From cherry pickers to mobile eco welfare units, Kelling Group’s specialist fleet delivers excellence 

As a prominent player in the market, Kelling Group Ltd (Kelling) is the UK’s largest fully maintained hire and lease provider of mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs) and eco welfare units. The company’s extensive specialist fleet of equipment caters to a range of infrastructure focussed industries and sectors, ensuring efficient and safe solutions for various projects. With a strong commitment to customer satisfaction, Kelling offers hire and flexible leasing options and timely maintenance services to keep operations running smoothly, minimising downtime on critical projects. Its expertise in providing top-quality, specialist eco efficient equipment, coupled with a strong focus on safety and reliability, has solidified its position as a trusted partner for businesses across the country. CEO, Stephen Moore, provides insight into the company’s evolution.

“The business was established about 15 years ago and with a very clear strategy in mind. After investigating the market, we decided to specialise in the hire of MEWPs that would enable customers to work safely at height. We observed that while there were several providers in the market, their assets were quite old, provided by generalist hire businesses, and required significant maintenance due to the demanding nature of the work. When these assets break down, it results in significant downtime and higher cost for clients. Thus, our aim was to provide the best and most innovative equipment, employ and train the best specialist workforce in the UK and ensure they were providing an excellent service and customer experience. If an asset malfunctioned, our aim was to swiftly replace it and offer 24/7 assistance to ensure seamless work for our clients, minimising disruption and cost of downtime. Starting from modest beginnings and with only a handful of machines, we gradually grew over a period of seven-to-eight years, reaching 500-to-600 assets, making us a reasonably sized business in the UK. At that stage, we sought external funding through a long-term infrastructure focussed investment partner, Astatine, who, along with our supportive banking partners, injected further capital and funding for growth into the business. We recognised the long-term dynamics of the market, such as street lighting contracts, power, council work, and more recently, overhead fibre installation, which will all continue to grow due to the ongoing need in the UK, not only for growth, but ongoing maintenance requirements.

At the forefront of the industry
However, we also contemplated new business opportunities. We identified the welfare industry as a potential area with similar underlying market dynamics in sectors such as rail, highways, civils, and non-cyclical construction. Customer needs and frustrations were the same as previously experienced: an underserved market, with ageing incumbent static assets, costly downtime, poor customer experience, and strict compliance requirements to fulfil. Our goal was to provide a first-to-market, highly eco-friendly solution that minimises CO2 emissions, maximises CO2 savings, and reduces fuel usage, as well as overall costs for the customer.

“Consequently, Kelling became the first company to provide a mobile highly eco efficient welfare service, which was quite extraordinary. Traditionally, the market had been served by large static units, which used old and ageing technology and required expensive and inefficient transportation by HGVs across the country. Additionally, the generators used to run all day every day, consuming significant amounts of fuel, with no solar or efficient battery technology to reduce emissions. Recognising an opportunity to offer something different, we entered an exclusive partnership with a manufacturer to develop a new product. Thus, we introduced our first mobile asset that can be easily transported using an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) compliant four-by-four vehicle. It can be detached from the towing hitch, dropped at the desired location, and seamlessly integrated into the environment. The generators operate on-demand, significantly reducing fuel consumption compared to traditional assets. Furthermore, solar panels were integrated into the design. Beyond the environmental benefits, the new units provided an improved working environment for employees, including clean and spacious canteen and toilet facilities, thereby elevating their experience. We have also expanded our welfare fleet from a mere ten units to around 2500 mobile eco units and lithium lights within a ten-year period. The latest generation welfare assets have further evolved to become even more efficient with real time telemetry to analyse fuel, solar, and battery usage, improved and extended solar and lithium battery power technology, and rainwater harvesting systems.

“The combined fleet of the business today has reached approximately 4000 assets, with in excess of £30 million investment in new fleet every year. Presently, our business operates as a fleet of specialist products backed up by a knowledgeable and experienced operations service team, always striving to remain at the forefront of the industry,” he informs.

Demonstrable benefits
Continuously working towards improving carbon efficiency, Kelling places a strong emphasis on sustainability. “We have always maintained a strong strategy to ensure that we provide the best assets that can perform in the most energy efficient manner. For example, on the access side, we make sure that the machines we use are latest generation and as fuel-efficient as possible. In fact, Kelling was the first company in the UK to launch and offer fully electric MEWPs. However, as we are an industry specialist, we do advise our clients on the best asset to meet their specific requirements. For example, on rural fibre installations where significant miles are required to be covered, an efficient diesel option with latest generation chassis will likely be the most appropriate. Equally, for council work or FM maintenance in a ULEZ inner city zone, full electric may work as they have a range of around 100 miles before requiring overnight charging. We also have hybrid options we can offer and advise on. In our welfare fleet our advanced telemetry systems allow us to track solar, lithium battery, or fuel usage and schedule accurate maintenance timings. This allows us to prove the actual carbon and financial savings with reduced fuel consumption and servicing costs to our clients. We have 15 years’ worth of data to prove the effectiveness of our assets to any potential customer. I believe that having an asset that may be slightly cheaper to rent or lease, but is not fuel-efficient or eco-friendly is not worthwhile,” he adds. “The overall cost of use and the eco credentials need to be fully understood and we have the historical empirical data and expertise to advise clients and prove demonstrable CO2 reduction and fuel savings – no one else in the industry can do this to this extent.”

Exceptional service
As a closing thought, Stephen discusses the business’ long-term strategy. “The plan is to double the business again over the next five-to-six years, with growth in our existing core offering and also with some more new, innovative market disrupting assets. Our specialist assets, expertise, and reputation have driven demand for our services. While our superior and innovative equipment is essential, so too is excellent customer service. It is one thing to purchase an asset, but ensuring its timely deployment and addressing any servicing or maintenance issues that may arise is crucial. We have a specialist team of experienced individuals who have been with us for 15 years and who know how to quickly resolve any problem to get our clients up and running again quickly. Thus, our primary focus will remain on delivering exceptional services to our existing clients, and ensuring they receive the attention they rightly deserve,” he ends.

Through dedication to its clients and constant innovations in sustainability, Kelling is poised to continue partnering with and empowering businesses throughout the UK to conduct their operations safely, seamlessly and in the most eco efficient way.