23 May, 2022

Working under pressure

30 August, 2018

Hydralok’s Dan Keevill rides along with one of Bristol Hoses’s mobile repair engineers to find out more about life on the road.

I meet Jake on a Friday morning at Bristol Hose’s Avonmouth depot. Although I arrive a few minutes before our scheduled 8am start he has already been there for almost half an hour, arriving early to sort his van out as he does most days.

A waste collection lorry has broken down just outside Keynsham and the driver is stranded halfway through his round. He is pretty sure a hose is leaking. Within minutes Jake and I are on the road to Keynsham. Jake is part of Bristol Hose’s mobile repair engineer team. It covers Bristol and the surrounding area but can also be found travelling up and down the M5 to serve customers from Gloucester to Devon and beyond.

We find the lorry in the carpark of a carpet showroom with its front cab tilted all the way forward. We park up and suit up. Not all heroes wear capes, some of them wear class three fire retardant overalls in 28degC. It doesn’t take long to spot the problem; a one-inch braided hose connected to the air brake system has burst. However, today’s job isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Jake has to get under the lorry and take out the cooling system just to be able to get to the hose. In this line of work, getting things right takes time and today will prove to be a particularly good example of that.

We call head office to provide an update on our progress. It’s a longer job but we’re doing well for time; we’ve found the problem and will replace the damaged parts. Bristol Hose’s new vans are kitted out with a Hydralok H50 Mobile crimping machine and an HCL mobile cutter, as well as several reels and shelves of I.M.M Hydraulics hoses and fittings.

Driving the change

At the Avonmouth depot the working day is still whirring along. Service manager Craig Burchill oversees all the to-ing and fro-ing, dragging and dropping his mobile engineers onto jobs via Bristol Hose’s allocation software. This kind of technology is driving the change across the industry at the moment and this vantage point gives a great snapshot of how far Bristol Hose has come; each driver the company has added to its roster over the past few years is a new flashing coloured dot, covering more and more of the map to the north, south, east and west, serving more and more customers in every direction.

After a straightforward fix on a Bristol Council vehicle back at the depot, I head back to Hydralok and Jake is on standby for the next job in the area. My half-day ride-along gave me an interesting insight into the front line of the industry. Whichever way you look at it, to be a mobile engineer you’ve got to be able to hold your nerve under pressure. Or, as Jake puts it, “You’ve got to have the minerals.”


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