Iain Crawford’s HnH experience

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English farmer Iain Crawford knows more than most about how the HnH (High and Heavy) supply chain works. He has witnessed the process up close and personal from factory to farm and offers some insight on what works and more importantly, what can be improved.By George Lauriat, Editor-in-Chief, AJOTIain Crawford’s home farm Absol Park, is located in Essex, in the United Kingdom, roughly twenty miles from the town of Colchester and a little under 4,000 miles from the East Moline factory where his future John Deere Harvester S690i Hillmaster was to be built.
Crawford, who works 1,500 acres spread out within a 16 miles radius, grew up in the farming business, assuming full control of the family run operation in 1992. It’s a big equipment intensive business. Currently Crawford’s fleet includes 23 self-propelled vehicles and a wide variety of attached equipment. Nearly all of the self-propelled equipment fits into the HnH (High and Heavy) category of oversized cargo. The equipment comes from a wide variety of sources, as Crawford explained, “The current fleet comprises items built in America (7), the Far East (7) and Europe (4), as well as the United Kingdom (5),”
Crawford says the equipment “replacement policy fluctuates with our workload, new technology and profitability. However, as an average over the last thirty years, we have purchased a new piece of high and heavy equipment every four months (3 a year).”
This keeps his fleet remains under 7 years old while implements/attachments are replaced as required.
THE GREAT HNH ADVENTURE
Earlier this year, Crawford had a chance to see the HnH supply chain up front and personal. It started with a visit to John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline, Illinois to take part in the John Deere’s Gold Key customer awards program and see Crawford’s future John Deere S690i Hillmaster being built.
After the Hillmaster’s assembly, Crawford viewed it being loaded by crane onto a semi-trailer minus the wheels (loaded separately). He then traveled with the truck, belonging to Tennant Truck Lines Inc., the 850 miles across the US to the Port of Baltimore. In Baltimore, the combine was lifted from the semi by a top loader (large forklift) before having its’ wheels re-attached. The machine was then washed, before being driven onboard WWL’s (Wallenius Whilhelmsen Logistics) ro/ro ship the MV Tomar.
Crawford says he next caught up with the machine when it arrived in Southampton, England. “At the Port of Southampton, I had the opportunity to see the combine removed from stowage and driven back onto dry land. Once dockside, I witnessed the machine loaded aboard a John Deere lorry before following the combine back to my farm in Essex, where the machines’ journey ended.”
RUMINATIONS ON THE HNH SUPPLY CHAIN
The movement of Hillmaster through the supply chain went smoothly but this hasn’t always been the case and Crawford had some rumination on HnH shipping. Shipping, like that of Crawford’s Hillmaster’s is usually coined as “Factory to Dealer”. But he says “this should be rethought as from Factory to Customer for the actual supply of the equipment, with only the paperwork passing through the dealer’s premises.”
Crawford’s Hillmaster was processed at WWL’s Mid Atlantic Terminal at Dundalk, in the Port of Baltimore. The terminal is one of two (the other in the Port of Tacoma) that WWL has dedicated to processing HnH loads. What Crawford experienced was a new type of ro/ro business. Traditionally, the blue water ro/ro business (excepting short sea ro/ro) was either finished vehicle processing or some form of HnH; and to paraphrase an old quote, ‘never shall the twain meet.’ Doug Minnis, Vice President for WWL’s HnH business (and in charge of pre-delivery processing center on Dundalk) commented in an interview with the AJOT, “unlike the vehicle processing business, the H&H segment is fragmented and challenged by a number of issues… mainly consistent quality standards and process disciplines.” Minnis added, “It wa

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American Journal of Transportation