'cool supply chain the ultimate aim'

Achieving pole position with refrigerated transport

Achieving pole position with refrigerated transport

Manchester, UK: In the world of Formula 1, speed is fundamental to success, whether that is achieving the fastest lap time during qualifying or the quickest pit stop during a championship race, every second counts.

However, as John Lee, managing director of Courier Express explains, the need for speed is not limited to the track.

Formula 1 teams, many of who are located within the UK’s ‘motorsport valley’ in and around Oxfordshire, rely heavily on an expert supply chain, comprising more than 5,000 people, that earns £2 billion in sales a year. While the winning and losing will be decided across 21 races in 21 countries, and five continents, around the world, much of the work that will ultimately decide the championship title will be carried out in garages and test tracks before the season even begins.

With this in mind, the requirement for the efficient, safe and cost-effective delivery of car components is crucial for Formula 1 teams looking to compete for coveted awards come the culmination of the season. However, as the competition between Formula 1 teams intensifies, so does the pressure on the supply chain to deliver on time and on budget.

Key to this extensive supply chain is refrigerated transport, which is playing an increasingly vital role in transporting the high-value car parts essential for the construction of Formula 1 vehicles. One such car part is carbon fibre, which has quickly become the material of choice for Formula 1 teams looking to shed any ounce of weight possible on race day, whilst still ensuring the safety of their drivers. In fact, today most of the racing car chassis – the monocoque, suspension, wings and engine cover – is built with carbon fibre, with the composite accounting for around 75% of a car’s construction.

Whilst the use of such materials provides a significant advantage to Formula 1 teams, it poses a substantial challenge to the UK supply chain as materials have to be transported at exact temperatures to ensure they retain their shape and properties. Any fluctuation in temperature can deem the carbon fibre unworkable, meaning refrigerated transportation providers are under intense pressure to deliver goods at maximum efficiency.

Add to the mix the typically secretive nature of the world of Formula 1, with 11 teams building cars with increased secrecy ahead of the season, the high-value of the cargo transported and the extremely tight deadlines logistics providers have to meet, and the challenges refrigerated transport providers face become even greater.

Meeting the demand of the F1 supply chain
The need for supply chain speed, security and reliability has never been more important and for Courier Express, one of the UK’s leading providers of specialised temperature-controlled transportation solutions, operating from key strategic locations across the UK allows them to ensure deliveries to the multiple locations of Formula 1 teams throughout the country.

By operating an extensive fleet of vehicles – with sizes from 1.9 tonne to 26 tonne and everything in between – Courier Express can transport deliveries of all shapes and sizes, whether that is a simple carbon fibre wing or a full chassis. No delivery is too small or too large, with flexible logistics solutions offered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The transportation of carbon fibre components requires not only the correct equipment and refrigerated vehicles, but also a vastly experienced team ready to offer their assistance throughout the products journey. Such materials must be distributed at -21oc degrees in order to avoid damage which would deem them unsafe to use on F1 cars – and given the rigorous health and safety requirements placed on competing teams this becomes even more imperative. In this department Courier Express deploy vehicles fitted with regularly calibrated temperature recording equipment – ensuring the shape, structure and strength of the material is not compromised throughout the entire journey.

Another key challenge Courier Express face when transporting parts for Formula 1 teams is ensuring tight deadlines are met. Any delay in the transportation can have severe consequences for the team’s results, meaning there is no margin for error. To ensure deliveries are made on time, every time, Courier Express use the latest technology to track all vehicles in their fleet, with instant reports of locality provided from their transport center in Manchester.

A prime example of the implementation of such refrigerated vehicle technology in practice is some of Courier Express’ recent projects for leading Formula 1 teams Red Bull Racing, Mercedes Benz F1, Force India F1 and Renault F1. The company had to utilise their extensive expertise and planning capabilities to ensure products were delivered to Brackley, Milton Keynes, Silverstone and Chipping Norton, all within extremely tight delivery windows.

The pre-allocation and planning of vehicles, as well as the comprehensive planning of routes, ensures products can be delivered to several locations on time and on budget. Refrigeration units are pre-set to the desired temperature of -21oc on route to ensure vehicles arrive pre-chilled ready for immediate loading, this not only guarantees product safety but also means deliveries can begin promptly to make sure tight deadlines can be met. It is a service that is also applied to the aviation industry, which also relies heavily on the temperature-controlled distribution of parts.

The “race behind the race”
Although the Formula 1 supply chain extends far beyond temperature-controlled distribution, it would not function without the specialised services provided by refrigerated transportation. As increasingly unstable composites come to the fore for the construction of F1 vehicles, the need for a cold chain capable of handling their transportation has become more fundamental.

The challenges inherent with transporting parts for Formula 1 teams are certainly extensive, but with a proven track record of ensuring high-value deliveries arrive on time and undamaged, Courier Express are leading the way in refrigerated transport services for many of the competition’s leading teams.