Question: what are your fleet priorities for 2014?
The main priority for fleets is to renew focus on risk management and driver safety. This issue rose up the agenda following the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter Act in 2008 but was superseded by the economic recession and changing company priorities.
Now it’s firmly back on the strategic map, says fleets.
“We are looking to make more sense of our telematics data,” said one fleet manager. “At the moment we act on exception reports, particularly for speeding, but we want to use the data for CO2 usage and fuel consumption – there is an amazing difference between driver performances.”
He is also considering introducing rev limiters – the fleet is already speed limited – and implementing driver training to specifically tackle rear-end accidents.
“Risk and fuel have to be managed more effectively – they are the biggest improvements that can be made,” added another fleet manager. “We are launching a new plan on fuel where managers oversee the programme and challenge drivers using green-amber-red on their behaviour. It hasn’t worked by us doing it centrally with toolbox talks, etc. so we will start using the management structure.”
One fleet called on manufacturers to assist with risk management policies by following Volvo’s lead in making CitySafe-style braking systems standard on new models. “It definitely helps to prevent accidents – I know from personal experience,” he said.
Another fleet has identified a significant issue with vehicle over-loading, pointing out that drivers do not have the knowledge or awareness to realise when their vehicle is potentially too heavy.
“We are putting weigh scales on vehicles to protect the driver,” he said.
Why are fleets increasing their emphasis on safety now?
“We have always been looking at it and tried different things, but many of them haven’t worked,” said one.
Another added: “Costs are escalating so the company is now asking us to focus on this area.”
It isn’t always straight-forward, however. Investment in training tends to be a longer-term gain in terms of cost reduction, which can be difficult to get through the board. A robust argument committing to future reductions needs to be presented in order to get buy-in.
Two fleet managers were looking at e-tendering – neither in the public sector where eAuctions were launched last year.
“We already do e-tendering on paper and we are looking at extending it to plant and possibly vehicles as well,” said one. “We’ve had spectacular results; it puts pressure on suppliers to come up with the best price.”
Unbundling of services from the leasing contract is an area coming into the spotlight for many fleets. At the Fleet200 meeting, one fleet had it as a major priority for 2014.
“We have already unbundled windscreens from the leasing contract and that is halving costs – the mark up from the leasing company is often twice or more the actual price; it’s not a proportionate margin,” said the fleet manager. “We are also looking at tyres and SMR – it’s extraordinary prices that we are having to pay.
“We have unbundled fuel from the leasing deal and that is also giving us significant savings.”
Another fleet manager has already unbundled a number of services on his commercial vehicle fleet. “We had a number of issues with the leasing company not able to supply like-for-like replacement vehicles when ours were off the road,” he said.
“We don’t do it for cars because we already have a number of completing suppliers and we take the best rentals.”