Logistics and vehicles
We are constantly reviewing vehicle and machine logistics within our operations to ensure the efficient movement of staff and machinery across contract sites. It also ensures we are in a position to take advantage of new technology which reduces environmental impact whilst ensuring compliance with ever changing legislation. Alternative fuel types and more efficient routing is always high on our agenda. After several trials of tracking systems we have recently teamed up with Motrak as the supplier for our vehicle and machine telematics. Their system gives real time information on vehicle positioning along with details on how the vehicle is being driven, and so can be used as part of our risk reduction programme by identifying drivers whose driving practices need to be improved.
Where specifications allow, electric vehicles of up to 1500kg will be utilised to undertake general horticultural duties and litter collection in parks, town centres or where there are several sites within the range of the vehicle's battery limits. We have evaluated several options over the past few years, but in the main these were industrial variants derived from the humble electric milk float or golf buggy. A
new generation of custom-built vehicles is now available which give greater speed, range and carrying/towing capacity. Although these larger versions tend to be expensive, they will be considered where it is cost effective to do so.
Of more relevance to our industry is the recent advances in diesel/electric hybrid technology for vehicles up to 3500kg and we will see the larger vehicles in our fleet move to this configuration during 2012/13. We have an ongoing vehicle replacement programme in which all light commercial vehicles are being replaced with the latest Euro V engine technology, the cleanest currently available from manufacturers. This is also the case with company car drivers who are encouraged to opt for the cleanest variants available from several approved manufacturers.
To minimise our environmental impact and address some of the restrictions younger drivers face with driving licences and trailer towing, we have invested in a fleet of custom built machinery transporters which can transport a team of three operators, a ride-on mower and associated back-up machinery within the 3500kg limit of the vehicle. Whilst trailers are still required to move heavier machinery, these are specified with tilt beds and rear ramps to provide operational flexibility and reduce unnecessary strain for those using them.
Working with Peugeot and the vehicle fabricator TGS, we developed a lightweight tipper to reduce the need for large vehicles for operations such as litter collection, line marking and general maintenance operations. The closed cab and caged tipper keep the staff and their payload separate and secure; a major advantage in litter collection or emptying dog bins. This relationship with manufacturers and suppliers is important in getting the correctly specified vehicle for the work to be done. Other bespoke builds include woodchip bodies and a fully enclosed debris body made from plastic on a 3500kg chassis, which will be used in conjunction with a precinct road sweeper to service villages across a large geographical area.
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