Why use specialist vehicles?

New contract wins can necessitate the use of specialist vehicles and fleet upgrades at short notice.

04/10/201810 minutes read

For many businesses, a new contract win can bring with it a number of requirements, including how to increase the resources necessary to maintain service levels and complete the job.

In several cases, this includes vehicles. Quite often, in industries such as construction, infrastructure and utilities, a basic van is not enough to carry out the job. Many would struggle to operate without the addition of specialist equipment such towbars, racking and even high-visibility chapter 8 livery; the cost of adding could be significant.

Specialist vehicles are integral to many industries in order to meet both project and compliance requirements, which means it is essential that suppliers and the equipment they provide are both reliable and of the highest quality.

Industry requirements

Generally, infrastructure and utilities businesses have a common requirement for specialist vehicles as they help to satisfy unique user and project requirements and conform to legislation.

Some common requests include beacons, chevrons, tow bars and high-visibility chapter 8 markings on vehicles, which have a specific impact on safety and visibility and are intrinsic to many infrastructure projects involving road or rail works.

Whereas historically, project and fleet managers would be required to enhance existing vehicles by adding the necessary equipment, this can be avoided by utilising vehicles that are ready for immediate use.

For example, Northgate’s Utility Dropside vehicle has a range of specialist features to help meet the contractual and legislative requirements of major construction projects. This ranges from Chapter 8 approved beacons, rear board and diamond grade full-length side stripes, to a reverse colour mirror monitor camera kit, fall arrest system, and first aid kit with fire extinguisher.

Alternatively, vehicles such as the Welfare Van can help to provide a mobile staffroom, with a wealth of amenities that can help to transport staff to and from a job in comfort and provide an on-site base.

When workers are needed on-site quickly, access to a ready-built Welfare Van removes a lengthy conversion wait time, not to mention high conversion costs. With features including a microwave, sink, water boiler, diesel heater and toilet, a transient workforce has access to a fully-equipped staffroom with minimal disruption. Additional features include a rear step combi with towbar, reverse parking sensors, Chapter 8 livery, LED light bar and a range of safety equipment, all of which supports duty of care and compliance by keeping workers safe on site.

Prepared for the unexpected

A common business headache is not having full visibility over what work will need to be done in three or four months’ time; sometimes there can only be one or two weeks’ notice before a project starts. In these circumstances, if a specialist vehicle is required, being able to access one before the launch of the project can be the difference between winning or losing the work, and a quick turnaround and good accessibility is therefore essential.

Time is often of the essence with such projects; customers working on a motorway site may require a quick turnaround for a vehicle built to comply with strict safety legislation at short notice due to a new contract win or an additional task being added to a project.

Purchasing a new vehicle with all of the additional equipment or livery required is likely not achievable within such a short timeframe. Ensuring the vehicle meets legislative requirements – particularly if work is being carried out in a high-risk area where strict codes are in place – and guaranteeing safety and conformity with the law can also be time consuming and an additional hassle for a business looking to add to their fleet.

Northgate removes this hassle and constraint with strategic positioning of specialist vehicles around the UK meaning that project or fleet managers can call on the right vehicle with the right specification in a shorter period of time than if the vehicle was being purchased from a dealer or manufacturer.

From a commercial perspective, this removes a significant amount of capital outlay, which would be required if the vehicle in question was owned. It eliminates the problem of depreciation and the hassle of end of life disposal, which is another major consequence of owning a vehicle. And in between, the whole life cost of servicing maintenance and repair is managed by Northgate giving the company peace of mind and control of costs.

Businesses that historically purchase their vehicles are often faced with financial and operational challenges when they need to upscale their fleet to meet the requirements of certain projects, which is certainly not sustainable or cost-effective in the long run, when the cost of carrying out the augmentations is factored against the value of the work itself.

Daily Hire companies would not support vehicle requirements for specialist equipment, while contract hire can often involve a three- to four-year agreement that provides questionable value when additions and upgrades are only required for a small proportion of that time.

With long-term, flexible vehicle rental, the opposite applies, with customers able to take the vehicles they need to help meet project and legislative requirements, and upscale where necessary, with no need for substantial outlay.

Combined approach

Ultimately, every company is concerned about its bottom line, regardless of its size. The bigger the company is, the more vehicles it generally needs, and so the cost is multiplied.

At the other end of the spectrum, a small business will be keeping close tabs on any and all outlay, so opportunities to minimise this must be taken advantage of.

Time is money in business, and if it is possible to eliminate the need for the procurement team to spend time and money arranging vehicle upgrades, then a company will take advantage of that opportunity.

In an ideal world, organisations would not need to turn down valuable work; having the option to access bespoke vehicles needed to carry out this work, at short notice, from a convenient location, without significant outlay, helps to provide this solution comprehensively.

Northgate offers a range of specialist vehicles, located strategically across the UK on a mix of flexible and fixed contract lengths. For more information, contact us.

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