‘It shows how much it will cost to repair and we review incidents in stores after they happen, looking at the type of accident and the region it happened in.’ Tesco has had to review the overall design of its fleet (see below) following a spate of prangs caused by drivers unused to manoeuvring high or wide vehicles. ‘It is a relatively new business and we only had a couple of hundred vehicles at the start so we didn’t realise how many prangs we were having,’ Perticucci said. ‘Accidents or incidents are reviewed on a daily basis as we are trying to find patterns but we have tightened up on last year.’ To minimise the number of accidents on the fleet, Tesco has introduced a training programme for drivers covering issues ranging from dealing with customers to loading the vans correctly. Perticucci said: ‘Drivers are trained how to collect orders, how to load and unload, set up the van, complete inspections, road skills and customer service skills. ‘They also need to complete a Living Service Programme which teaches them about the products they are serving.’
Every driver is also instructed to complete a pre-standard check. Drivers have to log all vehicle details including any cosmetic changes. This is done at the start of every shift. Managing 1,300 vans proves a huge challenge THE group’s fleet of 1,300 Mercedes Benz, Ford and Volkswagen vans operate from just under 300 Tesco stores. Operated on a five-year contract with ING Car Lease, the vehicles are fully liveried with Tesco branding before they reach the stores. One of the main problems facing Tesco’s fleet manager is the extent to which the vehicles are used. Perticucci explained: ‘Managing the fleet is a big challenge. The vans are used intensely all week which can be much more than the average car fleet. Stores always need vans available or they cannot deliver the goods and the vehicles need to be available from 9am until 11pm.’ Each driver is issued with an AllStar fuel card and is urged to fill up at Tesco’s filling stations where possible. The fleet runs on diesel, but Tesco has not ruled out switching to alternative fuels in the future. Perticucci said: ‘We are looking at alternative fuel sources such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and at some point we may change.’ Following a series of accidents the group has had to redesign the dimensions of the vans. Perticucci explained: ‘We have had a radical overhaul of the van design. In a delivery-orientated business there are always things that you can do to make the delivery process easier. ‘We have lowered the overall height of the vans as a result of driver accidents. Most of our drivers hold standard driving licences and are not used to driving high vehicles. We found we were having a lot of accidents resulting in roof damage to vans. Drivers were passing under low bridges forgetting the height of the vehicle. ‘We have also reduced the width of the vehicles for similar reasons. Many deliveries are on tight, city roads or country roads which can sometimes be difficult to navigate. We worked on the new design for six months up until February and have been rolling out the new vans since.’ Tesco has also introduced reversing cameras which help drivers when reversing or parking. This was in direct response to its accident management programme which showed a large number of reversing accidents. The group decided not to introduce satellite navigation as it felt there was not a need for it.
Perticucci said: ‘New drivers may get lost for a short period of time, but the catchment area around stores is usually quite small so they get to know the area very quickly.’ Listening to its drivers is one attribute Tesco claims has helped it improve its fleet management. ‘We are still learning about how to run a large fleet of commercial vehicles but we are continually listening to drivers and suppliers. ‘A lot of our success has been down to collecting information, tracking performance and looking for data patterns.’ As for the future, Perticucci still has a list of ways he wants to improve the day-to-day running of the fleet. He said: ‘The job is never done. We want to continue to increase the capacity of the vans without increasing the weight. We want to get better. This includes encouraging the drivers to take more care of the vans and working with suppliers to shorten turnaround repair times on out-of-service vehicles.’