With manpower a costly part of any operation, farmers are relying more and more on technology and mechanisation, but that transformation only works if the equipment involved is reliable. For those occasions when it isn’t – or better still, to keep it well maintained throughout its working life – farmers need to be able to call on skilled and qualified engineers.
With a name that sums up exactly what it does, Paddock Wood-based Tudor Multi Services is the answer to virtually every question when it comes to electrical and mechanical maintenance, as well as refurbishments, hygiene cleaning, installing barriers and other safety equipment and carrying out general repairs.
The company’s broad range of skills means it can look after cold store plant, grain store machinery, electrically operated doors, dock levellers, air conditioning and barrier systems – and more.
And while James Tumber and Tudor Petcu are well known for the work they have carried out on farms in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, they have also earned national recognition on projects such as the new Amazon site at Tilbury.
Tudor Multi Services is currently installing edge protection, kick plates and barrier systems throughout the 2.2m sq. ft building, which is set to be the largest fulfilment centre in Europe.
“It takes our guys ten minutes just to walk from where they are working to the main building entrance, which is where they have to recharge their drill batteries,” commented James. “It’s a massive project and we are proud to be playing an important part in it.”
Back home in Kent, the company’s Paddock Wood headquarters reflects its close links with fruit importer, packer and distributor Mack. The company values the round-the-clock maintenance service provided by Tudor Multi Services so much that it provides James and Tudor with office space as part of the deal.
“We won the contract to look after the refrigeration, ripening rooms and air conditioning plant here at Mack, but once they realised we had more to offer they quickly took advantage of the fact,” James explained. “Now we also do the hygiene cleaning and look after the air handling equipment as well as installing new roller doors, fitting barrier systems and recladding.”
The company has just finished a major refurbishment at the Mack site, turning an old canteen into new locker rooms and replacing floors, walls, ceilings and cladding in the process, as well as installing new energy efficient LED lighting. Phase two involved creating new office space and an agency staff check-in area in place of the old locker rooms.
The refurbishment needed a flexible approach, as the area being altered sits directly underneath management offices. “We carried out all the drilling and other noisy work after office hours or overnight to avoid disruption,” Tudor recalled. “This is a busy, complex site and we had to make sure that the refurbishment didn’t get in the way of production.”
Facilities manager Sue Leeves, who drew up the refurbishment scheme in conjunction with Tudor Multi Services, was impressed with both the work and the way it was carried out.
“As always, the standard of workmanship was superb and the team was very professional, courteous and considerate,” she said. “With people working close to the area being refurbished it was vital that the work was done flexibly and that’s what Tudor Multi Services did. “We have a lot of important visitors here and you can’t hold meetings with drilling and banging going on in the background.”
While tackling the refurbishment, the company continued its routine maintenance of the refrigeration, heating, controlled atmosphere and other systems at the busy Mack HQ, helping to keep the company’s time-sensitive operations on track.
The team showed its engineering skills by fitting new hinge pins to a 20 year-old dock leveller and then welding it back in place, saving the company the major expense of replacing the equipment. “A lot of companies would have just replaced it, but we have the skills to carry out repairs that others would find too challenging,” James commented.
Those skills extend to repairing and maintaining less challenging pieces of equipment – including seemingly innocuous but potentially deadly electric farm gates.
“Electric gates can be dangerous and there is legislation that requires owners to make sure they are properly maintained,” explained James. “A lot of farmers don’t realise that, but if something goes wrong it can be expensive. One company ended up with a £500,000 fine and £108,000 in costs after a gate failed and killed a delivery driver.
“Tudor Multi Services is Gate Safe registered and can carry out annual maintenance to make sure gates are safe and legal.”
The company can also install, repair and – importantly – maintain racking systems. “Again, it’s vitally important to inspect racking systems regularly as they can become unsafe, particularly if there are changes to the building,” Tudor commented.
The company is currently working hard to keep up with the demand for new electrically operated sectional doors, roller shutters and personnel doors, with the Tudor Multi Services order book up 300% over last year.
New 4.5m electric roller shutter doors were part of work to upgrade cold stores at Soles Hill Farm, Chilham, for owner Michael Burke, while the company has also recently completed a project to upgrade 13 banana ripening rooms for a Hertfordshire customer who wanted remote, online access to his control rooms.
“While we carry out a lot of refurbishment and installation work, our primary skill sets are in electrical and mechanical maintenance and we specialise in control systems and refrigeration,” said James.
The ten full-time staff employed by Tudor Multi Services are fully trained in forklift and scissor lift operation, health and safety requirements and other areas.
Even when it comes to what may look like more routine work, such as hygiene cleaning, Tudor Multi Services keeps the task in-house to make sure it uses staff with the right skills and training.
“When you are working with chemicals and pressure and dealing with sensitive equipment, you need to know what you are doing,” explained Tudor. “You need to be able to isolate the equipment, know how to reset it afterwards and make sure that the cleaning doesn’t cause any issues with the systems.
“It may seem straightforward, but we have a duty to our customers and we make sure out teams get it right.” That attention to detail played a part in the company’s successful bid for a new contract to hygiene clean 53 ripening rooms in Stansted for banana importers Winfresh UK.
And it’s not just about fruit. “We also look after grain stores and it wouldn’t be the first time I have found myself at the top of a silo fixing an agitator,” commented James.
“We offer a one-stop solution, so whether it’s replacing a light fitting in a tractor barn or a complete refurbishment, Tudor Multi Services can help.”