At the time of writing, Pirtek Dublin is in a state of flux. Having just moved into new, larger premises, it is extending its range of services.
Pirtek Dublin moved into a new centre in mid September. Franchisee Ken Robertson says, “We outgrew our previous workshop a few years ago. We just didn’t have the space. “It was all right when there were four or five vans but with nine vans (eight hose vans and one systems van) there was simply not enough space. “We had 2000 square feet there but now we’ve got 5000.”
Pirtek Dublin’s dedicated Hydraulics Systems Engineer Guy Monaghan agrees with Ken, “The new building’s work area alone is bigger than the whole of the old site. A lot of thought has gone into the design and layout, it’s a whole lot easier to work in.”
Guy’s dedicated hydraulic systems van also benefits from the newfound sense of space at Pirtek Dublin’s new centre, Ken says. “It requires a cleaner working area than others, giving us a further reason for the move.”
Drive in service
Ken carries on, “We were doing around 40 breakdowns a month, in all weathers, right outside the door, which wasn’t ideal for the lads, working in the wind and rain. Now have our drive-in hose repair.”
The main workshop has enough room to bring in a 30 to 40 foot trailer and work on it comfortably, says Ken. “Smaller haulage companies don’t want to pay for the call-out service so rather than lose them, we can have them come to us. This keeps their call-out charges down and increases our capacity.” Guy adds, “A hose on a grab truck may only take 15 minutes so they know they’ll be in and out quickly rather than waiting half an hour and also paying for call out.
“No one else offers this service and most of our customers wouldn’t have their own fitters. It is certainly a good opportunity,” he concludes.
The franchise is the only business in Dublin to do total rehosing. “We do a little at the customers’ sites at present,” says Ken, “but you’re tying up a van, it takes longer because you’re working out of the back of a van and it could be a three-day job meaning the MSST has to clear up each day and start again the next. “Getting the customer to drop their machines to us so we can get in and rehose is far easier.”
Feedback suggests there is a market, mainly from plant hire companies, Ken tells. “Every now and then it’s time to change all the hoses; rather than trying to do the work in a yard somewhere, they can bring it into our workshop. If we need to do a bit of welding or anything we can do that here too, whereas it’s not possible on the vans.”
Pirtek Dublin is carrying out preventative maintenance on five of the eight roll-on roll-off ramps at Dublin Port. “They’ve all got ageing hydraulic hoses so we’re routinely replacing and recording them,” says Guy. “Then if they need a replacement they’ve got a part number and we can send the hose, rather than needing to send a van and MSST.”
The time available to work on the ramps is limited to between sailings, with tides and weather also playing a large part. “In summer months we get next to nothing done because there are so many sailings,” says Guy.
“Currently there’s a sailing at 8am, then we have to be gone by 11am for an incoming ferry. This leaves again by 1pm, and there’s another ferry at 5pm.” He continues, “We’re down there twice a week on average and we normally get to replace two to three hoses per trip. There’s a lot of planning for each visit.” There is one minor issue for Guy though. “All the work at the moment is at height – cranes, cherry pickers and the like… and I don’t like heights,” he says.
Total Hose Management
Pirtek Dublin has its own particular take on Total Hose Management. “We have a number of customers with rolling contracts to change a certain number of hoses each year,” says Ken, “so over a five year period we may change all the hoses. They’d be tagged with all the normal red tags but not with the full data- based system.
“A lot of customers would say ‘We have a big loading shovel in the workshop today, come and change whichever hoses you think need to be changed.’ But they won’t say, ‘Come over and change them all and come back in three years.’ “They wouldn’t just change a hose because of its age, though they really should do because a lot of hoses we work on are over water so if one failed it could be a pollution risk. “They’d say their guy would keep an eye on it and change it when it looks rusty or starts leaking.
“It’s hard to convince people that they will save money by taking off good hoses just because they’re three or five years old,” Ken says. “This is because they may not have factored in the price of downtime,” he explains. Ken leaves the door open, however, “We’re not waiting for customers to demand this service.”
Rams and things
Customers have higher demands today, Ken explains. “People expect that if you’re in the hydraulics business, you have to be comprehensive. So we’re not just a hose company any more. We wouldn’t survive if we were.”
With customers’ diagnoses not always accurate, it is in everyone’s interest that Pirtek can solve a wide range of problems. “In a lot of cases the customer sees oil running out of the machine, rings us and says he’s got a hose leak but when the van arrives the engineer discovers that it’s actually a seal in the ram that’s gone or it’s a leaking pump,” Ken says. “Previously the lads would go out and find that it wasn’t a hose, tell the customer and say goodbye. Now we can do something about it. “Now, we can get a guy out to save your pump; to reseal your pump or take the ram off, bring it back and reseal it. If the chrome on the rod is damaged, we can put a new rod on it.
“We can sell on the rest of the service. Sometimes the lads go to a site where they find the hoses all tangled together. They can now say, ‘Get it back to our workshop and we can do the full job.’
“We do full ram repairs, replace rods, eyes, we could make a full ram if you needed. We’ve been doing that for a good few years. “There are a lot of people in Dublin doing rams but where we’re different is that we can do a next day service, which a lot of customers want. “Our main ram customer is the airport,” Ken says. “They might have a passenger stair that goes up the plane. We would pick up the ram in the morning,” he says. “And we can get it back by the evening!”