Question: How did you get into the temperature controlled distribution sector and what is your role within Fresh Logistics?
Answer: I have worked in the industry for over 20 years, starting off as dispatch clerk and working my way up to boardroom level with some of the biggest European food businesses. My final role was as management consultant within Northern Foods, the 2 Sisters of old. I then set up Fresh Logistics in 2009 and still serve as the Managing Director. We have grown quickly over the years and now have close to 100 employees, I remain closely involved in the day to day running of the business as I feel that it is important to set the cultural ethos of the business.
Question: Could you tell the readers of TCS&D, what services Fresh Logistics offer please?
Answer: At Fresh Logistics we view the business as a one-stop shop. The more obscure the logistics requirement the more exciting it is for us and we have built up substantial experience over the years to know how to provide solutions to a vast array of logistical problems. Within the company, we have now diversified into four different sections: –
Fresh Logistics is the largest section and concentrates mainly on the food industry. Through this side of the business we offer such things as same-day couriers throughout the UK and Europe, overnight deliveries, pallet drops, frozen and chilled parcel services worldwide, storage, bespoke projects, marketing events and consultancy.
Fresh Pharma was our first sister company, dedicated to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry and was set up thanks to a collaboration with the NHS to distribute Human Tissue Specimens. We have since become registered and approved with some of the largest pharmaceutical wholesalers and distributors in the UK.
Fresh Fridge Hire offers vehicle rental to restaurants, schools, weddings, outdoor events and small local businesses on short term and generally emergency hire due to fridge or vehicle breakdowns.
EMLC is our HQ in Derby from which we offer innovative and creative offices, training and meeting rooms to the logistics industry.
Question: Can you tell us what temperature controlled vehicles Fresh Logistics operates?
Answer: Our fleet ranges from a small van up to artics. We have such a diverse range of clients that we need to be able to cater for, so our vehicles all contain moveable bulkheads and can be set anywhere between -25 °C through to +25 °C. Our 7.5t’s differ from ‘heavy freighters’ that can take 3500kg through to dual-compartment vehicles with side doors and tail-lifts for frozen and chilled multi-drop deliveries. We also have a range of vans from 1 – 4 pallets, some of which are twin evaporator to allow for full temperature control of mixed loads.
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 Fresh Logistics?
Answer: We were one of the first companies in the UK to trial twin evaporator vans, however, back then the technology was large and chunky which meant to get the payload our insulation wasn’t as thick as it should be and still the vehicle could only carry 450 – 500kg.
With more recent developments, we now have 9 twin evaporator vans on fleet that have the highest specification Thermo King refrigeration units installed, enhanced insulation and can carry 850kg weight. These vehicles fly through the temperature mapping tests we perform and will comfortably take loads at down to -25°C, and even during the winter months the units can heat to +20°C.
We have also added run-locks to the vans so that our fridge units will remain running whilst the keys and driver are away from the vehicle, ideal for the work we do in the pharmaceutical industry. Obviously to be able to provide this type of vehicle comes at a cost, but to stay ahead of the market I see it as a necessary investment.
Question: Are you using telematics across your fleet? If so, what advantages do you see this gives your clients?
Answer: Another major investment for us is our Transport Management System. All of our drivers are equipped with handheld PDA’s that pings back to our system and allows us to provide our customers with tracking, accurate ETA’s, what number delivery they are on whilst performing multi-drop, arrival and departure times plus we can provide electronic POD within seconds of delivery. We can also provide temperature readouts throughout transit, giving full vehicle and temperature traceability.
Question: Customer needs are constantly changing, so what are you finding is now the biggest request from your customers?
Answer: Compliance – with the nature of the products carried, we have seen a major shift in concentration from retailers and governing bodies to be able to provide end to end traceability and reassurances that the goods will be taken in the most effective manner. If you think about food safety in the UK and the importance with potential terrorist attacks, or the vehicle security when transporting high-cost pharmaceutical loads, our customers need full trust that we will transport their products in a compliant, safe and secure manner.
We are heading towards our 10-year anniversary now and have adapted our training schedule to ensure our drivers are fully trained to BRC, MHRA, GDP and IOSH standards, plus they are put through further training with such things as Food Hygiene Level 2, so by the time they come onto the fleet it will have cost the company around £1500 each. This is a necessary requirement to maintain our service levels and ensure our drivers are fully ready to take on our bespoke and intriguing work.
Question: What environmental measures does Fresh Logistics employ to ensure best practice?
Answer: We run a number of schemes aimed at reducing our ecological footprint. With regards to our vehicles, we keep close tabs on our miles per gallon, monitoring vehicle performance on a weekly basis along with vehicle idling through our Transport Management System so they are not idling unnecessarily.
Our HQ is also a big focus of concentration, looking at ways to reduce outputs. Our offices are run by solar power, giving clean energy throughout. We also harvest rainwater for our grey water requirements and vehicle washing, plus when we moved in there was a 50-year-old oil boiler that used to throw out black smoke, so one of the first things we did was to convert this to environmentally friendly LPG. We have internal recycling too including taking cardboard to a local customer for bundling and re-using.
Question: What type of temperature controlled warehousing does Fresh Logistics offer to its customers?
Answer: A vast range of temperatures from frozen through to heated. Due to the nature of our business we need to be flexible and cater for a differing range of services. An example of this was when we were approached by a local brewer who was looking to condition their beer over a period of time whilst maintaining +12°C temperature. We had a specially designed add-on to our chilled unit for this purpose, we also had a wine connoisseur who was also looking to store their collection of rare red wines at the same temperature, which worked out well. All our storage chambers are temperature mapped every 6 months and are complete with remote monitoring and are fully CCTV covered.
Question: What number of pallets does your temperature controlled warehousing hold?
Answer: We are currently set up to have 300 pallets of chilled and 300 pallets of frozen, but when we say ‘chilled’ the fridge can be set to anywhere between -5°C up to +15°C. We don’t try to compete with the larger, more established storage and haulage companies, we try to offer solutions for the smaller, more hands-on projects that require closer care and attention.
Question: Lastly, would you like to share any news about your company that you feel would benefit TCS&D readers?
Answer: We are looking at developing technology for an all-in-one Transport Management System being designed to be rolled out around the UK. This will be bespoke to the temperature controlled transport industry and act as a one stop shop from bang sheet to balance sheet.
As the first in the industry to pay the living wage, we have proved that you can pay your guys well, reward hard work and still have a business.
Our Road to Class mechanism was designed for people who have passed their standard car driving licences pre-1996. Rules of old meant they had the ability to drive 7.5t’s without any additional driving exams, however with the new laws coming in they must now apply for a digi-card and take the drivers CPC course which can be costly. The Road to Class scheme aims to recruit and develop these guys, giving them the opportunity to earn money working on the vans to then pay for their digi-card and drivers CPC course allowing them to drive 7.5t’s legally once again. We will also support driver if they want to develop skills to either Class II and Class 1 vehicles too.
I have also (not that I don’t have enough to do already) recently been invited to assist the hard-working Royal National Lifeboat Institution developing their supply chain. I am also going to talk about our collaboration with the NHS at the upcoming TCS&D conference.
We have been honoured in previous years by winning the TCS&D Refrigerated Courier of the Year award twice in 2013 and 2014, so we are going to do everything in our power to once again lift the title.