Snow and ice came early to the UK this year, with many areas of the North East hit badly last week and bleak conditions spreading across the whole country by Tuesday. For logistics providers caught in the squall it was time to see whether they had learned from last January’s lessons when similar conditions closed distribution centres and prevented automotive suppliers from making deliveries on time.
For car carrier ECM (VDS) the problems have centred on trucks and drivers being stranded overnight on badly affected routes, especially those in areas such as Scotland and the North East.
“Due to the North and East of the country being the worst affected the impact upon our industry has been worse than normal this is because the vast majority of cars imported and exported are through East coast ports,” said ECM’s managing director Ray MacDowall
“Humberside ports appear to be the worst affected and have effectively ground to a halt today due to snow blocking compounds,” he told Automotive Logistics News this morning.
MacDowall also said that vessels attempting to discharge vehicles at Purfleet in South East of the UK have been unable to do so and have been forced to sail back to Zeebrugge with their car cargoes.
“All in all it is a operational and economic disaster and will place an untold cost burden upon the already thin margins of the UK’s car carriers.
NYK Logistics is handling the challenges to its inbound activity in the UK with the help of local and Freight Transport Association (FTA) weather alerts, as well as regular status performance updates.
“Contract status performance boards at the automotive operations provide weather alerts on an ongoing basis, generating briefings on particular problem areas,” said John Pursey, regional general manager, for NYK Logistics UK. “These briefings are shared by both the NYK planning teams and the customers’ material planners.”
Pursey told Automotive Logistics News that NYK’s central planning resource, at the company’s automotive distribution and crossdock facility in Derby, provides a central resource bank to the company which further supports the avoidance of disruption so that collection plans can be adhered to whatever the weather.
“Most importantly, NYK works with material planners to constantly review plans to ensure a proactive response to any critical areas,” said Pursey, “for example, by flexing driver patterns, agreeing new timeslots with suppliers and ‘double collecting’ (bringing forward volume) to reduce the number of routes where possible.
He added that communication between all stakeholders is constant and key to maintaining service levels during the adverse conditions.