Airside resource company, Wymap Group, provides specialist services to the airfreight, airport and airline industries.
The company has a presence, following its expansion into Perth earlier this year, at all major mainland airports in Australia.
It also operates in Auckland, New Zealand. Wymap’s commercial fleet comprises approximately 100 vehicles including prime movers, specialised trailers, single and bogie axle rigid trucks, vans and utes.
Primary operations hinge largely on moving aircraft unit loading devices (ULDs), a mechanism commonly used to restrain cargo for air transport.
Wymap Group relies heavily on its roller fleet for this task. The process, in short, involves use of a rollerbed system that can be installed onto trailer floors, flat beds and vans.
Sometimes, depending on the nature of the work, chainbed trailers that run on three phase power will also be utilised to secure aircraft containers, aircraft pallets or a combination of both. Essentially considered aircraft pre-loading, ULD container build-up serves the purpose of grouping consignments at cargo warehouses to accelerate the loading and unloading of aircraft while serving to protect the contents that are loaded from loss and damages.
A Wymap Group truck is customarily required to back up to either an airfreight hoist or main deckloader where the ULDs, depending on whether it is an arrival or departure, then roll onto or roll off the truck’s trailer.
When dispatching the freight, the truck will travel to a customs bonded facility where the load gets broken down before it gets delivered for last mile. Wymap Group plays a role here, too, delivering on behalf of the customer in a semi-trailer or Tautliner.
The Tautliners are also deployed to cargo terminals where the freight is broken down internally and loaded by forklift akin to what is common practice at a distribution centre.
Wymap Group deals in the main part with network integrators like FedEx, a long-term partner, DHL Express & Global Forwarding and UPS, to name a few.
They also have domestic partners in Australia Post and StarTrack. “There’s a lot of parcel movements happening in that space,” says Wymap Group Managing Director Justin Bailey. “But ultimately, it’s the traditional business of international air freight. Whatever comes in on an aircraft we’re going to be moving it.”
Wymap Group boasts major market share for air freight support in this country and has, of late, been riding a rising wave of activity.
Demand for essential supplies and exploding e-commerce trade have, during this period, been felt industry wide.
Just as container backlogs choked ports, air freight fast became an emergency go-to for freight forwarders when passenger airlines, confronted by drastically reduced flights caused by COVID measures, began carrying more freight to make up for the shortfall.
A range of reputed truck brands call attention to the fleet.
The rigid and single-axle trucks have been purchased across Isuzu and UD, chosen largely for their versatility although price is a chief consideration, according to Justin, as mileage remains a lesser determinant in this line of work.
Fuso have been brought in more recently for operations at airports while a new Mercedes-Benz Actros prime mover was introduced into the interstate linehaul segment of the business, a revenue stream Wymap Group is also looking to grow long-term.
“Road feeder service has traditionally been dominated by Jets Transport and the likes of Skyroad Logistics, who have entered that segment more recently,” says Justin.
“We see an opportunity in that space. Realistically, we feel that we can provide the same customer base with a different service experience. We are seeing it grow. We’ve just got to manage the growth and continue to deliver for our partners.”
Managing expectations in this new operational field will be partly conducted by external forces. The supply chain for one.
“To be honest, we don’t want to run too hard in that space just yet,” says Justin. “Trying to get equipment built is a battle. We’re taking, for this reason, a slower approach to that product line at the moment.”
Established in 1981, Wymap Group now five decades on has had to draw upon every bit of experience, street smarts and internal wherewithal to adapt to the sudden extremes of a marketplace undergoing quicksilver changes. According to Justin, freight, until recently, was coming into the country at unprecedented volumes in methods completely different to what the business was used to.
“There was a lot of chartered flights and a lot of PPE coming in. Rapid antigen tests. All of this type of product was arriving unabated, and it really kept us moving,” recalls Justin. “It was fortunate for us that freight volumes were very strong especially coming into Sydney. We were seeing a lot of that interstate transport happening.”
Any number of challenges brought on the industry over the last 18 months would have given serious pause to the most organised and professional of transport organisations.
Managing the daily demands of staffing, equipment, fuel and customers before adding COVID and associated compliance with it, was a big ask notes Justin.
Rosters, sick days and subbies —ingredients enough for a new country song – have proven never ending. There’s been a steep learning curve asked of everyone without warning, according to Justin, something he believes the industry should not lose sight of.
“We’ve all had to sit back and be prepared to learn again,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how much experience you’ve had, none of us have ever seen it before. My big cliché at the moment, especially in regard to lack of staff and challenges for finding drivers, is it’s all about coaching now, not managing.”
When it comes to staff management Justin suggests making employees better should be of primary concern in view of the myriad pressures they have had to cope with.
Mental health, consequently, is taken very seriously internally at Wymap Group.
Justin anticipates that mental health will be, for many other companies, a potential stumbling block if the approach is not right.
“We run a labour hire business at most of the federal airports with 400 hundred to as many as 600 hundred people out a day in that space,” he says. “So we’re dealing with a lot of people and we’ve got to make sure, as a business, we’re doing what we can to support them.”
One of the key strengths of the business in an environment as hectic as this one has been its ability to retain talent. Across both Australia and New Zealand Justin is proud that he has not let any drivers go.
“It was really important to us to keep the fleet running and the drivers working, outside of any behavioural issues of course,” he says.
“That was first and foremost a priority for the business and myself.”
By keeping his UD trucks running on the highway, what’s more, at greater cost to the business as linehaul was not necessarily the traditional stomping ground of these vehicles, the drivers were in work.
It proved an effective defence against the skilled labour scarcities of the last three years.
The expansion into RFS (Road Feeder Service) partly came about from this decision.
When the rail line into Western Australia was damaged on 21 January, due to a once in a 200-year flooding event that adversely impacted multiple locations along a 300-kilometre stretch of track, Wymap supported some of their partners with two trucks, a week, going into Perth.
Much experience was gathered as a result and the business will look to capitalise on these opportunities in future as they present themselves.
“We were able to support Snap on Tools through that time and process. They’d been let down by one of their partners and we just made it happen,” says Justin.
“It was good for us. Though it wasn’t air freight, we were able to establish that we can do it. When we look to talk about those air freight opportunities in future we know we’ve done it before and created that experience internally so when we’re right to press the button and put into a schedule that we’ve had that experience behind us.”
The company has since established a branch manager in Perth following years of encouragement by various partners to commit a presence out west. Having ground management at the airport became the main step to redeploying mobile assets and other equipment.
“It’s no different to the way I look at Auckland. Did I really want to go there? Probably not,” explains Justin. “But when the opportunity presented with the right contract frame we thought we’ll set it up and have a longer-term investment strategy around getting the right people in and investing in the right equipment. We’ll start that same process off in Perth. We’ll give it six to 12 months to make sure it’s working well and then continue to invest in that part of the country.”
As it stands, Wymap Group will continue to attract interested partners who are eager to align with them at these newest locations. Part of the company planning strategy also involves ensuring adequate lines of stock of AdBlue, which Justin believes will became scarce again in the not-too-distant future.
“I think we managed the AdBlue situation quite well. We got on the front foot when shortages were happening and we were able to store enough but as you know it has a limited shelf life,” says Justin.
“The fleet manager and general manager in the business did a really good job in making sure we planned ahead. Because we’re running around the clock, there’s certain times of day that we need these trucks fuelled up. We’re working with our partner in regards to that. It’s the old story you want to control what you can control so we’re doing the best that we can in that respect. These are absolutely challenging times.”