Royal Mail looks back on Direct Air compressor maintenance contract03 September 2020

Royal Mail handles 26 million items passing through its mail centres each day. Some 40,000 items are sorted per hour by flat sorting machines that are fed by compressed air.

There are 27 flat sorting machines across the country for A4 sized letters, and with only one in each operation, this is a single point of failure. They are powered by compressors that run 24/7, with another on standby. If both compressors break down, this process must then be completed manually, which is costly and inefficient.

Since compressed air plays such a vital role in the day-to-day success of operations, Royal Mail went to market with a competitive tender to find a reliable and cost-effective supplier.

Manoj Vadher, head of engineering reliability and people development recalls: “I’m in charge of all third party contracts, but at times I spend more time managing the contractors than my own engineers. We experienced recurring issues, including failure to attend site following the initial call, expensive repair bills and multiple compressors stopping on single sites. This ultimately halted our production.”

“I visited Direct Air’s stand at Maintec and discussed its compressor maintenance packages. We then invited it to tender.”

Manoj and Royal Mail expected an informed SLA which considered their geographical reach. With 30 compressed air systems ranging from Glasgow to Exeter, the response times had to be accountable for all sites.

Direct Air won the contract with a proposal that included a total care plan covering all costs, remote telemetry that monitors compressor activity and alerts in case of breakdown, four-hour callout time target, planned overhaul work, spares stockholding, monthly and quarterly performance reporting

Manoj Vadher adds that he liked the proposal at the time, and adds: “They have delivered on their promises! The communication is excellent, with planned maintenance, detailed job sheets and data.”

Since the start of the contract in 2015, Royal Mail has only lost production once, within the first 24 hours of the contract, and that was due to failure of a previously-fitted component.

Manoj Vadher concluded: “We even stopped requesting reporting after the first six months. We don’t experience any problems any more; I trust Direct Air. It is one of the best supplier contracts I have ever signed. They have taken away all the previous worries, hassles and problems.”

William Dalrymple

Related Companies
Direct Air & Pipework Ltd

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