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Metcalfe Plant Hire Limited

Uptime and dealer service are key for this Penrith-based operator

1st June 2022

"Quite simply, it's all about reliability and back-up – and I cannot fault either the Scania product or the service we get from Graham Commercials, our local Scania dealer.  The trucks perform exceptionally well, they are ideal for our operations, and the support we get from the dealer is first class, and that's incredibly important to us."  So says Nigel Clegg, the man responsible for the transport and logistics activities of one of Cumbria's leading plant hire, transport and recycled aggregates and demolition contracting specialists, Metcalfe Plant Hire Limited.


Nigel is speaking in response to the question as to why his company continues to select Scania vehicles as its preferred fleet choice, which Metcalfe Plant Hire has now been doing for more than two decades. 


"Our very first Scania, which predates my joining the firm, set the pattern," he continues.  "That truck worked well for us.  Today, three-quarters of our 25-strong fleet are Scania, and I have no hesitation returning to the brand whenever the time for replacement comes.  What I particularly like about our dealer is the personal service we receive. It's a family firm and it's obvious that every member of the team is fully invested in the business.  You can see that from the number of long-standing employees they have; we've known many of them for 20 years or more now, and that continuity makes a real difference.


Nigel Clegg's purchasing cycle begins with a conversation with his Graham Commercials sales executive.  "We've got a mix of vehicles in the fleet, and as products are being developed and improved all the time it's important that we take advice to ensure we specify the right trucks for the jobs we will be putting them to," he says.  "That's where the dealer's sales team comes in. They obviously know their stuff when it comes to product knowledge, and the relationship we have with them means they know and understand our business too.  So we get together and discuss what we're looking for, and end up with vehicles that are well matched to our needs."


The Scania complement within the Metcalfe Plant Hire fleet includes three types of truck to cover the company's diverse range of operations.


The vehicle featured in the 2022 Scania calendar is one of the company's  R 500 eight-wheel drawbar prime movers. These are equipped with flat bodies and cranes and are used either as solo rigids or with a trailer depending on factors such as delivery requirements and site access.  "The drawbar spec gives us the flexibility we need to cover every situation," comments Nigel Clegg.  "These trucks can travel anywhere nationwide – we've recently been as far north as the Isle of Skye and as far south as Maidstone – so it’s essential we send out the right truck for the job; it's no use turning up somewhere miles away and finding the access is too tight to get in!

Three Scania tractor units – a double-drive R 580 6x4 and two R 500 6x2/2 with tag axles haul the low loaders of the firm's Plant Hire division.  "Our low loader operations principally run into Cumbria and Scotland," says Nigel Clegg.  "While the 6x2/2s cover most needs, the double-drive artic provides that extra bit of traction should it be required on-site."


The Recycled Aggregates and Demolition Contracting arm of the firm requires tippers to cover bulk deliveries and muckaway work.  Here, the vehicles of choice are a mix of Scania P 370 8x4 and P 410 8x4 multi-wheelers equipped with Thompson tipper bodies.  "We've currently got nine of them in the fleet," says Nigel Clegg.  "These trucks are worked hard on and off road at quarries and construction and demolition sites.  This kind of work calls for trucks which are rugged and robust, and we find our Scania's perform consistently well here, no matter how arduous the operation."


With their distinctive yellow and red livery, the Metcalfe Plant Hire fleet presents a striking image out on the road. In addition, some of the fleet have extras such as light bars added.  "That's because we're happy for our drivers to customise their trucks," explains Nigel Clegg.  "There's no question that drivers are at a premium these days, so it's important to consider their wishes and involve them in the speccing of vehicles as much as possible.  Our latest Scania crane trucks are well equipped inside and have Highline roofs to provide the driver with good living accommodation.  As well as driving the trucks our drivers also operate the cranes, which can involve standing out in the pouring rain for hours on end.  So it's only right that we provide a cab which is as comfortable as possible; it is their home out on the road, after all."


Two additional trucks, an P 410 8x2*6 rigid with a flat body and a P 250 road sweeper, complete the complement of Scania vehicles in the Metcalfe Plant Hire fleet.


The maintenance of all 18 trucks is handled by Carlisle-based Graham Commercials.  While all of the company's Scanias are purchased with two years repair and maintenance (R&M) included, Metcalfe Plant Hire keeps its vehicles for up to eight years. "So we extend our R&M contracts to suit," says Nigel Clegg.  "We typically replace our low loader trucks and tippers every five or six years with the crane vehicles staying for seven or a little longer.  We are able to extend our Scania contracts for up to seven years, and then move to pay-as-you-go servicing for any still with us after that.


"As well as fixed, known costs, the benefit of a Scania R&M contract is that we know everything is maintained to manufacturer specification.  That includes the use of genuine parts, with everything fitted by the dealer's Technicians.  The process is extremely flexible; we speak to the workshop team at Graham Commercials every week and all work is scheduled to suit our operational requirements. Should we require any parts, nine out of ten times they are available off the shelf.  But if not, they get them in for the next morning.  The out-of-hours support is great too – if ever we need help on a Sunday morning, I know that won't be a problem.  It's a great partnership which works extremely well for all concerned."