It was a simple equation: every kilo saved from the truck’s weight is a kilo gained in payload; and every extra kilo of payload contributes to a healthier bottom line. “A truck running empty or ineffectively on the other hand, is money down the drain,” says Peter Conway.
It has now been a few years since the company he works for decided to transform its business. For most of Arclid’s history, the company’s sole customer had been its parent company, the family-owned Bathgate Group, with its trucks transporting sand from the Bathgate Group’s sand quarry (Bathgate Silica Sand) in Cheshire in north west England, to various points around the UK. However, having just one customer meant the company’s trucks were sometimes driven empty on their way back.
“Attracting more customers was crucial to increase our profitability, but to succeed we needed to become more attune to market needs and conscious of our brand image,” explains Peter Conway.
He and his colleagues were well aware that a growing amount of companies were demanding on-time deliveries and payload. A first necessity for Arclid was therefore to invest in premium vehicles that reflected its premium brand image as a company that could get deliveries to customers right on time, and with maximum efficiency.
It is key to us to specify the vehicle bespoke to Arclid Transport as opposed to just going for a stock chassis off the assembly line.
After attending the launch of the Volvo FH in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2012, Peter Conway believed he had found just the right vehicle for Arclid’s business. The lighter chassis Volvo could offer was a key differentiator, but also the level of driver comfort and safety in the Volvo cabs, as well as the high performance engine and fuel economy.
Since then, approximately 90 per cent of all the company’s new additions have been Volvos. Peter Conway specifies the vehicles himself, and has a close collaboration with his local Volvo dealer, Thomas Hardie. Unusually in the industry, Thomas Hardie’s workshops service Arclid’s trucks during the night, ensuring minimal downtime. They have regular contact and liaise closely when it comes to scheduling services, and when trucks are being serviced, a courtesy vehicle is provided for the driver.
“It is key to us to specify the vehicle bespoke to Arclid Transport as opposed to just going for a stock chassis off the assembly line,” explains Peter. “We feel all the additional weight goes against us in what we are trying to achieve here in the business. If we can save 100 kilos per vehicle, because most of our vehicles do two loads per day, that’s 200 kilos of payload gained per vehicle per day. With a fleet of 33 vehicles, over a 12-month period – that’s a significant difference.”
Today, Arclid’s trucks are seldom running empty. The company has successfully managed to attract new customers, for whom they take on dry bulk assignments between their deliveries for Bathgate Group.
Volvo ticks all the boxes and everything we need is already built into the current vehicle.
Peter Conway is immensely proud of the changes he has seen happen to the company’s fleet and business. Having started his own career as a truck driver, he considers it important to find time to get out on the road to keep himself up to date on the latest models and technology.
But investing in the best technology available is just one side of the coin, and he knows that good drivers also have a great impact. Whenever a new Volvo truck has been delivered, Thomas Hardie’s driver trainer visits Arclid’s premises, and after analysing the driver’s technique, will offer advice on how they can improve both safety and fuel economy.
“We want to be premium, so it’s important that both our vehicles and our staff reflect the company’s reputation for professionalism and quality customer service. Our strategy is not to be the cheapest on the road – but we want to be the absolute best value in relation to what customers get for their money. So we employ a team of highly professional drivers and regularly invest in driver training.”
Arclid Transport is continuously looking to improve payload further, and through a number of improvements, its most recent addition to its fleet - three Volvo FHs - have been able to shed a further 280 kilos. One notable change was the addition of Volvo’s mid-lift lightweight axle. (In the UK 40 tonne-plus transports must have three axles). In order to minimise the impact on payload, Arclid Transport earlier equipped its Volvos with a lightweight mid-axle from a third party supplier, which was around 400 kilos lighter than a standard pusher axle.
However Volvo Trucks’ new mid-lift lightweight axle is lighter still by nearly 50 kilos. Not only does this improve payload even further but it also shortens lead times, since the truck can now be delivered directly from Volvo Trucks’ plant rather than via a third supplier.
“With most of our vehicles doing two loads per day, we practically gain a tonne in payload compared to if we were using a standard pusher axle,” says Peter Conway and adds: “In fact, Volvo Trucks’ mid-lift lightweight axle solution is ideal for us since it means no long lead times and everything is dealt with under the Volvo umbrella in terms of warranty, parts availability and so on. Now I think Volvo ticks all the boxes and everything we need is already built into the current vehicle.”
HISTORY: Founded in 1972 as an independent subsidiary within the Bathgate Group. Arclid used to work exclusively for other businesses within the group, but has in recent years begun to work for external customers as well. Today, 50 per cent of Arclid’s assignments are for the Group.
SERVICES: Transportation of dry baulk, mainly sand from Bathgate Group’s sand quarry in Cheshire, UK. Other loads include cement, clays, dolomite, phosphate and salt.