The Trailer Concierge

Importing a new trailer into Australia is a complex process, especially with the amount of time, documentation, certification and preparation involved. That’s why businesses like Thailand’s Panus Assembly defer to PLM Global Management, a company that can handle all those processes every step of the way.


In the commercial transport industry, shipping trailers from one country to another is not a simple case of purchasing the units and waiting for them to arrive at your yard. There’s a plenty of boxes to tick even before the trailers leave the factory for the wharf – including organising weight permits, certificates, insurance forms, quarantine checks and shipping costs; on top of tracking the units while at sea.


For Panus Assembly, Thailand’s largest trailer OEM, finding a suitable partner to help handle and manage all of the above was arguably a trickier task than establishing its Australian division, Panus Oceania. But thanks to Melbourne-based PLM Global Management, the job of transporting the trailers from Panus’ manufacturing plant to shipping vessel to Australia’s ports is all taken care of even before the ship sets sail.


“Our job is to handle every aspect of the shipping process for the customer. In fact, we don’t classify ourselves as a freight forwarder, but a complete management service provider,” says Shehan Paranavitane, General Manager of PLM. “We’re not just another company that brings products from point A to point B, but we really focus on maximising our service capabilities going above and beyond the point of contact.”


To achieve this, PLM has a software program in place called the Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) system, designed to take complete responsibility for the management and distribution of cargo within the clients’ supply chain. VMI optimises the clients’ inventory levels, helping their business to become more efficient by reducing lead times and saving costs.


“By streamlining the process, we can ease the stress of the logistics chain. There’s no need to talk to suppliers, customs or shipping companies,” Shehan says. “The client – in this case Panus – simply places their orders with us and PLM takes care of the rest from the paperwork to the phone calls to all the manual labour involved. We’ll basically tell them point blank that any concerns they had, are now out of their hands.”


One of those initial concerns was freighting Panus’ newly designed trailers directly to Panus Oceania’s site in Melbourne, a rare feat for PLM as the company had mostly specialised in shipping cars, automotive parts, wheels and other transport equipment. However, PLM saw the opportunity to expand its offering and completed the first shipment of Panus trailers in July. “Shipping trailers represented a major challenge for us, especially the costs of cubic space on board the vessel,” explains Daniel Carolan, Operations Manager for PLM – revealing the first Panus shipment included six flat top trailers.


“Rather than park them side by side on the vessel, we disassembled parts of the trailer including the wheels and and stacked them in groups of three. This meant we could ship more units, keep cubic space costs down and securely fasten them once they were loaded on the vessel. Once the first order arrived in Melbourne, we transported them from the wharf to our depot, where we have a workshop setup to reassemble each unit. After that, they were taken straight to Panus Oceania. That’s where our complete service offering takes place.”


This level of personalised service is what PLM has been providing clients since 1985, the year Managing Director, Reg Paul, founded the company. Almost 30 years later, PLM is not only headquartered in Melbourne, but also has offices in Sydney, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Ningbo, Shanghai, Qingdao, Tianjin, Singapore and Thailand.


While a Thailand office is something both PLM and Panus have in common, that’s not how these two businesses got together. “It was actually through networking at the Melbourne Global Truck & Trailer Leaders Summit held earlier this year,” Shehan says. “Reg, who has known Rod Cunningham (CEO of Panus Oceania) for many years, was introduced to Panus Assembly CEO, Panus Watanachai, who was visiting the country at the time. That’s where the initial connection was made and as it turned out, both parties had something to offer one another. The rest was history.”


Taking full responsibility for the entire process is where PLM sets itself apart from its competitors and is a legitimate reason why Reg’s business has made its presence felt outside of Australia. The same can be said of Panus Assembly, a company that can also lay claim to making its mark on foreign land.