A long and winding road to firm’s success

Morpeth Rotary Club

Tuesday, 5th February 2019, 13:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th January 2019, 14:53 pm
Alan Moody in red trim yellow jacket, Rotarians and Bedford lorry 'Peggy'.

No one could have missed Moody lorries on North East roads. Morpeth Rotary member Alan Moody arranged for Rotarians to visit his company in Cramlington to find out what it does.

The business was started by Alan’s father David after returning from service in the RAF at the end of the Second World War. He bought a household coal round in 1947 and began with one vehicle from behind the Co-op at Guide Post.

He moved on to collecting and selling sea coal, and in 1953 took over bigger premises at Choppington. By the end of the year he had five vehicles and six employees. He sold coal to brickworks and brought back bricks. The company grew and in 1960 became D Moody (Haulage) Ltd.

It continued to expand and by 1971 had 40 vehicles and employed 45. Carrying grain became an important part of the operation.

In 1976 the business built workshops to service its vehicles. In the late 1970s it formed Heathline Commercials to offer servicing to other haulage companies.

Changes in the 1980s and early 90s with the miner’s strike and entry into the Common Market meant an end to coal and loss of the grain market, leaving too many tippers and a need to diversify. The company sold lorries until it only had eight.

It took over its present site on an industrial estate at Bassington in Cramlington in 2014, where it had 10 tenants. The facilities needed a lot of refurbishment. It operates 22 vehicles now.

The business works with other companies in collaboration with the Pall-Ex organisation, a network of quality hauliers using pallets and real-time technology. Each member is certified to the ISO 9001 international standard quality management system. Companies that do not perform to standard are asked to leave.

Moody’s looks after the collection and delivery of freight in the North East and north of Berwick, up to Haddington near Edinburgh. Freight is brought to Cramlington and delivered to a central hub in Leicester for southbound, or to Warrington for northbound.

Pall-Ex owns the hub warehouses and co-ordinates the cross-decking of freight. Moody’s pays Pall-Ex to take off its pallets and put them onto other vehicles to deliver. There are Pall-Ex hubs in other countries and a pan European network.

Moody’s is a 24-hour operation with someone in the office from 5am to 7pm.

Overnight lorries set off at 7pm and are back by 7am. The drivers arrive early and load their freight in the order they want to deliver. When they set off they are responsible for the freight and the vehicle.

The Cramlington warehouse has just completed a £500,000 extension to provide a cross-deck area that can take six articulated lorries. The large vehicles, with double-decker pallet trailers, can be brought inside and loaded and offloaded at the same time.

All goods are labelled with a bar scan and address and are quickly loaded onto the destination trailer under a protective canopy in a clean and safe environment.

The warehouse is rented out as storage space. Brexit has created additional demand.

An internet-based system is used, with real time proof of delivery. Loads of various sizes can be sent at different prices for next day delivery. Prices vary for a timed delivery, morning delivery, economy service and a bespoke service for retail that can deliver right to the store room.

The system will alert the manager to what is to go out for delivery. They know how much freight and vehicles they have. The office will arrange 150 to 200 deliveries each day. Routes will be managed with a switch between very busy and very slow to even them out.

Every pallet arriving is labelled with the delivery address. The forklifts scan this automatically so they know which depot it is going to and where it needs to be stored.

All lorries are tracked with a colour code. Blue shows a vehicle en route, with the speed and location; green is on standby; red is finished; and yellow is on a rest period.

Some 96 assignments had been put out the previous night. They can see from the system that none are at the depot, four are at the hub — all economy class, six are out for delivery, 78 have been delivered and some are not using the scan system yet.

The group has four companies — Moody Logistics, Bolam Group that manages the property, MCR and Heathline. Administration is shared, cutting down overheads. They each can use the functions of company accounts, credit control, marketing, sales, personnel and operations.

MCR Services, as well as helping businesses to market products, carries out inspection, rework, repackaging and finishing of goods. Many come from China and Vietnam and are sometimes not exactly as ordered. It could be a flat-pack where one drill hole has not been made. Instead of shipping it back, the hole could be drilled and the product repackaged and sold.

As part of Moody’s it can also offer to store and transport the goods. A new venture is two incubator units of office and storage space that can be rented by new businesses.

Heathline Commercials has just launched a spray-painting accident repair centre.

A bonus was seeing Peggy, Moody’s beautifully restored 1950 Bedford OLDB dropside truck, one of the types used during the early days of the business. It has taken part in the Morpeth Fair Day procession and is much admired.