Ultra-responsive charter of world’s largest cargo planes moves tooling across the globe, delivering three-week time advantage over sea freight
A pioneering trans-global transport operation, successfully completed by emergency logistics specialist Evolution Time Critical, has delivered a significant production timing advantage to a major vehicle manufacturer. Body panel press tooling was brought into the UK from China by air, cutting delivery time by three weeks compared to traditional sea freight and, as a result, eliminating any threat of a costly vehicle launch delay.
“This project has been a huge undertaking for Evolution Time Critical, with on-time delivery the culmination of months of meticulous planning,” says Evolution managing director, Brad Brennan. “Even for a company with our depth of expertise, the combination of the sheer physical scale of the shipment and the intricacies of scheduling brought new challenges.”
With a total shipment weight of 200 tonnes, and each of the body panel pressing stamps and dies weighing in excess of 20 tonnes, Evolution Time Critical chartered two Antonov An-124 aircraft – the world’s highest gross weight production cargo plane – and a Boeing 747F to handle the freight.
“There are only 22 Antonovs of this type in operation, and for this project – one of the largest air shipments ever for a vehicle manufacturer – we required two, as well as a fully-laden Boeing 747F,” says Brennan. “The identification and utilisation of these aircraft was central to the successful delivery of this vital tooling and the only way to meet the manufacturer’s time-sensitive needs.”
Transport operations of this scale also bring complexities that require the high level of planning and attention to detail that Evolution Time Critical regularly delivers, as Brad Brennan explains: “The complex process required the careful utilisation of expertise to negotiate supplier co-ordination, complex export regulations, packing challenges, taxation issues, granting of air traffic rights, and several other factors to construct the most effective robust delivery system to meet the client’s requirements.”
The latest in a series of similar, smaller-scale operations by Evolution Time Critical to move automotive tooling globally within the last 18 months, Brennan believes the successful delivery will increase vehicle manufacturers’ confidence in undertaking such large projects in the future: “Globalised automotive production strategies are becoming increasingly reliant on the ability of OEMs and Tier suppliers to demonstrate sufficient agility to move production across continents at short notice, without jeopardising supply chain integrity,” he explains.
“With new vehicle introductions and model line updates now much more frequent, the automotive supply chain is coming under increasing pressure to provide greater flexibility while at the same time minimising risk. Bespoke, faster freight solutions are becoming increasingly essential for modern automotive production strategies, and the success of this complex, massive scale operation provides vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers with further reassurance that production relocation can be carried out swiftly and securely. Extensive planning and careful implementation of a robust logistics solution can enable responsive production relocation without jeopardising deadlines, providing contingency for what has previously been viewed as a high-risk strategy,” concludes Brennan.
The culmination of weeks of meticulous planning saw 300 tonnes of tooling flown on some of the world’s largest aircraft. The arrival and unloading of one of the Antonov 124 freighter aircraft filmed by Evolution ground handling personnel can be seen here: