Question: How did you get into the temperature controlled distribution sector and what is your role within Buffaload?
Answer: It’s a ‘when I was a kid’ story, but here we go! When I left school I went to farm college, at that time my hobby was buying and selling vehicles and I bought a temperature controlled van in 1995, without an engine in it! And I couldn’t sell it. My uncle was an owner/driver with a refrigerated trailer and as a child I’d always gone along with him and, basically as I couldn’t sell this van I put an engine in it, went to Argos and bought a fax machine, came up with a name for my business and faxed everybody in the yellow pages! My first customer wanted temperature controlled and so I started as a courier – one man and a van. Later I progressed into 7.5 tonne refrigerated vehicles and then went into refrigerated trailers. Now we employ 355 people and operate over 4 strategic sites.
My role now is coming up with ideas, progressing the company with innovations. I get fully involved with an idea and I’m hands on in making it happen and then I hand it over to our trusted Buffaload team.
Question: Can you firstly tell us what temperature controlled vehicles Buffaload operates?
Answer: Our fleet is mainly Scania units, we also have some Mercedes-Benz and we have been taking a look at the possibility of investing in Volvo gas trucks, LNG fuelled. The statistics suggest that they emit up to 20% less CO2 than a regular engine, so we are trialling these with a mind to a further reduction in our carbon footprint. We currently have 300 temperature controlled vehicles, including 240 of our double deck trailers and a mix of standard trailers and some useful smaller vehicles, 18 tonnes, 7.5 tonnes and vans.
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 Buffaload?
Answer: Definitely our floating deck double deck trailers. We introduced our first one in 2011. We can save the right people an awful lot of money if their business is suitable for double deckers. This has helped us grow our business and compete with the big boys. We can carry so much more in each double decker that vehicle movements, driver requirements, costs and emissions are all reduced.
Question: Are you using telematics across your fleet currently? If so, what advantages do you see this gives your clients?
Answer: Absolutely, telematics are the backbone of our business. We’ve been working with Verilocation for years and we’ve developed telematics around our business to give our customers state of the art visability of their deliveries.
Question: Customer needs are constantly changing, so what are you finding is now the biggest request from your customers?
Answer: Our customers are working to really close time lines. They almost want it delivered before it’s made, so the biggest challenge we’ve got is that they want us to collect and deliver in a smaller window all the time, to improve the freshness of their products and give more length in the shelf life, without adding cost to it. Coming back to the telematics, with that plus the experience in the planning team across our network, we are able to achieve cost effective, fast supply chain solutions.
Question: What type of temperature controlled warehousing does Buffaload offer to its customers?
Answer: We operate plus 2 and ambient, also we have specialised deep chilled (-4C) storage, to accommodate specialist product lines. Round-the-clock access and delivery, cross-docking and consolidation services. We are also driving forward the highest standards in FSA, HACCP and BRC accreditation, so that our facilities are the best in the industry.
Question: What number of pallets does your temperature controlled warehousing hold?
Answer: If we filled everything we could hold more than 10,000 pallets of chilled storage, across our 4 main locations plus our seasonal reserve space in Cambridgeshire. We cross-dock over 30,000 pallets per week through our chilled sites.
Question: What environmental measures does Buffaload incorporate to ensure best practice?
Answer: We pride ourselves in being the most environmentally friendly chilled consolidation business in the UK because of our depth of knowledge in running double deck trailers, doing the least miles for the most capacity. We run the greenest chilled network in the industry.
Question: Since the Brexit decision, have you noticed any changes with your business?
Answer: We have noticed an increased demand for ambient storage. We presume people are stockpiling for Brexit. We are nearly at capacity, and demand continues.
Question: Lastly, would you like to share any news about your company that you feel would benefit the TCS&D readers?
Answer: We’re excited to have gained planning permission for a new 80,000 sq ft high bay warehouse to be built at Ellington, near Huntingdon. This is one of our key locations and happily it’s on the junction of the new A14 and A1 road network, the new A14 is due to be completed in 2020. This is a prime UK distribution location and this expansion will allow us to offer more capacity and a greater service to our customers.