ATL has been growing steadily and improving operating efficiency significantly in recent years, but its achievement of the ISO 45001 health and safety award is perhaps the biggest milestone for the business, believes the company’s managing director Jon Ward.
Working practices defined by ISO 45001 will now form the basis of all ATL’s operations including those being introduced at the business’s additional premises in Marchington, Staffordshire, he says.
“Marchington adds significant scale to the ATL business it also increases the opportunity for us to extend further high quality services to existing and potential customers.
“We’re now operating from a total of 1.4m sq. ft of warehousing and storage strategically placed throughout the UK with a fleet approaching 100 vehicles and 150 trailers.
“ISO 45001 is essential element of our business plan. There are only a few organisations in the whole of the UK who have achieved this and we are now right up there with the biggest names in the country for health and safety at work.
“We’re very much a people business so this is a defining moment for us and how we see the organisation moving forward.
“That the standard is for health and safety that puts the wellbeing of our people at the heart of our operation, makes it doubly satisfying.”
ATL environmental health and safety manager Chris Gold says ISO 45001 is the highest standard in health safety and requires companies to work to a specific framework designed to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risk and create better and safer working conditions.
“It’s far from easy to achieve and requires all functions and people within a business to pull together to create a working environment that all can thrive in with the utmost safety.
“It’s as much to do with people understanding the requirements of the process as it is with their desire to play their part and implement these with their view on the safety of colleagues as well as themselves.
“Achieving such a coveted international business standard in an organisation as multi-dimensional as ours with all the challenges of transport, multi-site operations and handling loads of all types, makes it particularly rewarding.”
Leading edge systems
As well as taking onboard the company commitment to health and safety, the Marchington site shares the same foundation of leading edge systems pioneered at ATL’s Midland Hub.
The company’s industry-leading JDA warehouse management system (WMS) for stock control is now in place at Marchington and this will help considerably with its operations and stock, says ATL’s head of IT and communication Joel Thompson,.
“Providing accurate data is an increasingly important element of our KPI-driven approach and customer service focus,” he explains.
“You have to have a level of flexibility and systematic traceability that enables growth in the core function of the business but also allows diversification and working with new industries where key functionality such as multi-level tracking is required.
“The JDA WMS system we now use not only increases the speed and accuracy of our warehousing and logistics activities, it also gives us much greater visibility for analysis and we are able to get detailed product-level information much faster than previously.
“We now have the capability to scan and trace products throughout the growing number of warehouses within the ATL estate. There is a much higher level of accuracy and flexibility all around.”
Serving many industries, including food and beverage, ATL has to observe strict rules, such as managing expiration dates and moving products within a specific time range, and the system really helps in managing this too, Joel Thompson explains.
“We can track products by location, weight and other detailed characteristics across the business whilst defining specific rules and requirements and ensuring these are adhered to so integrity of our stock management is as high as possible at all times.”
People a priority
Whilst investing in health and safety, focusing on KPIs and listening to customers are fundamental to ATL’s future success, bringing the right calibre of people into the business is also a priority, points out ATL head of human resources Andy Partington.
“We operate in a challenging sector and it’s certainly not for everyone,” he explains.
“Finding the right people for the company is an ongoing challenge for us, not just because of our rate of growth but because we need individuals that share the same values and aspirations as us, and that is not always easy.
“Although we’re very much focused on providing the right training and development across skills, H&S and leadership where appropriate, we’re very much on a journey together and need people who buy into the vision from the start.
“People who are prepared to genuinely take responsibility do well at ATL and we’ll always help them achieve their ambitions if they are prepared to put the commitment and effort in.”
Jon Ward has a strong belief in the potential of the ATL business.
“We want to be able to manage the business in such a way that internal efficiencies are maximised and this should have a positive impact on the bottom line, but it has real benefits for customers too. It’s impossible to separate the too in reality.
“I am absolutely convinced we have the people, skills and resources to become a top player in the UK transport and logistics industry and we’re all focused on achieving that.
“Getting that combination of people, resources and systems working seamlessly together is where the biggest gains can be made and we’re making significant strides forward in this and being increasingly recognised for it.”
Benchmarking and KPIs – box out
Focusing on benchmarks for operational performance and identifying KPIs has become very much part of company culture over the last two years.
“The Midlands Hub has given us all the realisation that we can achieve the highest benchmarks for operational efficiency possible and this thinking is being adopted across the company,” says Jon Ward.
“Much of it is understanding what optimum efficiency looks like and then being able to identify what needs to be done to achieve this.”
ATL has achieved two major commendations over the last year in the shape of achievement of ‘TopLiner’ status followed by the company being recognised as the best overall contributor to the Palletline network, he explains.
“These awards are based on consistent delivery of a set of KPIs and are designed to illustrate where critical areas of your operation sit with regard to other operators in the network and where improvements can be made.
“We achieved the highest scores of the 80 companies taking part so it’s a major success for us and sets a real precedent for all in the business.
“The Palletline success is important not just because it places us at the top of a very competitive sector, it also shows an aspiring company like ours can be ‘best in class’ in key areas and take the fight to much bigger and better known organisations.”
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