Good service saves stress: IAPA winner IPS shares its aftermarket strategies
By Maria Hadlow04 October 2011
IPS, the winners of Access International's 2011 IAPAs (International Awards for Powered Access) for outstanding aftersales service, shares some of the strategies, which has added to its own and its customers effectiveness. Maria Hadlow reports.
Established in 2001, UK based IPS (Independent Parts & Service) has built a business on providing independent, quality and affordable after-sales solutions to owners, operators and suppliers of powered access equipment.
IPS has rapidly expanded its operations, most recently with the acquisition of Planet Platforms service division, and today employs over 60 staff in the UK, including a network of 20 mobile service engineers.
To meet the rising demands of its customers, IPS has expanded its product portfolio of OEM parts to include a multiplicity of access manufacturer parts; providing a 'one stop shop' experience. Today, it sources and stocks over 67000 parts for a range of manufacturer's products.
In 2010, IPS made a commitment to improve service quality, and continually invest in customer service support, through parts availability, competitive pricing and technical support.
Accessibility to the company's services has been improved through strategic investment; it has expanded its service coverage to better serve its customers and increased its product portfolio to improve choice and availability.
The introduction of cost reducing solutions and its tailored Parts Management System further support's IPS's commitment to deliver first-class customer oriented after-sales solutions.
The weight of today's difficult economic climate has pressed heavily upon the Access Industry, and it has never been more apparent that the delivery of excellent customer service is critical to retaining the loyalty of customers.
IPS believes the key to providing a first-class service is to listen to its customers; by ascertaining their wants and needs, the company aims to provide customer focused solutions which offer excellent value for money.
Access rental companies are constantly faced with the pressure to deliver reliable and safe equipment to site, on time, and within budget.
The team at IPS recognises and understands these issues, and consequently offers a number of after-sales services dedicated to ease this pressure, reduce downtime and comply with safe working practices.
IPS designed the Parts Management System in 2007, specifically to facilitate the stocking and management of fast moving parts for access rental companies.
Based on a fleet profile, IPS identifies and provides a personalised stock of critical parts, kept onsite in containers that feature a unique identifying picture and record card.
A brochure detailing the parts categorised by manufacturer and type is provided for easy navigation of the System.
The simplicity of the system allows faster identification of parts and instant accessibility to stock, reducing unnecessary downtime and expenditure.
IPS's fleet of mobile sales vans monitor and replenish stocking levels at each location, guaranteeing that a healthy stock volume is maintained at all times.
The Parts Management System is installed in several major rental company depot networks, and has shown to significantly reduce downtime by having parts in stock and on the shelf.
Since the original conception of the Parts Management System, IPS has updated and modified it according to its customer's needs, and in 2010 the company introduced the "redundant stock initiative".
Aimed at reducing unnecessary expenditure, the system pinpoints and decreases waste by eliminating surplus access parts stock.
The Parts Management System allows each rental branch to report on stock orders and common parts, and to analyse expenditure.
IPS added an additional feature to monitor stock rotation. If the report identifies slow moving stock, it is removed and replaced with current, fast moving stock.
IPS felt it was important to support its customers during the economic difficulties by delivering honest, cost reducing solutions and high levels of customer service.
For example at the end of 2010, one rental company operating the Parts Management System saw a 10% reduction in stock, reducing the overall fast moving line items to 263.
The Parts Management System is supported by IPS' mobile delivery service, in which common and fast moving access parts are stocked daily and delivered to rental companies throughout mainland UK.
The fully stocked vans contain 300 fast moving items, bringing a fast and efficient shopping environment direct to the customer.
The demand for greater accessibility, availability and choice is constantly increasing, and in 2010, IPS invested in additional resources to support its growing after-sales market.
IPS restructured its sales network, and increased its mobile sales force by 25% to strengthen its position in the North East and Scotland, and improve its service delivery through greater choice and reliability.
IPS has reduced customer's delivery costs, and accommodated last minute/emergency parts requests, By investing its mobile sales force IPS has extended its services, and improved coverage within the UK.
In 2010, IPS recorded an18% increase in rentals companies visited.
Importance of maintenance
IPS offers service and maintenance packages to its customers, which are designed to help them save money, time and paperwork. By taking out a yearly service agreement IPS will remind you when your next service is due, provide full engineer reports and keep all reports on file for future reference.
Regular servicing and upkeep can give you confidence that you comply with current safety legislation and the safety of your equipment and operators. IPS notifies customers of any excessive wear before it becomes a problem, reducing the rick of breakdown and costly repair work.
Pre-planned maintenance programmes can help improve machine reliability, ensuring you get maximum utilisation from your equipment and regular servicing keeps your equipment in good condition and improves overall operation life.
It is importance that the regular LOLER (lifting operations and lifting equipment regulations) inspections are done, but just as important are the day to day checks that have to be performed by the operators.
These include checking batteries and topping them up, checking engine oils and hydraulic levels, looking for any leaks, ensuring safety decals are intact, tyres are corrected inflated and generally being cautious to any warning lights and so on.
Here's some simple advice IPS offers customers that can make a big difference to battery life.
Charging, watering and cleaning are fundamental to the life span of your batteries. By following a correct preventative maintenance programme, you can ensure your batteries stand the test of time, and more importantly, keep your access platform reliable over the winter months.
Check the water levels in the cells every month and fill the batteries to the correct level. To obtain good battery life and minimize any corrosion, your batteries need to be filled with clean, clear, odorless, preferably distilled water.
It should be added before charging if the levels appear below the required amount.
Luke warm, clean water should be used to clean the batteries, paying particular attention to the terminals and electrical leads. If corrosion is evident, scrub with a bristle or wired brush to clean.
Recharge all batteries after use - a fully maintained battery will survive the winter weather. Before charging the batteries, inspect all terminals for frayed, loose or damaged connectors, and ensure the terminals are clean, free from corrosion.
Batteries will rapidly self-discharge without frequent charging, so the best practice for minimal usage is to recharge at planned regular intervals.