Producing body and pressing for the automotive industry is and integral part of the supply chain process and nobody is more acutely aware of this than Swindon Pressings (SPL), part of BMW’s operation in the UK. The company, previously part of the Rover Group, supplies pressed steel parts for various automotive models, including the new Mini which is built at its sister plant in Cowley, Oxfordshire. Recently, as a part of an on-going process of refining and improving operational process, SPL reviewed the whole of its materials handling equipment arrangements, before re-appointing Barloworld Handling to install and maintain a brand new 126-strong Hyster fleet.
Although Barloworld had been running the existing fleet at SPL, materials handling co-coordinator Fred Adams undertook a thorough examination of all the options open to him, inviting an initial seven companies to tender the contract before drawing up a short list of three. In creating its new proposals for the contract, Barloworld presented some radical innovations designed to meet the changed requirements at SPL. These included the switching from diesel powered forklifts to gas-powered models, the introduction of a Davis Derby truck management system, the use of the MACBAT battery regeneration process for the electric trucks and a revised servicing and maintenance system.
But what really clinched the decision was the fact the Barloworld were only ones capable of providing trucks – the Hyster S5.50 XMS SpaceSavers – which were capable of working within the restricted confines of certain areas within the plant.
In addition to the 20 Hyster gas-powered S5.50 XMS, the new fleet also includes 23 gas-powered H3.00XMs, nine H3.20XMs, ten S4.00XM trucks, 22 S3.00 XMs and the six, seven-tonne capacity S7.00XLs. The rest of the fleet consists of 31 electric counterbalance lift trucks, including three pallet trucks, plus two electric tow tractors. The new deal was financed over a five-year period through Barloworld Handling’s own Barloworld Finance operation, which offers the advantage of being able to offer a specialized service to companies in the materials handling industry, something which an ordinary bank or finance house cannot provide.
The proposal to switch the bulk of the fleet away from diesel and go onto gas was made by Barloworld’s Perry Woolgar. As a fuel, gas had a lot of attractions to SPL in terms of environmental cleanliness, but after Woolgar produced his cost calculations showing the favourable payback period, the SPL was convinced that this was the way to go. Particularly so as a deal was concluded with BP Gas (complete with four-tonne gas tanks) which enabled SPL to reduce its fuel costs from 19p per litre for diesel to 11.5 per gas litre for gas, creating and estimated saving of around £90K per annum.
Barloworld’s fuel improvement recommendations extended to the electric trucks too with the MACBAT system.