ZF is a global technology company supplying systems for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and industrial technology.
The Consolidated ZF Group have 188 production locations in 31 countries, and in 2021, ZF achieved sales of €38.3 billion with approximately 157,500 employees worldwide.
In the UK, ZF has a variety of manufacturing sites, mainly in Peterlee, Pontypool and Birmingham, as well as aftermarket operations and Lemforder suspension component manufacturing sites.
Customers for the UK manufacturing sites are primarily Automotive manufacturers based in the UK and EU, including BMW, Stellantis (Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, Vauxhall & Opel) and VAG Group (Volkswagen, Seat, Audi, Skoda).
The Peterlee Electronics site, which produces Active & Passive safety equipment such as Cameras, LIDAR and RADAR systems, employs 750 people alone.
Before Brexit, the fact that most loads were UK/Intra-European domestic shipments meant that clearances were rarely needed. Although most of ZF’s shipments are FCA (Customer organised transport and clearance) which absolves them of the need to organise documentation, BMW’s courier did not have an agent with sufficient customs clearance capacity creating a need for ZF to find their own agent to ensure rapid customs clearance for shipments.
“We were in a bad place with BMW shipments and CustomsPro got us out of that hole and we’ve never looked back” commented Allison Ellis, UK Customs Manager for ZF.
Why choose ChannelPorts?
ZF discovered ChannelPorts online and realised that the CustomsPro platform offered an attractive option to finding and using an agent.
ZF liked being able to input their own information and control clearances themselves rather than relying on a third-party agent. In addition, they could use the system across multiple sites (Peterlee, Pontypool and Birmingham) under one contract. As a result, they split the ChannelPorts invoice and cross-charged the individual businesses easily using the shipment data recorded and stored on the CustomsPro system.
Plan of action
Implementing CustomsPro was straightforward, with no issues beyond minor teething problems with NCTS. Twelve people across three plants now use the system, and new staff can use the system with minimal training.
ZF now use CustomsPro for all BMW shipments, with 10-20 declarations per day. ZF can operate just-in-time (JIT) shipments for the sites they ship into, confident there will be no delays due to customs issues. Although any general problems are dealt with via the customer support ticketing system, ZF knows they can pick up the phone for urgent matters and resolve them in 30 minutes or less.
In addition, CustomsPro gives better quality of information for inter company charges than other brokers where ZF operating under a single EORI number can create confusion.
The benefits to ZF
The main benefit to ZF is having a single system across the company that is straightforward for all users and gives complete visibility of costs incurred across the different sites using the system. ZF are keen to expand the use of the system for more customers when the internal resource is available.
The other clear benefit for ZF is the lower cost, with CustomsPro offering a typical saving of 50% or more compared to the fees charged by some customer’s agents.
“CustomsPro is quick and easy“, summarised Allison Ellis, UK Customs Co-ordinator, “Plus CustomsPro saves us a lot of money against agents where we could be paying double. To be honest, they come up trumps!”