When timely delivery is described as a matter of life and death it’s usually an exaggeration. For Clifford Hallam Healthcare (CH2) delivery issues can really be that important. CH2 is Australia's largest pharmaceutical and medical healthcare service provider with more than 10,000 customers and a catalogue of more than 30,000 products. With the help of a new Linde forklift fleet it provides pharmaceuticals, medical consumables, veterinary and equipment products to the healthcare market in metropolitan, regional and country areas. Customers include public and private hospitals, aged care facilities, general practitioners, medical centres, specialists, day surgeries, diagnostic imaging centres, pathologists, veterinarians, dentists and physiotherapists. Federal and state government bodies such as the armed and emergency services are also among the organisations to whom it delivers products – sometimes twice daily – sourced from more than 700 suppliers.

As CH2 bedded down its new Linde fleet, Tom Eden, the company’s national supply chain support manager, explained recent changes and the role which Linde will play, especially through its FleetFOCUS fleet management system. “We had a state based structure but changed to a national structure two years ago,” he said. “Previously the state branches had negotiated their own contracts and we had four or five different material handling equipment suppliers. Last year the majority of those contracts expired and when we took the opportunity to move to a national contract Linde was successful.”

Linde's flexibility make decisions easy

The fleet renewal steps taken by CH2 would sound familiar to many. A thorough process whittled the potential supplier list down to three contenders and then to a choice between Linde and the major incumbent, Crown, which had 70 per cent of the business nationally. “It became a decision between keeping it simple by extending the relationship we already had, or recognising the features of the Linde offer which would justify a change,” Tom Eden said. “The main decision factors were originally price and equipment capabilities, but then Linde’s flexibility also became a factor. They were able to think outside the box, especially in relation to our planned move into a major new facility in Sydney. Because of the markets we serve, including hospitals, we can look at price, but we can’t afford to risk the service we provide.”

It became a decision between keeping it simple by extending the relationship we already had, or recognising the features of the Linde offer which would justify a change

Plenty of businesses face the challenge of distribution centre relocation, in this case from Roselands to Eastern Creek, but for CH2 the possibility of disruption was absolutely unthinkable. “We deliver to hospitals twice a day and some don’t have large storage facilities for back up stock,” Tom said. “If we can’t deliver there is the potential for major disruption to them.” As a result of the thoroughness of its fleet supplier selection process CH2 found itself in a costly week to week rental situation with its previous fleet supplier. There was a strong financial incentive for CH2 to terminate that arrangement and Linde had the capacity to cost effectively supply 70 short term rental trucks at short notice for an interim fleet.

This increasingly common commercial reality is one which Linde has the experience and resources to address and does so as part of its tendering process. “From the outset we outlined a change management process which could ensure that CH2’s business would run without interruption during a fleet changeover,” said Nathan Reynolds, who managed the negotiation and roll out on behalf of Linde Material Handling. After the speed of that response Linde and CH2 have worked more deliberately to ensure the effective roll out of the all-new fleet, an exercise which included delivering new equipment to the still-to-be commissioned Sydney DC.

Tom Eden explained the careful attention which has been given to the roll-out and to the new fleet’s composition. “We are streamlining our processes within our warehouses nationally and we need to understand exactly what we are doing and how to improve it. The roll out of a new workflow management system is central to that. Once implemented it will affect how we pick product to deliver to our clients and that makes the choice of material handling equipment even more important. We are working with the warehouse managers to determine exactly what material handling resources they need because our company’s work environment is changing rapidly. Implementing Linde FleetFOCUS is a major step in helping us to achieve that. FleetFOCUS will help us identify the utilisation of our equipment. Where previously we’ve merely thought the equipment was going nonstop, in future we’ll know precisely how fully it is employed."

“We have had initial discussions with Linde as to what might be possible and of course we will firm up our plans as we get the new fleet bedded down. That could include moving equipment from one site to another or in fact changing the type of equipment we deploy. Monitoring our fleet utilisation is hugely important, but FleetFOCUS also gives us the ability to automatically monitor impact incidents. There’s also the efficiency of pre-operation checks computerised rather than on paper which gives us administrative simplicity, safety, efficiency and peace of mind.

Linde’s technological strength

While equipment quality, price and user acceptance were major factors in fleet selection for CH2, the company operates in an industry where environmental factors are a paramount consideration. That is why it has taken advantage of Linde’s technological strength to switch to a majority of electric vehicles instead of gas trucks in its electric counterbalance ranks. The new Linde vehicles can cope with single charge 6am to 9pm duty cycles in CH2 warehouses. Linde analysis and advice helped CH2 warehouse managers plan the location of charging bay areas and for the new DC in Sydney Linde provided input for the design of charging areas. The new CH2 Linde fleet consists of 16 high level order pickers, 21 low level order pickers, 20 reach trucks and 11 counterbalance forklifts. So, how has the new equipment been received by its operators? “They are significantly different trucks, but the feedback I’m getting is that the operators are loving the new Linde equipment,” Tom Eden said.

For more information on how Linde can help your business, contact Linde Material Handling today.