New technologies and DFDS management changes poised to drive shipping and logistics forward

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Developments at DFDS busiest port - Immingham - are designed to bring benefits across the entire DFDS network.
Sean Potter and Andrew Byrne

Developments at DFDS busiest port – Immingham – are designed to bring benefits across the entire DFDS network.

Sean Potter moves from Managing Director of DFDS Seaways plc to a new DFDS Group position with responsibility for Digital Technologies and IT. His experience as MD gave Sean first-hand insight into how emerging technologies can advantage customers who look to the future.

Sean said:

There are huge opportunities for logistics and freight customers to streamline their operations and manage growth efficiently and cost effectively. New IT and digital technologies developed by DFDS in-house teams and external partners are central to the future of the business, DFDS customers and the wider industry. My new IT and Digital Technologies role spans the whole of DFDS Freight Shipping & Terminal operations, reporting directly to Executive Vice President & Head of Shipping, Peder Gellert, as part of the group freight shipping division management team in Copenhagen.

This is no longer a localised industry and customers will want real-time management of their operations across the DFDS network from Russia to Ireland; from the Arctic Circle to North Africa. Three recently-introduced apps built jointly by a Business, Digital & IT team gives drivers, forwarders and planners tools to manage their operations using mobile devices or computers.

The Drivers’ app provides real-time tracking of trucks, KPI’s and proof of delivery so hauliers can reduce their paperwork burden. The Freight Terminal app pinpoints vessel arrivals with real-time cargo availability so driver time is efficiently managed and more productive, whilst the DFDS Ferry Freight Alert app notifies drivers in real-time about English Channel crossings and when their check-in is open, when it closes, if sailings are delayed and other useful information.

Mr Potter added:

Shipping and logistics as a whole is not as responsive to change as the business-to-consumer sector. In my new role I want to help our industry to integrate digital solutions. We are developing resilient new products and services for customers to keep ahead of challenges across the supply chain, whether or not the UK is inside a customs union.

DFDS Seaways plc new Managing Director, Andrew Byrne, rejoins the business to oversee UK operations based in Immingham. Mr Byrne had worked with DFDS for five years until the late 90’s when he joined the Humber Sea Terminal team. For many years since, Andrew worked for rail specialist DB Cargo (formerly EWS) so has a good understanding of the multi-modal world DFDS operates in.

It is a real pleasure to return to DFDS and see how much it has grown in recent years,” said Andrew. “Work continues to add terminals capacity to manage organic growth and the holding traffic that enhanced checks could bring post-Brexit, with increased storage for cars and cargo units.

I relish the challenges of process and cargo flow management, with the potential extra layers it will entail. Post-Brexit Europe will still trade; the UK is not suddenly going to start producing everything it currently imports. It is one of the key attractions of my new role, as I love a challenge.

DFDS Seaways plc in Immingham employs 620 people – predominantly port operatives with specialist skill sets – with another 400 logistics division staff at Immingham and Grimsby. Nordic House itself has been expanded and further expansion took place when the roll-on roll-off Immingham Riverside terminal was added to the existing DFDS Dockside terminal, significantly boosting capacity.

Mr Byrne added:

I join DFDS at a time when unit throughput has increased year-on-year by three to four per cent and, working with the team and port operatives, I look forward to further developing the business. The application of innovative digital technologies to help support our customers’ business growth during these fast-changing times is particularly exciting.

On Brexit, DFDS has hosted a task force visit and also established our own task force, whilst working alongside the CBI and others to fully understand Brexit implications. DFDS Group sees this as an opportunity, subject to which way the final decision goes, be it free trade or some form of customs union. The implications for customs clearance will impact on the supply chain and will bring new challenges and opportunities.

I take up my new position at a time when we are holding discussions about the future outside of the EU with customers,” commented Mr Byrne. “We are covering DFDS’ awareness and support, through to what and how customers are preparing for Brexit. The DFDS task force covers everything from connectivity, to Government systems, to capacity; if there are material shifts in transport and how we deal with customs, the flow and resilience plans.

Mr Potter said:

I have enjoyed being at Immingham with DFDS for almost three decades during which I progressed to become Managing Director in 2010. Whilst I am joining the shipping division’s management team in Copenhagen, my new role will still involve working in Immingham and other DFDS locations where required. There are great opportunities to align and integrate systems into an innovative world: I hope to make a difference in developing DFDS’s digital future and how digital technology shapes our industry as a whole.