Tanker hire brings 25 percent saving.

When a number of the waste-carrying tankers owned and operated by South West Water Services Ltd (SWWSL) came up for renewal, the company took the opportunity to re-assess its transport requirements, with bottom-line cost a vital factor. Not only vehicle specifications came under scrutiny: the company also carried out a comparative review of alternative forms of acquisition - that is of financing the new fleet.

Traditionally, such equipment had been purchased outright, but SWWSL was being urged to consider contract hire, through one of the many truck chassis manufacturers schemes, or from a tank specialist. All three options had their merits. Direct purchase, with no third party involvement, meant operating decisions could be based purely on the company’s own needs.

Tanker rental has produced notable savings.

But both contract hire possibilities brought the attractions of no SWWSL capital allocation, elimination of resale value (ie depreciation) risk and low exposure to cost inflation. The tank specialist proposal, submitted by TIP Tanker Rental, brought additional benefits, including flexibility in being able to develop or change the fleet during the contract period.

By the same token, during vehicle servicing or breakdown, or through an operational emergency, substitute or additional tankers of matching specification could be supplied rapidly, from TIP’s Gloucester depot. Direct day-to-day contact between SWWSL and TIP also made for a more responsive support system in keeping the tank fill and discharge functions working at maximum efficiency.

A decision was made accordingly to contract hire from TIP, based on the fleet administration economies coupled with tank design innovation, which maximised the carrying capacity of the vehicles – on Leyland DAF 75 and 85 chassis. Running at 32 tonnes gvw, the 8×4 tanks can carry 20,000 litres, while the 26 tonne six-wheelers have a capacity of 15,000 litres.

The newest additions to the TIP-hired SWWSL tank fleet are four 17 tonne four-wheelers able to negotiate narrow lanes and farm tracks in the West Country. Because such routes are frequently also steep, the new Leyland DAF 4×2 chassis are equipped unusually with Telma electric retarders.

A further boost in vehicle utilisation comes from faster turnround at both collection and discharge points. During SWWSL tests, one of the TIP eight-wheelers could be vacuum filled with sewage sludge in just 12 minutes; that is 8 minutes quicker than before. Meanwhile typical pressure discharge time is 10 minutes.

South West Water has made operating cost calculations which show that increased carrying capacity, in combination with faster turnround (sometimes allowing an extra collection to be made in the nine-hour working day), has brought an average cost saving of around 25%, per cubic metre of material transported.

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