and the paper work and time that was incurred by transport operators. I would say that journey time would increase by at least 15% if we revert to border checks. The other issue which is well documented is the effect it may have on the already barren resource of HGV drivers. Many of my guys are from Eastern Europe and are nervous as to what the future may bring.
Question: Lastly, would you like to share any news about your company, that you feel would benefit our readers?
EXCLUSIVE ANSWER: HOT OFF THE PRESS Martyn, after 25 years with myself at the helm of Chiltern, we have decided to separate the two core activities of Chiltern.
John Davidson, who has been a shareholder at Chiltern has become Managing Director and owner of Chiltern Cold Storage Group at the Peterborough site. I will focus my attention on Chiltern Distribution Ltd which will continue to offer a full range of transport solutions across the UK and Europe from our Whittlesey depot. I have known and worked with John for many years, both companies will continue to work closely with each other moving forward. I would like to wish John every success.