Port of Tilbury expansion plans built on asset management expertise
July 18, 2017 by David Turner
Whether you are a growing small business with a single, faithful forklift truck or a national distribution centre with a fleet of specialist order pickers servicing narrow aisles and tall racking, your requirements for material handling equipment are specific to you. Briggs has helped all types of businesses using its asset management tools and comprehensive customer support service but few compare to the scale and intensive demands of the Port of Tilbury.
Port of Tilbury is London’s major port and operates on such a large scale it needs its own on-site, resident engineers to ensure the continual running of vital equipment. Briggs Equipment is able to offer a 3 hour response time to breakdowns thanks to its nationwide fleet of service engineers, however the expectations of a busy port are even more immediate and the Port remains one of the company’s longest standing examples of providing a resident team to help a customer achieve their productivity goals.
Based on the River Thames, Port of Tilbury handles 16 million tonnes of cargo each year. The 1,100 acre site primarily handles containers, ro-ro, wood, paper, recycled products and grain. The Port is a multi-modal hub that employs over 3,500 people and is a significant contributor to the local and UK economy. With such a range of products passing through the port, handling equipment goes beyond specialist and has to be bespoke.
In turn, a service to support and maintain such machinery also has to be bespoke.
Briggs Equipment has supplied the materials handling equipment, engineering team and the tools to manage the vast fleet of diverse trucks since 2002.
Such a long standing relationship between Port of Tilbury and Briggs is testament to a unique service, quality products and Briggs’ integral support from within the Port to ensure productivity never drops.
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A complex environment like Port of Tilbury has very specialist requirements that are encountered in few other workplaces. The scale of operation is unlike any other. From the moving and storing of vast quantities of items including reels of paper weighing up to 7T along with the movement of freight containers and the logistical issues involved in time sensitive processes makes the Port a complex and demanding project for any asset management partner.
The varied cargo that the Port handles day to day has differing requirements such as paper reels that need to be moved quickly but without damage and freight containers that differ in dimension and capacity and therefore require differing attachments to lift them. Any handling equipment has to be hard wearing, reliable and used in the most effective way.
The Port previously operated with over 200 handling vehicles but had suffered from extensive downtime due to age, inefficient use and ongoing breakdowns. Taking over the contact for Port of Tilbury in 2002, Briggs Equipment was able to respond to these historic challenges. Initially a full logistics study was completed to establish the correct fleet requirements in terms of size, specification and age profile. Sales and Operations Manager Andrew Bellamy, with 34 years’ experience in the materials handling industry, was instrumental in these processes and today manages the whole contract. He assesses best practice, advises on cost effective solutions to practical problems, monitors machinery and heads up a team of 20 resident engineers to ensure vital equipment is maintained to deliver maximum productivity.
By having a new and unique type of service that is embedded on site, Andrew Bellamy has been able to swap ageing machines for new bespoke equipment that was capable of greater productivity with less cost. With his ongoing input and support, the Port and Briggs were able to run as a team rather than a traditional supplier and customer relationship.
Today, the fleet at Port of Tilbury has expanded as the port’s business has grown to over 300 pieces of equipment.
With specialist heavy duty equipment and an onsite manager to oversee operations, Briggs introduced the pioneering BE Portal to help monitor and maintain the fleet.
BE Portal is an online fleet management system that reports on machine usage across a department or down to an individual truck. Information available includes downtime, repair costs, usage hours and with the support of Briggs, helps the customer make the best use of every truck, reassigning resource to avoid costs relating to out of contract hours and making sure that servicing schedules are met so performance is optimised.
As well as being a huge enterprise, Port of Tilbury is committed to the environment and with 60% of its power currently supplied by wind turbines on site, Briggs ensures that all equipment on site has fuel efficient engines with reduced emissions. This includes the Hyster container handling fleet which now operates with the latest Cummins engines complying with stage four final emission standards but also benefitting from Hyster’s intelligent design features such as Eco-e-lo operating mode, auto speed hydraulics and cooling on demand system to give industry leading fuel consumption figures.
With the port environment being such a potentially hazardous workplace, safety is of paramount importance to both the Port and Briggs. Briggs worked together with the Port to investigate what safety measures were required for the equipment and what could be done to improve existing safety functions.
The Hyster equipment used within the terminals have full safety features including the blue pedestrian awareness light, reversing alarm and high visibility seat belts inside the trucks, together with a driver access and management system.
Briggs now supplies handling equipment to all areas of the Port including The Enterprise and London Paper Terminals which handles over 1million tonnes of paper reels. The paper coming into the terminals supply the vast majority of the UK’s newspaper, book and magazine industry.
The Port operates over 50 paper roll clamps and, following changes in legislation, the Port and Briggs Equipment embarked upon a year- long project to choose a supplier of intelligent clamps to give optimal handling of all the different types and sizes of paper reels shipped through the Port.
After initial discussions, Cascade were selected as the preferred supplier. Following further extensive trials, a completely new system was developed to ensure continued optimum pressure is applied to safely handle all grades of paper with features to increase speed of operation, warning lights to ensure the driver can see the clamp is safe to operate and laser lights to ensure reels are clamped in the correct position.
David Kemp, General Manager for Cascade in the UK commented; “Port of Tilbury and Briggs Equipment challenged suppliers to produce the ultimate paper roll clamp system for their complex handling requirements. Cascade responded with engineering expertise from their manufacturing plant in Verona and development centre in Portland, Oregon and by working closely with the teams at Port of Tilbury and Briggs produced a market leading system which is now in operation.”
The bulk cargo arriving at the Port via sea is handled by crane, reach stacker, fork lift trucks and tow tractors. When docked, the unloading and reloading of a ship is time critical. Ship-to-shore cranes, ro-ro, Liebherr cranes and Hyster reach stackers are employed across the port to remove freight containers from deck level. Once a ship is empty, returns can be loaded enabling the ship to leave on schedule. Any delay to the delicate equilibrium, such as equipment breakdown, can be catastrophic on the schedule for the day with potentially serious implications for the Port. The Briggs on-site team are positioned to ensure unexpected downtime is never a problem.
Paul Dale, Asset and Site Director, Port of Tilbury; “Briggs is perfectly positioned within this demanding environment to react to any issue at a moment’s notice. The longevity of the relationship between the Port of Tilbury and Briggs is a result of us working closely together and being able to look at a problem and solve it together. With our history, the two businesses have been able to plan ahead to ensure problems are avoided and productivity continues without a hitch.”
“I am proud to be such an integral part of this business and to see Port of Tilbury functioning at maximum capacity with ease using Briggs Equipment is most satisfying and testament to a mutually beneficial relationship,” added Andrew.
Part of the huge success of the Port of Tilbury can be attributed to its relationship with Briggs and, with expansion plans going to public consultation this June for an extension to the Port, the relationship is set to continue into a bright future!