Bibby Distribution, which joined the Menzies Distribution group of companies in December 2020, has been providing logistics and supply chain services for over 35 years, with its fleet reaching unprecedented levels of efficiency, reliability and safety in 2019.

Scooping the 2020 MT Technical Excellence Award last October, the company, now formally renamed Menzies Distribution Solutions (MDS), attributes this success to a powerful combination of innovation, technology and staff engagement across the entire operation.

The new MDS, together with Menzies Distribution, operates from 100 UK locations, employs almost 5,000 staff, and services sectors including consumer, paper and packaging, industrial, and food and drink.

It delivers more than 1.3 billion drinks cans each year – 20 cans for every person in the UK – as well as 350 million sq m of cardboard every year.

Despite its fleet travelling 90 million kms in 2019, it still managed to reduce its CO2 emissions by 5%. In fact it has reduced its net carbon emissions by 10% in just five years.

Other achievements in 2019 included an average 99.9% uptime, consistent green OCRS in multiple traffic regions, and a reduction in RIDDORs and lost-time accidents (LTAs) by almost one-third (30%).

Annual test pass rates are well above the national average, whilst the business has also seen what it describes as a “meteoric rise” in driver performance standards.

The MDS fleet comprises 450 vehicles and 1,250 trailers, predominantly high-cube curtainsiders, with around 200 specialist food-grade tankers.


Led by fleet and procurement director Adam Purshall, the business adopts a cradle-to-grave approach for its vehicles that covers sourcing and procurement through to life management and maintenance, finishing with asset disposal.

The fleet team is focused, agile and experienced, with many colleagues being skilled at every level of the business with a cross-functional operational background.

All asset maintenance is managed by third-party main dealerships on fully inclusive repair and maintenance contracts.

Strong partnerships have been forged with preferred maintenance businesses over a number of years to secure the safety and reliability of fleet assets.

Bibby Distribution Adam Purshall

Purshall, pictured, tells MT the decision to outsource maintenance has been “really successful for us”, particularly working with third parties that have invested significantly in specialist workshop equipment to maintain complex new vehicle technology.

“We work very closely in terms of our expectations and how we can move forward on fleet compliance together,” he says. “Our approach is absolutely about being compliant and robust in how we maintain assets, and not just about cost control.”

The business now operates its fleet on a standard three-year replacement cycle to ensure it has a constant stream of new vehicles using the latest technology and providing optimum fuel efficiency.

“This works on many levels for us,” says Purshall. “For driver engagement, driver retention and recruitment, it is certainly effective; but also for minimising downtime, with some fantastic stats on this front because we keep investing in a new fleet.

“This has been a really successful strategy for us,” he adds.

Vehicles are typically leased, although some of the more specialist assets, particularly in the tanker division, are bought outright.

In 2015, the former Bibby Distribution set out its ‘Road to Zero’ strategy – an ambitious plan to deliver zero harm, zero waste and zero environmental impact across its operations. To deliver on this ambition, Purshall’s team works in collaboration with the Safety, Health, Environment and Quality team and the Operations team to ensure a safety-first approach across the operation.

In its awards entry, the company was able to demonstrate how it had beaten its initial 10% reduction target in accidents and incidents threefold – reducing RIDDORs and LTAs by a third in 2019, and by a total of 75% since 2015.

This has been achieved by a series of company-wide initiatives, with both technology and staff engagement playing a major role.

The roll-out of Microlise telematics in 2016 has produced consistent improvements in driver behaviour and scores, with the average grade of the firm’s drivers boosted from 1.3% grade A in 2016 to 57.7% by the end of 2019.

This has been combined with a £1m investment in forward and inward facing in-cab cameras and Purshall says the cultural impact of evidence-based analysis has been “phenomenal”.

The next step in this continuous drive to boost compliance is the installation of left-hand-turn sensors as standard across the whole fleet to comply with Direct Vision Standard requirements.

MDS is now also introducing technology in the form of a mobile tablet device in cabs to aid drivers with electronic walk-around checks, guide them through their workload for the day, and for e-document storage.


“DVSA Earned Recognition is definitely on our roadmap for the next 12 months,” says Purshall. “And this technology is part of that step forward now, particularly electronic pre-use checks and full electronic document management.”

Engagement campaign

Staff buy-in, particularly from drivers, has been the real key to the success in safety and compliance, he says.

“Although it’s my job to create the strategy, the leadership and the framework to manage these key areas, it needs everybody engaged in order to be able to deliver them,” explains Purshall.

“And I think that the engagement piece was probably the real standout catalyst that affected all the different areas.”

For example, when installing the in-cab cameras, the fleet management team spent a lot of time working with drivers and explaining how and why the company would use the technology to protect them.

“You don’t want it to be seen as a ‘spy in the cab’ – the technology is there to protect us as a business, and our drivers. And that took a lot of effort and a lot of time, but it absolutely did embed itself into the culture of the business that it was a positive thing and not a negative thing.”

Engaging with drivers is a key focus and successful campaigns have included fleet engagement sessions and a driver steering group encouraging employees to provide feedback. The success of these engagement sessions has since led to the formation of a driver committee allowing elected representatives to meet on a bi-monthly basis to help shape future fleet policy and test technology.

Keeping fleets on the road and legal is a fundamental task for any operator and the company has a robust top-down approach, with performance analysed at every executive board meeting.

It holds eight O-licences in different traffic regions, with its OCRS closely monitored every month. All are green, which the business is rightly proud of.

Tachograph infringements are monitored through Convey software, with tailored coaching provided for drivers and a system-driven escalation process to deal with repeated non-compliance. As a result, overall infringements rates more than halved from 3% in 2015 to an all-time low of 1.42% in 2019.

Ahead of the company’s plans to join the DVSA scheme later this year, it has activated a tachograph Earned Recognition module. DVSA targets are consistently beaten by a strong margin.

MOTs are also monitored monthly using DVSA data. The pass rate is above average and it has continuously improved its performance for the past five years. Any failures are fully investigated by the fleet team, and maintenance suppliers are required to commit to improvement actions to prevent reoccurrence.

Trailer MOT pass rates are managed in the same way and MDS has consistently achieved a 99% first-time pass rate for the past four years.

Proactive maintenance regimes, continual investment in technology and a three-year replacement policy all contribute to industry-leading uptime – a 99.9% average throughout 2019 – while VOR days are minimal, averaging 58 per month in 2019.

The time taken to carry out safety inspections and MOTS – from instruction to carrying out a maintenance event and online hosting of completed documentation – is closely managed and a KPI for the fleet team.

Judges’ opinion

When judging the entries for the 2020 Technical Excellence Award, MT’s judges were particularly impressed by the company’s strong determination and commitment to reliability, efficiency and safety-first mindset.

“The submission demonstrates very high levels of legal compliance, roadworthiness and excellent annual test first-time pass rates,” said one.

On winning the award last year, Purshall tells MT: “It was absolutely fantastic to receive industry recognition for all the hard work and commitment the team put in.

“Technical excellence is something we pride ourselves on, and we have invested a lot of time and focus maximising our compliance, efficiency and innovation.

“To win this award against such worthy finalists is an incredible honour, and welcome recognition for our hard-working and dedicated team, who strive for excellence on a daily basis."