M-Sport's global logistical challenge

M-Sport's air freight securities co-ordinator Ashley Fowler talks logistics ahead of the all-new Rally Australia.
Next week M-Sport, the company chosen by Ford to run their rally programme in the World Rally Championship, will travel to Rally Australia but have you ever wondered how the Cumbria-based company transports its Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Cars and service park infrastructure across the globe?

Here M-Sport's air freight securities co-ordinator Ashley Fowler, who is in charge of managing the air freight which is transported down under, explains all...

Hi Ashley, could you explain a little bit about what you do?

Ashley Fowler:
I'm a rally technician at M-Sport but I'm also our air freight securities co-ordinator and responsible for ensuring that everything is transported for our long-haul rallies, which have included Mexico, Argentina and Australia this year. My main responsibilities are managing transportation targets, liaising with air freight suppliers, monitoring dangerous goods, weighing all items and compiling a comprehensive list of everything that is sent in the air freight. It is an extremely complex process, which can have costly mistakes if not done the correct way, so I need to make sure everything is done properly and by the book.

How is everything transported to a long-haul event?

Ashley Fowler:
At the start of the year seven shipping containers left M-Sport and will not return to M-Sport until December. Inside the containers are nine recce cars, service park infrastructure, consumable parts, hospitality tents and spare parts. The containers travelled by sea in time for the first long-haul event in Mexico, and from there it went to Argentina. Since then they have travelled from Buenos Aires to South Africa (although the containers were not taken off the ship in Africa) and then by sea to Singapore. The containers were taken off at Singapore and put on another vessel which then went on to complete the final leg to Brisbane.

It's quite funny to think that at any point in the rally season that we have shipping containers somewhere in the world – our logistics department and I are constantly keeping track of where our containers are throughout the year.

Is everything else sent by air freight?

Ashley Fowler:
Yes - we have our rally cars and three “AMP” boxes which need to be sent via aircraft.

AMP boxes are air freight boxes designed and built to aircraft standards. They have been designed with the correct dimensions to go straight into hold without any changes needed. The boxes which carry the spare parts and the rally cars will all be flying on the lower deck of an Airbus passenger aircraft from London Heathrow via Singapore to Sydney. From there they will be transferred by road to Coffs Harbour where the rally is taking place.

Each box has a metal seal which has paperwork attached with it. The seal is closed at M-Sport and will not be touched again until the boxes arrive at the destination airport. Part of my responsibility is to ensure the seal has not been tampered with when they leave M-Sport and I have to keep a close eye on this process.

The Ford Fiesta RS WRC is smaller than the Ford Focus RS WRC, so in logistical terms this makes it a little easier for us when flying for long-haul events this year. When we transported the Ford Focus RS WRC we were limited to Boeing 747 jumbo jets or freighters, but we can now send the cars three or four days later as we have a greater choice of aircraft which can carry our new cars.

What percentage is sent in shipping containers rather than air freight?

Ashley Fowler:
It's difficult to say as it depends how many cars we have competing on a particular long-haul round, but as an estimate I'd say 85% is sent on the shipping containers and 15% is sent air freight.

Apart from cars, what else do you need to take?

Ashley Fowler:

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Anttila (FIN), Ford Fiesta RS WRC, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN), Ford Fiesta RS WRC,  BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC being loaded onto a plane bound for Australia

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