R Swain & Sons – Cleaner & Greener

Section 1 – Introduction

R Swain & Sons has three operating centres based in Rochester (Head Office), Manchester and Woodville and is primarily a General Haulage Company.

Here at Swain our business culture is built around family values of integrity and reliability forged through strong customer service and sustainable investment built up over many years. This is supported by a refreshed approach and processes that have developed with senior personnel joining from wider Logistics and Industrial backgrounds. This provides for a formidable combination that is able to understand best our clients’ businesses, the Logistical challenges, and deliver the solutions to overcome them.

Expansion has come through organic growth, our reputation, client recommendations and through careful investment in acquisition. Proof of a dynamic and progressive culture. We have the clear ambition to be successful throughout this Century and beyond.

The Swain Group has been selected for many of the industry’s most challenging infrastructure tasks such as the Heathrow’s Terminal 5, Wembley Stadium, and the London 2012 Olympics. Tunnelling projects have become a specialism having supported significant segment supply chains for Eurotunnel, Network Rail, Lee Tunnel and Crossrail. Highly time-sensitive supply chains developed to ensure seamless line-feed to the tunnel boring machine interface.

Since its foundation in 1918, five generations of Swains have built a company with a proven track record which constantly seeks to provide the best possible transport solution.

Carl Leader, our Group Compliance Manager & Rochester General Manager, explains how Swains has achieved significant improvements through FORS.

Section 2 – How did you hear about FORS, what prompted the company to join and how long have you been a member?

We heard about FORS back in 2009 and we were attracted to the scheme as it would improve standards, safety and profitability through using best practice methods such as constantly monitored policies and procedures and data monitoring across the fleet, including fuel use, PCN’s, MPG’s and even emissions such as CO2, NOx and PM output.

Section 3 – What was your experience of the initial FORS Bronze audit?

Our first bronze audit in 2012 was just for our Strood depot and we were surprised at how thorough the auditor was, especially with what we considered our basic procedures.

It showed us that this accreditation was indeed a very worthwhile accolade to achieve and that we should strive to implement it within the wider business. We soon achieved Bronze at all three of our operating centres.

We consider FORS Bronze the solid foundation stones of our entire FORS program and is the most fundamental element of the FORS accreditation scheme. The Bronze audit ensures we always get the basics right, regardless of how high we aim.

Section 4 – What was your main reason(s) for you progressing (either from Bronze to Silver and then Silver to Gold or straight from Bronze to Gold)?

We realised that once we had bronze there was no reason why we could not achieve more. This made us determined to achieve Silver, and then push for Gold.

We were certain that the benefits would be in our favour and were already picking up additional commercial contracts because of our association with FORS.

We had already received many benefits from FORS such as the Performance management tools, to record PCN’s and fuel usage, driver CPC training helping us to build a team of SUD trained drivers, practitioner workshops, and even introducing us to driver licence checking companies that are FORS recommended and even came with a discount. 

Section 6 – What improvements have you made?

These shall include:

  • Performance data – Use data provided for FORS requirements S2 and G2.




Incidents per 100,000 Kms CO2 NOx PM10 Number of PCNs

Proportion of fleet that uses alternative fuels

2018 6.4 1.78 22,376.84 81208.99 3718.21 335 0%
2019 6.63 1.19 15,243.24 55320.08 2532.87 278 0%
2020 8.23 1.41 11,080.73 40213.68 1841.21 181 0%
Percentage improvement 28.6% 20.79% 50.48% 50.48% 50.48% 45.97% 0%
  • All our drivers complete a comprehensive Medical Declaration on a 6-monthly basis. Driver’s health and wellbeing is considered and thought of at all times. A close and open relationship with them ensures that we are aware of any physical or mental change that may result in the requirement of prescription medication, or even just a friendly ear. Any change will be investigated to see if it’s still safe for the driver to be on the road. The risk is then managed to ensure there is no risk to the driver or other road users.
  • The Swain Group has a multi-faceted approach and strategy to the recruitment, retention and the development of drivers and support staff across all operating centres and fully recognises the importance of having a skilled and motivated workforce. Each operating centre operates within this strategy utilising Group assets to support where necessary and also undertaking local initiatives. Special Projects Division participates in a number of initiatives such as Internal Recruitment & Development – Internal staff resources are first port of call for consideration in respect of continuity planning and fulfilling vacancies. This is particularly relevant when filling office-based operational roles such as Transport Planners, Transport Managers, Route Planners and even senior General Manager roles. Within the Swain Group, the majority of the Transport Planner roles are currently filled by individuals who were previously employed elsewhere within the Company. The Project Managers have all ‘risen through the ranks’ through time-served in the Company. One of the Transport Planners is on a ‘fast-track’ Graduate development programme and having already fulfilled a number of appointments is being mentored and developed as a future Project Manager in the Company.
  • Commercial Recruitment – Several nationwide third-party recruitment agencies are utilised for general recruitment purposes, such as “Indeed” or professional Executive Recruitment agencies.
  • Website – Vacancies across the Swain Group are advertised on a dedicated page within the website www.rswain.com/careers . Vacancies specific to Swains Group and also advertised on the Company website. Candidates can apply directly on line by utilising the downloadable Application.
  • Noise – We have 3 Operating Centres and they are in an Industrial area. We have implemented speed limits on entering and exiting the operating yard. Occasionally we will need to load equipment onto our vehicles and this is done by a diesel Fork lift. We have electric gates at the front of the operations yard that we use to enter and exit the site. Servicing is done by our own mechanics in some of the depots as well as at main dealers.
  • All our vehicles are fitted with White Noise Reversing alarms.
  • We have completed a Noise assessment at our sites. The only noise is generated when we occasionally load our vehicles and when the drivers start our vehicles and do their defect checks.
  • Ultra-Low & Zero Emission Vehicles – Swain Group’s fleet contains assets from Euro 5 through Euro 6 emission standards. The importance of moving to Euro 6 class vehicles across the fleet as soon as possible is well understood and supported (bearing in mind

the commercial considerations around the cost of investment). Ultra-Low compliant vehicles are compatible with our operational requirements and all future vehicles are specified to this standard (Euro 6).

Section 7 – What are your plans for the future?

Consideration has been given to investment in the LPG fuel technology HGVs and a trial has been undertaken, however at this stage it is felt that the infrastructure necessary to support the widespread use of these vehicles across the UK is not currently available and that further time is required to establish this before it is operationally viable to bring such assets onto the fleet. Research has been carried out into this option, with visits made to test drive units at Volvo’s Testing and Research facility in Sweden and although the vehicles themselves are impressive, the issue of insufficient supporting infrastructure in UK remains the sticking point at this time.

Whilst the wider haulage and transport industry are actively engaged in serious field trials with electric vehicles, due to the heavy demands on our core fleet vehicles, electric power is simply not a technically viable option at this point. The use of electric powered LCVs is becoming a more viable option in the industry now and will be a serious consideration in future fleet renewal reviews.

All new vehicles purchased are specified with consideration of the Direct Vision Standards. Irrespective of this, all HGVs are equipped to meet the Safe System requirements, which are designed to reduce the risks posed to vulnerable road users, such as: Class V and VI mirrors, CCTV system, Sensor system, Audible vehicle manoeuvring warning, External pictorial stickers and markers, Sideguards, Driver training specific to vulnerable road users.

Section 8 – What evidence do you have of positively promoting FORS at requirement G7?

We have positively promoted FORS by sending out letters to all our clients and suppliers informing them that we currently hold a FORS Gold Accreditation and that we would strongly recommend they join FORS if they haven’t already as we believe it is a fundamental scheme that saves lives of all vulnerable road users. We show all our case studies on our website including FORS and we continue to remain FORS Gold Accredited. We also have the FORS Logo on all our email signatures and company letter heads. Swain consistently promotes the FORS Brand and values through various forums. Primarily Customer related functions specific to relevant sectors in addition to public events.

Section 9 –What FORS Gold accredition means for your organisation/to you?

Since becoming FORS Gold Accredited, Swain has enjoyed significant Commercial upsides within specific sectors. Primarily this has come through the Construction and Infrastructure sector. Being a Gold operator, we are approached directly by Leading contractors, manufacturers and importers to support a compliant supply chain at both site and project level. We are able to utilise our significant portfolio of case study experience to ensure that clients are fully briefed on requirements from a transport perspective and that we collaborate to ensure a seamless execution against project requirements.

Opportunities have come from both Domestic but equally offshore prospects seeking to engage with a reliable and compliant operator to ensure end-user requirements are met.

In terms of goals moving forward, we would like to extend our reach into wider industries to promote the quality and values that membership of FORS brings to the organization.

Improving standards and safety is our primary focus, but we also consider the Commercial opportunities this brings. A safe, reputable operator has the best chances of securing contracts with the largest clients and this has proven fruitful for R Swain & Sons throughout the years.

Section 10 – (Optional) Please provide your social media contact details so we can follow your organisation

Twitter = @RSwainSonsLtd

LinkedIn = https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-swain-group/

Website = https://www.rswain.com/

Section 11 – FORS members’ feedback questionnaire

Please could you take the time to complete a short questionnaire and provide feedback about FORS. Please note all answers you provide will be strictly confidential and will only be used by FORS to help us to improve the scheme. To access the survey, please click the link here: https://www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=153908006313

*Please note: All published FORS Gold case studies have been submitted by the accredited company named above and transcribed verbatim

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