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Case study: Atlet’s personal touch and proactive service helps keep costs down

22 January 2014

Bidvest Logistics, a Logistics distributor that works with many well-known high street retailers, had always relied on the major national materials handling equipment (MHE) suppliers to service its five UK sites.

In 2010, when the opportunity arose to engage a new MHE supplier, its Operations Team went in search of a company that would deliver a more personalised and proactive service, improved call-out and service times and lower rates.

Bidvest approached a number of materials handling organisations and eventually awarded Atlet the contract to manage its materials handling equipment across its UK operations.
Peter Gaunt, Director of Operational Excellence, Bidvest Logistics, explains, “In the past we’d always engaged the major national names in MHE, but we felt we could improve on a number of aspects of the contract, such as out of contract cost control, account management, service support, battery changeover and energy management. We hoped that Atlet would deliver on all of these, and they haven’t disappointed us – in fact they’ve exceeded our expectations.”

The situation
Operating in the high volume profit sector of the foodservice market, Bidvest Logistics provides contracted services to clients requiring high levels of control and discipline in the supply of goods to their outlets.

With three main distribution centres and two out-bases across the UK, operating 120 MHE trucks in a 24 hour operation, Bidvest’s MHE requirements and environments are very demanding.

Proactive account management
Key to Bidvest’s requirements was a more personal and proactive service. Bidvest were seeking a MHE supplier that would engage regularly with representatives at all of its sites and actively analyse, report and advise on its fleet and operations.

Atlet allocated a dedicated account manager who has been responsible for managing Bidvest’s contract since day one. Two years down the line and Bidvest is delighted with the service it is receiving.

Peter Gaunt explains, “Atlet’s account manager works very hard on our behalf and we feel in safe hands. Our depots are spread out across the country, but he visits each one on a regular scheduled basis and personally assesses all areas of our materials handling, such as the conditions of our floors and driving styles, as well as our trucks. He then reports back and advises us on solutions to help improve our operations and reduce costs.

Reduced damage
Damage to trucks and goods is an inevitable but costly aspect of all materials handling operations, but at one of its distribution centres Bidvest was experiencing higher levels of damage than was acceptable.  Atlet’s account manager assessed the problem and advised Bidvest to invest in the Davis Derby Truck LOGDriver Access Control module.

The system enables operations managers to set permission levels governing the use of their fleet. To make trucks operable, drivers must log-on by entering a PIN or Smart Card into the on–board device. The system stores valuable management information - which in turn raises driver accountability and driving standards.

Atlet has continued to monitor damage figures and has been able to report a significant improvement in the situation, which has not only reduced the down time of the trucks, but the total cost of repairs.

Improved battery change
The battery changeover area at Bidvest’s three main distribution centres was also a cause for concern. As Peter Gaunt explains, the existing battery change solution was fairly primitive, “It involved a lot of manual handling and often more than one driver at a time, which was impacting our operations. It was also a health and safety concern, so we asked Atlet to design a new solution.”

Atlet’s in-house battery change division assessed Bidvest’s requirements and designed a solution within its allocated budget, utilising some of the food distributor’s existing equipment to keep costs down. The solution has significantly speeded up the battery changeover process and works in conjunction with a specially tailored battery management system that ensures battery rotation. Bidvest's distribution facilities are extremely tight for space and through detailed analysis and layout work, Atlet has greatly improved space utilisation within the battery room, providing battery changeover equipment that is safe and efficient, whilst significantly reducing manual handling. Peter Gaunt comments, “Atlet’s battery change solution is a major step forward for us and has made a huge difference to our operations.”

Lower rates and less downtime
Another aspect of its MHE contract that Bidvest was keen improve on was its materials handling costs. Not only has Atlet lowered its costs by reducing damage and improving operations, but as Peter Gaunt explains, Atlet’s rates and service times have also had a significant impact on its overheads, “Atlet’s rates are extremely competitive and we have certainly saved money as a result, and because Atlet has more service vehicles in our localities, truck downtime has also been reduced.”

Seamless changeover
Bidvest Logistics has some very high profile clients and as a result it is critical that its MHE is operational 24/7. The contract changeover in 2010 involved a significant number of its fleet being replaced with Atlet’s trucks, which was a major cause for concern for Bidvest’s operations team. To ensure a seamless transfer, Atlet assigned a dedicated project manager. Peter Gaunt explains, “Having so much fleet movement at one time could have seriously impacted our operations, but Atlet’s project manager planned and managed it absolutely seamlessly.”

Atlet prides itself on its proactive and personal account management and this contract with Bidvest proves that Atlet’s service and accountability can considerably improve an organisation’s operations and costs. Peter Gaunt concludes, “Top of our wish list was a desire to have a closer relationship with our MHE supplier and Atlet has certainly fulfilled this wish. Our account manager is part of our team and works proactively to look for and raise issues. The care and attention they give is superb.”

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