Bradfords Building Supplies, the leading independent builders’ merchant in the South West, has developed what it believes is a fleet of industry-leading crane trucks in partnership with Ryder, a leading independent provider of commercial vehicle rental, contract hire, and maintenance services in the UK.
The first trucks from a 28-truck order have just gone into service, comprising a mixture of DAF LF and CF dropsides, ranging from 12 tonnes to 26 tonnes, all with radio remote control Atlas cranes, the majority being rear-mounted.
Martin Caddick, Head of Transport at Bradfords, explains: “Given that we needed to place such a large order, I took the opportunity to review our entire truck fleet specification. We started with a clean sheet of paper and asked ourselves what does a good builders’ merchant vehicle look like? We canvassed our 43-branch network for their suggestions on vehicle specs and I am pleased to say many ideas made it to the final cut.
“Ryder got involved in that process. We needed longevity from the trucks, they needed to be fit for purpose, and maintenance/downtime had to be kept to a minimum. We had a preferred bodybuilder and crane supplier that we wanted to work with (Wessex Vehicle Services and Atlas respectively), and Ryder were happy to accommodate that.”
He adds: “We went through a very rigorous six-month procurement process, and although the financials were key, Ryder’s position in the market gave them an edge – they’re a well-established big player able to offer us the service and economies of scale that a modern builders’ merchant requires.
“The attention to detail from David Bunniss at Ryder and his colleague Terry Hubbard was really important; they made it very clear to me that they wanted our business, more so than any of their competitors.
“Ryder is a significant DAF customer and Bradfords has a long-standing relationship with DAF, so it made sense for us to tap into Ryder’s relationship with them.”
The Atlas radio remote control cranes feature joystick controls: these portable controls allow drivers to move around the vehicle safely while operating the crane, ensuring the drivers are not positioned in one place with only a limited view and are thus able to load and unload the trucks as safely as possible.
The cranes also feature automated warning lighting: when the PTO is switched on, the crane and truck warning beacons/LED lighting automatically switch on.
The cranes’ LOLER tests take place during normal crane servicing to also minimise downtime.
Martin and his team worked with Atlas to design a crane pad stowage system that securely stores the pads within the outrigger system (rather than elsewhere on the vehicle as is the norm), and thus the pads are always within 500mm of where they are needed, reducing the need to lift and carry the substantial pads considerably.
The vehicles are also fitted with V-Rave side-rails on the body, and these are also set with an anti-slip surface.
With each of its 43 branches listed as operating centres, it’s no surprise to learn that Bradfords uses Ryder’s fleet management tool, FleetCare Online, to keep track of MoT certificates and service/inspection sheets.
The new trucks have been delivered via DAF dealer Ford & Slater: “F&S has been exemplary in keeping us up to date with delivery schedules, and working around the business to deliver vehicles to our branch at a time and date to suit, and carrying out meaningful driver handovers at the point of delivery,” Martin says.
David Bunniss, National Account Manager at Ryder, said: “Bradfords is one of a number of builders’ merchants that partner with Ryder. Our ability to understand the needs and specialist fleet requirements of businesses that supply to the construction sector was crucial to our successful partnership with Bradfords. We’re proud to have played a key role in the development of these industry-leading trucks.”