SGN is the new identity for Scotia Gas Networks who operate over 74,000km of gas mains and services in Scotland and the south of England. The company’s fleet operation is headed up by Paul Davies, here he talks to UCFM about his role and the company’s ambition...
Describe your role at SGN
My role at SGN is to manage all aspects of our fleet covering, light commercials, cars, plant, specialist vehicles and HGVs. I also manage our ongoing fleet replacement programme, company car scheme and I am the Operator Licence holder.In addition to this I manage the contracts for our outsourced fleet management and maintenance partner Inchcape Fleet Solutions.
How do you make decisions about which vehicles/equipment you source?
Our decision making process follows the business approved model which considers all areas of fleet options. We look at:
• Environmental impact
• Flexibility for conversion
• Ability to cross flex across our business operations
How much does technology affect your role and what initiatives have you rolled out recently utilising new technology?
Technologies move so fast it can be hard to keep ahead of the game. I have to plan ahead in order to future proof our fleet; additional storage options, charging sockets to name a couple of examples.
We have recently installed ECO+ units to complement our existing vehicle telematics package which is fitted to all our commercial fleet. This gives us the ability to closely assess our drivers and identify areas of improvement so we can increase their fuel efficiency and reduce our costs.
We are also in the process of rolling out smartphones and tablets to our field-based operatives.
What other issues and challenges are currently facing your fleet operation?
One of the hardest issues we have faced recently is Vehicle Type Approval and ensuring our compliance. We have worked closely with our manufacturer and conversion partners Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Tevo and Winton Engineering in this area and are grateful for their ongoing support.
The cost of fuel is always a major concern for fleet operators, what are you doing to combat this?
Our main weapon in the fight to reduce fuel consumption and cost is our ECO + units. These are providing us with valuable live MI which we are able to use to quickly identify behaviors and trends. Our initial trial group was returning fuel efficiencies of up to +10% . We are carefully selecting the most fuel efficient vehicles for our fleet and now with the drivers involved in their driving profile we can start to realize these savings across the entire fleet.
Do Electric Vehicles have a presence on the fleet and are you running any other carbon-cutting initiatives to fit in with SGN’ environmental ethos?
We currently only have one electric vehicle on fleet but do have a number of electric forklifts in our stores operations. Our main hurdle in this area is the vehicles range and charging time and aligning this with our 24/7 operating requirements and geographical coverage.
One of our projects for 2015 is looking at our infrastructure to support CNG filling stations and conversions to a number of our diesel vehicles to CNG hybrids.
What kind of specialist vehicles do you have on the fleet?
Our specialist vehicle fleet has grown considerably over the last few years and they have been designed and built around our business requirement to maintain the safe and continuous supply of gas to our customers.
We have suction excavators operating in Scotland, bespoke core and vac vehicles in Scotland and England and syphon tankers supporting our emergency response teams.
We recently completed two incident control vehicles to manage and control our emergencies at any location in the North or South. These vehicles are again a bespoke build comprising of fully operational work stations complete with satellite communications.
We are starting work in 2015 on a new design of coring vehicle which aims to further reduce our environmental and excavation footprint and costs.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role?
The most rewarding part is the ongoing desire in SGN to move forward, innovate and be better. We are always looking for more efficient ways of operating and in my position I get to be involved and influence major projects and see them come to fruition.
Vehicles can be very emotive and hearing that we ‘got it right’ makes all the difference.
...and the most frustrating?
Time…Just not enough of it!