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Millers Vanguard Mercedes-Benz fleet rises to the Van Excellence challenge

The 240 Mercedes-Benz Vans operated by Lancashire-based Millers Vanguard wear a new badge of honour that sits proudly alongside their three-pointed stars – thanks to their accreditation by the prestigious Fleet Transport Association Van Excellence scheme.

To celebrate passing the FTA’s stringent audit, the operator has adorned its smart silver vehicles with the Van Excellence ‘tick’ symbol. This seal of approval is visible proof of the company’s commitment to the highest standards of fleet operation, and signifies that its vehicles meet demanding levels of roadworthiness, safety and compliance with all legislation, while its drivers are also trained, supervised and licensed to exacting criteria.

Millers Vanguard is based in Bury, Lancashire, and is one of Britain’s leading suppliers, installers and maintainers of bakery and catering equipment, with a customer base that includes supermarkets, cafes, bakery stores, canteens and takeaway food counters. The company enjoys a well-earned reputation for top-quality equipment and service, and was determined to ensure that its transport operations measured up to the same lofty benchmark.

Its high-profile van fleet comprises Mercedes-Benz Vito and Sprinter models, the latest of which were supplied by Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles Ayr. They include a number of Sprinter chassis cabs with Luton-style bodies, which work alongside a smaller number of 7.5-tonne Mercedes-Benz Atego trucks.

The initiative was driven by Millers Fleet Manager Nick Webb, who joined the company a year ago. From his background in heavy truck operation, dealing with a more heavily regulated environment, Mr Webb was keen to introduce a set of consistent, measurable standards across the company’s light commercial vehicle fleet.

“Van operators are not subject to the same level of legislation but I wanted to implement a code of conduct to ensure a similar level of monitoring – and I found that the Van Excellence programme already offered exactly what I wanted,” he said.

“We run 100 vans from our headquarters but the rest are out with engineers across the UK, which makes ensuring compliance and best practice even trickier than usual. Van Excellence proved to be an invaluable tool to ensure a uniform approach across the fleet; it allowed us to draw a line in the sand below which standards must never fall.

“We implemented various solutions to achieve our end goals, such as instigating daily walk-round checks and ensuring the cleanliness of vehicles. Since then we’ve been continually refining and improving our processes to make them quick and simple to implement from a driver’s point of view, and easily monitored for the fleet management team.”

Mr Webb added: “Van Excellence is a worthwhile process because it is the only tool available to smaller fleets which asserts their professionalism as equal to that of the major players in transport. Being able to demonstrate your dedication to proper fleet management is almost as important as implementing it, both from a compliance and a customer perspective.”

Having worked through the Van Excellence list of qualifying criteria, and ensured all its standards were being met or exceeded across its fleet, Millers Vanguard submitted its application last October – then waited for the FTA to complete its comprehensive audit of a sample of 10 drivers and 10 vehicles. There are three possible outcomes: operators are either told that they do or do not make the grade, or that they almost pass, in which case they are given a list of issues to address. Millers Vanguard passed with flying colours.

“I’m pleased to say we had absolutely no areas for improvement, and the assessors said ours was one of the best audits they had undertaken,” added Mr Webb. “We take great pride in the quality of our vehicles – which is why we insist on Mercedes-Benz – and in the way we operate. We’re delighted that our vans now bear the Van Excellence mark for all to see.”

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