Briggs Equipment, the UK’s sole national Cat® Lift Truck supplier and leading national service provider, is offering its customers a new generation of asset management solutions to measure cost and help drive operating efficiency across their materials handling activities.
Last autumn Briggs Equipment launched BE Fleet, its innovative fleet management service, enabling UK customers to manage their materials handling fleet service costs and monitor real-time data from a PC through an innovative web-based application. BE Fleet is already having a noticeable impact on the UK market and is currently live with major blue chip customers.
To complement BE Fleet, Briggs Equipment has now also signed a UK exclusivity agreement to distribute the acclaimed Speedshield telemetry device and Speedshield online access application, which increases assets’ operating efficiency and safety by controlling operators’ behaviour, limiting speed and forcing them to perform health and safety checks. Les Knight, BE Fleet Divisional Manager at Briggs Equipment, spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.
Warehouse & Logistics News – First of all, Les, are you offering BE Fleet and Speedshield through the central Briggs Equipment sales organisation, or a separate sales division?
Due to the products’ nature, our separate BE Fleet sales consultants manage them both, not central sales. Because both solutions surround asset management rather than the mechanics of materials handling, we felt it appropriate to have dedicated sales people whose objective is to supply customers with information to discuss with their material handling suppliers, to make informed decisions.
WLN – Are you offering BE Fleet and Speedshield in any other countries?
Yes, Briggs Equipment UK’s sister company Briggs Equipment US (part of Briggs International) actually developed BE Fleet and also utilise the Speedshield telemetry solution.
WLN – What kinds of assets are BE Fleet and Speedshield designed to manage?
BE Fleet and Speedshield are both designed to manage all kinds of mobile assets requiring monitoring and maintenance. In the materials handling environment, these assets include forklift trucks, tow tractors and trailers. However other types of equipment can also be monitored with BE Fleet and Speedshield. In fact Speedshield can operate on any asset powered by up to 90 volts DC, and BE Fleet can be used to manage and monitor anything from fire extinguishers and lawnmowers to school buses!
WLN – What on board monitoring devices do you need to fit to an asset, to track it with BE Fleet and Speedshield?
BE Fleet involves managing the service transaction from engineer despatch to invoice online, so no hardware is required to use BE Fleet. Speedshield, however, not only provides operational data but through the fitting of the Speedshield module also the ability to remotely change the operating parameters of the particular asset. Due to the up to 90volt DC operating range, no additional hardware is required to power the unit. Additional interlock options are available if required, such as zoned speed control or impact sensors.
WLN – Can BE Fleet and Speedshield be used to monitor all makes of the assets you’ve mentioned?
Yes, both can monitor pretty much anything. The only restrictions exist in the asset hardware itself. Both products not only fit to Cat Lift Trucks, but any make or model of fork lift truck available. The manufacturers of Speedshield in particular spend a lot of time designing specific harnesses to complement the existing manufacturers’ connectors rather than require fitting engineers to cut into the truck’s harness, as happens with most other telemetry systems.
WLN – You’re the sole national UK distributors for Cat Lift Trucks. Are you offering Cat counterbalance and warehouse trucks fitted with these systems as standard? What about other Cat equipment?
Although these are not a standard offering on Cat equipment from Briggs, both are available as complementary options via our BE Fleet division. Due to their very low cost, many customers purchase both because they can see the money they can save on both direct and indirect costs.
WLN – Taking BE Fleet first, what specific reporting functions does BE Fleet offer?
BE Fleet offers complete fleet visibility, including real-time reporting of assets under repair, truck repair history and accurate asset listing. It also offers consolidated invoicing and the ability to review vital fleet statistics across multiple sites. All these features allow fleet managers to make more informed decisions and facilitate strategic decision making, essential for today’s challenging marketplace. With electronic service dispatch, customers can also book a breakdown call across multiple assets and multiple service providers, not just Briggs, without having to pick up the telephone. This can take away any ambiguity when reflecting on a particular incident with a service provider, because all the information is held in the database.
WLN – Does BE Fleet tell you when an asset is about to fail, or when it has failed?
BE Fleet provides a full history of every service transaction. So you can see trends of failure by fault type, allowing you to proactively identify if a single machine, group of makes or even model are causing problems. You can also drill into a particular department or location, allowing best proactive courses of action to be identified.
WLN – How easy is BE Fleet to set up?
One of BE Fleet’s significant advantages is its simplicity to use and manage. It’s very intuitive and all the set up work is managed by the BE Fleet sales team, ensuring minimal disruption to the customer. Because the application is web-based, a client’s IT department don’t even get involved: we do all the hard work.
WLN – Can you give us an idea of the installation and operating costs for BE Fleet?
We base all costs for BE Fleet on the type of asset to be hosted. For example, the cost of managing a fire extinguisher requiring an annual inspection will be significantly less than a fork truck operating 4,000 hours per year in a logistics hub. However an average cost for a fork lift truck would be around £15 per month, fantastic value delivering significantly more savings than the £180 per year cost.
WLN – Do you buy the kit, or hire it on a short-term contract or longer- term agreement?
Because BE Fleet doesn’t have any hardware to install on the asset, it’s purely a fixed monthly amount to host the particular asset on the BE Fleet website and allow the customer’s service providers to interact with it online.
WLN – If you had 30 seconds to tell people about BE Fleet, what would you say?!
Managing fork lift fleets can be very time-consuming. For some customers fork lift management takes up to 40 percent of their time, yet accounts for less than 10 percent of their budget. BE Fleet gives one central, easy to access system that provides transparency on fleet performance and offers results straightaway, whether for one location or multiple locations across the UK.
WLN – In these cash-strapped times, what is the business case for BE Fleet? How long does it take to show results?
Results can be identified immediately. Many customers have hundreds of assets across hundreds of UK locations, yet without BE Fleet they would not be able to identify which trucks were operating or under repair. BE Fleet gives the ability to move trucks across their business safe in the knowledge they are operating their fleet to maximum efficiency. Also, due to the approval levels in BE Fleet, requests are made locally and can be set for approval at corporate level. The corporate level can then identify if the required spend is justified or if an underutilised asset is available in another location.
WLN – Where do you develop and produce the BE Fleet applications? Have you got any more in mind?
As stated, BE Fleet was developed by our sister company Briggs Equipment in the USA, following requests for asset transparency from their customers. BE Fleet is continuously being developed with dedicated internet programmers employed to develop the application, in order to continually meet customers’ needs. Speedshield has been added to our portfolio for the same reasons. Whilst telemetry devices are not new here, connectivity has always been a major issue, making the technology largely unreliable. So when we researched telemetry management further, Speedshield was significantly the most advanced option in the global market due to its unique ability to connect through any network provider, attaching to the strongest 2G signal available for transmitting and reviewing data. This is much more sustainable than trying to connect to a customer’s own wireless network or a single mobile phone network provider.
WLN – Turning to Speedshield, how different is Speedshield to other speed limiters? Is it key and PIN-activated? How does it interact with the asset’s onboard computer?
This is where Speedshield really comes into its own. Speedshield has been designed to compliment customers’ existing security systems. For example, in most cases Speedshield restricts access to assets to authorised personnel by utilising the customer’s existing door access cards. Most companies nowadays use door access cards, so it makes sense to use these to restrict access to fork trucks as well. Swipe your company card across the Speedshield card reader, and if you are authorised and licensed to drive the truck, then the truck will be logged on under your name. If not, the “Access Denied” message will be displayed and the truck remains dormant. This process alone protects against unauthorised operators having access to a truck, promoting a safe working environment. We believe this method is far better than the traditional PIN number approach, which always seems to end up with many operators using the same pin number, or even the additional “Kiss Key” system, which again relies on additional keys. So we believe the swipe card solution is the most logical and secure.
WLN – With Speedshield, can you single out particular badly performing trucks and drivers, and take action?
Absolutely, this is what the system is all about. Identifying operators and assets not only performing badly but also correctly. Speedshield offers an operator ranking report based on efficiency and safety. So it’s not just about catching a bad operator, but also recognising operators doing a good job. Also, because of the e-mail notifications, you don’t have to go into the reports online to identify an issue. Speedshield is clever enough to know when you need to be informed of an event, and emails you so you can act upon it.
WLN – What are the running and operating costs of Speedshield?
The base Speedshield system costs around £1 per day, yet can easily save that in fuel costs alone, with its automatic idle shut down interlock. So all the other benefits such as operator identification, management of pre-shift checks and operator licence management send the return on investment well into the black. However whilst real direct cost savings are achieved, it’s the indirect costs of H&S compliance that make the biggest operational differences to customers.
WLN – Can you store data from Speedshield and BE Fleet, for use as evidence in disciplinary proceedings if necessary?
I would suggest that especially with Speedshield, because it tracks every second of an operator’s use of an asset, this information can be used to allow managers to manage with real information from multiple reports, making performance management far more factual.
WLN – How many assets can you monitor from one central application?
There is no limit to how many assets that can be managed by either online application. Our current largest user has around 1,500 assets across 1,200 locations, and we have capacity for more if required.
WLN – Do you need a separate application for each site?
No, there is just one dedicated website for each application, www.speedshield.co.uk and www.befleet.co.uk. Users log on securely with their username and passwords, also because permissions can be tiered there can be different levels of access within each customer.
The great thing about the online solution is that customers can access their fleet from any online PC, anywhere in the world. No expensive additional software or licenses to buy, just log on and you are in.
WLN – Going back to BE Fleet, so far you have signed up major blue chip customers. Can you outline how these customers are using BE Fleet? Do you have any case studies, or live customer sites where people can see these systems in operation?
Yes, our customers have very different desires from BE Fleet, which demonstrates its flexibility. Some just want the ability to track open jobs at each stage of repair. Others want to be able to track repair costs over a long period, to make better replacement decisions. We have established very strong relationships with all these customers, and feel sure that with notice they would happily demonstrate BE Fleet to prospective customers. We also have some case studies, which are available if required.
WLN – Similarly, who has taken on Speedshield so far in the UK? Which other countries is it used in?
We launched Speedshield in the UK in January 2010 and our first customer was Kanes Foods. Other companies have taken Speedshield on short-term trial. Because Speedshield has been alive abroad for some time, many case studies are available from our international customers.
WLN – Do you have any live customer sites, where people can see these solutions in operation?
Yes, we have many locations across the UK with Speedshield in operation. Many customers have commented how pleased they have been with the results and would be happy to show prospective customers the product in their live facilities.
WLN – Are you exhibiting these solutions at any trade shows in the UK?
We are officially exhibiting these solutions at both Multimodal, 27-29th April and IMHX, 16th-19th November. There will be live demonstration so come along and see the solutions in action!
WLN – Finally, where do you see BE Fleet and Speedshield going from here?
We have a desire to put the customer in control of their material handling decisions, with a full suite of information on demand, and this is the role of the dedicated BE Fleet division. Our success has come from listening to customers’ wishes and the measures and information they want from their service providers. So, the next stage for both products is in the users’ hands, and will be driven by what they want, not what we or their service providers want them to have. Watch this space!