Two years ago logistics company P&O Trans European began an experiment in highly sequenced component delivery at Toyota’s car factory at Burnaston, Derbyshire. In partnership with UCI, the European freight arm of Japanese shipping group NYK, P&O collects parts from Toyota suppliers in Spain and delivers them by truck directly to the Derbyshire assembly line.
`There are no track-side warehouses, just the trailer and a transporter to take parts to the line as they are called for,’ says P&O development director Jeff Duval.
There are 10 to 15 trucks on the road at any one time and the operation runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The trucks deliver everything from wiring looms to wing mirrors, collecting the parts from suppliers according to a strict schedule laid down by Toyota. Despite ferry strikes, tunnel fires, road blockades and vehicle breakdowns `we haven’t had a failure in two years’, says Duval.
`The question is, can you run a transport operation like a Swiss watch?’ says Duval. `The answer is yes, but it is very hard work.’