Domestic chemical transportation and distribution companies need to quickly evolve as the supply chain continues to extend further from British shores. One way companies can keep up is by establishing strategically located depots and forging mutually beneficial relationships with experienced partners, something that Bradford-based logistics company Redhead International has been quick to do.
The UK chemical industry is changing. There are extremities at both ends of the market with some companies experiencing rapid growth in the UK and looking to expand their operations and export their products further afield, while other companies are seeking to move production operations abroad due to the availability of low-cost raw materials and labour.
Either way, the trend is creating truly global supply chains and, as such, key players in the supply chain need to adapt their operations to help manage complex international chemical logistics and remain ahead of the competition.
The physical demands of sending staff, vehicles, and hazardous chemicals over ever-increasing distances that cross-continents, culture, and legislation are severe without the added pressure of meeting clients’ expectations.
One company that has managed to expand its services in line with its customers’ needs is Redhead International.
The freight transport company was founded in 1978 in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and quickly set the benchmark in the transportation of small quantities of items – 1 to 3 pallets – including hazardous consignments.
Backed by 200 staff, Redhead International is now one of the leading privately owned freight operators in the industry. They handle over 19,000 consignments per month through more than 1,500 UK and international trailer movements throughout Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East and North Africa.
Employing the newest logistic and communications technologies, the company is able to provide regular updates on consignments – with progress and delivery times; ensuring everyone who needs to be is kept in the loop at every stage of the process.
The company has grown significantly over the last five years with its expansion to six UK depots. This was brought about by the demand from Redhead’s clients operating across Europe and beyond.
As well as the Bradford headquarters, depots in Burton-on-Trent, Basildon, Belfast, Bristol, Dublin and Glasgow have all been established, which provide the perfect springboard for deliveries across Europe, into Eastern Europe and Russia.
Knowing exactly who and where their customers are, what their cargo is and where it needs to go to has been instrumental in the company’s supply chain expansion plans.
However, it is the company’s willingness and desire to collaborate with trusted and experienced partners in the market that has allowed them to establish an efficient service which now also includes the transportation of hazardous chemicals.
Redhead recently announced it had joined forces with the Hazchem network, the UK’s only pallet company dedicated to the transportation of speciality chemicals.
The partnership allows manufacturers and distributors in the UK to take advantage of Redhead’s established international network with access to multiple sites and suppliers across the continent.
The flexible service offered is specifically tailored to companies that are looking to transport between 30kg to 5 pallets of speciality chemicals internationally.
Commenting on the new relationship, Tony Suggitt, Redhead’s joint managing director said: “I’m sure that our combined expertise will lead to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.”
The key to a successful relationship is collaboration. When each party can take an equal benefit from the relationship then both are inclined to work harder, and smarter. Hazchem Network’s own research identified a need to expand on its international service.
Speaking about the partnership with Redhead, Hazchem Network’s Ali Karim said: “Redhead is renowned for offering customers reliable, flexible logistics services. They already offer international freight solutions that meet the highest standards and work with customers that require small quantities of pallets to be delivered across borders into and out of international markets. This fits perfectly with our plans and we are extremely pleased to be working with one of Europe’s industry leaders.”
The partnership with Hazchem allows for the delivery of speciality chemicals and multiple pallet services into 24 countries across mainland Europe including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. But it’s not just about getting there that has made these key players in the supply chain select Redhead, it’s their ability to get there quickly too.
The partnership has already proved fruitful, and this instant success can be largely attributed to Redhead’s well-established and efficient Smartfreight network.
Smartfreight is a flexible service which allows relatively small amounts of goods 1 to 3 pallets to be transported when needed, and is particularly beneficial when serving customers that work to ‘just-in-time’ procedures where multiple drops are often required.
The service meets the highest standard of quality and flexibility and allows Redhead to provide their customers with a service where no size of chemicals shipment is too small, or too large.
Customers who normally transport small quantities of speciality chemicals, can quickly scale up or down to meet exact demand, or as they see fit. Journey cycles are also optimised through creative route planning and cargo sharing which reduces the distances goods travel and increases their speed.
Redhead’s method of consolidating a wide variety of small batch deliveries – reaching into the tens of thousands – to a disparate customer base, is proving critical to the on-going success of their clients.
Consolidation, also known as load optimisation or groupage, combines diverse cargos into single consignments, to achieve substantial cost-savings.
At Redhead, the Smartfreight consolidation process is managed by many dedicated transport planners, based across the company’s six depots. They are responsible for the loading and routing of an entire trailer; making decisions based on the type of freight being transported, the destination, the point of origin, the deadline, or the needs of the specific customers involved.
Having established the clients’ needs, the transport planner will arrange for the cargo to be collected, and loaded on the next available and sent either to the final destination or to a loading point where the load can be consolidated.
The company’s entire logistic operations are controlled by sophisticated computer software, and transport planning is no exception – this ensures various volumes of freight can be transported and handled efficiently and safely – particularly important in the transportation of hazardous chemicals.
“The capacity to swiftly scale up and down to meet precise needs and timeframes is a vital element of freight services in the 21st century. It’s about reassuring the client that whatever the question you not only have the answer, but the capability to act upon it,” said Austin Duffy, Redhead’s marketing manager.
Freight consolidation also comes with its own green credentials at a time when more and more companies are under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint, maximise efficiencies and streamline operations – including the transportation companies themselves. This is particularly difficult when fuel consumption is integral to the business’s operations.
Fuel is one of the biggest expenses to logistics companies and with prices continuing to rise most organisations are left with no choice but to pass on a proportion of this expense to the customer in the form of a fuel surcharge.
But by grouping deliveries together Smartfreight provides an intrinsically eco-friendly way to manage various customers’ requirements. This strategy does not only benefit the customers, it also reduces Redhead International’s impact on the environment too.
To facilitate these consolidation and cost optimisation challenges, chemical transportation and distribution companies must better utilise their own assets, and if there are limited opportunities within a company’s own operations, then the alternative is to follow the Redhead example and work with organisations that work in partnership with other companies.
Allowing for smaller and consolidated logistics services will ensure smaller chemical companies are able to keep pace with the bigger production facilities across Europe and while the continent is still a large and profitable market for specialty chemical products, logistics companies will need to continue to provide responsive and sophisticated services, even if it means doing more with less.
About Redhead International
Redhead International, established in 1978, has depots in Bradford, Burton-on-Trent, Basildon, Belfast, Bristol, Glasgow and Dublin. Employing over 200 people internationally, the company has regular scheduled services to over 40 countries in Western, Eastern and Southern Europe, Scandinavia, North Africa, the Middle East and the CIS countries. Current turnover is more than £31 million a year.