Made in Scotland: Heil in the Highlands

Heil is carrying the torch for solid engineering and expertise in Scotland - a hive of metalworking activity that is serving the refuse collection truck market well

When delivering quality customer solutions, experience is hard to find -experience with engineering requirements, experience in the marketplace, experience with day-to-day operational challenges. Heil has been manufacturing refuse collection vehicles for over a century and since the early 1970s these machines have been designed and produced from its European headquarters in Dunfermline.

Few can boast this level of experience in the marketplace. Employing more than 150 craftsmen and engineers, the Heil factory is a hive of metalworking activity reminiscent of the heavy engineering not long missed from the shores of the Clyde. Heil says it is now the only 100% UK-based manufacturing facility for RCVs and has a reputation built on established products such as the BigBite and Powertrak.

Every vehicle leaving the factory carries a Saltire proudly proclaiming ‘Made in Scotland’. Not surprising then, that while products are shipped worldwide, Heil is passionate about supplying the local market. “The Scottish market has unique challenges,” says Heil’s northern sales manager, Ally Cormack. “We have a mix of large cities and sprawling rural areas that our customers need to service. Each has its own challenges and we look to supply the best vehicle for the right job.”

Repeat business

An example of this is the two Heil Twintrak vehicles being delivered to long-time customer Perth & Kinross Council. The council’s operations manager, David Goodenough, says: “We needed one vehicle to do the job of two. The Twintrak performs this task perfectly, with better capacity and payload than anything we’ve seen, and is also able to take two streams of waste, saving on dual collections.”

The Twintrak is based on the Heil Powertrak with a technologically advanced body and hopper design ideal for waste or recycling materials. Further flexibility is added by incorporating a 70/30 split for different waste streams.Perth & Kinross Council fleet manager, Bill Morton, continues: “Although we look at all suppliers, we are particularly proud to have a Scottish-based manufacturer of our waste vehicles. We have been customers of Heil for a number of years and find the vehicles operationally efficient to run and very reliable. Should we need assistance, the company is very easy to talk with and as they design and manufacture in-house, they know their product inside-out.”

Product knowledge and customer service is something that Heil has built up over a number of years and is particularly proud of. All the sales team come from a service background and have very good ‘nuts and bolts’ knowledge of the vehicles, offering solutions to most customer requests.

Investing for the future

To further advance the Heil customer proposition, parent company Dover Group recently invested heavily in setting up the Environmental Solutions Group (ESG) – a premier fully integrated waste equipment group that combines all the strengths of its members. As a key member of the ESG, Heil will remain at the forefront of developing advanced solid waste handling solutions designed to solve customer challenges, while reducing environmental impact.

Heil’s joined-up thinking to increase efficiency helped develop vehicles like the Twintrak, however the manufacturer is developing a sliding scale of eco-solutions that need not start at the cost of a new vehicle. The first and most simple of these is the Eco PTO – reducing engine revs, noise and fuel consumption. A significant number of vehicles are leaving the factory with this option helping to deliver increased profitability and reduced environmental impact.

Further options include switchable PTO and variable displacement pump. More options and initiatives are due to be announced during 2011 and beyond. As commercial vehicle sustainability continues to evolve and requirements change, experience counts more than ever. Few have the all-round experience of Heil, according to Willie MacPherson, fleet & maintenance manager from Highlands Council.

“We cover an area the size of Belgium with more challenging weather and terrain. We require the right vehicles for the right roads. On that basis we have been using Heil vehicles for over 20 years. We find them robust, rugged and reliable, rarely requiring new parts. When we do, they are quick to arrive and easy to order.

“The training of staff is made more efficient by having the factory in Scotland. We are able to have demo vehicles easily and training can take place at our site or the factory.”

The Heil philosophy is clear – to provide a fully integrated customer-focussed service with high standards, openness and trust, to deliver rugged and reliable products.

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