Two new brands of hire trucks were brought in for three months and an experiment began, the results of which surprised even Stuart. “I’ve been here for over 20 years, beginning as a forklift operator, so we like to believe we know what to look for. I like to involve the operators and get a feel for the comfort and convenience issues, it’s the driver who is sat on it that has to be happy with it. but with the fuel price spiralling upwards, it made sense to do a like-for-like test. So everytime we filled up, we recorded the hours and fuel use.”
The TCM used around three quarters (actually 77%) of the fuel the other used, enough to sway the purchase decision and save anywhere between £9 to £16 (depending on the fluctuating diesel costs) in fuel per shift on a four truck application.
“We operate in a large concrete yard, there’s a lot of travelling and an on-site rail terminal. Going over the rail lines takes its toll on the trucks. Our experience is there are some trucks that just aren’t cut out for this type of application, but the TCMs stand up well and we feel more than satisfied with having implemented the changes.”
It helped that the TCM brand was not completely unfamiliar to Bowkers, having had one in the group from 1988 that’s still operational today. The focus on durability was also key, for as well as fuel consumption, reliability is also vital. For customer business, it’s essential to keep moving, but much of the work is also ‘container stuffing’ as part of the company’s own transport operation.
This means that later in the day, when most of the fleet comes back, a four hour window is allowed for overnight pallet exchange work (Bowker is a member of both the Pall-Ex and Hazchem networks). Up to a dozen trailers each night exit Preston alone, which provides another time constraint earlier in the day as orders need to be picked and ready to be out the door by 5pm.