WhoshouldIsee Tracks

Published: 10th January 2023


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SM UK managing director Steve MacDonald  talks through service provider ASSA ABLOY’s van conversion programme.

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As the UK’s market leader in supplying maintenance services for electronic gates, automated entrances and time-sensitive doors, ASSA ABLOY’s customers have come to rely on the company for routine servicing and a swift response to emergency call outs. Having fully-equipped service vans so that engineers are able to carry out a first time fix as often as possible is vital.

When its ongoing fleet replacement programme required 50 new vehicles, Tracey Owen, BSI UK head of service for ASSA ABLOY, approached Leeds-based conversion company SM UK, with a view to refining the design of the new vehicles, making operation easier and more efficient, whilst cutting costs.

The first item to be scrutinised was the base van. SM UK’s managing director Steve MacDonald explained: “The Renault Master that had previously been used worked well, but there was scope for improvement. The vans had a GVM of 2.9 tonnes, but a Ford Transit rated at 3.5 tonnes offered an additional 600kgs of payload and additional working space that the engineers would appreciate.

“Just this change meant a potential saving on hire fees, which is currently paid to a plant hire company to transport additional equipment to site. Not only this, but time would also be saved with engineers not waiting for the items to be delivered and the carbon footprint would be drastically reduced.”

Although one of the UK’s most experienced and respected conversion companies, SM UK appreciates that the customer knows their business best and that a two-way consultative process is vital.

Van conversion manager Tom Fenton said: “Getting around the table with Tracey and her colleagues was instrumental in getting this product just right. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ in this job and these conversations, including discussions around high-definition 3D CAD drawings, together with the feedback we received from our initial proposal, meant that we could be 100% confident that the finished van would be exactly what the company and the engineers wanted.”

The additional payload gave scope to improve the racking systems fitted to the van interior, and SM UK proposed the use of high-quality System Edstrom products. The racking solutions are certified crash tested to ECE R17 regulations and they can have a second life when removed and refitted to a new vehicle when the original is de-fleeted.

“We fit them for good reason,” said MacDonald. “The last thing you want in an accident or emergency braking situation is items breaking free inside the van, causing damage to not only these items, but other pieces of equipment and even the van itself. You’ve then the cost of replacing them and the potential for aborted call outs and the van being taken off the road, with the cost that incurs.”

SM UK gives its backing to the product by confidently including a three-year warranty, matching the cover offered by the majority of van manufacturers on the base vehicle. The company’s presence in the conversion market has increased sharply in recent years and SM UK now manufactures solutions for some well-known names in the service sector. MacDonald is clearly proud of the business and the ethos behind what it does.

“It’s a cliché, but we genuinely care about what we do. Be it a single van order or 100, our aim is to get it right, first time, every time, overachieving on the customer’s initial expectations,” he said.

The order book is testimony to the success the company is enjoying, as is the sight of its new manufacturing facility currently being built in Leeds.