“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” So said Henry Ford, American captain of industry, business magnate, and founder of the world-famous Ford Motor Company. His words are particularly apt when we look at the car manufacturer’s approach to collaborative working – and in this instance, the close working relationship with Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions.
Since 2002, a team of WW Solutions employees – originally two, now 21 – has been based at Ford’s facilities in Michigan, United Kingdom and Thailand, where they support the global operation of Ford’s supply chain.
“The purpose of the WW Solutions team is to handle import and export logistics – traffic, material control, damage vehicles and special shipments – for production sources in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa,” explains Onsite Logistics Manager Carolyn Schmuker. “The team is responsible for tracking in-transit finished vehicles from plant gate release to arrival at the port of loading through to loading onto ocean vessels.”
Their responsibilities don’t end there; they also handle ‘material control’. “This is about making sure parts are ready for both import and export vehicles,” explains Carolyn. “When we’re shipping to the Middle East, for example, there are certain requirements for that market, such as different mirrors and manuals written in Arabic. Instead of these modifications happening in the plant, they happen in the ports.”
As you might expect, providing logistical solutions for a world-famous car manufacturer isn’t without its challenges; the team is also responsible for ensuring special shipments are dispatched without a hitch – whether it be moving a test car from China to the Middle East or a media unit from North America to China.
Invaluable experience: Harnessing a century of industry know-how
So how did this collaboration come about? It was born out of the car manufacturer’s desire to bring in employees that could provide specific experience required within the Ford supply chain. And proximity fosters efficiency, as WW Solutions’ on-site manager explains:
“As we sit across the room from the Ford team, they can come over to us at any time and get an answer from us. It makes for a very efficient, effective way of working.”
With over 100 years’ logistics experience between them, the WW Solutions team definitely know their stuff when it comes to import and export logistics. Many have worked for freight forwarders, ocean carriers and logistics companies for many years, and have a deep understanding of the damage and insurance field, as well as Ford’s unique parts system. And it’s this wealth of experience – and passion – that continues to steer both teams to a future every bit as successful as the car giant’s impressive past.