Commercial Director, Dan Thompson reveals the secrets to Explore Plant and Transport Solutions’ success, their relationship with SNAP and how the business has overcome the challenges of COVID-19.
“SNAP provides a series of benefits to our company and SNAP Account is widely used throughout,” says Dan, who started using SNAP to improve Explore’s fleet efficiency.
Dan Thompson, who has worked at Explore in some capacity for almost 13 years is responsible for developing and implementing commercial strategies. He talks to SNAP about the history and accomplishments of Explore Plant and Transport Solutions.
“Explore Plant and Transport Solutions was founded in 2015 by Managing Director David Cox as a supplier of Transport and Plant Hire services to a wide range of industries including construction, rail and aerospace,” says Dan.
“We strive to be the industry leader and deliver best in class levels of safety, service, and efficiency. Our Transport division combines over 50 years of construction logistics and haulage expertise and our Plant division boast one of the largest, most diverse and modern ranges of plant equipment, small tools, formwork and falsework systems.”
Dan revealed that Explore Plant and Transport Solutions is one of the fastest-growing haulage and plant hire businesses in the UK. “Since being founded in 2015 the company has grown to encompass 165 trucks, 9,000 plant and tool hire assets and 7 depots nationwide.”
“Explore Plant and Transport Solutions operate across the whole of the UK and into mainland Europe,” says Dan. “We have a wide-ranging and efficient UK transport network along with vehicles regularly travelling to and from the continent covering flat trailer, curtain side and out of gauge loads.
“Our main plant depots cover the north and south of the country allowing us to service our customers wherever they are working.
“Our customers can track real-time updates on the ETA of their deliveries on any phone or tablet. Our precise GPS tracking and live telematics also means we can ensure all deliveries remain safe, secure, and on schedule regardless of their location.”
Explore Plant and Transport Solutions has a diverse customer base but Dan explained that the majority of the loads are based around the construction, manufacturing and engineering sectors.
He says, “Our fleet ranges from general flat trailer and curtain work through to heavy haulage, Hiab trucks and even concrete mixers. This allows us to be extremely flexible in the work we can carry out, whilst always maintaining the highest standards of safety and compliance.
“We recognise the importance of being adaptable to suit changes in demand, a good example of which would be during the COVID-19 lockdown where we saw an increased demand for supermarket supply chains. Our vehicles and drivers were able to assist in providing extra capacity during this period, ensuring much-needed stock was delivered to distribution centres and stores.”
Dan admitted that there is no such thing as a “typical load” and every day is genuinely different from the next. He says, “this does bring its challenges, however, the biggest being driver training and familiarisation.
“Explore is unique in its dedication to innovation and the early adoption of new technologies which not only benefit our services but also the safety of our operations and the environment” says Dan. “Safety is fundamental to everything we do, which is why we go above and beyond the necessary accreditations and guidelines to ensure that our trucks, trailers and equipment meet the latest standards.”
Dan states that Explore Plant and Transport Solutions are very conscious of their environmental impact. “As a result, we continually invest in our vehicles and plant, ensuring our engines meet the latest and best standards for particulate emissions.
“We have spent a lot of time developing technology and systems to allow us to make the best use of the huge amount of data that is available from our assets. We can now give customers access to a single dashboard that allows them to monitor elements such as run time vs idle time and levels of CO2 produced in real-time.”
Explore Plant and Transport Solutions have been using SNAP since March 2019. “SNAP provides a series of benefits to our company and SNAP Account is widely used throughout,” says Dan.
He explains, “primarily it enables our drivers to use the large nationwide network of facilities available, these facilities range from parking to vehicle washes meaning that we can be more efficient in arranging stops at these facilities in our delivery schedule. This, in turn, means that we can be more flexible in our scheduling and helps our company reduce our carbon footprint by reducing unnecessary journeys and empty mileage.
“The benefit felt most by our drivers however is the sense of confidence SNAP provides, allowing them easy access to a large network of information and removing the hassle that typically comes with planning stops such as the availability of facilities or payment of parking fees.”
“As a business, we are excited about the future and the opportunities we can see being available to hauliers that can offer something different to customers,” says Dan. “Some significant investments are being made in the sectors we work in, with construction and infrastructure being the standout example.”
“It is rewarding to think that we have been able to play a part in some of the major projects that have been happening in the past few years such as Hinkley Point C and Heathrow as well as what is going on now with High Speed 2. There are significant opportunities on that scheme to both develop our offering as a business as well as help train and develop our people in the process.”
The pandemic has had a major impact on the UK economy and has affected businesses across the country. Dan admits that things were no different for Explore. “Explore Plant and Transport Solutions felt the effect that the extended lockdown created, both on the business itself and the staff which we employ.
“Like many other companies we elected to move to remote working and limited the amount of staff who were working from our offices. We are lucky in the sense that Explore has always championed the ability for staff to have flexible working conditions with the option of working from home, meaning that the transition from the office to home working did not in any way impact the services which we provide,” says Dan.
Explore managed to adapt and meet the demands that were associated with COVID-19. Dan says, “although demand slipped for our plant hire as construction sites were limited or closed, our transport services grew in demand. We saw an increase in requests from a variety of different sectors, especially that of perishable goods supply to supermarkets.
Despite the setbacks, Dan says the future looks bright at Explore. “Going forwards we are seeing demand for all of our services return to their usual levels, especially that of our plant hire as construction sites open up once more across the UK. Our depots and offices all employ new social distancing measures, with additional sanitisation processes for our drivers in their cabs along with our plant hire assets.
Dan thinks that there are several challenges facing operators during this period, both from a financial and commercial perspective. “Aside from the obvious financial pressures, there have also been more practical issues to deal with such as temporary changes to the rules around compliance and service standards, which are now returning to normal.
“By far the biggest concern for Explore is the welfare of our people, in particular, our drivers and other mobile workforce. It is essential to ensure people have access to the right level of protective equipment where needed and also have the ability to access safe and hygienic welfare facilities. We are planning for these additional measures to be in place for the long term and are also closely monitoring developments to ensure we can stay ahead of any changes or additional restrictions on travel and day to day movement.”
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Josh Cousens| SNAP.