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Prevention better than cure

James Capel

Simply Waste is unusual in the waste sector because it follows the principle that prevention is better than cure when it comes to man­aging its fleet.

While chassis are covered by regular MOTs and serviced regu­larly, vehicle bodies are often poorly maintained or left in the hands of mechanics who do not understand such complex equip­ment.

A refuse collection vehicle (RCV) is an expensive asset, cost­ing anywhere from £130,000 to £190,000, and a complicated piece of machinery with hydrau­lics, electrical circuits, control units and thousands of compo­nents.

Of the company’s fleet of 45 vehicles, it has around 28 refuse trucks made up of multiple chassis and body configurations. Looking after these vehicles requires a huge amount of knowledge and experi­ence, and across all the manufac­turers.

The firm’s core business is to provide waste management and recycling services, not refuse vehi­cle engineering, and it would rather spend time focusing on ser­vicing customers.

Rcv

Rcv

So it turned to Refuse Vehicle Solutions, which claims to know every type of refuse vehicle inside and out, and what to look for to avoid problems occurring in the first place.

Around a year ago, RVS approached Simply Waste and explained the difference that reg­ular preventive maintenance could make. It said that, if looked after properly, the company could expect more than 10 years’ service from its vehicles.

That’s a much better return on investment than the average five to six years, after which most oper­ators send their vehicles for scrap or into the second-hand market place – usually after enduring months of breakdowns and large repair bills. The cost of repairing vehicles is one thing, but the dis­ruption to the business when a vehicle breaks down is by far the worst pitfall of poor vehicle main­tenance.

So, Simply Waste asked RVS to maintain its fleet, and the results speak for themselves.

RVS assessed all the vehicles before drawing up a specification of recommended work for each one, as well as a preventive main­tenance schedule to service vehicle bodies and bin lifts. The whole process was seamless and, since then, everyone in the company, from drivers to supervisers and office staff, has noticed a signifi­cant downturn in the number of vehicle breakdowns.

That is great news because it means the business is running effi­ciently – and that means a better service for customers. The preven­tion rather than cure approach is really paying dividends.

It’s not just about keeping the vehicle operating well: it is also about keeping crews, customers and the general public safe. RVS act as Simply Waste’s eyes and ears on the safety front, inspecting vehicles regularly and comprehen­sively to make sure they meet the most stringent safety standards.

RVS is also used by Simply Waste for short-term vehicle hire service and parts department.

Spotlight on RVS

RVS was established in 2009 to offer a cost-effective alternative to buying refuse vehicles direct from manufacturers. It can supply any specification of vehicle: new from stock, remanufactured or quality used. The company also offers the full range of support services including hire vehicles, repairs and maintenance, inspections, product training, technical support, parts, breakdown cover and finance.

RVS is the only vehicle provider in the UK to be showcased by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation as an example of the circular economy. RVS managing director Spencer Law is keen to improve the sustainability of refuse vehicles in the waste management sector.

He said: “We have a team of expert engineers who know every make and model of refuse vehicle inside and out. We know how to keep these vehicles in optimum condition and can spot problems early on to prevent big repair bills. We work closely with Simply Waste to make sure that vehicles are rotated in such a way as to eliminate disruption to its collection schedules.

“Operators should follow Simply Waste’s example and think longer term by investing in preventive maintenance and servicing.”

James Capel is founder and chief executive of Simply Waste Solutions

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