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When the time is right

07 April 2020

There’s certainly a time and a place for considering changing your MHE suppliers. During the grip of a global pandemic is not that time.

It is, however, the time to give thanks to those working on the medical front line that have put their own lives at risk to stem the flood of infections that has so disrupted our society. 

Those of us in the supporting sectors should cheer from the side lines for their amazing work.

Many of us are now managing the daily difficulties of keeping the show, not to mention the deliveries, on the road whilst staff levels are at a minimum. Others are locked down faced with walls to stare at and placating the occasional child that’s about to climb them. 

After the disruption caused by Covid-19 has subsided, many businesses will be faced with the tough task of getting things back to whatever normal is, whilst cashflows are tight, resources are stretched and the future uncertain. 

Tesco in Colney Hatch, north London. Photograph Michelle Davies @M_Davieswrites

Insights from market researchers Kantar show exactly how small changes in buying habits – just 3% more dried pasta sales, 6% more hand sanitiser, combined with 14% more frequent shopping trips overall and a 5% increase in spending at the till – conspired to leave shelves empty in March 2020. This at a time when the hours that supermarkets were able to receive deliveries were extended, restrictions on lorry drivers’ hours were relaxed and roads deserted. At a time when one of the few things the public can do is food shop, speed of replenishment, it would seem, not a lack of stock, was a critical factor.

If the crisis has reminded us of one thing then, it is the interconnectedness of the supply chain and the practical impact a disruption to that chain can have. 

Unexpected pressures on materials handing operations always has the ability to highlight where provisions are inadequate, whether that be in the equipment itself, the service and support, or the fleet management. 

Many of our customers operate in a seasonal food and beverage sector. Those experiencing unprecedented demand would have struggled to predict the busiest ever period to beset the UK would fall in March. Even knowing in advance the possibility of an upsurge in demand may not have proved very helpful. Adding contingency equipment is one way a fleet manager may add additional capacity, but few businesses have the luxury of carrying unused equipment long-term. That’s where utilisation comes into play.

In our forty-three year history, we’ve seen the focus change as material handling equipment has become more sophisticated and expectations around performance have been raised. Engines are complex; machines are temperamental; and, yes, the complexity of modern-day forklifts means that they require careful maintenance. Nevertheless, we also have the ability to monitor patterns of use; reward operators that abide by the rules and predict future demand.

Each of our locations operates as a standalone branch, which means our customers don’t get put through to a call centre when they need to speak to us. Our clients have the assurance that a knowledgeable sales manager based local to their facility will take their call and rectify their issue as soon as possible. That way we can ensure you get the most out of your investment and respond quickly at times of need.

Although we count major fleet users amongst our customers, we are not a large corporate company, nor a small trader. We offer instead the professionalism, financial security and high standards of a large corporate firm but not the constraints and rigid management structures that hamper the decision-making process. 

Our ethos is to treat each customer individually, paying special attention to individual requirements. We place great value on knowledge and experience and aim to deliver excellent value for our customers through inspirational service.

Take Lincolnshire-based Freshtime, a modern food business supplying chilled, value added, ready to eat salads, prepared vegetables and sandwich fillers to leading retailers and foodservice operators. During normal trading periods, their aim is to set the standards for quality, service and taste that others will follow, and strive through modern equipment, ethical work practices and a commitment to reducing carbon to be the type of business any major retailer would be proud to deal with. 

The fast-moving chilled and ambient storage and production areas are usually testament to the international capabilities of today’s food chain and the huge variety of foods now available in our high streets. Spanish broccoli and Dutch eggs sit beside locally grown salads and more exotic ingredients from Africa, Central and Southern America. 

Over 30 staff and agency operators are required to efficiently and carefully shift the produce to the picking and sorting areas, something which logistics and planning manager, Liam Blackamore, has at the forefront of his mind. “The equipment has to be reliable. It has to work, that’s a given.” It’s a nod to the previous supplier, which left a long-standing impression following an experience which Liam describes as ‘dreadful’. “Selecting a forklift provider, service is the number one and five years into our Windsor contract, we’d had no issues. To be fair, signing up for a second fleet was a no-brainer.” That new fleet of five electric and LPG Komatsu forklifts, and Doosan powered pallet trucks, is actually smaller than previously. 

“The new Fronius charger, combined with the easy access side door on the Komatsu trucks means we have a battery on charge, but not a spare truck stood idle. It’s very simple and helped save us a good deal of money.” Blue reversing spotlights add safety for pedestrians whilst ergonomic controls means there’s no complaints from the operators. “We’re delighted with the truck performance and the service. It’s made financial sense and is good for the environment, and our commitment to being carbon neutral.”

It’s the sort of experience we see regularly at Windsor. Together with our valued customers we are creating a modern materials handling and access business from the imagination and vision of our owners, directors and employees. 

Partnership is a term often used, rarely meant. Our partnerships aren’t just discount supply agreements, we work together with you to give you the best chance to improve your productivity and profitability. Our aim is to provide the best quality local service on a national level. We maintain a philosophy of continual investment to help ensure our strong reputation for personal customer support is maintained.

Thanks to that local, one-stop approach for finance, hire, sales, maintenance and spares, we’re able to add value via a quick, reliable and professional service. 

Our service set-up is unlike that of any other forklift company. We know that good service is about people. How good they are, how quick they respond, how they are trained and supported. That’s why we put our customer support technicians in charge. They decide what’s best for their customers because they’re best placed to make the right decisions. They’re right there in the field, strategically positioned to provide unrivalled levels of support. And during times of crises or normal trading, it’s an approach that we feel delivers the best outcome for our hard-working customers.