Sunday 23rd Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Rapid response to Buncefield fire

The site, only 500 metres from the depot, supplied more than 1,800 stock lines to 176 Wickes stores across the UK. The power of the blast caused damage to the exterior of the building, including smashed windows, meaning the site had to be evacuated for refurbishment.

Ross Eggleton, national general manager of Lloyd Fraser (Supply Chain) which operates the Wickes intermediate warehouses, said: “The Buncefield oil depot fire was a massive disaster and could have caused severe problems to the Wickes supply chain without a disaster recovery plan being in place. Poor handling of the crisis could have severely damaged the Wickes offer to customers and impacted upon sales.”

“It was essential all the store deliveries were relocated to another depot immediately to avoid potentially leaving some stores under-stocked. To carry this out, we needed a range of forklift trucks at very short notice to enable us to load, and unload, stock at our Nether Heyford site which we used to mitigate the impact as an alternative depot, ready for distribution.

“Over the last few years we have developed an excellent partnership with Finning Materials Handling and its Short Term Hire service was ideal for dealing with this problem. We put an emergency call into the company for four lift trucks late Sunday afternoon and by 6am the next morning they were on-site.”

“However, this wasn’t the end of the problems. Because of increased demand on the resources at the new site in Northampton, we had to set up temporarily another relief depot in Daventry. As this site was unoccupied, a further six lift trucks and 10 hand pallet trucks were needed. This additional order was placed in the early hours of Monday morning, with the machines arriving by noon the same day.”

Finning has a team of 20 dedicated workshop engineers on hand to tailor its trucks and to ensure its customers get the right specification to meet their needs. A fleet of 20 lorries deliver more 2,000 machines per month to locations across the UK.

Finning’s partnership with Wickes has seen 180 counterbalance trucks supplied to the DIY specialist’s four distribution centres across the UK over the last twelve months. This ongoing partnership will see another 250 trucks delivered over the next two years to the company’s 170 stores nationwide.

Ross Eggleton said: “Although emergencies of this nature are rare, it is vital you have the plans in place, along with suppliers you can rely on to minimise the impact on your business. With the help of Finning Short Term Hire, we were able to offer 99 per cent availability on all stock the day after the fuel depot fire to our network of branches across the south east, highlighting Finning’s first class service offering.

Ian Bennett of Finning said: “Our job was to react to Wickes’ needs and supply our machines as quickly as possible to ensure they could carry out all their deliveries with minimal disruption.”