Having recently made a professional move from Systems and Security Manager to Logistics Manager, EPC-UK’s Chris Barlow takes time to talk to Onsite and explain details of his new role. He also describes the vital part the EPC-UK dock and its team plays in providing customers with flexible and often bespoke solutions, tailored to meet individual needs.

Chris originally joined EPC-UK in 2011, as the business’s Transport Manager. Seeing his new position as ‘a return to his origins’, Chris now takes responsibility for maintaining the explosives supply chain for both EPC-UK and its customers, ensuring regulatory compliance for imports and exports together with freight forwarding activities both nationally and on a global level. 

His role is critical in assuring effective operations at our Bramble Island dock which, as the UK emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, is experiencing a significant increase in business enquiries. 

EPC-UK Logistics

Competent proficiency

The dock’s facilities and logistical capabilities are impressive. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a result of transition period requirements, the restrictions imposed by some UK ports saw EPC-UK’s dock at Bramble Island become the most reliable route to support the import and export of class one goods.

With the capacity to ship out and receive up to 99 tonnes of class one explosives through chartered sailings, comprising either break bulk or containerised loads (20’), the dock successfully performs as part of an integrated logistical solution for class one explosives. 

Facilitating imports, the site’s team can manage direct container shipments and provide unloading and consolidation services for compatible products, storage and transport. For exports, the operation can offer customers flexible arrangements with a temporary storage provision that enables EPC-UK to load customer shipments directly as break bulk or consolidate consignments into containers as required.

“We have the ability to offer a fully integrated door-to-door service for class one explosives, reliably, professionally, and at an unmatched level compared to other UK facilities,” Chris explains, “with the unexpected events that resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic leading our operations team to excel yet further.

“The division was quick to put initiatives in place that would assure the dock’s service in challenging times. When arriving on site, employees, customers and contractors were, and still are, subject to temperature checks and must adhere to social distancing guidelines of 2m wherever possible. If a 2m distance cannot be maintained, then “close contact” is minimised and additional precautions are taken, including the use of face coverings and ventilation. The site and activity risk assessments are regularly reviewed to incorporate any ongoing improvements or knowledge, which provides us, and customers, with the reassurance that EPC-UK employees and contractors can operate safely in a trusted environment.”

In many respects Bramble Island must meet similar requirements of other major ports such as Felixstowe. This makes communication with key stakeholders critical and demands operational compliance at all times.

EPC-UK Logistics

Affirming a ‘safety first’ approach

Chris takes the considered view that during such an uncertain period, the assurances the Bramble Island dock team provides have enabled customer supply chains to remain unaffected, allowing EPC-UK’s valued partners to focus on their core activities.

He feels that employees too have been left certain that EPC-UK has taken all necessary measures to protect them throughout the pandemic and provide a safe working environment, whilst remaining attentive and responsive to individuals’ circumstances.

Here Chris makes mention of Lisa Cullum, Freight Forwarding Co-ordinator, and Glenn Branch, Key Accounts Manager, both of whom he regards as vital to the success of the dock’s activities:

“Lisa and Glenn consistently ensure that all customer and compliance requirements are fully identified and co-ordinate the often-complex processes involved in shipment procedures through a multitude of well-maintained supplier relationships. Their hard work and dedication provide the foundation for the physical activities our site operational team can then expertly execute.”

Delivering on expectations

Recognising the complexities of the year, Chris reports that whilst the Brexit transition period has presented its challenges, with obstacles yet to navigate, EPC-UK will continue to finalise preparations for the end of the transition period on 31st December 2021.

“As a team, we were well prepared for the initial changes 2021 would bring and, as a result, disruption was minimised. Any issues that arose proved to be relatively minor and were dealt with efficiently by the team – the very same group of individuals that I can confidently assign the success of our overall operation to.”

The dock’s ability to deliver is reliant on effective teamwork, one of the elements of the EPC-UK SPIRIT ethos and a practical necessity in enabling the facility to meet its customers’ needs.  

Each individual arrival and departure represent an achievement in meticulous planning and organisation. Skilled administrative and operational employees dovetail their responsibilities efficiently to meet customer demands, illustrating a superb example of EPC-UK core values at work.

Continuing, Chris says: “That winning ethos, combined with the unique facilities we have developed, have enabled us to realise a reliable, flexible service, supported by key competencies that are known and trusted by customers globally.”

Commending his team’s operation in practice, EPC-UK’s Managing Director Ben Williams added: “The leadership team recognises the critical nature of the dock and its operations, and directly supports all compliance commitments and development opportunities it undertakes. As a group, we ensure the division has access to and support from any required technical expertise, as we focus on the continued development of the team through bespoke training and learning activities.

“The result has been the realisation of an exceptional dock facility, capable of providing customers with the highest level of logistical proficiency.”

For further information, please contact Chris Barlow at chris.barlow@epc-groupe.co.uk