Achieving gold standard fleet safety and efficiency - Travis Perkins Group

by From the Top on 2014-01-04 00:34:06


Robin Proctor, Supply Chain Director at The Travis Perkins GroupTravis Perkins Group pioneers a collaborative approach to achieving gold standard fleet safety and efficiency

Businesses are operating in a challenging environment, with many under pressure to make significant cost savings. One sure-fire way to take control of costs and make a significant impact on the bottom line, however, is to improve logistics and distribution processes. Safety and efficiency are huge issues for organisations handling and transporting goods to multiple sites countrywide however, so how can they achieve a consistently high standard of safety and efficiency across a transport and logistics network that employs thousands of people? The Travis Perkins Group has discovered that listening to its most important asset - its employees - is key.

It is a principle that has recently seen The Travis Perkins Group achieve gold accreditation in Transport for London’s prestigious Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS). This voluntary certification scheme audits companies annually on best practice in vehicle safety and efficiency, setting the standard for fleets operating in London and beyond with a three tiered membership structure encompassing bronze, silver and gold levels that rewards high-quality operators committed to becoming safer, greener and more efficient.

To improve our health and safety regulations, we have developed a culture of inclusiveness: where we listen to, and act on, feedback and ideas from our people on the ground, and employ their help to improve operations.

Engaging with our staff on company-wide initiatives is absolutely essential to boosting logical efficiency across our supply and delivery chain. A company focus on safety also ensures that this remains central to our logistical processes. As an example: statistics showed us that the majority of workplace accidents and injuries occur when staff climb onto the beds of vehicles to strap up loads and move products so we consulted with our staff on this issue and developed our ‘Keeping Your Feet on the Ground’ programme in response to their feedback. As a result we’ve introduced remotely controlled cranes to lift loads without human input in order to reduce the risk associated with working at height.  

Listening to staff has also become integral to improving our logistical processes, and for good reason: through undertaking the work themselves, our transport and logistics staff on the ground are the most able to identify any problem areas as well as potential solutions. In fact, we recently patented a tool developed by one of our drivers as a solution to a common issue. Based in one of our timber centres, he came up with a solution that allowed workers to get a strap across the bed of a truck without physically climbing onto the vehicle – an act that has always been difficult due to the different configurations of timber. It is a great example of how people can be your most powerful asset in making your processes safer and more efficient, and our aim now is to introduce this tool into the wider market.

Of course, our focus on protecting people is not purely aimed at our own staff. We were the first company in our sector to introduce close proximity safety equipment to our London-based fleet, which warns drivers when cyclists are near and is especially vital where busy traffic makes cyclists more vulnerable. It is also a key criterion for gold level FORS accreditation for all heavy goods vehicles operating within major conurbations to be fitted with this equipment.

Promoting eco-friendly solutions is the second most important facet of FORS accreditation, and improving our green credentials is also of the utmost importance to us when our 3000-strong fleet travels an astounding 130 million miles every year. Special training provided by a team of assessors ensures our drivers are educated in vehicle efficiency, speed reduction and fuel usage, all of which help reduce CO2 emissions. In fact, in 2011-12 the Group cut down on CO2 emissions by as much as five tonnes per site – all thanks to our people power.

The most effective way of achieving high vehicle efficiency of course is for our fleet to reduce its mileage. As a result of feedback from our drivers, we have integrated our vehicle tracking software with point of sale platforms, enabling drivers to take the most efficient routes and better meet customer demand. This has also saved us 10 miles per vehicle each day – an unparalleled contribution to fighting pollution and road congestion across our fleet.

Of course, none of this has happened overnight: we have progressively worked towards achieving the highest standard in safety and efficiency, and creating a culture where everyone from the ground up is engaged has been central to this. It is fair to say that these achievements are a result of our staff’s buy-in and dedication to our culture of creating a safe and efficient working environment for all.

By Robin Proctor, Supply Chain Director at The Travis Perkins Group