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Mon 22 Oct 2007 05:44 PM

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Fleet focus

Martin Cook, operations director of Horeca Trade, reveals the challenges of operating a multi temperature fleet across the Middle East.

The biggest challenge facing fleet managers is ensuring vehicles are well maintained and fit for the road. Any vehicle out of operation means costs can rise uncontrollably, making regular servicing and cleaning schedules on a daily basis of paramount importance. Operating a multi temperature fleet in the Middle East requires additional time and effort, as maintenance is not applicable solely to the vehicles, but also to the chillers and freezer units inside. The units need regular servicing, which is why we have teamed up with one of the top thermo king agents in Dubai.

Horeca Trade also believes it is essential to optimise planning of daily routes to ensure the vehicles' cumulative travel distance is kept to a minimum, something that also benefits the environment. Even cutting down on one or two kilometres a day can contribute to a safer environment by using less fuel.

As fleet manager, my primary duties are to ensure the safe working condition of the vehicles, ultimately ensuring that customer expectation is not just matched but exceeded.

I monitor the Customer Service Representatives (CSR) who must be completely focused on the condition of the roads, especially when entering prestigious five star hotels. These often constitute our delivery locations, many of which have very tight entrances and exits for our vehicles.

Whilst road conditions in the UAE have significantly improved, in particular through new highways that ease traffic flow, the amount of debris sprawled on roads has remained. Vehicles with inadequately secured loads are a problem that need to be addressed, namely through regular stops and checks from the appropriate authorities. Road safety needs to be brought more into the public eye, perhaps through a campaign on television and radio that both educates and raises awareness of the dangers on the open roads.

Fleet size:12 vehicles in total. The fleet has recently been increased by 50% to meet ever-growing business requirements.

Vehicle types:the fleet contains two small chill vans and 10 multi temperature vehicles, ranging from 3.5 tonnes to 4.2 tonnes. These are capable of transporting frozen, chilled and ambient products.

Trailer types:At this stage of business growth there is no need for trailers for the fleet as all international suppliers provide Horeca with a ‘door to door' service when importing goods into the UAE.

Fleet saff:Horeca has 26 fleet employees of various nationalities. This is broken down to 12 Customer Service Representatives (CSR), 13 helpers and one transport supervisor.

Technology:the company implements a Digitrak temperature monitoring system, which monitors vehicle temperature throughout the day. This additionally adds comfort to customers who are able to see the temperature control reports.

Average daily handling capacity:Horeca handles around 30 tonnes of goods per day.

Maintenance facilities:maintenance of vehicles is outsourced to a third party, however the fleet also undergoes internal safety checks on a daily basis to ensure it remains in tiptop condition.

Primary industry/range of goods transported:the primary industry is food and beverage, which consists of frozen chilled and ambient products. Horeca is the exclusive UAE distributors for LambWeston, Nestle Water and Unilever Food Solutions Brands among others.

Coverage aea:the whole of the UAE on a daily/weekly basis with most vehicles having to return for a second load. Additional coverage consists of exporting to Oman, Muscat and Syria.

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