The winner of What Van?’s inaugural Fleet Manager of the Year Award is Steve Hobbs, transport manager for telecommunications company BML Utility Contractors.
Our panel of judges selected Hobbs as the outstanding candidate from a competitive shortlist compiled from nominations submitted by the What Van? readership.
Over the past 12 months Hobbs has driven up the performance of BML’s transport operation in all areas through working closely with the Freight Operators’ Recognition Scheme (FORS), in which BML achieved Bronze accreditation in 2015.
A focus on risk assessment has improved safety, particularly through the participation in training courses designed to promote safe urban driving by raising awareness of the vulnerability of pedestrians and cyclists on the road, and how they interact with motor traffic, and through teaching LCV drivers how to use the road as safely as possible.
By initiating this driver training Hobbs has given BML’s staff a better understanding of how vulnerable road users behave and the risks they face.
In addition, the drivers of BML’s 150-strong fleet took part in the FORS-accredited Van Smart scheme run by Fleet Source.
The one-day course has been developed for LCV operators to raise standards and improve van safety on the roads. It is designed to benefit those who are behind the wheel all
day or trades people who spend any part of their working day getting to and from jobs by focusing on the skills needed to improve driver behaviour and reduce risk.
The training teaches drivers how to plan and prepare for journeys and how to operate safely in urban environments through raising awareness of the hazards that can cause distractions and potentially lead to collisions. It also helps drivers to comply with the law and meet the contractual requirements of employers such as construction companies. Upon completion, employees leave the course with a handbook reinforcing the training on how to operate safely and efficiently.
“All drivers now have a better understanding of their work and the impact on members of the public and other road users,” says Hobbs.
BML says that as a consequence of the initiatives Hobbs has put in place, plus regular talks and feedback sessions with its workforce, its drivers’ wellbeing has increased and they are better motivated in the workplace.
The company adds that its environmental impact has been reduced by improved awareness of driving standards and smarter driving in order to reduce mpg rates and emissions.
Fuel, tyre usage and carbon footprint are monitored and the findings acted upon in order to make improvements.
“We are constantly improving our efficiencies throughout all aspects of our operation, and have seen a 20% reduction in collisions, a 12% increase in fuel efficiency, and a 3% reduction in CO2 emissions,” claims BML.
Hobbs has this year completed all nine of the FORS Practitioner modules and is now part of a FORS working group looking to increase the professionalism of light commercial vehicle drivers. The vision is to improve the standard of van drivers so that they are as professional as their lorry-driving colleagues.
Worthy of recognition in the new Fleet Manager category is Louise Reynolds, quality and compliance manager for catering and refrigeration maintenance company McFarlane Telfer.
In her seven years with the business Reynolds has overseen a tenfold increase in its fleet size to 70 vans.
During this time she has also added telematics systems, dashcams and racking units to the vans as well as introducing fuel cards and overseeing the taxing, MOT scheduling and maintenance requirements of the fleet.
A significant move in improving driver behaviour has been Reynolds’ launch of a league table of drivers’ performance, covering penalty charge notices, speeding and fuel economy, which has inspired healthy competition between drivers to achieve the best results.