In partnership with 1st Touch and Buildbase, Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust has got rid of its in-house warehouse and moved to only carrying imprest stock on its vans, significantly reducing its running costs. Buildbase, the builders’ merchants, is providing the necessary stock and 1st Touch is supplying the mobile workforce solution to support the new strategy.
The newly-formed housing trust, previously part of Aylesbury Vale District Council, needed to move from the council’s premises and it chose a site without warehouse facilities. VAHT instead decided to equip its vans with imprest stock, which would cover 80 per cent of the materials needed on a day-to-day basis, alongside a bulk-purchasing agreement with Buildbase arranged through Procurement for Housing.
Using the 1st Touch system, VAHT operatives use PDAs to immediately notify Buildbase of stock used on each job, and to place orders for additional parts. Large items are delivered direct to the customer, while Buildbase picks all other replacement parts ready for collection when the operative next visits the merchants. VAHT receives details of stock used against each job and engineer on a weekly basis. Brian Golton, director of technical services, VAHT, said, “This approach will increase the efficiency of our operatives without putting pressure on them to do more work.”
The no-stock decision means that VAHT has reduced its stock commitment from £400,000 to £60,000 per year as well as eliminating warehousing costs such as rent, administrative charges, breakages and shrinkage. Furthermore, mobile working has resulted in VAHT rationalising its supply chain and reduce its business overheads by £150,000 each year.
With operatives also feeding back information about work in progress and jobs completed via the PDAs, managers can view stock orders and tasks in progress in real time. Tom Stamp, change manager, VAHT, commented, “With high-quality information available at head office, we are changing our way of managing people, from reactive to proactive.”
VAHT plans to use more mobile technology and roll out the 1st Touch system across more of its operations. In the short term, VAHT’s back-office systems will issue job tickets direct to the operatives using an automatic scheduler, reducing their need to visit head office to pick up or deliver paperwork.