TNB speaks to Paul Avery, Schmitz Cargobull UK’s Managing Director – Operations.
Has the pandemic created any opportunities for Schmitz Cargobull?
I think, like many businesses, we have had to look at every way possible to work safely but still work effectively. Sometimes when you are forced to work in a different way, it is surprising how you can recognise more efficient methods of work. It has made us evaluate how we can achieve optimum output, both in the manufacturing facilities and from the offices. We have looked closely at our communication methods and how we can best utilise people’s time. Obviously where possible, people have been working at home and this has proved very successful. There is less travelling time, during the working day and people have really worked well together with a clear objective to achieve the business objectives. It has probably further strengthened our team and people have really pulled together to keep our business thriving.
How big was the demise of Cartwright for the UK semi-trailer market?
Cartwright were a really strong contributor to the UK trailer market, not only from a volume perspective but probably more so, from an innovative perspective. Cartwright have for many years been a leader in trailer design and innovation and I see that as a big loss for many UK operators. I feel very sad for the loss of Cartwright and through my career always looked at that business as a quality supplier. From first hand experience I can say that their extremely loyal customer base supported that view. I was very honoured to work for that business and I feel they will be a big loss for this industry.
What benefits will the new Schmitz Cargobull factory in Manchester bring?
From a customer perspective, the new factory will put Schmitz Cargobull UK much closer to its customers. I will allow our engineers to work closely with customers, to gain a better understanding of their operations and ensure the Schmitz product best suits those operations. It will allow us to produce a wider range of products from a height perspective, especially in the dry-freight and curtainsider markets where taller trailers are a big requirement. It will allow us to further improve our customer support by expanding our team in the UK with further disciplines and skill sets. From a location perspective, it will allow us to bring employment to the area and try to fill some of the employment void caused by the demise of Cartwright. The location also is very central to the UK and will ensure optimum access to the customer base. From a whole market perspective, we contribute further to accommodating the requirements of our existing and new customers, again filling some of the void left from the demise of Cartwright.
What have been the biggest challenges for Schmitz in the UK during the pandemic?
As a manufacturer and an employer of nearly 6000 employees, across the world, the biggest challenge has been to continue with our output, whilst ensuring the safety of our employees. This has been managed in many different ways, including place of work, staggering shifts, changing start and finish times and varying breaktimes. This has been quite difficult to manage but again, often when faced with adversity there are sometimes opportunities and by trialling different working methods you can break from the norm and find better ways of working.