Emerging UK-based specialist adviser to fleet operators FLEETMAXX is looking to expand its number of operators – and is hiring new staff in the process.
“During this coronavirus pandemic, our group has been helping more than 50,000 customers, including, HGV operators, hauliers, couriers, delivery drivers, plumbers, builders, electricians, large organisations, transport managers, sole traders, owner drivers and start-up companies, to continue doing business,” says marketing manager Steve Clarke. “We are a wholly-owned division of Oilfast Ltd, who are a national bulk fuel, lubricant and licensed Adblue® distributor. With that support in place, we have been secure in our staff retention during this Covid-19 situation. Now we are looking to expand.”
The company is basing its pitch both to new staff recruits and customers on the loyalty and enthusiasm shown by its staff. “Although preventing the spread of this invisible virus is challenging in the way we use our space in our Motherwell and Kent offices, it has not knocked our team spirit, and we are looking forward to expanding our group of operators,” he said.
Examples of those staff include:
Rob Webb (above) is the General Manager at the Kent Office, and he explains: “I’m lucky to have started well by recruiting some dedicated and committed professionals to help me make us the trusted partner for commercial vehicle operators. I always follow the advice of the late, great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar: ‘What you send out comes back, what you sow you reap, what you give you get and what you see in others, exists in you.”
Sue Florence is the General Manager at the Motherwell Office, she explains: “Working for a family-run company, means everyone is involved in making the business a success, great team, great atmosphere and we are always going that extra mile.”
In the Kent office, Demi Yuill agrees and continues: “The most satisfying part of my job is helping people genuinely. What we offer is honesty, there are no hidden extras, and there are true business benefits to be made.”
Joe Molineaux adds: “FLEETMAXX for me has changed my attitude and focus when it comes to my work life. It offers much more independence than anywhere I have worked before. The most rewarding thing for me is that I can offer a product I believe in, and I believe it can be a benefit to our customers.”
Anthony Stafford describes why he loves working at FLEETMAX SOLUTIONS: “I love talking to customers and showing them how much their current supplier is overcharging and what we can do for them.”
The fuel card range at FLEETMAXX SOLUTIONS is valid at BP, Esso, Shell, and Texaco sites as well as supermarkets (Fuelgenie), independent retailers and specialist Diesel networks, such as Keyfuels and UK Fuels.
Adept at adaptation
There may be challenges ahead for the industry, but UK-based AS9100 Rev D accredited precision engineering specialists, Bright Engineering says it is holding its nerve.
Being situated at the heart of East Lancashire’s aerospace belt might normally be seen as an overwhelming benefit for any small business involved in advanced manufacturing. However, as is the case for many subcontractors up and down the country, the grinding to a halt of the commercial aviation sector has proved to be a huge challenge, albeit not entirely insurmountable.
Bright Engineering services a number of industries with the supply of precision components and sub-assemblies and has customers across the UK, and several in the US. Bright counts aerospace as around 20-30% of its operating income, but is fortunate to be involved in many other sectors including green technologies, electronics and automation, as well as defence.
Pre-lockdown, the company had built up resilience on the back of strong multi-sector demand in 2018-2019, and in 2019 pressed ahead with a fairly extensive programme of machine tool investment upwards of £1 million. This expenditure signified Bright’s most major rejuvenation of the shopfloor and replacement of ageing machinery it had seen for several years, and followed a trade mission to Yamazaki Mazak’s headquarters and plant operations in Japan.
For Bright, the benefit of the trip not only extended to witnessing first-hand how the machine tool manufacturer handles quality, but allowed the business to forge new relationships which have endured. From this experience Bright now counts new customers and suppliers which have allowed it to strengthen the business throughout the pandemic.
One of these relationships led to a production order for ventilator components, which carried the business and its people through the dark days of the March 2020 lockdown.
“The medical order at the time of the Covid outbreak was a matter of pride for Bright and its workforce,” says managing director, Jon Hoyle. “It involved working day and night seven days a week until it was complete and our team enjoyed being part of this national effort. It kept us going mentally, as well as at an operational level.”
As the end of the lockdown emerged, Bright’s usual customers started coming back to life, although Hoyle admits in certain sectors it is still only coming back in fits and starts. Sales from the US have remained strong, whereas many buyers in the UK have remained on furlough. The result from this is all to do with adaptability. Pre-lockdown, Bright’s strategic aims were around building a long-term orderbook for the future.
Ready and willing
The company admits the vision is currently a bit shorter-term, but as sales director, Steve Amey says: “It ensures we remain flexible, listen to the needs of our customers and evolve the business plan on a monthly basis. That is the reality of 2020, and we believe that regular refinement of our working model will make us all the stronger in readiness for 2021. The capacity to spring back is ready and waiting.”
Of course, the business has utilised the much-welcomed furlough scheme as the pandemic has evolved. However, it has also taken many positive steps to guarantee operational stability in testing times. In certain cases, remote working has really proved positive for Bright and the workforce have made good use of products, such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, WhatsApp, etc. to really stay in touch, keep things moving for the clients, and transmit key messages to staff around the pandemic.
As well as staff communication, Bright has also engaged some really creative uses of Teams, as Amey continues: “Involvement in the Ventilator Challenge UK project was a fast-paced affair, with design and production requirements evolving several times a day. At one point, Teams was the catalyst for one of the quickest pieces of customer decision-making I have seen in my career.”
The episode Amey refers to was a dramatic win in terms of customer experience, and saw Bright on Teams chat with its own supplier partner, the customer, as well as the end user. The usual protecting of sources had to be put to one side for the good of the project, and in fact led to one of the proudest moments of collaboration Bright has been involved with. With Bright’s strategic input, using the customer’s CAD/CAM package over Teams, a component was redesigned, re-posted to CAM and sample component produced by Bright within 90 minutes of the initial technical query being raised.
Indeed, there have been some other real wins for the business during the course of the year too. As certain staff may have been off work for shielding purposes, the company’s apprentice cohort were relied upon more heavily.
“The conditions thrust on us by this pandemic have actually allowed our apprentices to shine,” states Hoyle. “20% of our workforce are undergoing training from Level 3 to HNC, and during the ventilator production our youngsters seized the challenge, often taking the responsibility that we would expect of a quality inspector or section leader. We got to see their very best attributes over a four-week period and it was impressive.”
Further to keeping production moving, the apprentice team have at times, had slightly more interaction with their leaders, and less day-to-day pressures than any other normal year in the company’s history. Ensuring this time wasn’t wasted, it has allowed for accelerated periods of learning on Bright’s latest complex CNC machines, such as the Variaxis i500 and the Integrex J200S multi-tasking machines. In fact, it hasn’t gone unnoticed across any of Bright’s senior leaders that its apprentices have really seized the opportunity to develop their skills over the last six months.
On the horizon
As Bright looks to the near future, there is an equal mixture of concern and trepidation but also a feeling of opportunity. Hoyle believes there is a strong case for the government to continue some targeted support for the sector. Areas like East Lancashire, Motorsport Valley in the South East, West Midlands, Northern Ireland and the North East all provide a rich and varied contribution to the UK advanced manufacturing output as a whole. Plenty of people in the industry felt a continuation of the job retention scheme was necessary, particularly in a way that specifically encouraged part-time working. The Chancellor has since made his announcement, but Bright would also like to see business rate support as well as increased assistance for apprentices over the age of 18, particularly those on HNC programmes.
“Aerospace provides a large portion of business to UK subcontractors and government and companies themselves need to get to the other side of the pandemic in one piece,” concludes Hoyle. “For the foreseeable future, we control costs, look at alternative revenue streams and get even closer to our existing customers.
“Customers in the main aren’t looking to exploit the current situation. Instead they want reliable trustworthy supply chain partners and our continued support. We also talk to our competitors and listen to their problems and successes; sharing best practice is usually free of charge, but highly valuable, and that one successful collaboration could make all the difference to our joint future success.”
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ElevAero acquisition strengthens Midlands based supply chain
ElevAero, a leading manufacturer and supplier of specialist fabrications, assemblies and machined components for the aerospace and defence sectors, has acquired 100% shares of Formrite Precision Limited (FPL). The acquisition took effect from the 1st of October 2020 for an undisclosed sum as ElevAero continues to expand from its base in Nuneaton (UK).
FPL has established facilities in Aldridge, West Midlands, supplying a range of tooling and precision components to the aerospace and industrial gas turbine industries. Core services provided by FPL include large fabrications, machined components, test rigs and ground support equipment and assemblies. The company has leading OEMs and large tiered engine suppliers in its customer base.
ElevAero says the acquisition is a strategic purchase which will complement and enhance its cost-effective offering for aerospace component manufacture, assembly and low-cost sourcing and supply.
Adam Bartram, director and owner of ElevAero said: “We have been looking to acquire Formrite Precision for some time to strengthen our position in the marketplace and to offer our clients a total end to end supply option. In a challenging time for the aerospace industry we are very proud to be in a position to continue investing in the right opportunities that will provide our customers with reliable, competitive supply solutions whilst protecting and creating jobs in the Midlands.”
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International Shipping: Requirements of Documents
International movement of consignment defines two activities: Import and Export. In both these activities, many documents change hands forming a long chain of exchange. Documents start from the parties responsible for import and export, companies that are handling shipping and movement will look at another set of documents to move the consignment in international waters. Even the banks will have to look into the payments if it’s collected from the concerned parties. In this article, we would look into the set of documents that are essential to pave the way for a consignment to move to its destination.
The PO created is an official signed document to confirm that an order has been processed. It comprises information about the parties that are involved, the consignment that is been sent, and the date of the agreement been signed.
The invoice will have all the specifications about the nature of the product that is being moved, from its identification to its market value. It will also have the details on how it’s going to be paid.
This document is essential for the party responsible for importing the goods, as it has all the specifics of the transaction that will be submitted to tax authorities.
The Air Waybill pertain all the shipping information: Names and addresses of the shipper and consignee, the price of the consignment, along with the details of a number of items shipped and their weight. Besides that, any special instructions about the package, whether it’s an inflammable or a fragile parcel should also be mentioned.
The Air Waybill is one such document that travels with the consignment from origin to destination.
It is often the case that this document contains special instructions to the package, such as being flammable or fragile.
Bill of Lading
Bill of Lading is a crucial document as it offers the shipping lines with vital information throughout the cargo’s shipment process. It contains detailed information on where the consignment is headed, the details of the consignment, and how it needs to be handled. For more details, check our blog: The Significance Of Two Bills (Of Lading) In Freight Forwarding
Packing List is similar to the commercial invoice but does not include information on the market value of the goods that are being shipped. The Packaging list should also contain specifications, like:
- Details of the goods
- Invoice number
- Weight of the package
Letter of Credit (LC)
Letter of Credit is released by a bank that confirms that the consignee’s payment will be processed on time based on the agreement. In situations, wherein the consignee is not able to process the payment on time, it’s the bank responsibilities to close the transaction by covering the remaining amount of money.
The fact that international shipping is complex and it has to take into account all the cumbersome legislation, the uncertainties, the distance between parties, etc. and hence the Letter of Credit is said to be an important document in an international movement of consignment.
Multimodal Bill of Lading
Where a consignment is moved from its origin to destination point it might have to use different modes of transport to deliver it to the final point of destination. All details with regards to transport need to be recorded in this document.
Certificate of Origin
The party responsible for the export of the goods, prepares the Certificate of Origin, taking into consideration the laws and standards of the other country, who is importing it. Sometimes the document needs the certification from Chamber of Commerce or a Consulate as this marks as a provenance of the cargo.
Proforma invoice is created by the supplier or shipper to provide the purchaser or consignee with the details of the products with its rate as agreed upon by both parties. Based on the proforma invoice, the original invoice is prepared. It is also used as a way to declare the goods at customs.
These are some of the documents that are prepared while moving the shipment in the international waters. MyHubPlus, a 20Cube’s smart portal has the special feature of uploading all documents which can be instantly reviewed by the other party concern. This feature is an advantage as it encourages the use of paper and digitalises all processes.
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