Regular supplier visits and audits ensure complete competence
TJ follows a regular programme of supplier visits and audits to ensure that each and every third party that we partner with or subcontract out to are operating completely within the required standards. This ensures that every aspect of the service that TJ provides is of the same exceptional standard.
These visits and audits fall into several categories – service provider visits, service provider audits, subcontractor haulier inspections and in-house vehicle spot checks.
Under operator licensing obligations, all TJ vehicles and trailers must be inspected every six weeks to ensure that they are being maintained to a safe standard. Every transport company has to agree to a service regime and the frequency of servicing will depend on many factors such as the type of transport company, what is being transported, the type of terrain that’s being driven on and the number of miles driven.
TJ has five garages in the south and south west regions that are contracted to look after TJ’s vehicles. Each vehicle is taken in on a rolling six-week basis for maintenance to ensure they are always safe, that any faults are rectified and that the vehicles are always in tip top condition.
Vehicles can be booked in at other times too, as and when faults are discovered. Sometimes vehicles may have to be taken off the road for short periods while works are undertaken, though most issues are resolved on the day. Calibrations are routinely carried out as they become due, with TJ paying a monthly fee for this regular programme of maintenance..
TJ’s Fleet Manager Lee Downer said: “If you get an MOT fail on a vehicle it can be disappointing as you expect any faults to be picked up at the six-weekly inspections, coupled with the daily driver defect reporting system. But it can’t always be helped as faults can arise at any time and as long as everything is rectified before the vehicle is in use again, all’s well. Some fleet managers get angry when this happens, but I like to approach these situations calmly and help find ways to avoid recurrence.”
Service provider visits
These involve Lee visiting each of the five garages, having a cup of tea with the manager and a chat about how things are going. These visits are a great way of maintaining good relations with the suppliers and demonstrating that we are keen to have an input and to help resolve any issues that arise.
Service provider audits
We audit our service providers to ensure they are operating at the required standards in the same way that we do ourselves – this ensures a consistently high standard across every aspect of what we do. Lee carries our site audits at our service providers premises to check through various elements of their operations.
We’ll check things such as the management and supervision of the workplace, that the correct health and safety procedures are followed including displaying health and safety posters for staff, that their insurance – both employer’s and public liability – is in place, check their risk assessments, discuss any health and safety breaches they’ve had and check how they they audit the competence of any subcontractors they use.
We also investigate how they dispose of their hazardous waste such as tyres, oil and batteries and check their waste transfer notes. We check that machinery is regularly calibrated, that their fitters have the right qualifications and that there is a rest area for drivers with WCs and showers available. We do all of this on a ‘tell me, show me’ basis, taking photos of different things on site to ensure that the places that we are entrusting our vehicles to are of the highest standard.
Subcontractor haulier inspections
For some of our contracts we use third party hauliers to maintain consistency and navigate busy times. To ensure a high standard of service from these hauliers, we undertake regular audits to check their operating standards. We check things such as that their driver training is complete and up to date, that their vehicle is safe and in good working order and that they hold current and relevant risk assessments.
Our subcontracted hauliers operate at a very high standard as the majority of them are owner drivers, which means they take very good care of their vehicle as it is their livelihood – any down time is lost earnings for them so they do all they can to avoid this.
In-house vehicle spot checks
Lee also carries out random checks on TJ’s own vehicles when he’s out and about. If he’s at a site he may inform a driver at random that he’s going to undertake a vehicle spot check. In doing this, we will be double checking that our drivers are doing all they should – that the vehicle walk round check they reported in the morning was accurate and that there’s nothing on the vehicle that could cause a problem.
“9.9 times out of 10 there’s no problem. I’ll check the vehicle over, checking that the driver is wearing his seatbelt and the correct PPE and following the right procedures. It’s good to keep the drivers on their toes and to remind them of their responsibilities to ensure they are consistent in all they do.”
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