THE AWARD FOR TEAM OF THE YEAR AT THIS YEAR’S HEAVIES, WENT TO THE REBUILDERS OF TANK TRANSPORTERS, BACK FROM A THEATRE OF WAR, AS MARGO COLE FINDS OUT.
If your fleet of heavy haulage vehicles had been damaged during military operations, you might reasonably expect to write them off. However, when each vehicle costs in the region of $1 million, it is worth putting some effort into seeing if they can be saved.
This is the thinking behind an imaginative relationship between the Ministry of Defence (MoD), logistics specialist KBR FTX and three heavy equipment specialists that has so far seen 16 war-damaged Army transporters regenerated and brought back into active service. The success of the project saw the organisations involved win ‘Team of the Year’ at HeavyTorque’s inaugural event, “The Heavies” awards in March.
The vehicles in question are heavy equipment transporters (HETs), which were supplied to the MoD by KBR FTX in 2004 as part of a £290 million private finance initiative (PFI) arrangement. The deal included procuring 92 tractor units, 89 trailers and three recovery systems to replace the Army’s ageing in-house fleet of Scammell Commanders, as well as supplying 68 drivers and nine people to maintain them. The main purpose of the new vehicles is to move heavy equipment – such as tanks – between military bases around the UK and Europe, so they have to be road legal and comply with European legislation. KBR FTX subcontracted the vehicle supply to US firm Oshkosh, which in turn subcontracted the trailer manufacture to King Trailers. The trucks are based on Oshkosh’s [US military standard] HET, but had to be homologated to European standards.
After more than two years of design and construction, KBR FTX’s deal with the MoD officially began in July 2004, when the vehicles, spares and personnel were due to be ready. Under the contract, KBR FTX can also offer a support role – providing spares to the supply chain and more people if they are needed. Under the PFI arrangement, KBR FTX is responsible for maintaining the vehicles over the 20-year life of the contract, using a combination of its own personnel and those supplied by the MoD.