Managers of warehouses and other logistics facilities face numerous challenges and obstacles when it comes to maintaining a smooth, efficient operation. Keeping stock moving from one area to another can be like a game of chess, with careful, strategic planning at each stage.

Sarah O’Neill, general manager of our Hire division, gives an insight into the key considerations to make when opting for commercial vehicle hire and in particular, shunting tugs.

A streamlined hire solution reduces the likelihood of costly delays to logistics operations and hired vehicles can be hugely valuable assets. While each organisation will have its own set of unique requirements, there are some fundamental questions that every manager should ask themselves in order to find the right solution.

An orange tug vehicle in a vehicle yard

What are the benefits of hiring a vehicle rather than owning outright?

Hiring a vehicle is a cost-effective measure that removes several of the challenges that come with outright ownership. Whether it’s a shunting tug, HGV, or commercial plant for use in construction, vehicles of this type represent a significant financial outlay. A hire arrangement, on the other hand, reduces this burden while ensuring that deadlines and requirements are met.

Hiring a vehicle also removes the responsibility of having to maintain the vehicle for an extended period of time, which again, represents a significant cost but can also require specialist technicians to be in place or personnel which could be better utilised elsewhere being taken up.

Shunting tugs, like the ones we operate in our 160-strong fleet, can also run on biofuel, bringing environmental benefits and demonstrating a commitment to sustainable practices which will appeal to wider stakeholder groups and be useful should the site be far from a refuelling station. We also provide the option of hiring fuel bowsers for the storage of biofuel at locations where such refuelling stations either do not exist or are difficult to access.

How long do I need to hire a vehicle for?

This is perhaps one of the main considerations when it comes to vehicle hire. Is it just to cope with a sudden increase in demand for stock? Maybe an existing vehicle within the fleet has broken down and an interim solution is needed. Or is it for long-term usage?

While it can be challenging to get an exact length of time, a ballpark figure is enough to get the hire process started.

Too often, we have found that fleet managers become locked into long-term contracts that are difficult to get out of once the vehicle has served its purpose. This results in further, unnecessary costs and a vehicle that is not required taking up space at the facility. We believe in taking a flexible approach to shunting tug hire – our vehicles can be hired out for as little as a single day all the way up to years at a time, ensuring that our customers are able to adapt to their situation.

Has the vehicle been checked and maintained?

Hired vehicles undergo a series of maintenance inspections and processes before being delivered. For example, our fleet of shunting tugs is carefully maintained by our skilled technicians at our Gloucestershire workshop facility in line with manufacturer specifications and policies before the vehicle ever leaves the yard.

It is essential to obtain the maintenance records for the vehicle before the vehicle starts service in order to identify areas of concern at the soonest possible opportunity. This, ultimately, reduces the likelihood of costly delays to operations.

A mechanic in a workshop

What will the vehicle be used for?

It might sound obvious, but knowing the expected usage of the vehicle, the weight of the loads, and how long it will be in service on the course of a given day are all worth factoring into the hire decision.

Shunting tugs can be a viable alternative to tractor units that are commonly used across logistics facilities as they are able to transport similar load weights and are quicker at coupling and uncoupling trailers. Their tight turning circle also makes them a useful addition to yards that have restricted room for manoeuvrability. They are also effective at transporting complex or heavy loads, – ideal when working with low loader trailers – and having the means to adjust their height allows tugs to negotiate low bridges with great efficiency.

Where will the vehicle be used?

The physical layout and characteristics of the site should also be taken into account when looking into hiring a shunting tug or other commercial vehicle. Facilities with restricted space or with other vehicles being used on a regular basis will pose other safety considerations which will impact on choosing the most appropriate vehicle.

To use shunting tugs as an example, the one-person nature of its operation makes for greater safety and as they are geared to go at a set speed, control is also enhanced. It is also worth considering whether there is a need for the vehicle to travel to another site. Shunting tugs can be driven on public roads, so long as this is a short distance between the two sites or for refuelling purposes.

Tug and van in a storage facility

Speak to us about shunting tug hire

With our extensive knowledge and vast experience of shunting tug hire from our years known as Gilder Hire, we are experts in delivering flexible solutions for all manner of requirements. We understand how time-critical supply chains are and are passionate about keeping these essential links moving.

We have a wide portfolio of supporting both large and small operations, with a commitment to outstanding service. Contact our team to discuss your hire needs on 01242 621580.