When you stock more than 12,000 different products and supply to about 4000 customers every week, there isn’t much you don’t know about the demands of maintaining an effective cold chain. As one of the UK’s leading independent food wholesalers, Castell Howell Foods supply to a customer portfolio which includes everything from hospitals to Michelin-starred restaurants through a 160-strong fleet of delivery vehicles.
Based on Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire, with 755 employees across the group, the company originally started as a dairy farming business. They then diversified in 1985 from fresh poultry to a wider range of food products and incorporated in 1988, with their Cash & Carry opening in 1998. Today, Castell Howell Foods are a supplier of top-quality products throughout Wales, the Welsh Borders and the South West, but are still 100% family-owned. Their 12,000+ range features 2000 products bought to order, with 10,000 in stock.
One piece of technology which has played an important role in the smooth running of day to day operations is the Seven Telematics Transcan temperature recorder. The Director of Transport Operations of Castell Howell Foods, Martin Jones, explains more:
“We started working with Seven Telematics 15 years ago when the industry was demanding a traceable form of temperature recording. While there were manufacturer products on offer, we decided we liked the Seven Telematics product because it was easy to use. Our drivers have so much to contend with, from poor road conditions to customer queries for thousands of products, so having something that was intuitive with a solid reputation for being reliable ticked all the boxes for us. The Transcan is an easy tool for drivers to use. It’s very intuitive without overloading them.
With the Transcan, you can just fit it and forget about it because it tends to run seamlessly. It gives our customers assurance that their products are as they should be and that the integrity of the cold chain isn’t broken.”
The Transcan has provided other benefits too, as Martin adds:
“It helps you identify when perhaps best practice might not be at the forefront of people’s minds, like leaving doors open a little longer than they should. We might think we’ve got an issue with a piece of refrigeration, but with a very simple investigation you can determine that there isn’t a problem. The Transcan allows you to take a trend and marry it with a timeline.”
The company’s relationship with Seven Telematics has diversified recently with their decision to fit a Transcan within the manufacturing area of one of their cold stores:
“It was an easy conversion to make. Again, it’s simple to adapt because the software is intuitive. There aren’t any what I call ‘wasteful widgets’ in it. The crossover within the cold store was smooth with people proving to be very comfortable using the product, albeit in a different guise.”
With Castell Howell Foods being BRC Double AA grade certified, meeting stringent regulations around compliance is vital. This is where the Transcan has proved invaluable:
“We serve local authorities, providing food to schools, nursing homes and hospitals, and the Transcan answers our requirements for having an auditable trail of product temperatures. As a quantifiable measure of proof of temperature, it’s an auditor’s dream!”
Martin has a few words of advice for companies considering bringing the Transcan on board:
“The Transcan is literally an ‘out of the box’ product. It’s cost effective, it’s reliable and it’s universal in that it fits so many applications. Before we took it on, we compared how it works with different trucks running various refrigeration systems, such as those from a refrigeration manufacturer or an OEM. By comparing them, we realised that having independents that work across any refrigeration really does make management and compliance checking easier if you’re after a wide field of information. If we had gone for another option, we wouldn’t have the nice panoramic view of the whole fleet that we gain with the Transcan.”