Cost efficient logistics are crucial to the construction industry. Operating from headquarters in the West Midlands gives a definite advantage to Beltrami UK, a leading natural stone wholesaler. “Even so the building trade has been hit hard by the recession, so any savings on delivery costs will make a big difference in this sector,” says managing director, Martin Dolby.
With around a dozen wholesalers in the UK, this is a highly competitive market, where customer service and logistics can be significant differentiators. Faced with escalating fuel prices, the company has taken the decision to install its own bulk storage diesel tank. The switch from bunker fuel cards to bulk purchasing has provided an immediate benefit enabling the company to take full control of this essential resource – which is its lifeblood.
[quote]By bringing fuel management in–house, we can go to the market and negotiate best prices. We have our own data and by tracking fuel usage, another important advantage is the ability to analyse the vehicle and drivers’ economy performance.[/quote]
Beltrami UK imports marble and granite from all over the world for distribution to customers within the UK. Granite kitchen worktops are one of the top five products that Beltrami supplies. Other slab products include paving and interior wall covering and flooring. Domestic requirements tend to be at the top end of the market but the company also supplies products for more prestigious commercial projects, depending on price and where budgets are available.
“We like to have complete control of our own destiny,” explains Martin Dolby. “And distribution is our core capability. We operate our own delivery vehicles, HGVs with articulated trailers equipped for handling heavy construction materials.”
“Previously we used a fuel card account service, effectively relying on a third party for one of our biggest operational costs. Fuel prices would vary and very often they were invoiced at different rates to prices quoted, which potentially could impact on our profitability.”
“By bringing fuel management in–house, we can go to the market and negotiate best prices. We have our own data and by tracking fuel usage, another important advantage is the ability to analyse the vehicle and drivers’ economy performance.”
After deciding to invest in a depot fuelling point, a simple Internet search revealed several potential suppliers including MIS Fuel Monitoring of Wolverhampton (Merridale) which was more or less in the same neighbourhood.
Martin Dolby continues, “A meeting was arranged and a specification was drawn for open tender. Whilst being local helped, we were confident that Merridale would fulfil our requirements.”
The new fuelling point is based on a 20k litres storage tank and Merridale pump dispenser with integrated monitoring. It was installed within the main warehouse, using the existing overhead cranes. Since the equipment is under cover there was no need for a security cabinet allowing a simpler installation. Drivers can refuel their vehicles without being exposed to the elements. The standard procedure is based on a smart key allocated to each vehicle plus the keypad entry for the driver ID and vehicle odometer reading to authorise the transaction.
Details of each transaction are then relayed to the back office computer for stock control, cost accounting and further analysis, as required for management reports.