Fleet News

A green focus pays dividends

THE Sainsbury's store in Greenwich offers a clear sign to customers that being green means more than stocking organic produce.

Towering above the car park, a series of flagpoles carry Sainsbury's distinctive orange logo, but topping these are state-of-the-art wind turbines and solar cells.

They generate enough renewable energy to power the store signs at night and provide an example of the fresh and innovative thinking that stretches from the store floor to the company fleet.

In 2000, the firm became one of the first companies in the UK to make a specific public commitment to continuing to improve its environmental performance as part of the Government's 'Making a Corporate Commitment' campaign, including a reduction in CO2 emissions.

However, when you are serving more than 10 million customers a week, all demanding fresh food, taking steps to be green tend to take a back seat, particularly where the critical role of the fleet in providing goods is concerned.

For Keith Filby, group services manager, combining the pressure of daily deadlines and keeping running costs low with a clear focus on environmental issues has become a way of life and clinched him this year's BP- sponsored Fleet News Fleet Environmental Award.

His efforts range from an almost paperless working environment at his offices to developing bespoke vehicles for his fleet that combine cleanliness with the essentials to do key jobs. Sainsbury has about 2,200 vehicles on its fleet, including cars supplied by Godfrey Davis (Contract Hire) which cover an average of 66 million miles a year, consuming £2.3 million-worth of fuel and costing £12 million to run.

Filby is driven by a company transport commitment to 'increase the efficiency of transporting our products and address employee and customer travel, with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions, while achieving customer satisfaction and business growth'.

This includes a major investment in 180 LPG-powered light vans, used as part of the firm's internet home delivery operation. Filby said: 'We keep our systems simple in line with the company philosophy of smarter, simpler, together. The more complex a system is, the more likely it is to be out-of- date, difficult to administer and slow to respond to change.'

Using an electronic fleet management system for all aspects of the fleet has allowed Filby to introduce new measures, such as a vehicle reallocation policy, recycling vehicles instead of using spot hire, saving hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The working life of Sainsbury cars has also been extended, from four-years/ 70,000-miles to four years/90,000-miles, saving a quarter of a million pounds a year. Electric trolley collection vehicles were developed and introduced by the fleet department, replacing existing petrol vehicles at store sites.

Filby said: 'The vehicles we were using were coming to the end of their useful life and we decided to look at how to replace them based on the cost to the environment and their operational costs.'

A Sainsbury store in London is also taking part in the Th!nk electric vehicle project. Filby added: 'There is a strong environmental commitment at Sainsbury's that looks at green initiatives.

'Essential car users have the option of using LPG, although we have no targets for take-up. Once the drivers understand the saving to the business and the benefit to themselves, we believe many will take LPG on.'

The Fleet News Awards judges said: 'There is an overarching environmental focus in Filby's work that ensures, despite the pressurised demands of running a large fleet, the environment is still considered a key factor when making policy decisions.'

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