The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has thrown the importance of ensuring our cities are safe and clean onto the front pages of our newspapers. Few organisations have taken the threat more seriously than Tadweer, Abu Dhabi’s Center of Waste Management, which has rolled-out an unprecedented assault on the virus to keep its streets clean.

The challenge for the companies tasked with handling waste disposal and collection for the emirate is to deliver world-class service while bringing the fight to the Coronavirus.

Front and centre of this mobilisation is West Coast Saubermacher (WCS), a powerhouse partnership between the UAE’s leading waste collection West Coast firm and Saubermacher Austria. As one of the dominant players in the UAE market, they operate a fleet of over 700 units which handles non-hazardous solid waste collection services for commercial, municipal, industrial and residential customers in more than 1,000 locations throughout the UAE.

For many years, WCS has been serving Tadweer by collecting and then transferring waste – cleaning the streets, coastline and beaches of Abu Dhabi – before separating all the recyclable waste and green waste for reuse in the production of fertilisers. Speaking to T&FME, West Coast Group’s General Manager Dany Rmeily, says that the partnership continues to expand and was recently awarded two major contracts with Tadweer which involve the provision of municipal solid waste collection and transportation – as well as street sweeping and cleaning services – for two sprawling areas (Lot 3 and Lot 5) in the emirate.

To fulfil this new contract, it has sought out 220 light, medium- and heavy-duty HINO trucks through Al Futtaim Motors (AFM). It is the first time that WCS has had the opportunity to work with AFM’s HINO business. Beyond AFM HINO’s burgeoning reputation in the UAE, built on its highly adaptable trucks which have been entrusted to brands such as Pepsi and rising fuel delivery star CAFU, Rmeily realised that here was a partner that understood the unique demands placed on WCS.

“The deal was very smooth as the sales team had been accommodating, open to negotiations and more importantly, always available and prompt in responding to our necessities,” he notes. “As a customer, besides value for money which we always look for in most of our purchasing deals, good business relationships established with the suppliers is of paramount importance to us.”

Ramez Hamdan, Managing Director, Al Futtaim Commercial Vehicles, says that the relationship with WCS can be traced back through its Abu Dhabi partner’s sister company Crown Paper Mill and a deal that brought Toyota Forklifts into the firm’s ranks via when Al Futtaim Motors – Toyota Material Handling.

“From the start, this meant we were able to demonstrate the extended support already on offer from AFM’s service team to their group,” he says. “AFM is working as a total partner with WCS and they know they will get our full support for aftersales service and spare parts availability in order to minimise any downtime or unplanned stoppages for their vehicle operation.”

He adds: “We are also bringing our 3S total support solution which includes providing the right fit of product at a competitive price, faster delivery time and availability for units; and our unrivalled aftersales support in terms of service, spare parts availability, with 24/7 road assistant whenever it is required.”

The contracts with Tadweer cover two of the biggest areas (in terms of square kilometres) in Abu Dhabi with the trucks from Hino deployed with the vital task of waste collection and transportation, as well as cleaning operations. Rmeily explains that fleet purchasing always starts by first defining client and operational requirements specified in the tender. Afterall, a client like Tadweer will need to approve the trucks utilised for their project ahead of awarding a contract.

“As a company that is certified against ISO international standards, our purchasing procedures are based on documented processes from our with a QMS (quality management system). The entire process is being managed by our Purchasing Department under the direction of the general manager.”

He expands: “The usual evaluation of prospective suppliers of compliant trucks applies with high consideration of the defined criteria to come up with the final decision. Aside from valuing our client’s requirements; we must consider all aspects of the projects we manage: from the scope of services to the characteristics of the service area and all operational strategies befitting the requirements.

“The process of purchasing of these vehicles has been rigorous; undergoing series of evaluations before we came up to the final decision. All client requirements are major considerations in choosing too. And prior to final purchasing, we assessed all the specifications and capabilities of the HINO trucks offered to us and matched them with the requirements,” he explains.

Ramez Hamdan adds that the HINO light, medium and heavy trucks suited most of WCS’ needs in terms of the required dimensions and loads specified by Tadweer.

“HINO is really the only brand that could fulfil the requirement for light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks. WCS also analysed and recognised our advantages in terms of lower operational costs due to HINO’s EURO4 engine which has the advantage of not needing an additional tank for Ad-Blue,” says Hamdan, before adding the variety in the full range of HINO trucks gave his company the upper hand in terms of faster delivery times.

“Even on the units with more specialist specifications, we were able to reach out to HINO in Japan and they were able to quickly turnaround production to satisfy WSCs own commitment to start operating the trucks to a deadline.”

While the two companies pawed through Tadweer’s requirements they were able to bring in a third party, and one of the world’s leading trailer companies, to match the demanding specifications and handle bodybuilding on trucks in the UAE – Gorica Group.

“You always want to be able to make it easier for your customer to outsource their spare parts and service from one source under one roof,” Hamdan explains. “Gorica worked with us to streamline the costs and do the job faster in terms of providing all the required support on technical information and build the customised bodies required for trucks over several applications; with the advantage of using existing stock on the ground.”

Hamdan stresses once again that, beyond the trucks themselves, it was a strategy based on maximising uptime that proved decisive for both WCS’ final selection and its securing of its two latest major contracts.

“This is a truly sustainable partnership. Our efforts to minimise downtime and ensure truck stock availability was a major benefit particularly for the second LOT 5 tender which required 90 units. With the first LOT 3 batch of 130 units we delivered a total of more than 220 units trucks all on time. Going forwards we will be supporting the operation by providing our ECO driving training and technical support information for their drivers. This means that they will not only be successful and safe drivers but WCS will benefit from minimal downtime for the vehicles and cost savings for the operation.”

WCS’ Dany Rmeily adds: “We are confident that our team and HINO’s vehicles are up to the challeng. The same process shall continue to be implemented in future purchasing requirements.”

The new trucks arrive into a fleet of existing medium to heavy trucks which form a reliable core for the operation. Rmeily says that through the company’s extensive and long years of experience in the industry, it has learned that vehicles in this class offer better and more efficient service delivery and are the most cost-effective for its clients.

“We need trucks which are heavy-duty and dependable,” he remarks. “The performance in the field is what counts the most. Bigger trucks means bigger capacities; and bigger capacities equates to lesser trips and improved truck uptime. This makes everything cost-effective, environmently-friendly and sustainable.”

Real-time data and uptime are hugely important to a company which must meet rigorous standards in terms of service delivery and sustainable transportation. Migrating the new trucks into WCS’ fleet management system has been reassuringly straightforward, he remarks and then adds: “Integration of the database management system with the hardware specifications of HINO trucks had been smooth so far, there have been no issues encountered.”

The easy transition has been important during a time where fleet operators and drivers have earned the status of key workers and proved vital in keeping the UAE’s cities and economy moving. As is the case for many fleets, the events of the past six months have brought the need for additional working hours for WCS’s trucks from “time to time” beyond regular and projected services, says Rmeily.

“The recent throttling to global economic stability has brought about by the unprecedented impact of the pandemic in all countries even in the UAE. Despite the stricter requirements for health and safety, WCS has resolutely endeavoured to bring value at the forefront of waste management while keeping the highest standard of quality of services,” he says firmly.

“As this is expected to continue in the succeeding years, this is a great challenge for us as a service provider. The reliability of the HINO trucks shall be of substantial advantage to us in terms of cost-effectiveness and operational performance. We do not anticipate any delay or interruption in our operations as the trucks are serving their best purpose at all times.”

The talk of the future allows us to look at the changing regulation and rules which helped Abu Dhabi reduce the total waste collected from 2,259,508.64 tonnes in 2018 to 2,189,416.90 tonnes in 2019. The drop represents a decrease of 3.10% and the emirate, led by Tadweer, remains committed to minimising waste and improving waste management practices in line with the highest global standards and latest technologies. WCS is likewise constantly evolving to keep pace with its client’s green ambitions.

“We have always perceived any change in rules as a welcomed opportunity to be better. Anything that would improve the operations and the service delivery overall is recognised as an advantage to enhance business strategies from our day-to-day operations to plans for the future,” says Rmeily. “As Abu Dhabi gears towards modernisation and optimisation of waste management services, WCS will be in the front row; offering advanced and sustainable solutions while incorporating the use of technology in our operations.”

He continues: “If there are three things that essentially contributes to the success of the Company, that would be firstly the genuine desire and commitment to service – we always strive to put the client’s needs first by finding the most efficient and appropriate solutions.

“Secondly, we always considering the value-for-money not just for our benefit, but that of the client’s as well. Thirdly openness and honesty are the major foundations in building and keeping the great business relationships we have with our clients and even with suppliers.”

Looking ahead, AFM’s commercial vehicles managing director Ramez Hamdan says he expects the two companies to continue to build on their impressive start.

“We are always keen about extending our relationships with all of customers. WSC is one of our biggest fleet customers in waste management applications with more than 220 HINO trucks,” says Ramez Hamdan. “And we are looking forward to supporting them on any new projects awarded to them. Ultimately, we view our customers as true partners. We care about their daily operation. Their success is our success too!”