Fleet News

Green transport: Management is key to green fleet success

THE first step towards a cleaner company begins with good fleet management. That is the message from the Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme, which has launched a new campaign to encourage companies to 'think green'.

It is calling for firms to create transport and environmental management systems that monitor a company's travel requirements and fuel use, then actively manage them to reduce cost and help the environment.

The cornerstone of any attempt to save money and reduce emissions is the direct support of company executives, but just as important is understanding what you control as a fleet manager.

Advice from the EEBPP on creating so-called environmental management systems lists five key areas affecting car and van fleets that have to be tackled - commuting, business travel, visitor travel, deliveries and fleet vehicles.

For each area, managers need to know or be able to accurately estimate the level of transport demand they have before starting work, following the well-known business mantra 'what you can't measure you can't manage'.

For example, in looking at fleet vehicles, the EEBPP says: 'The number of transport operations which form part of the organisation's business activities may initially be estimated on the basis of the number of fleet vehicles owned or operated by the organisation.

'Log book records, fuel consumption data and mileage records would allow for a more accurate estimate.'

For business travel, it says: 'The number of pool cars available within the organisation and the number of cars rented by the organisation may serve as an initial indication of the extent of business travel. A listing of travel expenses, log book records, fuel consumption data and mileage records would allow for a more accurate assessment of business travel.'

This information should be available from the fleet manager, it claims.

But many fleets have admitted they struggle to meet even these basic requirements in some areas, a problem highlighted by the Government-based Motorvate scheme. Motorvate members sign a pledge to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 12% over three years, 3% of which must be achieved through mileage cuts.

However, the launch of the scheme was hampered by fleets it approached admitting they struggled to obtain total mileage information and fuel use of their fleets. The fleet industry has been attacked in several reports for failing to monitor fuel use correctly.

Yet if fleet managers can monitor these crucial fleet costs, the savings available could pay for the extra work involved many times over, according to the EEBPP. It says: 'Fuel cost is a major element of total fleet operating costs. Typically it will make up 25% of the total running cost of the vehicle.

'Efficient use of transport will improve business effectiveness and profitability. Managing fuel use could provide savings of 10%.'

Furthermore, managing the type of transport used avoids congestion, which costs business £15 billion a year, according to the Confederation of British Industry. A spokesman for the EEBPP said: 'Many organisations are already working either on Environmental Management Systems or travel plans.

'But many other companies do not recognise the environmental consequences of transport associated with their business activities.

'By neglecting to take action on transport, organisations are missing out on opportunities to reduce costs and further improve environmental performance.'

Copies of the Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme guide to Transport and Environmental Management Systems are available free by calling 0800 585794 or visiting its website, at www.energy-efficiency.gov.uk/transport

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