Fleet management evolves into complete fleet solutions

Local authorities need more from a transport provider than a satisfactory contract hire deal. They need a package that also includes variously, maintenance, administration, specification advice, acquisition and disposal. Transport provider, TransLinc, reports on case studies of fleet solutions in the local authority sector

Stephen Whitehurst, Engineering Service Unit Manager of Macclesfield Borough Council, and Stephen Randall, Head of Technical Services at MBC, wanted a single point of contact and a complete package covering the entire range of vehicles when Macclesfield Borough Council signed a seven-year contract with leading UK transport provider, TransLinc, for the provision of vehicles on contract hire with maintenance, earlier this year.

Both men agreed that another authority may need an entirely different package based on terrain, finance and maintenance requirements.

The total deal with MBC covers some 350 vehicles and plant, including refuse vehicles and recycling vehicles, from Corby-based trailer and traffic management vehicle specialist, Trailroad, to be delivered in November.

The countryside covered by the authority is vast, and at 52,569 hectares, the fifth largest in the country. It is an area of stark contrast including extensive tracts of rural, narrow roads and large conurbations. The TransLinc team had to be aware of the authority's special requirements and their combined expertise have selected the vehicles and maintenance arrangements most suited to the location.

Maintenance provision

The maintenance deal enables Macclesfield BC to close its vehicle workshop/depot and release the site for possible redevelopment as the majority of the maintenance will take place overnight at TransLinc's Stockport Depot. TransLinc's involvement with the neighbouring authority whose fleet it maintains during the day ensures that resources, both specialist employee skills and specialist equipment, are being economically deployed while serving two large vehicle fleets at one location.

Further investment in the Stockport Depot made an adjoining 14,000 ft2 of warehouse available which has since been converted, equipped and brought into service to support the additional work from Macclesfield Borough Council. The development of the two adjacent workshops allows the HGV fleets of Stockport and Macclesfield to be handled separately from the very different requirements associated with LCVs, minibuses, taxi and MOT testing. The advantages for dedicated workshops are twofold; movement frequency of heavy vehicles is necessarily slower in large scale repair and servicing than that of the smaller fleet. Also, contamination from HGV vehicles in the form of dirt and work materials carried is segregated from people carriers.

In working a shift system, the workshops are able to provide a faster and more flexible turnround service, thus reducing downtime.

Refuse fleet

Neighbouring Congleton and High Peak Borough Councils had their own specific needs from TransLinc. Congleton Borough Council's refuse fleet had to cover a farms and rural collection service for which an Econic 4 x 2, 14.5m and a DAF 4 x 2, 9m vehicles were selected for their suitability to the terrain, as part of the RCV fleet. In association with Faun (Municipal Vehicles), TransLinc provided the authority with 8 - Mercedes Econic 6 x 4 RCVs with 22m Variopress bodies and Zoeller rotary lifts for domestic collection, 1 - Econic 6 x 4 22m and I - Econic 6 x 2, 18m for green waste.

As well as an "open approach" to the vehicles supplied, the contract hire deal needed to be flexible to provide for possible future changes in circumstances and is therefore for a fluid five to five and a half years. It is worth approximately £1.4 million over the period.

The Building Services Department of High Peak Borough Council had a requirement for Bi-Fuel vehicles to satisfy its Green Policy. The combined teams of TransLinc, the High Peak Department and Qi Van Systems worked closely together to provide a first class conversion to satisfy the required specification.

The TransLinc deal with High Peak Borough Council is for contract hire over five years and provides the authority with 17 Ford Transit 260, short wheel base Bi-fuel vans which have been fitted with roof racks for builders' ladders. The internal shelving and storage in the vans reduces the number of return journeys to the depot for supplies and adaptations have been made for glaziers' vans.

The acquisition of a local Derby firm, Arterial Motors, provided TransLinc with the workshop accommodation to both operate and maintain the buses and coaches for their contracts in Derby City as well as the maintenance of one of its newest customers, Derby City Council. The 60-plus vehicles required by Fleet Manager, Richard Kniveton, were needed urgently and TransLinc was able to deliver. Mainly light commercials, the contract hire with maintenance deal with Derby City Council is for five years and covers Ford Connect vans, Transits and Transit Crewcabs to be used principally by the council's Housing Maintenance Organisation.

Tailored programmes

The emphasis in every case is on flexibility across the board. TransLinc's success lies in its ability to tailor a programme for each individual authority, not just in the specification of vehicles and variety of manufacturers it offers, but the type of contract hire deal, the maintenance set up and the administration requirement.

TransLinc has its headquarters in Lincoln but has agreements with local authorities across the UK, and particularly in the Midlands, where it is making best use of the "Neighbouring Authorities" concept. Where contracting of maintenance to a local workshop is in operation travelling fleet engineers have been appointed to control the quality of servicing provided for the fleet concerned.

"Fleet solutions", as the headline suggests, are what today's fleet managers need in order to manage a growing variety of vehicles and plant.


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