For the Logistics and Safety and Customers Services teams at Lubmarine, no two days are ever the same. And with one of the most unprecedented times in the shipping industry including raw materials shortages, a shipping crisis with a lack of vessels and equipment, unexpected weather events and the Suez Canal incident, it has made the task even more challenging.
Global Customer Services Director Graham Allinson and Supply Chain Director Mariane Axt provide insight on the crucial work the teams undertake.
Q/ Can you provide an overview of the L&S team and what the team is responsible for? What are the services offered?
Mariane: Primarily we undertake activities across the Logistics and Safety (L&S) and Customer Services (CS) aspects of the Lubmarine business. As you can imagine, these areas are really varied, but in terms of the supply activity L&S ensure the upstream supply and logistics of raw materials and finished products for Lubmarine partners, affiliates and blending plants around the world.
Graham: Our Customer Services team works closely with all of our customers – in both the key global shipping ports in addition to the much smaller ports around world - dealing with a wide array of enquiries, professionally and promptly, managing orders and ensuring the delivery of our products to their vessels wherever they are. What we effectively have is L&S working on the upstream logistics and supply and CS working on the downstream ones.
Q/ What is the focus of the Customer Services/L&S approach?
Graham: Our focus is always to ensure that our customers are supplied with sufficient product in the right quantities in order that they can safely operate their vessels. Key to this is engaging with all departments involved in the process at the earliest stage. For us, clear communication is vitally important, so that all Lubmarine personnel are able to clearly update their customers with information as early and often as possible. By all departments working together in this way we fully utilize our information to support our customers, so that they can plan their vessels’ supplies in a professional and coordinated way.
Q/ Can you provide insight into the ethos of how you do what you do?
Firstly, we place great importance on having close partnerships and good communication with suppliers and partners where our products are blended. This enables us to be able to continually adjust and optimize the whole supply chain and produce the most effective Lubmarine products worldwide as close to where our customers need them, ensuring the greatest levels of reactivity and flexibility for their needs. Additionally, we are geographically close to our customers and have a proactive approach, offering them tailor made solutions. We believe it is also really important that with any worldwide network, we have a very dynamic and reactive team that can connect at very short notice with different offices in different zones.
Q/ What have been the biggest challenges for yourselves (and customers over the last 15 months?)
Mariane: We are facing the effects of multiple global issues right across the supply chain that are culminating at the same time to create what we can only describe as a crisis affecting many companies and sectors worldwide. These include raw materials shortages, a shipping crisis with a lack of vessels and equipment, shortages of packaging due to a lack of polymers and steel, made worse by different events like unexpected weather events, the Suez Canal incident and accidents and incidents in some refineries. Supply and logistics is very challenging in these times.
Q/ How have you overcome these?
Graham: In short – teamwork. Between the supply chain and logistics and customer services teams, and also with other divisions of Lubmarine, TotalEnergies, blending plants and suppliers. Good communication between all parts, the commitment of the teams involved in the supply and logistics of Lubmarine worldwide have been key to make things possible. We have also continued to be very transparent with our customers and worked hard to be flexible and adjust to any situation and find solutions to deliver consistent volumes to all of our customers.
Q/ Looking ahead what do you think some of the developments are likely to be in your area of the business?
Mariane: Things are very dynamic and can evolve fast. Local events can have global impacts. So first of all, it’s important to be vigilant and continue to optimize our supply chain in the same ethos that we have had.
Graham: As we have highlighted, close communication with all of our customers to enable us to keep providing them with vital updates on supply situations and provide is a really important part of our role. So we are investing in systems and platforms to help us improve this still further. One example is our LubeOnTime online ordering system, which gives our customers the capability to place and view their orders and monitor their progress in real time in conjunction with our local teams ensuring complete confidence in our ability to supply their orders. We will also continue to introduce new digital features to further enhance our services, ensuring our Customers will benefit fully from these continued Improvements and enhancements.