Gamestec has appointed AA DriveTech to deliver a series of driver workshops at its eight main depots throughout the country.
The workshop uses Votech audience response technology.
“It’s very interactive,” Kowalczyk says. “The drivers watch a video and then they are prompted to push a button on the Votech technology and then discuss it.” So far Gamestec is yet to see a reduction in its accident rate. But the rate has plateaued and Kowalczyk expects it to fall, once all drivers have been trained.
Fuel economy has been improving, month-on-month.
“We take the manufacturer’s mpg figure and work to 80% of that as a realistic achievement, and measure drivers based on that,” Kowalczyk says.
“If anyone is underperforming, we speak to them and make sure that the information is correct.
“Everyone who is above a figure we give a pat on the back. We don’t give them a financial reward but this year we will issue them with a letter of congratulations. It’s to keep them motivated to make sure they know it’s something that is important to the business.”
Kowalczyk has not ruled out introducing hybrid and electric vehicles to the fleet in the future, especially in light of the ultra-low emission zone in central London, which is set to be introduced in 2020.
“We’re constantly looking at hybrid and electric vehicles,” he says. “We’ve got people that work in central London so we’ve got our eye on the changes there.
“But it’s about finding the right vehicle at the right cost. We don’t want to move to hybrid and electric vehicles just as a bit of statement, we want to do it when it makes business sense and when it makes sense for the drivers as well.”
Each time Kowalczyk replaces vehicles he looks to reduce CO2 emissions.
In the past, the bulk of the car fleet was Vauxhall, with engineers using the Astra estate and collectors using the Corsa.
However, over the past couple of years these have been replaced with the Škoda Octavia estate and the Seat Ibiza.
The decision to switch was based on making sure vehicles were fit for purpose – and lowering emissions.
The shape of the latest Vauxhall Astra meant that Gamestec’s engineers could no longer fit all of their equipment in.
Kowalczyk also wanted a vehicle with emissions below 100g/km.
“It was the same with the collector vehicles; we wanted something more efficient,” he says.
“Every time we change a vehicle we look to push down the CO2 as much as possible – but to make sure it is fit for purpose, too.”
Gamestec’s cars are on contract hire, with maintenance.
Every time Gamestec needs a vehicle or batch of vehicles, it gets a quote from three providers: Arnold Clark, TCH and Marshall Leasing. The bulk of the car fleet is currently with Arnold Clark.
The 90 commercial vehicles – half of which are 3.5 tonne Luton vans (with tail-lift), along with car-derived vans and standard panel vans – are all on flexi-lease arrangements, predominantly with Reflex.
The vans are kept for three or four years and the decision to use rental, rather than contract hire, is based on price, not flexibility.
“We have always used flexible rental suppliers, purely because of the rate we get,” Kowalczyk says.
“We have priced up contract hire and it doesn’t work out any cheaper.
“We work closely with Reflex on building new vans and increasing payload so we can get more machines on the van.”
All of the vans from Reflex have telematics devices fitted and Kowalczyk is making use of the the data produced to monitor driver’s speeding events.
“We’ve not ruled out fitting telematics in cars but that’s not something we’ve invested in,” he says.
“It’s a big cost and we need to make sure we can do something with the information.”
Tackling a £25,000 parking fines bill
Gamestec drivers racked up £25,000 in parking fines last year, due to the nature of their work.
“We have to park in town centres, and loading areas are getting like gold dust,” Peter Kowalczyk says. “Some of the tickets we get are because drivers are in a loading bay, but the parking attendant does not see them loading or unloading. That’s because the driver takes the machine into the site, but then they have to install the machine and get back to the van.”
In some instances, Gamestec has successfully appealed – last year it was successful with 42% of the fines it contested – but Kowalczyk wants drivers to place a sign in the vehicle to explain that they are at a site nearby, delivering and installing a machine.
Another issue, with some councils, is that loading and unloading is only permitted during certain hours, so Gamestec is now planning its drops to ensure they fall within those hours.
Kowalczyk has updated the driver handbook to include information on what not to do, issues drivers need to be aware of and what the parking fine process is.