The results ranged from a reduction in maintenance costs of some £150,000 per annum across Wickes’ four sites, to tangible improvements in the environmental impact of the fleet and risk management.
Wickes Distribution has four distribution centres supplying 170 stores throughout the UK. In 2003, a team from Briggs, formerly Finning Materials Handling, undertook a review of Wickes’ immediate and longer term requirements, including detailed site surveys and identification of areas of potential cost and efficiency savings.
Recommendations included: limiting truck speed to reduce tyre wear and extend the life of the battery, reducing accidental machine damage by restricting access to approved drivers only via a security key pad, matching truck working hours to service provision more accurately and review annually, monitoring repetitive damage issues on machines and essential floor repairs and review at monthly meetings, and matching battery size to the application and maximise charger efficiency.
Initially, Wickes Distribution was operating a mixed fleet of predominantly BT Rolatruc and Komatsu trucks, but following the site survey, the Briggs team highlighted a number of areas where savings could be made. One such change was to convert the entire fleet to Cat lift trucks.
Today, the company makes more than 30,000 deliveries per year, undertaken by a fleet of over 150 Cat lift trucks.
Both the order pickers and the reach trucks are powered electrically. In addition, the counterbalance machines, which are used for short shuttle runs between the warehouse and the lorries, are gas powered. In addition to the contract hire agreement, Wickes also has resident engineers on each of the sites supported by the Briggs servicing network.
Graham Bellman, group transport manager for Wickes, says: “A key gripe of mine within the industry is the tendency for fleet companies to franchise out the service contract to regionally based companies. With no communication between each servicing contractor, trend spotting and analysis across the network becomes very difficult.”
Ian Bennett of Briggs says: “When operating an extensive fleet of equipment across a number of sites, effective communication is paramount. Without this essential contact, it is very difficult and expensive to manage and maintain a fleet effectively over long periods of time. This centralised servicing function was something Wickes was very keen to include within the package.”
Wickes implemented a number of new safety regulations across sites, including new rules surrounding battery handling.
Bellman says: “Having worked with Briggs for the past ten years, they have listened and understood the demands of the company and the business in which we operate. Machine downtime is a major concern for any business, potentially costing large sums of money.”