Independent materials handling business, Windsor, has been awarded a long-term nationwide contract for the supply and maintenance of the MHE fleet of premium-quality wood products business, Metsä Wood.

The deal will see the provision and maintenance of forklifts, sideloaders, cleaning and other machines across four key production sites, and follows a six month tender process involving seven different potential suppliers and 10 equipment manufacturers, each of which were asked to come up with ways of improving an already efficient operation.

In choosing Windsor, the former Finnforest business cited the company’s independent approach and commitment to delivering additional safety, efficiency and fleet management capabilities as crucial elements of their winning proposal.

Gary Isherwood, operations purchasing manager at Metsä Wood UK, said: “Our commitment to improving our operational capabilities is a key part of our ethos, as is delivering industrial efficiencies across the business. It may make us a more demanding customer, when it comes to materials handling, but we feel it makes us a better supplier to our customers and a better company to work for.”

Efficiencies throughout the supply chain, and changing demands within the construction, industrial and distribution sectors, have resulted in changes to the way Metsä handles its Nordic premium timber, plywood and other core products.

“We surveyed the way the equipment was being utilised across all the sites,” said Windsor director, Jason Reynolds, “and felt there were several ways in which we could bring efficiencies, whilst adding flexibility and an upgraded operator experience.”

As a result, the entire fleet will now include cutting-edge GPS driver access and monitoring devices, and a host of safety, environmental and ergonomic improvements. Online fleet management will allow Metsä to monitor equipment usage and accidental damage, stay up-to-date with costs and access service records.

“The GPS devices provide valuable information for the management team, whilst additional LED lights, reduced paperwork, upgrades to seats and reduced noise and vibration levels are small improvements that add up to a far greater user experience,” said Jason Reynolds. “Improved fuel economy, reduced emissions and added safety features are all included, and the fleet will be flexible enough to respond to temporary changes or increases in future demand. This is a fleet management solution, not a standard contract for forklifts.”

The companies have also launched an operator safety award and challenged manufacturers to redesign parts of their equipment to make it both safer and more suitable to their needs.

“This equipment plays a vital role in our operation and it is fitting that we have gone for a complete package,” adds Gary Isherwood. “Windsor had a clear approach and we were impressed with the way they looked at our requirements in an objective manner. We included our operators in the decision-making process, in fact the review was driven by them, and we continue to involve them in the fleet implementation as well as look at ways of rewarding best practice and safer working.”

A selection of new Baumann sideloaders, Doosan counterbalance trucks, JCB Workmax site vehicles and Nilfisk cleaning equipment have begun to be delivered, with the whole fleet of over 50 units expected to be replaced by summer 2015.

Concludes Gary: “Our aim here is to develop a long-term partnership with Windsor, to learn more about our fleet usage and work together to take advantage of new technology. We are looking for like-minded partners that will make us aware of what is available and what is possible. It is a team effort and we are delighted with the steps taken so far.”

Windsor operates from 11 local branches across the UK, offering materials handling and access equipment, for sale, hire and maintenance. Established in 1977, the business is now the UK’s leading independent supplier of Komatsu, Kalmar and Doosan forklifts, Baumann sideloaders, Atlet warehousing and JLG access equipment.