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Nobia renew materials handling equipment contract with Rushlift

Six years on from when Rushlift first began managing the Nobia fleet, the time was right for a complete overview of the MHE contract.

Europe’s leading kitchen specialist brought in all the major forklift manufacturers to bid for the future running of the fleet, as well as involving the managers from different parts of the business under the purview of logistics director, Andy Young.

“During those years, both the market and the business had changed substantially,” says distribution centre manager, Simon Hay. “The Magnet business itself was acquired by Nobia in 2001, with Gower added in 2003 and Hygena in 2006. Since then, we’ve witnessed a lot of investment and change, and our goal is to increase and improve product harmonisation.”

From the outset, cost was a key factor, but the chosen supplier would also have to prove their capability to manage and maintain a varied fleet, not only at the expansive Yarm Road production site in Darlington, but also at Gower sites in West Yorkshire and across the UK network of 200 Magnet Trade centres.

“It had been a difficult economic period for the kitchen manufacturing industry,” adds Rushlift key account manager, Ian Hunter. “Requirements had moved on and we were able to look at the fleet in its entirety. That gave us more scope and through a combination of removing equipment that was under-utilised, refurbishing existing machines, bringing in new equipment for front line high utilisation operations and taking into account new hybrid and battery charging technologies, we were able to propose savings of around £750,000 over five years.”

Throughout the tender process, demonstrations, product suitability trials and a raft of presentations were made, bringing the vital components of the deal to the fore. Here, Rushlift’s independence shone through.

As a leading provider of innovative customer focussed solutions in materials handling equipment, mechanical services and fleet management, Rushlift is independent from any manufacturer. It allows the provision of impartial advice to enable customers to maximise the effectiveness of their fleets, through either long term hire contracts or servicing and repair arrangements, and acquire the optimal blend of equipment for their operation.

Rushlift managing director, Graham Farquhar, believes this proved crucial to the success of the deal. “No one manufacturer can offer the variety and levels
of support that we are able to bring to the table,” says Graham, “whether that’s bespoke load handling or facilities management tools such as cleaning, access or communication equipment. We also have significant flexibility that allows us to meet the demands for change, as a result of the continued investment in the Nobia business.”

Three years on, Rushlift has been able to offer value for money solutions to drive down costs through effective asset management, utilisation, and secondary cost management like damage control and fuel savings. The Rushlift benefits highlighted by the review have also been fully implemented as the celebrated kitchen manufacturer continues to evolve.

“We rely on Rushlift for advice,” says Alan Beverage, of Nobia Interior Solutions. “We are not experts in mechanics, and we listen carefully to what they say. If we need additional equipment, we rely on them to offer the best kit, something that their independence allows. The flexibility they provide is a big, big, plus. We’ve off-hired and moved equipment around – we’ve proved the importance of the flexibility.”

A bespoke wide bed sideloader is just one of the new items brought in to accommodate a new £6m production line established in 2012. Other equipment, such as VNA or articulating trucks, were brought in when picking operations changed, whilst older equipment, including a type of electric flat bed order picker that is no longer manufactured, were refurbished to extend their lifecycle.

Reviewing the needs of the business is an on-going process, as is keeping a host of counterbalance, multi-directional, warehouse and other equipment at maximum availability. It is all backed up by a high level of quality service through a dedicated service team, headed up by Les Stone and effective account management delivered by Ian Hunter.

“By introducing efficient KPI monitoring and fleet reduction through managed change, we applied a contract that has allowed Nobia to grow and change their business needs whilst not compromising the day-to-day manufacturing operations of the core business,” said Ian.

On site in Darlington, the resident engineers have to keep abreast of all manner of engineering issues. Thankfully, in Les Stone, they have a highly respected and skilled technician. “Les is head and shoulders, torso and feet above the rest,” says another member of the of Nobia Interior Solutions management team, Derek Johnson. “If we have a problem, we just pick up the phone and Les is here like a shot. He’s an integral part of the contract.”
Simon Hay also believes the business is in the best possible place to meet future needs. With new initiatives underway and new product lines still to come on-stream, the service and support from Rushlift is providing valuable options based on utilisation data.

“Truck downtime is critical. With the monthly reports and regular meetings we are able to look at ways to reduce and improve, as well as opportunities to take out or change equipment. We’ve implemented a lean management plan for the past two years and Rushlift has been an essential part of the programme. The compression of areas and introduction of new production equipment meant that we needed kit that could work around that.”

“There’s still work to do,” concludes Simon, “but we are not constrained. We can change tack if we want to. We are driven by budgets and operational needs, but essentially we are free to take the best decisions for the business, and that freedom is great to have.”

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