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Express Trailers looks for strategic foreign partners

Frans Vella: "EU membership meant that our main operational activity involving our fleets could operate throughout Europe".

Frans Vella: "EU membership meant that our main operational activity involving our fleets could operate throughout Europe".

Express Trailers plans to focus more on specialised transportation agreements, the company's managing director, Frans Vella, told The Times Business. Speaking in an interview on the occasion of the company's 30th anniversary, Mr Vella said: "We intend to focus more on specialised transportation similar to the Cold Chain project, catering for specific sectors of the industry and creating related service products.

"This will mean that we enter into agreements with foreign strategic partners. The idea is to increase the warehousing and supply chain activity to use our hub in Malta as a central terminal for incoming goods from countries, like the Far East, for distribution all over Europe by our trucks."

Express Trailers operates its own trucks and trailers all over Europe providing regular departures of groupage services from all main European cities and full loads from any destination. This also applies to the export out of Malta on a weekly basis to anywhere in Europe, with transit hubs to connect shipments to any other worldwide destination.

Mr Vella explains the significance of the company's recent agreement with DHL Cold-Chain. "The pharmaceutical industry requires a high level of quality assurance, in view of the fact that we're dealing with life-science. The purpose behind the alliance and agreement between Express Trailers and DHL Cold-Chain is to provide all the facilities required to the local pharmaceutical manufacturers and importers for the proper transportation of their goods.

"This means that local industry now can benefit from the fact that we are retaining a high-quality level throughout the distribution network of these pharmaceutical products.

"Consequently the medical products eventually arrive to the public without any alteration of their properties.

For instance, one of the most essential requirements for the transport of these products is the fact that goods must transit in a temperature-controlled facility throughout the whole trip, from door-to-door.

"This also includes the step where goods need to be transferred from one vehicle to another, for a connection to their final destination. To achieve this, a cross-docking system is used to maintain the same temperature all the time.

"Thanks to this agreement we will also be providing the tracking of the shipments throughout the whole journey during which customers can easily view and verify online the actual temperature of their goods while in transit."

Mr Vella said the company intends to invest more in reefer trailers and increase its current warehousing facilities. "Our next step will be to have our own controlled terminals in certain strategic points in Europe," he said.

He points out that Malta's membership of the European Union has proved to be a great benefit to the company.

"European Union membership meant that our main operational activity involving our truck fleets could operate throughout Europe. This in itself has placed us on the same playing field as our European counterparts and as such helped us in our bid to be an international player in this sector. The elimination of customs procedures has meant smooth and hassle-free movement within Europe," he said.

On the other hand, he says, EU membership has meant the introduction of additional costs related to complying with a number of rules and regulations covering road transport.

Mr Vella says that since the company was formed, it has focused on establishing a reliable and efficient international transport network from all European countries to Malta and vice-versa.

"Over the years we have invested heavily in suitable equipment to be able to cater for all sectors of local industry, such as clothing, plastics, machinery, and lately, pharmaceutical. Operating our own fleet of equipment gave us the necessary flexibility to customise our service to satisfy the needs of our different customers.

"I believe Express Trailers, together with its subsidiaries, have achieved the results we were working for in creating a customer-centric, total logistical solution to the industry and maintained the concept of a 'one stop shop' where all the different transport modes are under one roof, whether it is road, sea or air.

"To achieve this we always made the relevant investment in quality and standards. In fact, our company was one of the first to obtain ISO certification," he said.

Did he have any thoughts about the success of the company after 30 years in operation?

"In the service industry you have to give that added-value and have the flexibility to customise your service to meet the demands of your customers in a reliable manner," he answered.

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