Question: How did you get into the temperature controlled distribution sector and what is your role within Keep It Cool?
Answer: I fell into the temperature-controlled sector due to applying for Gist’s graduate management programme many years ago. My first few placements were within the M&S Foods division so night shifts in the Barnsley fridge were my first foray into the industry. Needless to say, it didn’t put me off and after taking the opportunity to purchase a small business, that had a great deal of promise, I am now the Managing Director and founder of Keep It Cool Ltd.
I had been advised strongly against entering transport in any area by my father, founder of Bradford based freight forwarding company Redhead International, so as offspring generally do I totally ignored the advice and entered what I would argue is one of the hardest sectors within the industry!
Question: Can you firstly tell us what temperature controlled vehicles that Keep It Cool operates?
Answer: Keep It Cool operates MWB Mercedes Sprinter vans and 7.5t, 18t and 26t DAF’s. We have found both DAF trucks and Mercedes vans to be extremely reliable and key to our business. Our fridges are all Carrier as they are dependable, long lasting and the support of Carrier and their partners, specifically Lynton’s, has always been invaluable. Similarly, Motus Commercials, formerly F&G, have always provided our DAF’s and the service and consistent support in ensuring any down time for our fleet is at the absolute minimum has been impeccable. They are both great partners.
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 Keep It Cool?
Answer: Temperature mapping and the recording of information has always been key but has become even more prevalent in recent years. We have invested in our entire fleet to ensure that we can provide timely and accurate reports, ensuring our customers’ confidence in their product being delivered at the optimum temperature. We have also invested in temperature controlling equipment that operates between -25 to plus 25 to ensure that ambient products are also kept at the appropriate temperature through our ever swinging UK climate.
Question: Are you using telematics across your fleet currently? If so, what advantages do you see this gives your clients?
Answer: We have worked with Verilocation, now Connexas, for the last few years, providing real time updates as to the location of our fleet as well as driver telematics to assist in training and educating our drivers. Customers can have confidence in us being fully aware of, in the simplest instance, the location of their goods at any time but also that we are able to forewarn of any delays on route.
We are an “A to B” temp controlled courier service so our aim is to deliver the load as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible. As the loads are usually urgent and last minute our customers’ can then rest assured that we have real time updates and know exactly when goods have been delivered. The driver training also helps us to manage our fleet MPG, therefore decreasing fuel costs, which is ultimately beneficial to our customers.
Question: Customer needs are constantly changing, so what are you finding is now the biggest request from your customers?
Answer: Our biggest request is for absolute availability at a fair price in their time of need. Our customers are looking for a solution to an immediate problem and need delivery as quickly and efficiently as possible. We pride ourselves on always being able to say yes to all requests.
We take on minimal regular work so that we can assist with the urgent loads, however, that service does come with a slight premium and obviously everyone is fighting rising costs.
We work very closely with our customers to ensure that reaction times and service are at an excellent level and that the price is acceptable to both parties.
Our service means that customers get peace of mind and almost certainly hard cash in the long run when considering avoided penalties for missed or late deliveries and in other cases, reduced production down time.
Question: What environmental measures does Keep It Cool incorporate to ensure best practice?
Answer: Although our work tends to focus on last minute, urgent deliveries, we always try to effectively reduce our environmental impact. We encourage fill and for customers to consolidate their deliveries where possible to reduce the need for further miles.
We heavily focus on driver behaviours and driving safely and efficiently to maximise MPG and minimise our fuel usage. Our modern fleet also allows us to take advantage of the improvement in Euro 6, DAF engines.
Question: Now that the UK has left the European Union, have you noticed any changes with your business since 31st January?
Answer: No not really, we have experienced a stable period with no great changes in day to day operations. I am pleased to report that most of my customers have also seen business as usual; we are all waiting to see what may happen next. In the food industry peaks are seen around key calendar dates, so with the likes of Mothers’ Day and Easter on the horizon we are expecting demand to increase. More worryingly, in the last few weeks, we have started to see the effects of the Coronavirus and how severely this is starting to impact some supply chains.
Question: Lastly, would you like to share any news about your company that you feel would benefit the TCS&D readers?
Answer: We are thrilled to have recently moved on to a site with Expect Distribution, in a prime location on the M606, Bradford. The access it gives us to key highways and the reduced travel time to our customers is a huge positive.
As is usually the case with Keep It Cool, we are looking to expand. With our modern fleet of 10 vehicles we are keen to provide services across more of the UK: focussing on the food supply chain and growing our network across the industry. We are a small firm but have an awful lot of passion for ensuring deliveries are completed in the best way each and every time and we love to build relationships with customers and like-minded individuals across our sector. Our customers’ can always speak to a dedicated member of staff day or night and our dulcet Yorkshire tones will always be there to help sort any logistical quandaries!