Jonathan Amechi, Transport Manager at Kier, takes part in THE FLEET INTERVIEW and talks about his day-to-day role...
What are the main issues you face in your day-to-day role as Transport Manager at Kier?
As the day breaks the first thing on my mind is the efficiency of the fleet ensuring I effectively manage and understand my responsibilities towards Kier’s operating licence and my undertakings: It is essential that vehicle checks are made before they go into operation that day/period. I also keep an eye on the driver Tachographs – ensuring all records are uploaded/downloaded, driver hours are checked and all breaks observed accordingly. My email inbox is usually pretty full when I arrive at work in the morning and I check through for accidents/incidents or requisitions regarding reports, new or special types and general order. Every day is different; fortunately there is at least one day in each financial year in which everyone seems to be getting on fine – hence not one request or challenge!
What other issues and challenges are currently facing fleet operators?
The issues and challenges are mainly to do with budgetary constraints because of reduced tax revenues. For the past few years, declines in tax revenues have resulted in a shortfall in meeting capital and operating funding needs for fleet operations. As a result, vehicle and equipment replacement has been deferred. With vehicles being kept in service for longer periods, maintenance costs and downtime have increased.
There is also an issue with fleet downsizing and utilisation. Fleet downsizing is an issue more public/private sector fleets are facing. The question being posed is: How long should vehicles be kept in service?
As all fleet managers are aware there is a high cost and large expenditure on fuel. Due to the nature of our business our operatives are allowed to take their vehicles to and from place of work to home and vice versa as a non–taxable benefit as there is no private use. We are presently seeking advice and are in a consultation process which should hopefully reduce this expense by 40%.
Finally, I aim to maintain Zero Hours Accident / Incident Rate (AIR). With training/Toolbox talks/meetings, memos and one-to-one brainstorming this is achieved and maintained.
The rising cost of fuel is a major concern for fleet operators, what are you doing to combat this?
In addition to the consultation mentioned in the previous question, we are researching and experimenting on alternative fuels and in-vehicle mechanisms along with efficient modes of working practices.
Is it possible to reduce costs and still offer an efficient service?
Mathematical efficiency = Product/Input (resourced, labour and tools):
It is rumored that no additional output can be obtained without increasing the amount of input.
My goal and profile has always been to reduce the cost on infrastructure while maximizing efficiency. I believe efficiency can be achieved by observing a few terms in economics, division of labour and defining all service level agreements (SLAs)
Also, by outsourcing your weak services and two other methods: Lean process improvement – a methodology based on eliminating non-value adding activities – and finally Business Process Management (BPM), where efficiency can be gained through a combination of process improvement standardisation and automation of technology.
How do you use services from other companies to help you run a smooth fleet operation?
Using SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) analysis you can outsource your weaknesses and threats, capitalising on your service level agreements where periodic/scheduled reports and services are generated with a fail-safe mechanised approach.
What type of vehicles are you running and the fleet and why?
To maintain our contract and services with our clients we run tractors, ride-on mowers, and a number of plants for horticultural and arboricultural purposes.
Tippers and Transit vans of all tonnage in transporting skilled operatives and their tools, removal of waste and towing of plant.
Street sweepers, Gully suckers (7.5T Tankers), car-derived vans for customer liaisons, inspections and rapid response. EVs are on loan.
Do EVs have a presence on the fleet and are you running any other carbon-cutting initiatives to fit in with Kier’s environmental ethos?
EVs are on demonstration loan though 25% of our Ford transit range run on LPG. This is in-line with our environmental ethos/carbon footprint reduction.
How much does technology affect your role and what initiatives have you rolled out recently – or plan to roll out – utilising new technology?
Technology is present in most roles, tasks and initiatives. It is mainly technology that is used to measure output and efficiency accurately.
In the past six years we have rolled out a number of systems specifically developed or customised to manage:
• Client / staff security – Automated panic alarms quietly alert the office when an operative / client may need urgent help, the alarm is GPS Tracked.
• PDAs – these have reduced paper work and made job scheduling easier with greater response to emergency repair response.
• Vehicle tracking – I guess we all know the values and its capability from vehicle security to vehicle movement and driver behavior. This increased vehicle and driver compliance to legislation and reduced penalty contraventions also RTAs.
• Technology also brought us on-board weighing systems – avoiding overloading.
In the long-run picking the right fleet management system can lead to significant savings in cost and downtime while improving service and safety. Especially systems that have been industry approved by firms and organizations that have the best practices accolade E.g. FTA, FORS etc.
What is the most rewarding element of your role?
The most rewarding element is the “smile” at the end of each day/ period or financial year showing we have succeeded in delivering our services efficiently and effectively with a reduction in cost, downtime and increase in safety.
It is also fulfilling when our KPIs are measured and the expense and Accident Incident Rate (AIR) is less than the previous year.