When Adrian Furminger took on the role of Transport Manager at the London Borough of Newham just under a year ago he set out to make improvements to the fleet and the operation that would have real long-term benefits. Here, he talks to PSFM about his role...
Name: Adrian Furminger
Job Title: Transport Manager
Organisation: London Borough of Newham
Time in role: 12 months
What are the main issues you face in your day-to-day roie?
With over 30 years experience in the private sector I was brought in as Transport Manager at Newham Council to bring the fleet operation up to a higher standard. It was essential to make improvements across the fleet and there had previously not been anyone in this role specifically.
The role encompasses all aspects of fleet management including being responsible for the procurement of new vehicles, looking after O licences, licence checking, disposal of vehicles and new driver assessments. We have a very good on-site workshop and I look after this as well.
Does your council fleet have to cope with any geographical challenges that effect the types of vehicles that are deployed to deliver front-line services?
The biggest challenge, being a London borough, is that our vehicles need to be able to cope with narrow streets, negotiate heavy traffic and congestion.
Most people who live in the area are very tolerant but we have experienced road rage towards our refuse collection drivers. We have now fitted camera systems to all our RCVs and this has helped.
Are you running any carbon-cutting initiatives?
Saving money on fuel and cutting CO2 has been one of fleet department’s priorities. We are starting to equip all new vehicles with start-stop systems along with acceleration control and speed limiters. We have also already started to procure trucks with Euro 6 engines.
With the rising cost of fuel we need to ensure we keep costs down for the council. One way of doing this is to install a telematics system, something that I am keen to do, however there is still work to be done in providing proof to the council that this will make long-term cost savings. Driving education still has a huge part to play and works hand-in-hand with any technology.
Is it possible to reduce costs and still run an efficient fleet?
In short, yes! However, it is getting harder and harder. I think that the Public Sector still has a lot to do and big savings can be made through a variety of methods whether it’s investing in new technology or targeting driving styles.
How much does technology affect your role and what initiatives have you rolled out recently – or plan to roll out – utilising new technology?
We currently have trackers fitted to about a third of the fleet. As we replace the LCV fleet, all new vehicles with have trackers.
For the future a more complex system is needed, certainly when it comes to replacing our refuse vehicles in 2016.
A big investment for us has been putting camera systems on all our RCVs and gritters (plus a few other vehicles). This has really helped when it comes to dealing with complaints and accidents. Camera systems are also useful for ensuring cyclist safety – a hot topic in London at the moment.
Finally, we are also about to move to electronic licence checking through a third party. This was prompted by the removal of the driving licence counterpart. This will ensure that drivers who currently have a number of points on their licences will be checked more regularly.
How do you make decisions about which vehicles and equipment your source for your fleet?
I originally started looking at Newham utilising framework agreements back in 2011 when I was a agency contractor to the council. We started looking at whole life costing on a very serious level. Previously price had always been the biggest factor but bringing in a whole life model, speaking to drivers and making the vehicles more ‘fit for purpose’ ensured the new system was a better way of spending public money. It’s all about justification and quality generally pays for itself.
We have worked closely with The Procurement Partnership Ltd (TPPL) to purchase new vehicles and update the fleet. Their expertise really helped us get the right vehicles for the job while providing us with substantial discounts. It also helped us to identify the vehicle whole life costs, which has helped keep parts and maintenance costs to a minimum.
We now assess our needs going forward when replacing any vehicle and work very hard to future proof things as much as we can. For example, we used to run 3.5 tonne caged tippers but there were issues with payloads and manoeuvrability.
We worked with Essex Bodies to come up with a vehicle that was suitable for payload and size that included a number of useful features too. All LED lights have been recessed into the body so they are less likely to get damaged and the door mechanisms are easier to open and close. The whole process has taken nearly a year from design to delivery of the vehicle so its important to try and think long term as it will run for four years.
Moving forward all vehicles will evolve to be totally fit for purpose.
How do you manage your driver risk?
All new drivers have an assessment in the type of vehicle they will be operating.
If they have an accident we have a procedure that could flag them up for targeted training. For example, if a driver is prone to a reversing accident then they will undertake training around reversing.
The use of trackers and cameras also supports us in managing our driver risk.
What is the most rewarding element of your role?
We are now seeing the fruits of our labour with some of the initiatives that have been brought in. For example, the camera systems are paying for themselves. It is also great to be complemented by the drivers.
...and what is the most frustrating?
The public do like to highlight mistakes drivers make because, when they are out and about, they are representing the council in a liveried vehicle. Drivers need to remember that they are under scrutiny all the time.