At the start of 2020, supply chain management company Freight Logistics Solutions didn’t expect to be making between 80-100 deliveries a day for the NHS. But when Wales went into lockdown in March, much of the manufacturing industry ground to a halt. This left FLS needing to adapt and find new customers and solutions fast, or be forced into temporary shutdown, a reality facing many freight transport firms and hauliers at the time.

“Because of the switch to digital we were up and running at home within the hour”

But while manufacturing companies were either closing or reducing hours, demand for freight and couriers was rapidly growing especially in the healthcare and pharma industries. With drivers furloughed, many traditional hauliers found themselves under-resourced and unable to respond quick enough to market demands. However FLS were well-placed to fill the gap due to digital foundations they’d laid 18 months earlier to disrupt the freight transport sector, following advice from Superfast Business Wales.

“Our freight tracking portal means we can remain agile, act quickly and stay on top of quality, compliance and reliability”

Ieuan Rosser Managing Director said: “We invested heavily in our intelligent, freight tracking portal which matches clients’ transport needs to our database of 11,500 carriers with 40,000 drivers. In addition, our adviser recommended we switch to superfast broadband, a cloud-based server and back-up, and digital telephone system, which we did. So, when our staff were sent home to work at the start of lockdown, they were fully operational within the hour and using our VoIP system, and carrier portal to allocate drivers and vehicles to service the NHS and support companies at their critical time of need. By the end of June, we’d made 3600 deliveries of over 1000 lines of PPE and vital equipment for the CTEX CPAP ventilator.

“We’ve been able to make 80-100 deliveries a day for the NHS”

“It was a massive scale up. We went from supplying 6-8 vans a week to 8-10 a day, with our team working flat out 14 hours a day, including weekends, to support the NHS. Due to the huge surge in demand, we needed to deploy additional digital solutions to help. So, we launched a bespoke online client portal with transport booking facility and delivery document storage to service the UK’s seven NHS regional distribution centres. After a very rapid roll out, we’ve successfully used the system to deliver to nearly one thousand NHS sites around the UK, including the London Excel Nightingale hospital. It gives clients peace of mind because they can instantly access information about their deliveries, such as time, driver, vehicle, proof of delivery and cost. It puts them in control and engenders trust.

“The digital systems we have in place have given us a competitive edge”

“Our biggest challenge since lockdown has been making sure we’ve got the right resources in the business, so we can maintain the high-quality service that clients like the NHS expect, and anticipate what jobs we might have in next. And we’ve been successful because we followed the advice that Superfast Business Wales gave us 18 months ago about which digital systems to put in place. It’s given us a competitive edge because we can work remotely. In addition our client and carrier portals provide us with valuable data and insight that enables us to deliver a responsive, tailored freight service to meet our customers’ needs, whatever they may be.

“Lockdown forced us to fully embrace digital and it’s working”

“Manufacturing can be a very traditional sector served by traditional hauliers, but we saw an opportunity to disrupt the freight market. We’d always been a digitally driven company, but lockdown pushed us further away from a paper-based to a fully digital office, and it’s been a game-changer. Work is completed quicker; stress levels are reduced, and things are running even smoother. Digital has put us six months ahead of where we thought we’d be. We’ve just opened a new Midlands Hub and in 2021 we’ll be opening hubs in London and Austria. As demand shifts back from healthcare and pharma to the manufacturing sector, we’ll be ready.”

FLS’ digital freight and client portal project for the NHS has earned them a nomination for Most Innovative Company of the Year 2020 at the National Logistics Awards. The company is also in the running for the 2020 finals of the Wales Fast Growth 50.

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