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Question: How did you get into the temperature controlled distribution sector and what is your role within Turners Soham? 

Answer:  It all started with my late father who encouraged me into the transport industry.
He had been with Turners since the denationalising of the road transport industry so I thought let’s give it a go. 41 years later, I am still here!
Right from the start, the engineering side of the business was always appealing. I started as a trainee working on the refrigeration units and repairing all types of trailers and vehicles. Today, I am responsible for the refrigeration fleet and the Newmarket maintenance department.

Today’s road transport may have slightly changed from way back then but the challenges have only now got a lot bigger. The lessons learnt way back then have stood me in good stead over the years to face most of the challenges put before me.

Accepting the TCS&D Fleet Manager award in 2014 was a great honour, to know that you have been recognised by your colleagues in the industry.

Question: Can you firstly tell us what temperature controlled vehicles that Turners Soham operates?

Answer: Turners have a fleet of 700 refrigerated trailers both multi-temperature and single temperature combinations. There are 1850 vehicles in the group with over 600 of these vehicles operating on the refrigeration work. The vehicles are based at various locations across the UK, operating 24/7, 365 days of the year.

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 Turners Soham?

Answer: It has always been a priority to keep working with all our manufacturers on improving our equipment by achieving greater temperature control and reduced fuel consumption on our refrigeration units; working to achieve a trailer which can be used on any combination of load variations for our varying customer needs and help to reduce our carbon footprint.

Turners are also members of SRF (Strategic Road Freight consortium) and have worked with Cambridge University and Gray & Adams in the design of new refrigerated trailers in 2016. These took into account unique aerodynamic efficiencies from around and underneath the trailer.

Most importantly, reliability is key. We are always working on our goal of reducing our running costs without compromising our service levels.

With technical developments and environmental needs changing daily, we will at some point in the near future see the biggest change in the transport refrigeration world in a number of years.

This, in some part, will be forced by legalisation as we are already beginning to see in London and other cities in the UK and across Europe.

We need to wait and see what will be the next generation of equipment the manufacturers will bring to the market, whether this is the phasing out of gas oil; finding an alternative fuel such as electric power or something totally unique to the market. Whatever the outcome, it will need to be a cost effective alternative to the operator.

Question: Are you using telematics across your fleet currently? If so, what advantages do you see this gives your clients?

Answer: Yes. Telematics are a very important weapon in our company armoury as it allows our company to focus on improving our level of service and helping to deliver a more cost effective operation. Additionally, it provides real time information such as accurate delivery times, any potential delays and improving driving training. We use this data to improve the company’s daily operations.

A secondary use of telematics is to monitor every driver within Turners on how the fuel is being used set against a number of driving styles.

Our latest addition of Thermo Kings ‘TracKing’ now gives the company early warning of temperature issues either on route or at our delivery / collection points. Having this built into our in-house software, now gives our operators a greater overview and greater control in the day to day running of the fleet.

Question: Customer needs are constantly changing, so what are you finding is now the biggest request from your customers?

Answer: Reliability to deliver the customer’s products in good condition, on time, every time. We strive to deliver cost effective supply chain solutions.

Customers are requesting additional technical information as most customers are working to an industry standard whether this is BRC, HACCP, FSA or their own company standards. This is one of the biggest changes I have seen – the bar has been raised since standards have been introduced. Customers now understand more about refrigeration and the cold chain. As audits are now a regular occurrence, the cold store and transport distribution operations are continually improving. This enables the company to offer the customer a better experience and for standards to continuously improve.
My experience has found that more customers are having a greater understanding of how to read and understand data when presented with a temperature download. A few years ago I would have customers regularly contact me to ask the difference between SAT (supply air temperature) and RAT (return air temperature). Now, I am having far fewer requests.

There is still a long way to go with educating people in the industry to gain a better understanding on getting the best from the equipment. This can only be achieved by working with your customers and continual in-house training.

Question: What type of temperature controlled warehousing does Turners Soham offer to its customers?

Answer: At our Newmarket site, we offer a range of services including the storage of both frozen and chill products, blast freezing, tempering facilities and order picking with 150,000 sq.ft. of cross docking facility.

Our Lincolnshire hub based at Bicker expanded with a new state of the art cold store offering over 5500 pallet storage for temperatures ranging from 0-10 degrees.

Question: What number of pallets does your temperature controlled warehousing hold?

Answer: Turners Newmarket site holds ISO14001, BRC and Seddex accreditations with approximately 90,000 pallets capacity of temperature controlled storage over a 40-acre site.

Question: What environmental measures does Turners Soham incorporate to ensure best practice?
Answer: Turners are continually looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint through energy costs and improved efficiencies. Turners invest in the latest fuel efficient equipment and constantly strive to maximise our energy management through ways such as investing in power saving LED lighting. Additionally, Turners encourage best practice in controlling waste management across our sites.

Question: Since the Brexit decision, have you noticed any changes with your business?

Answer: Since Brexit was voted in, costs for buying and maintaining equipment have been steadily climbing. Most suppliers have, or are attempting to, increase costs in some way, reacting to the change in Euro exchange rate. With Brexit looming, demand for cold storage to hold buffer stocks of food is likely to increase. However, with so much uncertainty, it won’t be until we leave the EU that we will discover what the direct impact will be.

With volatility of fuel costs and driver shortages continue to be a major challenge.

Raw materials and parts made in the EU will result in costs rising. Even equipment manufactured in the UK is increasing due to the impact of buying raw materials from the EU. It is going to be a big challenge to keep running costs down.

With our diversified business model, Turners stand in good stead and are ready to face any possible challenges Brexit may bring in the coming years.

Question: Lastly, would you like to share any news about your company that you feel would benefit the TCS&D readers?

Answer: A difficult one to answer as Turners continually look for opportunities that present themselves with both our customers business needs coupled to our own continuous development.