Fleet News

Planning for next 'Covid-level event' to be critical for fleets, AFP told

Duncan Webb

Contingency planning for the “next Covid-level event” is to become an essential part of fleet management, delegates at the Association for Fleet Operators’ webinar were told.

Duncan Webb, head of fleet at ISS, told the “Back to Normal? A Post Covid-19 Landscape for Fleet Operators” event that having formal documents to cover this type of eventuality could become a requirement for winning new business.

He said: “Potential customers will probably want to see assessments of what would happen to your fleet supply chain as part of tender documents before they commit to working with you.

“Making sure that risks are better understood and managed, as well as how they would be handled in the event that anything like this happens again in the future is going to be an ongoing part of vehicle management.

“We are going to be living with Covid for a while yet. Personally, I think the direct effects on how fleets are operated will last at least another 12 months, with the impact working its way through the industry.”

Paul Hollick, chair at the AFP, added: “The coronavirus has changed, probably forever, the backdrop against which fleet managers operate.”

The event was held to help fleet managers handle conditions arising in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The AFP has also recently introduced a new tier of membership – the Individual Fleet Operator Membership – which is priced at £99 a year and aims to increase membership.

Shaun Atton, head of fleet and facilities at Autowindscreens, told the webinar the pandemic really highlighted the importance of a well-managed fleet.

He said: “There have been many issues to consider. For example, because so many of our vans were sitting unused during lockdown we had a lot of unused mileage on our contracts.

“As a result, we’ve extended our lease cycle from three to four years, creating the opportunity to use all of our contracted mileage and make significant savings.

“However, we have reinvested that saving into the fleet with a range of new measures including rear view cameras, upgrading our telematics and more.”

Webb said the pandemic had led him to make a number of strategic changes to how he was approaching his fleet.

He added: “During lockdown, we saw a one-third reduction in accidents and we want that to continue, so we now have a plan of activity designed to achieve that objective, getting people back to work safely from the point of view of both driver and vehicle.

“Also, we don’t want to return to the kind of overall mileages that we were seeing pre-Covid and we are looking to technology to help us do that, especially through the integration of fleet and travel functions.

“People will simply move around less in the future.”

Earlier this month, fleets were urged to hold fire on making wholesale changes to company car replacement cycles, with the full impact of Covid-19 not yet clear.

Remote working and fewer face-to-face meetings have seen mileages tumble for many car fleets, leading some to question whether four years/80,000 miles should remain the norm.

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