R Collard Ltd – FORS Gold 3 years on

R Collard Ltd – FORS Gold 3 years on

R Collard Ltd is based in Eversley, Hampshire and provides demolition, waste handling and aggregates services to both the construction industry and private customers. Robert Collard, founder and Managing Director, explains how R Collard Ltd have used the FORS standard to ensure that the company’s management procedures have allowed significant growth in the company’s operations without becoming out of date and irrelevant.

Today, we live on our ability to demonstrate compliance in all manner of schemes, however without our Operators Licence we have no business, the standard therefore provides us with all the tools necessary to manage our Operator Licence undertakings and work-related road risk obligations.

As Directors and Transport Managers our duty is to ensure continuous and effective control of our transport operation. Our key objectives are to be Safe, compliant and efficient, so without an effective management system we can’t hope to be any of those.

In the past three years since our initial FORS Gold accreditation we have taken the standard to the heart of our management systems. It seemed logical to us, if we are to demonstrate compliance, that we needed to integrate these policies and procedures into our Integrated Management Systems, so that in effect they are receiving an annual audit through ISO as well as the biennial FORS bronze audit. This ensures that we are constantly monitoring that our policies and procedures are up to date and relevant to changing legislation.

The standard also gives us the impetus to put continuous improvement processes into our operations. We now have 4 years of fuel data, that we would not have had without FORS, that we can now use as a baseline from which we can improve. By implementing regular reporting of fuel use by vehicle and driver enables us to ensure that vehicle emissions have been minimised, especially now with the introduction of the anti-idling policy and we are following this up with a fleet replacement programme that will see us with a complete EURO VI fleet within the next two years, this is particularly important, not only to the bottom line, but in terms of the company’s social responsibility. Overall fuel consumption has improved in the first year by 1.6%, we fell back slightly in the third year by 0.1 MPG but found that last year with the lockdowns in place and traffic running freely we gained 1.4 MPG over the whole fleet. We learnt two things from this, firstly the true value of the anti-idling policy, there is no point in using fuel to stand still. Secondly that we are unlikely to sustain that for the following year, but it shows that proper enforcement of that behaviour from our drivers should have a significant yield. So further measures are in place to ensure that for the next year improvements will be over year 3 rather than year 4.

We became FORS accredited in 2015 as not being accredited meant we were failing the pre-tender stage for a significant amount of work by value. Once we had read the standard, we realised that there was nothing in it that we should not be doing anyway so it was much less a box ticking exercise than we had expected. The benefit of having the accreditation has not only helped us on the compliance side of the business but has helped commercially, as we can now tender for work that we may have been previously excluded from due to lack of the required accreditations.

We passed our most recent FORS bronze audit clear of any action points, something that we have not managed before, this is something that the team are rightly proud of. This enables me to be assured that the compliance within the operation is at the very highest level and that it can stand up to any other external scrutiny against a rigorous set of standards.

Although not London based, a small proportion of our work takes us into the capital, mostly vehicles are operating in the Reading and Basingstoke area. SUD was a practical way of ensuring that our drivers can protect themselves and others whilst driving in not just in London, but anywhere.

Anthony Finnegan (HGV Driver) says that ‘Although I have not been on a bike for 30 years, initially I was sceptical of the value of the training. However, I found it (the training) very useful as not only did it remind me of the fun of cycling, it taught me some safer riding techniques, it also reminded me of my responsibilities as a lorry driver, especially making eye contact at junctions. All drivers, especially those who do not cycle regularly or even at all, should do the course as it has undoubted benefits.’

Now being Silver and Gold Accredited 2 of the Driver’s CPC Courses are Safe Urban Driving and LoCity for Drivers. Living locally, I now get compliments from those who know me about how courteous my drivers are, especially from other cyclists. So, I can say that the training is delivered expertly and despite the driver’s protests it has obviously had a positive effect on their behaviour.

John Killoran (Transport Operations Manager) says that ‘Access to the on-line resources makes it easy to find relevant information to keep the company and drivers up to date with industry related developments and helps the company to ensure that its policies and procedures are relevant and up to date at all times’.

Having now been FORS Gold for several years we have managed to grow the business significantly as we were finding that about 80% of the available work demanded Silver FORS as a minimum, so if the business was to grow this was now the minimum required standard.  This is shown by the fact that over those years the fleet has grown by more than 25% having gone from 65 vehicles in the first year to 99 currently. As the economy recovers from the pandemic, we are finding greater demand for our services. However, we operate in a highly competitive environment, our competitors do not just compete on accreditations, our customers are very price sensitive, so the incentive to do something with the data to improve our operational efficiency to reduce costs is to make us more competitive commercially. We see the benefits of being Gold accredited all the time as we receive enquiries from prospective new customers who have found us on the FORS website.

In the table below it can be seen that that we have improved from our baseline year. Roddy Taylor (Transport Director for the R Collard Group) says that over the previous 12 Months several interventions have revealed improvements in fuel consumption, through concentrating on driver performance by reducing harsh braking and acceleration incidents having put a large percentage of drivers through SAFED training provided by Volvo we are expecting this to yield further benefits for 2022 & 2023. The biggest impact of the interventions has been a halving of the PCN rate incident rate per 10,000 KM to 0.031 from 0.060 in the baseline year. There has been a similar reduction in incidents which has had a positive effect on our motor insurance premium.



Vehicles MPG CO2 NOx PM10 PCNs per 10,000 km Incidents per 10,000 km Proportion of fleet that uses alternative fuels
Year 1 65 6.41 3409t 7055kg 129kg 0.060 0.091 0%
Year 2 89 6.83 3329t 6889kg 126kg 0.055 0.081 0%
Year 3 95 6.73 4297t 8893kg 162kg 0.035 0.078 0%
Year 4 99 8.07 4037t 8356kg 152kg 0.031 0.043 0%
% Change 34% 25% 15% 15% 15% -50% -50% 0%

To manage driver health and fitness we have implemented a driver declaration, based on the medical conditions that are declarable to the DVLA. Although drivers are required to inform us of any relevant medical conditions, we ask them to sign a declaration of fitness to drive every year. We have integrated this with our eyesight checking process and a hard copy Driver Licence, Driver card and Driver Qualification Card review to verify records with the DVLA check.

Operating in a semi-rural area near Reading and Basingstoke makes a strategy for recruiting drivers a business must have, the costs of attaining a licence are a significant barrier to entry, however, if we are unable to replace retiring drivers, then the business will shrink, as without drivers we cannot continue to operate. We will subsidise driver training, having recently paid for a driver to move from category C to CE, we are also encouraging ‘Yard to Wheels’ initiatives and are looking to recruit qualified drivers from the armed forces.

The company understands its responsibilities to the wider community. We operate from a large yard near Eversley, although not directly adjacent to any residential areas, we are very aware of the noise and dust an operation such as ours can create. However, as a proportion of our work takes us into residential areas, all vehicles are fitted with hydraulic silent running skip-lifts, white noise directional reversing alarms and we fit shrouds to the skip chains to stop them ‘clanking’ together.

Having assessed modal shift and alternative vehicles, the operation currently demands a degree of flexibility which the current range of alternatively fuelled vehicles cannot offer. Due to the nature of the goods being handled and the type of deliveries being demanded by customers, load and deliver or full vehicle load, the options regarding modal shift are limited. However, that is not to say that these are not considered, where physically practical we do consider alternatives, a recent demolition in West London resulted in 1141 tonnes of waste materials being transported from site by Canal Barge, thus saving 57 vehicle trips.

To make continual fleet improvements we are already working towards making all vehicles EURO VI compliant and will continue to evaluate alternatively fuelled vehicles. We will also be ongoing with our use of the tools provided by FORS to continuously improve our compliance and operations such as changing the way we monitor driver health and fitness and motivating drivers through positive engagement.

Being a GOLD operator is still a relatively rare accolade, it is up to companies such as ourselves to demonstrate that making compliance and operational excellence should be at the heart of every transport company. We do it better because we now have the tools at our disposal to understand the root causes of poor performance which enables us to target scarce management time in the right areas. FORS Gold has been a key part of our growth strategy, reputation is at the core of that strategy, it enables us to continually demonstrate our reputation as a safe, compliant and efficient company, the default choice to do business with. As FORS Gold is the pinnacle of excellence within our industry our biggest challenge still remains sustaining the benefits we achieve from it.

Find us at: www.rcollard.com     Contact us at: [email protected]