With a raft of construction projects for the £56bn new high speed HS2 rail line due to get underway in 2019, a Yorkshire vehicle safety specialist has seen a surge in business and is predicting over 150 new orders this year. Leeds-based SM UK’s new contracts are a result of contractor firms ensuring they fulfil the rigorous safety criteria required by the Government in order to work on HS2.
SM UK, which designs and installs on-board vehicle safety technology, including its award winning HALO cyclist detection system, has been accredited by the national Fleet Operators Recognition Scheme (FORS) to help businesses with fleets of vehicles improve their safety standards in line with regulations. Vehicles working on HS2, Crossrail and other government projects must meet FORS safety standards before contractors can be appointed to work on the schemes.
From its new £2m vehicle conversion centre in Leeds, last year SM UK helped 72 businesses, with fleets of up to 50 trucks, to comply with the stringent FORS safety standards and the firm’s managing director Steve MacDonald expects the number of contracts to exceed 150 firms over the next 12 months.
“We saw a steep escalation in the number of orders in the last couple of months of 2018, and the demand is already increasing again as we start the new year,” said Mr MacDonald. “Our Leeds conversion centre and team of auto engineers are equipped to deal simultaneously with multiple fit outs, and we are likely to be recruiting new staff in the coming months if the HS2 momentum continues, as we fully expect it to.”
He added: “There is also a growing trend among smaller, local companies to invest in vehicle safety systems in order to bring them up to the gold, silver and bronze FORS standards. From what our SME clients tell us, they are aiming to keep up with their larger competitors: the big firms are in effect becoming vehicle safety influencers for small businesses.
“Ultimately this means that our roads and construction sites are becoming safer, with more HGVs fitted with safety systems that give the driver 360 degree visibility, and warn pedestrians and cyclists when vehicles are turning.”
SM UK employs 55 people across its Leeds headquarters and nationwide fleet of mobile engineers, and can accommodate up to 16 vehicles at its 10,000 sq ft Leeds van conversion centre. Its HALO cyclist awareness system was shortlisted for the 2018 Brake Fleet Safety Awards.