The welfare vehicle industry has come a long way in the last decade with the needs of vehicle users firmly at the forefront of design and vehicle development, but according to Bri-Stor Systems’ welfare vehicle specialist, Jack Draper, the opportunity has never been greater to deliver vehicles that optimise fleet performance and meet the needs of field operatives.
Jack Draper explains more about how Bri-Stor Systems is working closely with customers to meet today’s demands: “We’ve been delivering welfare vehicles for many of the UK’s fleets for several years allowing us the opportunity to develop bespoke solutions for each customer. Requirements vary dramatically in the welfare vehicle market depending on the vehicle’s usage and in response to COVID, our emphasis has shifted significantly towards the provision of more evolved hygiene provisions.
Jack explains more about how Bri-Stor Systems’ is working with customers to keep vehicle operatives at the centre of design, functionality and operational performance: “There’s no question the pandemic has brought about much greater emphasis on hygiene within work spaces and we continue to work closely with our customers to design and engineer practical solutions that enable operatives to stay safe whilst at work. There’s no question, designing vehicle solutions that optimise safety and welfare will always remain at the forefront of our business. That said, the installation of features such as screens and handwashing facilities are just a small part of the overall opportunity. Many of our welfare vehicles now need to be optimised to reduce the number of operatives within the vehicle at any one time so designing and installing flexible seating arrangements is becoming an increasingly important priority.
“Designing a vehicle interior is just one consideration, the materials we use are also an important part of the overall offer”, explains Jack. “There are two factors that heavily influence our material specification. Hygiene is one important factor, surfaces need to be easily cleanable with as many seamless joints as possible, eliminating corners and joints that could collect debris and dirt. The second consideration is limiting the use of materials that have a negative impact on our carbon footprint. Increasingly we are using recycled plastic, which mitigates the need to use virgin materials. As a sector, the road to net zero carbon heavily influences our decision making and as electric vehicles become a more dominant feature in most fleets, we are responding with other innovations that complement the overall objective of reducing carbon. Electric vehicles are notoriously heavy due to the battery; therefore, we need to find ways to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle. This goes back to the point about material usage, and choosing lightweight yet robust alternatives such as recycled plastic.”
While the net zero carbon objective is an important one and will remain a focus for the team, the close working relationship Bri-Stor Systems’ has with its customers, working in true partnership, brings other significant advantages, as Jack tells us: “We have many established relationships in this market, working with many customers for decades, and it’s with this level of experience and insight, that we bring greatest value from an operational perspective. We constantly monitor and review the performance of the overall fleet and make ongoing recommendations about how the fleet can be optimised to ensure the right vehicles are on the road, in the right configuration. Many of the UK’s fleets hire welfare vehicles, rather than buy outright, so working with the leading hire companies, we are constantly evolving welfare designs to give the end-customer maximum flexibility when it comes to seating configurations, facilities for washing, preparing refreshments or carrying out maintenance.
“Going back to the point I made earlier in this article, developing hygienic spaces is at the forefront of the welfare vehicle market and because vehicles are often hired rather than leased or purchased, they typically experience higher levels of wear and tear. As a consequence, we are now using Linex to line the rear section, giving the fleet operator the ability to jet wash the vehicle. Designing and building vehicles that can withstand the rigours of welfare usage is an absolute priority, but of equal importance is designing vehicles that are suitable for both male and female operatives. Let me put that into context. For decades, the construction and infrastructure sector has been dominated by a male workforce but this is changing rapidly with more women joining the industry. In response we are working with our customers to ensure vehicles are suitable for male and female operatives – it’s a simple provision but one that has been overlooked until now.
“The welfare vehicle market is constantly evolving and as we emerge from the pandemic, we continue to demonstrate that we are leading the way when it comes to delivering proactive solutions to overcome complex challenges.”