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Pallet and container pooling company CHEP cuts supply chain costs for Birds Eye

Birds Eye, the frozen foods giant, has reduced its average trip costs by 10% during the past year through outsourcing its equipment management to CHEP. Servicing the Birds Eye business involves the CHEP Equipment Management (CEM) team organising over 550,000 CHEP pallet movements a year.

Using the CEM service enables Birds Eye to outsource the management of its equipment to a dedicated control team. This delivers significant efficiencies and cost savings as Birds Eye can focus on its core business, whilst CEM takes care of all the equipment, including the capture of the supply chain activity flows. CEM uses a bespoke software system which constantly analyses Birds Eye’s supply chain and spots any anomalies so that immediate action can be taken. This also helps Birds Eye to deal with sudden and dramatic increases in demand, such as when the UK pea harvest reaches its peak. This period – between June-August every year – can see up to 12,000 pallets issued in a week.

Neil Mason, Head of Distribution at Birds Eye, said: "CEM really operates as an extension to my own team. The CEM team works tirelessly in the background, validating and double checking all the pallet movements on and off our account. The team has provided an excellent service since we have outsourced this function and there has definitely been a significant benefit in terms of improved efficiency, whilst also minimising pallet losses.

Kathryn Orange, Senior Manager at CHEP said: "The main advantage of CEM is that it enables us to be pro-active and support the Birds Eye supply chain including production facilities and co-packing firms located across Europe. Birds Eye has several hundred customers in the UK alone, including all the major multiples as well as numerous Cash & Carry wholesalers. In addition, a significant amount of deliveries are made direct to smaller customers."

Birds Eye has recently opened a new distribution centre at Wisbech, Cambridgeshire and plans to complete the move from its existing cold store in the Midlands by the end of June 2010. The new facility is strategically located to support its UK distribution operation and also convenient for its Lowestoft factory. The Wisbech depot is highly automated and can accept specialist trailers which have automatic unloading. This level of automation also means that top quality pallets such as those provided by CHEP are vital to ensure the facility runs as efficiently as possible.

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