Improvements to safety and productivity that clients “couldn’t afford not to use” were critical to judges naming this year’s Equipment Supplier of the Year.
AFI was chosen for what judges described as the “stand-out submission”, based on its SmartZone product, which controls access to mobile elevating work platforms for contractors and operators.
SmartZone works by forcing an operator to swipe their approved smart card across the unit on the MEWP, creating a record of who has used a particular machine and who may have tried to access it without authorisation.
This not only reduced safety risks, but also enabled contractors to save money by monitoring how and when machines were being used, offering them the choice of reducing the overall volume of machines on site at any given time.
The system also uses a ‘geofence’ whereby if machines are driven out of designated areas, they will not restart once they have been locked or shut down.
AFI says it has trialled the product with BAE Systems at the Portsmouth Naval Base and the client is now looking to use it on sites across the UK.
“A stand-out solution that will contribute to making work on sites safer by ensuring trained operatives only use plant and machinery in the right location and manner”
Judges said the product provided a “solution that will contribute to making operational work safer by ensuring operatives only use plant and machinery in the right fashion, location and manner”.
AFI has also excelled in other areas, including its commitment to training and diversity, and was awarded gold status in the Investors in People scheme in November 2014.
The assessor’s report hailed the company as “a truly cutting-edge organisation operating at the very highest levels of people management practice”.
Overall, judges were left with the difficult task of awarding the top prize after scoring several companies within a whisker of the overall winner.
Entrants ranged from Crossrail suppliers to start-ups with fewer than 10 full-time staff and the competition was fierce, with outstanding approaches to training and innovation across the board.
While judges felt some firms lacked a ‘wow’ factor, despite proving the value of their offering, they were unanimous in agreeing AFI deserved to take home this year’s prize.
Highly Commended: Siltbuster
Siltbuster was highly commended among a strong field for providing a safety solution that judges praised as a potential flagbearer in the industry.
The Siltbuster pHD product uses CO2, rather than acid, to transform how contractors dispose of highly polluting wastewater generated during concreting.
The CO2 gas neutralises the high pH of concrete water and reduces costs to contractors by up to 80 per cent, while also removing health and safety hazards of handling acids.
The judges hailed the innovative method of reducing the likelihood of serious health and safety incidents.
Altrad Beaver 84
Doka UK Formwork Technologies