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Chepstow Plant invest in 1,000th Volvo machine


Machine milestone stems from a 20-year relationship of open communication and reciprocity with SMT GB

IN 2002, Chepstow Plant International placed their first package order for 10 Volvo A25 articulated haulers. Two decades later, the South Wales-based mineral and aggregates contractor regularly orders more than 100 Volvo machines a year from SMT GB and received its 1,000th unit to date – an L220H wheel loader with Volvo Co-Pilot – at the end of June 2022.

Before arriving at the Chepstow Plant yard in Caldicot, Monmouthshire, the Volvo L220H took pride of place on the SMT GB stand at Hillhead, featuring a special livery to celebrate 20 years of partnership between the two companies.

‘It’s a proud milestone for myself, the business, and our chairman, Eddie Hayward, that we can install that accolade as a memory of all those transactions, all those livelihoods we’ve positively affected in the industry, and the strategic presence that we’ve developed alongside one of the biggest manufacturing giants on the planet,’ said John Corcoran, managing director of Chepstow Plant International.

According to Mr Corcoran, what first attracted Chepstow Plant to Volvo was the company’s shared ethos and commitment to making a positive impact on the industry. The Volvo brand values of quality, safety, and environmental care chime perfectly with Chepstow Plant’s mission to provide sustainable and practical solutions for resource extraction in a zero-risk environment.

‘It was that feeling of ‘these people think the same as us’, which has made it easy to work alongside Volvo and SMT GB,’ said Mr Corcoran.

Longer term, open communication and close collaboration have been key to maintaining the relationship.

‘The communication flow is always an open door. Best-practice sharing, supportive behaviour and, as I got to understand the Volvo business more, I realized that the simple values of understanding the industry and reciprocation of standards were the key ingredients to a sustainable relationship,’ he continued.

In particular, Volvo and Chepstow Plant’s close collaboration has helped standardize inclinometers on articulated haulers in the UK, transforming both operator and site safety.

‘The industry, historically, was suffering a lot of ADT turnovers. Volvo listened to us and our strategic clients and didn’t hesitate in investing and bringing that forward. Now, pretty much wherever you buy a truck from in the UK, it’s fitted with an inclinometer,’ Mr Corcoran explained.

Beyond the addition of this product feature, Volvo and Chepstow Plant developed training programmes together to instil safe behavioural practice.

‘A feature of innovation is only as good as the end user who puts it to work, so we continually train and develop operators to use the inclinometer to stay in line with excavation and tip rules and make sure ramps and cambers are safe before even going to work. Small features like this can make significant progress in behavioural safety, if the companies using them take full advantage of them,’ he said.

Volvo and SMT GB are also supporting Chepstow Plant’s decarbonization programme. By the end of 2022, more than 90% of the contractor’s fleet will be operating with Stage V engines, helping to reduce CO2 emissions. In addition, Chepstow Plant are using Volvo CareTrack telematics data to manage and reduce fuel consumption from both an environmental and cost perspective.

As for uptime, all Volvo machines in the Chepstow Plant fleet are covered by SMT GB’s Customer Service Agreements, providing peace of mind and ensuring each unit is ready to work when needed.

‘SMT GB deliver a consistent and high standard of service. They will, wherever possible, get a part to us overnight, but that’s not special treatment for us. I think it’s in the mantra of the business for all customers,’ said Mr Corcoran.

He adds that in every interaction with Volvo and SMT GB, Chepstow Plant appreciates the personal touch.

‘I’m familiar with everyone at SMT, from SMT Group’s leaders and the UK chief executive officer to the regional team in South Wales. Each of our departments at Chepstow Plant also has a solid relationship with the relevant department at SMT GB – whether that’s the maintenance, parts, or technical and warranty department. All those people know each other’s names and communicate well,’ said Mr Corcoran.

‘There are always cheaper options out there, but the personalized infrastructure support we get from SMT GB and Volvo, along with the opportunity to be involved in sensible and practical innovation, gives us sustainable value against that day-one cost analysis versus efficiency and uptime.

‘To me, it’s quite affordable, and with that overarching experience has significantly contributed to get us to the accolade of 1,000 machines purchased,’ he added.

Nick Allen, chief executive officer of SMT GB, said: ‘One thousand machines is an incredible milestone, and we are so grateful for Chepstow Plant’s support over the years. Their honest feedback and willingness to collaborate have challenged us to continuously improve and develop solutions that have a genuinely positive impact on the industry.

‘We look forward to continuing our partnership and finding more ways to innovate together for greater safety and sustainability in the years to come.’

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