Keeping the automotive industry moving

The provider of choice for expedited logistics
Priority Freight is a leading provider of time-critical logistics solutions, with a proven track record in the global automotive, aerospace and pharmaceutical industries. The company’s mission is to provide the most rapid, cost-effective and reliable door-to-door logistics solutions – often in emergency and crisis scenarios.

The following case study highlights the value Priority Freight provides as a strategic partner for its clients. The global automotive manufacturers involved relied on the company’s expertise in expedited logistics for a three-month period of crisis.

Priority Freight regularly provides strategic and operational support to its clients. The following example demonstrates Priority Freight’s ability to organise anything, anywhere – in the most extreme conditions. Its unrivalled global network of time-critical experts and suppliers enables the company to offer a uniquely integrated and bespoke service.

Multiple challenges

A well-known automotive manufacturer contacted Priority Freight at 07:00 (GMT) on a Monday morning in October 2014. They required urgent assistance with a highly-complicated global supply chain problem. A major component supplier with a global footprint was experiencing a production and logistics crisis, affecting several key manufacturers. With capacity issues and tooling problems, the majority of component production would need to be moved to alternative facilities to recover supply stability.

Without the strategic support from Priority Freight, several car makers faced multiple plant shutdowns in the UK and Europe with costs running in excess of £250 million per week for lost production.

The solution

Priority Freight deployed a nine-strong 24/7 crisis management team to a component manufacturing location in the Midlands. The team took over the complete supply chain to manage both inbound and outbound material across multiple locations.

With supporting teams in Dover, London Heathrow, Coventry and Michigan, Priority Freight worked side-by-side with teams of engineers, production management and material planners from automotive manufacturers, tier one and tier two suppliers. The project team formulated the material flow forecasts, with a workable logistics programme, based on Priority Freight’s recommendations and logistics solutions model.

Three weeks into the project, in order to avoid costly production shutdown, the decision was taken to move the majority of component production to the US and China. Priority Freight was tasked on a Friday with shipping 150 tonnes of stamping press machinery to Michigan over the weekend.

To achieve this seemingly impossible task, Priority Freight specifically chartered the only aircraft in the world capable of moving such a heavy shipment: the Antonov An-225. Typically booked out months in advance, the company used its peerless network of contacts to secure the aircraft within just two hours of taking the client’s original call.

The short time frame meant that flight permits into the US could not be issued in time without objections from US cargo carriers. However, Priority Freight’s operations experts identified an alternative route and were able to secure the flight permits to use Canadian airspace.

Toronto Pearson International Airport was selected due to its handling capabilities and close proximity to the final destination. With the flight plan secured, attention was turned to ensuring smooth ground transportation and the customs clearance challenge crossing the Canadian border into the US.

The aircraft crew were assembled on Saturday and the aircraft departed Kiev at 13:56 (EET) to Leipzig to collect a special loading ramp capable of taking the necessary weight. Adding to the intense challenge, severe weather closed the UK airport, meaning the aircraft could not depart Leipzig until 06:00 (CET) on Sunday, arriving in the UK at 09:00 (GMT).

At 21:15 (GMT) later that day, with the cargo secured, the An-225 flew overnight to Canada, refuelling twice en route in Keflavik and Goose Bay, and arrived in Toronto on Monday at 08:03 (EST).

The ground support team met the aircraft with a heavy lift crane to unload the stamping press machinery and load onto five out-of-gauge low-loading trucks, with the necessary permits to cross the border into the US.

Whilst unloading, a severe snow storm hit the Great Lakes region, with 60cm snow falling on roads along the route to delivery. Despite these extraordinary challenges, Priority Freight’s escorting personnel secured the on-time delivery of the much-needed stamping press machinery to Michigan as scheduled on the Monday evening.

The success of this movement enabled component production in the US to meet the shortfall of supply in the UK. Priority Freight then managed the door-to-door movements of produced components from the US, whilst also coordinating expedited airfreight from China via multiple airlines to numerous European air hubs, back to the UK. Over the course of the three months, Priority Freight coordinated the importation of 1,500 tonnes of goods from the US and 500 tonnes from China.

In addition to the airfreight movements, Priority Freight organised local road transport (in excess of 100 vehicles on some days), warehousing and trucking in the UK and China, plus all associated customs clearance to ensure automotive clients received the necessary materials to maintain production.

The results

The An-225 movement was just one example from a body of work that Priority Freight carried out over the three-month crisis operation. The task required ongoing flexibility and rapid response from Priority Freight’s operations team, in order to manage constant changes such as weight increases, flight permit challenges and inevitable customs complications.

Priority Freight’s solutions benefitted four different car makers and six production plants, across four countries and minimised production downtime. Each manufacturer avoided a potential production loss of hundreds of millions of pounds per week.

Automotive manufacturers choose Priority Freight as their strategic partner to give security to their supply chains. Priority Freight’s operations team helps its clients to meet complex and urgent logistic challenges on a daily basis.

Priority Freight’s dedication to beating deadlines and exceeding expectations has made the company the provider of choice for expedited logistics in the automotive industry.

Further Information

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Welcome to Priority Freight

Experts in air charter, direct express road transportation, express air freight, express on-board air courier and customs clearance.

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