Ten Minutes to Turn Round
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Ideal Vehicle Sought by Brick Company to Use Quick-loading Gear to Fullest Advantage
ANingenious method of loading bricks, which keeps turn-round times to a minimum, is employed by Cape Building Products, Ltd., Cowley, Uxbridge, Middx, who produce over 100,000 flint bricks a day in a plant stated to be the only one of its kind in Britain. Demand is countrywide and the company's fleet of 27 vehicles delivers within a wide radius, hauliers being employed for long-distance consignments. In addition„ the fleet handles much of the company's output of asbestos boards, of which the production
rate has greatly risen during the past five years. ..
Flint bricks are of two types. One has a high crushing strength and is used for certain parts of large buildings to bear heavy loads. The other may be pigmented in any of 12 colours and is employed for facing buildings for which an attractive appearance is required. The bricks are precision made: 1,000 weigh about 21 tons, which is slightly more than ordinary bricks. Customers require them in comparatively small numbers, and as it is undesirable to stack them on site in big heaps they are normally .delivered in frequent vehicleloads over the period of a contract,
The works stand`neit to a flint quarry. Lime, the other ingredient of the bricks, is brought by road from Rarefied, near Rickmansworth. Further lime .supplies, as required for the manufacture of asbestos board, come from farther afield. Asbestos, imported from South Africa, comes via the docks, and Kieselguhr, another ingredient of asbestos board, is brought by road from an associate company in the Cape Asbestos group from Kentmere, in the Lake District. Output.of asbestos board is to be further increased largely to meet
demands for the interior panelling of buildings to conserve heat and lessen fire risk.
The company's fleet comprises II Bedford petrol-engined 5-tormers with I4-ft. platform bodies, two of which were made by Bonallack in light alloy. and 12 Bedford 7-tanners. most of which have 16-ft. bodies. Three 7-tanners have 17-ft. Bonallack bodies, whilst another has a Baico chassis extension upon which a Bonallack body 20 ft. long is mounted. Two of these vehicles have Perkins R6 engines and the others are petrol models. There are two BedfordScammell 10-ton and an 8-ton articulated outfits with I8-ft, bodies. Largest type is an A.E.C. Mammoth Major. l5-tonner with a Duramin light-alloy body 24 ft. long. A Bedford 5-ton van is also employed.
Light-alloy bodies, besides being 8 cwt. lighter on 5and 7-tonners compared with timber, have been found to East well, the first one built still being in service after eight years. Timber bodies need reflooring every year, so that aluminium will be specified for future deliveries..:Conversion to oil . engines has not proceeded as quickly in this fleet as in some others, chiefly because of the long life returned by Bedford petrol engines, which has tended to offset part of the advantage of oil engines. New vehicles will, however, have oil engines. Bedfords are supplied to the company by Gregory's of Uxbridge, Ltd.
Petrol-engined 5-tonners average 9/ m.p.g. and 7-tonners 8,1i m.p.g., whilst the R6 models return 121 m.p.g. The 8-ton articulated vehicle averages 9 m.p.g. and the 10-tonners 7f m.p.g. The A.E.C., which has a 9.6-litre engine. return., 10-Z. m.p.g. on long journeys.
Question of Length In selecting vehicles the main consideration of Mr. A. Hobbs, transport manager, is platform length. This is imposed by the method of loading bricks in skip-loads 6 ft. wide and 5 ft. long. The skips, each loaded with 1,000 bricks, come out of the works into the transport yard on rail tracks and are placed under a special Morris crane attachment, installed when the works were built in 1935. How this works is best gathered from the illustrations on the previous page. The method is possible because the bricks are precision-made. The bottom layer of bricks is held firmly by the weight of the stack which, through the massive M-shaped levered tong linkages, is transmitted as a squeezing force. The skip-load is quickly swung on to the platform of a lorry.
It is .obviously not possible by this method to place one stack immediately behind another on the platform; there has to be a space between to accommodate the attachment. Two stacks of bricks, as loaded by the crane, occupy about 12 ft. of platform length, and for the placing of a third load another 6 ft. is desirable.
When a 14-ft. platform vehicle is loaded, the driver takes off the 1013 layers of the two stacks and distributes bricks over the unoccu pied areas of the plat form. Such a vehicle —rated as a 5-tanner then has a full load. It can be turned round in 10 minutes, most, of which time is spent by the driver in evening up the load. A 7-tanner with a platform 2 ft. or 3 ft. longer can carry 3,000 bricks, but cannot be loaded with three 1,000 stacks one behind the other. Two stacks are first put on the lorry and the driver forms them into a base upon which two half-stacks of 500 bricks can be placed.
The 20-ft. body allows the placing of three stacks one behind the other, as do the 18-ft. articulated vehicles. Exclusive use of articulated vehicles is precluded, however, by their instability when running over rough surfaces such as are found on 'building sites. Operation of the 20-ft. vehicle, is partly. experimental to test the ability of an extended chassis to carry 81--ton loads. Standard longwheelbase .7-tonners take 30 minutes to turn round, and although this time is perhaps a third as •long as would apply were hand-lciading employed, Mr. Hobbs feels that it is capable of valuable reduction if he could realize his ideal.
Asbestos' boards are produced in lengths of 8 ft., 9 ft and 10 ft., and widths of 2 ft. and 4 ft., also to special sizes. Coventry Climax fork-lift trucks are employed at the works and vehicles may be mechanically loaded, boards being delivered on timber or steel pallets if customers have means for mechanical unloading. Stockists of the company's boards exist throughout the country and deliveries arc made to them and direct to users.
The Bedford van is exclusively employed tor carrying boards, and the A.E.C. eight-wheeler is largely engaged on this traffic, only occasionally being used to deliver bricks, of which it can carry 5,000. Other platform vehicles may also be employed for board. transport although they are mainly used for bricks_ Daily tonnage carried by the fleet is about 500. Drivers arrive at 7 a.m. for instructions and may make up to four deliveries a day.. Copies of orders received by the sales department are passed to the transport department, and it is stated on the orders when customers require delivery. This enables Mr. Hobbs to plan his operations, although the amount of notice he receives varies. A big order for, say, gm. bricks may be placed from six months to two years ahead of delivery time and it is usually stipulated how many bricks will be required per day over the building period. On the other hand, an order for 2000 -bricks or various quantities of asbestos boards may involve urgency.
The company's vehicles carry 95 per cent. of output and normally work within 120 miles of Uxbridge. There is a weekly run to Kentmere, entailing full loads each way, taking goods north and returning with Kieselguhr. Brick output is steady throughout the year, although it may be held up by frost, and seasonal peaks and valleys have tended to flatten in recent years. About a quarter of asbestosboard production is taken to the docks for export. Costing extends to the keeping of mileage and fuelconsumption records for each vehicle. Each year all costs are aggregated (depreciation is spread over Tour years) and a cost per mile for the whole fleet is calculated. This is not directly a figure by which to measure the efficiency of operation, but a basis for delivery charges. The company have a mileage scale per thousands of bricks which is reviewed annually in the light of costs. Charges made for delivery are not varied according to type of vehicle employed.
A delivery record is kept for each Vehicle, there is also a Kardex system fisting customers' orders and deliveries. This is checked weekly to determine balances of orders and indicate the plan for the following week's operations.
Individual tyre records are kept and, considering that vehicles delivering to Sites often have to cross rough ground, a tyre life of 25,000 miles is considered acceptable. Tractionpattern tyres are fitted to rear wheels: ordinary covers in this position used to last for only 20,000 miles. The covers of the A.E.C., which is almost entirely confined to running on hard surfaces, were fit for retreading after covering 45.000 miles.
Plans are in hand to build a new garage and workshops this year or in early 1958. At present the• vehicles are garaged at Iver, where there is a workshop equipped with Black and Decker valve tools and various appliances made by the Weaver concern, another company in the Cape Asbestos group, Each vehicle is inspected and lubricated every three weeks, representing a mileage interval of 2,000. Brakes, steering and wheel alignment are checked and the engine is tuned. Oils are changed at 6,000 miles and repair and reconditioning work is performed•when necessary. Repainting can be performed at Iver, The A.E.C. is serviced by the makers at their nearby factory,
Duckham's Cornmercol S.A.E.' 20 oil is used in pet-Pal engines. A heavy-duty oil is specified for oil engines. Shell supply basic-grade petrol and oil fuel.
Three engines are bild in stock as replacements and engine rebuilding is done in the workshops. Worn cylinders are replaced by standard-sized sleeves. Crankshafts may be ground down to 0.010 in. and again to 0.020 in. The life of an engine is reckoned according to bore wear, rather than crankshaft wear, and in these terms 100,000 miles before overhaul is being obtained from petrol engines, which currently are of the heavy-duty type. Earlier engines averaged 45,000 miles.
Such a result confirms Mr. Hobbs' preference for Bedford vehicles, which he personally has operated for many years. Up to 1947 he was a haulier on his own account with 12 lorries under contract-A licence to the company and their predecessors before amalgamation with Cape Asbestos in 1946. Before nationalization of road transport, the group took over Mr. Hobbs' business and installed him in his present post. Some of the drivers who transferred have now served under Mr. Hobbs for 16 years.
Drivers have been entered for the safe-driving competition of the Road Operators' Safety Council. A £2 10s. safety bonus, forfeitable in the case of blameworthy accident, is paid to most men every six months.
Chiefly to retain good labour, pay rates are well above average. On the other hand, late overtime working is discouraged for reasons of road safety. The normal working week is made up of five nine-hour days and a three-hour Saturday. Deliveries are planned so that the weekday hours need not be exceeded, and the Saturday period is devoted to washing and checking vehieles.