SNAPSHOT: Meet the Sales Directors
In our series introducing the Södra Cell sales team, this month we talk to Thomas Bichler.
Name: Thomas Bichler
Responsible for: UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland
Born: 1963, Zurich, Switzerland
Likes: Sports including fitness classes, skiing, hiking, mountain biking and squash, traveling, music (including playing the drums), literature, art
It’s been a busy few months in my office, not least because I look after Södra’s customers in the UK where Brexit is proving to be an additional challenge. We are doing all we can to support our customers but the lack of clarity and policy from the authorities makes planning difficult. We stocked our terminals and took additional warehousing space in March to bridge any period of uncertainty and possibly chaos. We’ve prepared as best we can but as the uncertainty continues, we expect to do more.
This year has also brought a new aspect to my role within Södra. I have been a Sales Director with Södra for 2.5 years and been in the industry for 12, six of which as CEO of a Swiss paper mill. But before that I spent many years in logistics and consulting. That’s why I was asked to conduct an analysis of our logistics earlier this year, from wrapping station to customer.
We looked at the whole logistics chain from both an economic and sustainability perspective. While initially this was partly in response to the truck-driver shortage in Europe, the analysis quickly became an opportunity to look at the strengths and weaknesses in our systems and to see what we could do to improve them, such as introducing track & trace functionality.
A team from Sales, Logistics and Södra Procurement coordinated a detailed concept to implement daily logistics services and the results are promising: By using rail and intermodal transports (truck + rail) the number of trucks we use can be reduced significantly having a very positive effect on environmental impact and we reduce the number of truck drivers we need by 17%. New adapted logistic solutions promise a higher delivery precision.
The result is Project Connect, being rolled out first in Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Hungary, with France to follow. For our customers it will mean a more accurate delivery service, improved punctuality and reliability and consistent quality. Improved connectivity will mean orders are easy to track through every step of the chain, so we are really hoping our customers will like what they see when the project rolls out.
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