At Ringway’s Warndon fleet workshop in Worcestershire every scenario and whim of the English weather has to be accounted for as this facility is responsible for keeping the wheels of infrastructure turning.
Ringway, a leading highway maintenance and infrastructure services provider, established its fleet workshop in Warndon in 2005 to support a successful contract bid with Worcestershire County Council for highway servicing and maintenance. It has since been developed into an extensive and well equipped unit and Warndon Fleet Services’ success has seen its remit increase after being awarded successive contract extensions to 2014. It is now vital to the smooth delivery of services across Worcestershire.
“From day one we were adamant that this facility had to work hard for us and we have been pragmatic in extracting the most out of our facilities here,” says Dave Rowley, Ringway Divisional Manager in Worcestershire. “What we have now is an amazing facility that allows us to offer the best service to our clients.” The service that Dave speaks of is astonishing once broken down. At Warndon, the team is responsible for the servicing, repairs and recovery of the council’s commercial vehicles, the fleet of staff company cars and Ringway vehicles (including VINCI, Euromark and Eurovia Specialist Treatments) for the Worcestershire, Solihull and West Midlands areas.
Combining the council’s fleet into the workshop has significantly increased traffic through the site and as Warndon welcomes a larger variety of vehicles, the council has seen increased value being added to its contract.
Warndon’s objective is to provide as much as possible in-house and this has seen the very nature of the workshop evolve. “If this facility was not operating the council would need to source six or seven dealers to pick up the slack due to the volume of vehicles we work on,” says Dave. “As we have developed the site to offer an increased service we have enhanced our pool of resources and extended planned services we had not initially envisaged offering.”
The services added have been made possible by the team’s commitment to minimising downtime and factoring in the right resources to keep both Ringway and the council’s fleet on the roads. Warndon’s 24hr recovery service, which extends to council vehicles, now equips the recovery teams with an increased stock of parts and diagnostics equipment to repair, as much as possible, vehicles at the roadside.
“As we have taken on more responsibility we have had to develop the site to cope with the increased demand for our services,” says Dave. Recent developments at Warndon have seen an extension to the reception area and the addition of two new ramps to increase throughput. These facilities were added at a cost of £12,000 to Ringway, a cost that was not passed on to the council.
A major concern for all local authorities is winter maintenance and in a rural area such as Worcestershire, the need to have effective infrastructure in place is vital to its communities and businesses. As such Ringway has focused on streamlining its preparations for winter maintenance.
Among the vehicles now serviced by Warndon are gritters and snow ploughs and to keep these vehicles fit for propose Ringway now hold an extensive inventory of parts to minimise any downtime in the event of equipment failure. At the workshop Dave has also appointed dedicated stock controllers, responsible for keeping these emergency vehicles in operation.
During Christmas 2010 Worcestershire experienced extreme weather conditions and Ringway’s reaction to snow and ice needed to be precise to keep access open. “What made last year’s wintry conditions especially challenging for us was the fact that Worcestershire is a rural county and many of our residents live in areas where access is restricted,” remembers Dave. “As you’d expect, snow and ice exacerbates the restrictions to access and we needed all hands on deck over this period.” As a result Dave referred to Ringway’s contingency plans and sought to prioritise the works being carried out to the vast fleet in his workshop. “We needed to prioritise jobs, reshuffle ad hoc services and reallocate personnel,” says Dave. “On the Sunday before Christmas we had a team of 4 fitters working overtime through the night at the workshop to keep our gritters and ploughs on the road so people could get home to their families over the Christmas period.”
“When we are faced with challenges, such as Christmas last year, we have to sit down as a unit and prioritise our services. When it snowed we shifted the focus from our scheduled servicing and maintenance to ensuring we had all our snow ploughs and gritters both on the road and stocked with both grit, crucially, and resources to keep them in operation. If we neglect issues such as snow and ice simply because we have other work scheduled we will just create more work when vehicles start breaking down or succumbing to the weather. Plus, I have complete faith in our workforce to catch-up with our servicing and maintenance obligations.”
The Warndon fleet workshop has become a key part of Ringway’s delivery programme in Worcestershire and is undoubtedly a major contributing factor to the successful contract extensions enjoyed from the council. Most recently the extended service delivery at Warndon has seen it take charge of maintaining the council’s park and ride buses and becoming an MOT test centre, the Warndon workshop now also extends its MOT checks to the general public.
Dave Rowley is rightly proud of the service he and his team at Warndon are able to offer and never one to rest on his laurels, looks forward to continuing to evolve the mechanics of the flagship fleet workshop:
“At Warndon we started with a fantastic facility and have managed to make it run faster, more efficiently and have increased throughput and services. The benefit for us is that we have fantastic facilities for our staff and have been able to keep vehicles on the roads and fully functional. The council has in us a true one-stop-shop facility which is on its doorstep. We are able to maintain our 24hr recovery service while keeping our ad hoc maintenance in check and even react and manage emergency operations such as extreme weather conditions and RTAs. Quite simply, you can’t get this level of service anywhere else!”