28 Aug 2020

Case study: Nationwide compressor maintenance for Royal Mail

Case study: Nationwide compressor maintenance for Royal Mail
Royal Mail handles 26 million items passing through their mail centres each day. With 40,000 items sorted per hour by flat sorting machines, compressed air is critical to their operations.

There are 27 flat sorting machines across the country for A4 sized letters, and with only one in each operation this is a single point of failure. Powered by compressors which run 24/7, there should always be a standby compressor. If both compressors breakdown, no mail can be fed, and this process must then be completed manually, which is costly and inefficient.


Compressed air plays a vital role in the day-to-day success of operations. So, when Royal Mail needed a reliable and cost-effective supplier, they went to market for competitive tendering.

Manoj Vadher, Head of Engineering Reliability and People Development explained: ‘I’m in charge of all 3rd party contracts, but at times I spend more time managing the contractors than my own engineers.’

‘We experienced recurring issues including failure to attend site following the initial call, expensive repair bills and multiple compressors stopping on single sites. This ultimately halted our production.’

‘I visited Direct Air’s stand at Maintec and discussed their compressor maintenance packages. We then invited them to tender.’

Manoj and Royal Mail expected an informed SLA which considered their geographical reach. With 30 compressed air systems ranging from Glasgow to Exeter, the response times had to be accountable for all sites.


Direct Air were able to offer a wide package of solutions including:

  • Inclusive contract with total care plan covering all costs.
  • Remote telemetry which monitors the activity of customers compressors, enabling Direct Air to know if a compressor has broken down before a customer.
  • 4-hour on site target from callout.
  • Planned overhaul work.
  • Stockholding of spares specifically for Royal Mail contract.
  • Monthly & quarterly reporting of performance.

Manoj Vadher explained:

“I liked what I saw from the proposal from Direct Air. There were visible KPIs set up, there was a personal touch due to the size of the company and I trusted the quality of the customer service.”

“And with all credit to Allan and Will, they have delivered on their promises! The communication is excellent with planned maintenance, detailed job sheets and data.”

Since the start of the contract in 2015, Royal Mail have only lost production once which was within the first 24 hours, and that was due to failure of a component fitted previously.

Manoj Vadher concluded:

“We even stopped requesting reporting after the first 6 months. We don’t experience any problems anymore; I trust Will and Direct Air.”

“Direct Air are one of the best supplier contracts I have ever signed. They have taken away all the previous worries, hassles and problems.”

Allan Dolby, Managing Director, commented:

“We take great pride in being able to say that we are a supplier to Royal Mail. From the early discussions, it was clear that Royal Mail needed confidence that we could provide excellent levels of service to all their UK facilities.”

“We installed remote monitoring technology that provides instant feedback for any site issues. We’ve implemented a preventative maintenance program that has delivered excellent levels of system reliability. The service contract has run extremely well, and we are pleased that Royal Mail continues to place its faith in Direct Air as its UK service provider for their compressed air systems.”

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