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Handle and Contain
03/10/2007 | Channel:
Logistics / Packaging
Listening to customers' needs is the reason for Roadways Container Logistics' success
Roadways Container Logistics (RCL) provides bespoke container-handling services to an array of UK industry sectors. The company has strategic transport depots across the country and particularly key locations at ports, which create a cross- country infrastructure, honed to aiding business product distribution. RCL operates transport depots at Felixstowe, Southampton and Barking (for Tilbury) as well as having major rail linked terminals inland at Tamworth, Leeds and Manchester. The company has over 500 employees and a turnover in excess of £60m a year. RCL operates over 250 of its own vehicles, as well as around 300 subcontractor vehicles, and its present integrated form was established five years ago. However, the company's road haulage roots go back to 1854 when horse-drawn vehicles were used. The inland depots were built in the 1960s and 1970s when the container industry was in its formative days, resulting in the infrastructure witnessed today.
Bob Ingram, general manager, rail and an integral figure in RCL's railway development, comments on the company's operations: “RCL is a leading container transport company operating within the UK. Intermodal containers can be moved by road or rail between the ports and the inland terminals, using a company's own fleet of road vehicles for movements between terminals and customers premises. The whole network acts as a 'hub and spoke' distribution system. The proximity of RCL's inland hubs, close to strategic commercial areas, provides a unique network for the transfer of containers that can be moved inland and stored locally before final delivery. Last year, RCL moved some 400,000 containers, employing 'just in time' principles.” The company prides itself in working closely with its customers to ensure the best service is made available, with a focus on reliability and punctuality.
National operations manager Nick Matthews explains the success of the company: “RCL's major strength is its ability to mix the best of both road and rail transport. The company's national network of inland hubs, as well as its depots at Tilbury, Southampton and Felixstowe, means that it is able to provide the most flexible and cost effective transport network to any intermodal container customer. Containers are transported and stored close to customers' premises so that they are available for delivery on demand. This hub and spoke principal means that traffic delays are
minimised and are less likely to interfere with any sensitive supply chain requirements, driving up service delivery levels and driving out failure. RCL is recognised as one of the leading companies in its field with a wellestablished reputation for quality of service and innovative solutions.”
Nick continues by outlining the solutions provided by the company: “An example of a bespoke service RCL provides is for Next, serviced through the facility at Leeds. Containers are moved inland to the local terminal and 'shuttled' by road to the Next RDC on a daily basis. RCL provides a tug shunting service at the major RDCs, moving containers and trailers on and off the docks to meet immediate demands. Close communications between the client and RCL are maintained at a high level in order to meet the varying requirements of the fashion market. The company also recently completed a four-week trial with Tesco in the Midlands, providing services by rail from Southampton to the new BIFT terminal. Containers were stored until required for road movement to the Tesco RDC, which proved highly successful. Tesco hass indicated a desire to expand this service considerably.”
Innovation is central to RCL's development, as is expansion of service. This can be seen by the company's progress in railway transportation, as Bob explains: “The new depot, called the Birmingham Internal Freight Terminal, is a prime example of combining the best of road and rail transport. Rail Transport is very good at moving bulk commodities regularly over longer distances above 100 miles, and the hub and spoke transport system operated by RCL combines this rail strength with the flexibility and speed of local road transport deliveries. Using railways reduces vehicles and congestion on the road, is more environmentally friendly, and is often economically the best solution. Inland terminals are like virtual warehouses, holding stocks close to the clients' demand centres and delivering over short distances what is required with a minimal lead-time.”
On the benefits of the Birmingham terminal, Bob continues: “The BIFT terminal is located close to junction 10 of the M42 and the A5; this is the ideal location for servicing our Midlands based customers. The new depot will allow RCL to service its major customers' expanding needs, as the Midlands is the fastest growing economic area in the UK.”
To ensure future success within the market, the company has made significant investments, as Nick states: “RCL continually monitors any new transport developments and is at the forefront of new thinking. The company is fully aware of technologies such as vehicle tracking and telemetry monitoring. Additionally RCL has its own 'in house' computer development team who are constantly improving our vehicle control and yard management systems to ensure customer service and quality accurate management information. Last year RCL achieved over 98 per cent of its deliveries and collections within 15 minutes of the booked time, a record of which we are justly proud.”
This record is only one aspect of the company's competence, as Nick concludes: “RCL's success relies on a healthy mix of many factors, including long-term relationships, excellent customer services, motivated and competent staff, good cost control and a network that works.”
Roadways Container Logistics
Industry Container handling