Operating in more than 70 countries and employing more than 15,000 people, the Weir Group is one of the world’s leading engineering businesses.
Rushlift & Weir – In It Together
Over a decade ago, engineering giant Weir Minerals took delivery of equipment from Rushlift on a five year deal.
During those years the equipment served the company well, but as with many industries, the demands of customers, changes in technology and expansion into new markets meant the business had moved on.
Weir Minerals is a leading part of the Weir Group, specialising in centrifugal pumps, valves, screen machines and other items that are used globally, particularly in mining and mineral processing.
With a host of manufacturing processes, equipment, materials handling and fleet management needs at their impressive Todmorden site, they are a business ideally suited to Rushlift’s multi-facetted approach.
As a leading provider of innovative customer focussed solutions in materials handling equipment, mechanical services and fleet management, Rushlift is independent from any equipment manufacturer. It allows the provision of impartial advice to enable customers to maximise the effectiveness of their industrial equipment fleets, through either long term hire contracts or servicing and repair arrangements; something that Weir found incredibly important over the previous decade.
“We have worked with Rushlift for many years,” says lean & logistics director, Andrew Battersby. “During that time our core business has remained the same but we’ve seen a lot of change and had to remain flexible in both the products we provide and the provisions we have for handling raw materials and finished products.”
Five years on from that original deal, a mix of new and refurbished equipment was installed to replace the oldest machines on site, whilst new kit was recommended for those being used in the toughest applications.
“It’s not about the equipment for us,” says Rushlift’s Mark Bann. “What matters is the customer, and the way we support their business in a cost effective and productive manner – whatever the tool for the particular job is.”
Another five years on, and the concept of providing the most cost effective, optimal fleet remains. “As before, we’ve included refurbished machines, a wide range of equipment and effective project management,” says Mark. “There’s always been a programme in place for systematically refurbishing the older trucks and looking at whether they are still fit for purpose. Once again we have surveyed the site and the changing applications to come up with a fleet with the optimal blend of new and used equipment.”
The latest deal represents an investment of over £1million and covers a huge variety of equipment. As well as specialist VNA, access platforms, telescopic equipment, and pallet trucks, there are a host of forklifts – from small electric counterbalance trucks to 32 tonnes capacity diesels.
“We’ve replaced medium sized equipment with larger capacity machines to reflect the increases in the size of the bowl and volute products made here,” adds Mark. “A telescopic truck now also replaces the role which used to be handled by a skid steer loader, as issues like reach and product size began to impact on the capacity.”
Rushlift is different in a number of ways in how it works with customers. The team listens to customer needs and requirements and provides expert advice to ensure that they have what they need and that it works effectively.
Having renewed the fleet for a second time, Weir and Rushlift continue to review the landscape to ensure that, whatever the fleet make up, the equipment serves the business well.
If that means challenging one of their longest serving suppliers to deliver even better service, says Andrew, that’s exactly what they should do. “Value chain excellence, innovation, collaboration and capacity are very much part of our business. Through effective delivery of these pillars, we call it The Weir Way, we aim to grow our own business, whilst providing great value and outstanding service and support. It’s something our customers expect, so why should we settle for anything less?”
One of the key components in Rushlift’s makeup is information. Not just product information, but fleet performance, KPIs, fleet utilisation and the logging of servicing. The company was one of the first to initiate an online fleet management system (FMS).
Having been run and refined for a number of years, FMS has been expanded to allow service technicians to input the latest data via their handheld devices.
So it’s not only high quality machines with expert advice that Rushlift prides itself on, but also services that allow customers to become more efficient. The FMS provides the most accurate and up-to-date information which forms part of the discussions at the regular monthly meetings whilst also highlighting areas for the continuous improvement process in place.
There’s also crucial operator information available to Weir that not only restricts operator access and logs impact recognition, but employs tracking capability to give extra detail on the location of equipment used over a wide area. “There is equipment that works in the same area day in, day out,” explains Mark, “but much of the fleet can be used anywhere on site. The FMS gives Andrew and the team important information on where equipment may be being used and how we can bring down damage costs whilst increasing utilisation.”
Having worked with Weir for so many years, the team has developed significant experience and is able to provide daily reports to support the monthly meetings, ensuring all issues are dealt with quickly and accurately.
The benefit to having a long-term supplier relationship, concludes Andrew, is that the understanding of the role played by the equipment is second-to-none. It means production continues apace, whilst costs, damage and downtime are kept to a minimum.
Much of the credit for keeping the fleet in tip top condition goes to resident engineer, Steve Schofield, whose engineering expertise and approachability means there’s always someone available in a hurry, something which Andrew says is noticed on site.
“One of the things we have done well is develop a good relationship, and Steve does a great job for us,” says Andrew. “The management of the relationship between the two businesses has been a key factor for us.”