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Night freighters help avoid credit crunch fallout

Emergency automotive logistics specialist explains how contingency freight operations work well when the rest of the World has gone to bed

The World's financial markets are doing their level best to make life as difficult as possible for freight companies. With the rising costs of oil hitting revenue and the credit crunch beginning to bite, many primary logistical channels are feeling the pinch and scheduled airline capacity is being pared back to maintain operating profit margins.

Reflecting on current and future short-term outlooks, many leading automotive OEMs and component suppliers are looking long and hard at what alternatives exist should the worst happen. One such alternative is the use of special night freighter services that typically fall outside the realms of the primary logistic routes; as such they have no plans to reduce capacity, in the way that some schedule passenger airlines are planning.

Evolution Time Critical, a specialist in emergency logistics for the automotive industry, already has in place a number of special services and contingency operations that, for many years, have helped some of the World's leading automotive companies tackle some of the logistical issues that have come their way, one example being its night freighter service.

“Our night freighter flights offer our customers some distinct advantages over normal scheduled day-time air freight operations,” explains Brad Brennan, the company's managing director. “Even if we look outside the current economic climate, these advantages make sense for all manner of different reasons, most of which are geared towards the quickest way of getting components from A to B.

“On scheduled passenger flights, the passengers rightly take first priority, with their baggage taking second priority, followed by cargo. For our Night Freighter service, we use dedicated cargo-only aircraft, so our customer's cargo takes priority” Brennan continues. “In addition, the freighter configuration of the aircraft means that pallets are readily accepted, so we do not have concerns about whether freight can be loaded through passenger-sized doors. When you combine this with the fact that we operate primarily through regional airports, the whole freight operation is quicker; from reception of goods through loading to take off. The same is true at the other end; we can often recover freight from the aircraft in as little as an hour, and have the freight on the way to the customer in the early hours, during the nightshift, or before the start of the first shift. This would be impossible with passenger flights into major airports.

“One of the other major advantages our night freighters offer is later departures.” Brennan explains. “There is nothing worse than a supplier needing to stop production at 18:00 hrs to make the last scheduled flight out of a certain airport. Our Night Freighter flights depart late at night, some in the early hours, meaning that manufacturers can have vital additional production time, before we collect their individual shipment late in the evening, and take it straight to the airport.”

By offering late collection and early delivery, Evolution is also able to almost replicate the timings achieved by a dedicated air charter, but at a fraction of the cost. Brennan explains: “Obviously, when components need to be collected during the day, and sent direct by air charter, there is nothing which can beat an air charter, but on many occasions, customers with late production, well into the evening, have been able to use our night freighter service instead, with components being delivered before the first production shift.”

Night freighters also play a key part of Evolution's Back on Track service, an offering that helps customers with the transition back from an emergency air charter delivery, back to normal supply chain methods. This normally takes place step by step – from air charter, through night freighters, back to normal road transportation.

Rather than facing the problems of the economic climate head on, Evolution Time Critical gives its customers the ability to side step them. Every facet of a logistical operation has the potential to be affected in some way, shape or form; it is the ability to adapt to and overcome these issues that sets companies like Evolution apart. Night freighters are just one weapon in the company's significant logistics arsenal.

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