It isn’t often that a random customer enquiry results in a whole change of sales strategy for a company, but that is exactly what happened at JTT Equipment Services Ltd of Grantham. JTT is the sole distributor of Bitimec Speedy Wash equipment in the UK and Eire. They have been selling mobile brush wash equipment to bus, coach and haulage companies since 1982 and until recently, the majority of systems were diesel powered, although battery powered versions were available. In 2009, a customer asked how much it actually cost to recharge the 4 onboard batteries over the 9 hour recharge period. Richard Benson, JTT’s Sales Director contacted Andrew Helan, Sales Manager at Exide Technologies and was staggered to find that it was just 49p with a modern high frequency charger – offering a run time of around 4.5 hours. This compares with an equivalent £4.50 for diesel.
"The benefits don’t stop with fuel costs alone" comments Richard. "Diesel has associated implications for storage and safety. Diesel engines require maintenance every 150 hours – involving changes of air, oil and fuel filters costing £70 alone. Some of our bus and coach customers have depots in built up areas and need to clean vehicles overnight. Diesel engines throbbing away overnight doesn’t do much for a company’s local relations. The battery powered units are so quiet that you can actually have a conversation with the operator. It also means that they can be used indoors."
Richard has chosen Exide Technologies’ maintenance free Sonnenschein monobloc gel batteries and high frequency SP chargers. "The chargers are smaller than a shoebox and can be plugged into a standard single phase socket. They are a truly ‘fit & forget’ power source. The chargers come with a 5 year warranty and although the batteries have a standard 1 year warranty, we have not had one single battery need replacing in the four years we have been using them. In contrast, users of the diesel variety need a service contract in order to meet warranty conditions. The battery versions simply need a quick annual safety inspection. Because of our partnership with Exide, we can provide customers with the peace of mind that no matter where they are situated, Exide’s nationwide coverage means that an engineer is never far away should a problem occur with the battery OR charger. The fact that we’ve not had one call out is testament to the quality of the products. All batteries are certainly not created equal."
Richard continues," In 2007, battery powered units accounted for 10% of total sales, in 2010 that figure will have risen to 60%. Some customers have a misguided opinion that battery powered units will not be as powerful or reliable as their diesel counterparts, but nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that these units may actually be more suitable for some fleets than a ‘Drive-Through’ which are quite expensive to run, have more stringent regulations imposed upon them and may be susceptible to Legionnaire’s disease. One of our customers was finding the maintenance cost of his drive-through prohibitive so swapped it for one of our ride on units."
Tel: 01204 661460