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Road Transport Industry rallies together...

Road Transport Industry rallies together...

Thursday 9th April 2020

... to deliver essential freshfood supplies during COVID-19 pandemic

Freshlinc who specialises in the total supply chain management of temperature controlled fresh, chilled and horticultural products, says that thanks to the road transport industry rallying together at this most difficult time, essential food supplies continue to be successfully delivered to all the major supermarket retailers on schedule.

Ashley Holland, FreshLinc's Commercial Manager says:

We've all seen on the news the mad panic-buying that occurred in supermarkets prior to the COVID-19 lockdown. With the demand for produce at that time akin to Christmas numbers, it was a phenomenally busy time for us on several fronts. March is already one of our busiest months of the year because of Mother's Day, so in addition to the 300% increase in horticultural loads a day we had organised coming in from the Netherlands, we also had to step up our operations here in the UK to meet this unexpected retail demand for fresh produce - whilst at the same time co-ordinate our own employee's home working arrangements amid COVID-19.

It was a huge logistical effort, but every day we received offers of support from contractors who were on forced down-time, those who transported non-essential goods, offering-up their vehicles and drivers to help deliver fruit and vegetables.

The RHA and FTA were / are also very supportive in providing advice and lobbying for our industry.

Underpinning this gigantic logistics operation, we have the technology to ensure compliance and communication efficiencies across the organisation, and especially with many of the office staff now working from home - from the commercial to the logistics and accounts teams, we needed to make sure no 'paperwork' got lost in the manic-ness of the moment.

As a company, with Aquarius IT as our software partner, we manage everything digitally through ClockWatcher Elite; from infringement signings, accident reporting, walkaround checks, defect reporting, clandestine checks, drivers' manifests and timesheets for payroll - they are all paperless. Ultimately, this means our operations team are able to control and monitor the whole group's compliance requirements remotely, and more than ever with COVID-19, it gives us an invaluable tool for communicating with all our depots and home-workers in real time.

For example, ClockWatcher Elite proved particularly crucial in terms of managing time and attendance for a driving force of 800+ drivers. There was no paperwork to lose, because all driver and vehicle information was seamlessly processed digitally and available for our managers and accounts team to action at the touch of our button.

Fortunately, the mad retail rush seems to have plateaued - for now - and we are very proud that through this difficult time we have all rallied together as an industry to keep the country stocked.

It was also very humbling to receive volunteer support for our own charitable efforts during what was already a scheduled busy peak on from Mother's Day, when we co-ordinated the delivery of fresh produce and flowers, donated by our suppliers/customers, to NHS facilities and care homes.

As an industry - from the drivers on the front line, the warehouse staff working around the clock, and all the admin teams and supporting system partners working behind the scenes in these worrying times - we should be rightfully proud.