When your business entails the delivery to hospitals and other healthcare clients of temperature-critical, time-sensitive medicines and vaccines, you need vans you can rely on. No wonder Polar Speed chooses the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
The UK’s premier distributor of temperature-controlled pharmaceuticals, Polar Speed has headquarters in Leighton Buzzard, Buckinghamshire, and a network of 15 warehouses and depots nationwide.
The company operates 40,000 sq ft of chilled and temperate warehousing and runs a fleet of more than 130 temperature-controlled vehicles, including over 100 refrigerated and insulated vans which, for strategic reasons, is split evenly between Mercedes-Benz and another manufacturer.
The latest arrivals from dealer Hughes of Aylesbury were a dozen fuel-efficient 3.5-tonne Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 313 CDIs which underwent conversion by Solomon Commercials, of Rossendale, Lancashire. The Medium-length vans are fitted with Thermo King dual-temperature refrigeration units and designed to carry product in separate compartments at 5°C and 20°C.
Hughes also supplied Polar Speed late last year with seven 313 CDIs and three 5.0-tonne Sprinter 516 CDIs with box bodies, also by Solomon Commercials. These bigger vehicles carry product on pallets, as well as in boxes and cartons, and are used to deliver to larger hospitals such as Addenbrookes, in Cambridge, and London’s Royal Free.
Richard Holmes, Director of Supply Chain at Polar Speed, explains: "The distribution requirements of the pharmaceuticals market can be especially demanding, and are often well beyond the capabilities of traditional transport and logistics organisations.
"This is because the integrity of many products can be compromised or even undermined completely, thus rendering them ineffective, if they are not kept within strict temperature parameters during transit and do not reach their destination within the appropriate timeframe. Ensuring patient safety through rigid adherence to ‘Good Distribution Practice’ is at the heart of our business.
"That’s why it’s of paramount importance that our vehicles should be highly reliable, and that if a problem arises the back-up is in place to get it resolved very quickly. Experience has proved that Mercedes-Benz meets both of these key requirements."
He continues: "Not only have our Sprinters suffered very little unplanned ‘downtime’, but they are also fuel-efficient and cost-effective to operate, and well liked by the highly trained drivers who are the ‘public face’ of our business.
"Depending on their locations and proximity to our own depots, we rely on several Mercedes-Benz dealers to maintain our vans – the fact that they’re able to do so outside normal working hours is very useful, as it means our vehicles are always available for work when we need them.
"The support we receive from Hughes of Aylesbury is also first class," Mr Holmes adds. "The dealer ensures that we get best value for money, and that our vans are delivered in accordance with schedules that meet our own operational requirements."
The country’s number one flu vaccine distributor, Polar Speed delivers anything from full pallet consignments to individual packages to hospitals, pharmaceutical wholesalers, GPs and community pharmacies. The company also conducts a home delivery service for thousands of patients nationwide.