Fermac is a bulk haulage solutions provider that was incorporated in 1983 and operates 60 tractor units of their own and a fleet of sub-contractors, that serve both the aggregate and grain industry on a day to day basis right across the United Kingdom.
Sophie Lynch, Senior Transport Administration Manager, based at the company head office in Thrapston, near Kettering in Northamptonshire, explains how Fermac has improved their operational efficiencies, thereby reducing their environmental impact, simply by adhering to the FORS Standard.
Throughout our 35-year history we have had a culture of looking at ways of improving our compliance while reducing our costs. So, when FORS was first introduced we could see that adherence to the standard could assist us in our working practices, while at the same time demonstrating to clients our commitment to both compliance and safety.
We were fortunate in that we were already adhering to many of the requirements of FORS before being assessed for FORS Bronze and we passed the initial assessment first time and have continued to meet that standard.
Before applying to become FORS Silver accredited we again prepared well in advance and put forward our compliance manager for the FORS Practitioner courses and arranged three days of ‘in-house’ Safe Urban Driving training, to enable all staff members to gain the benefit of awareness of vulnerable road users. Once we achieved FORS Silver the directors were keen to continue and that is why we “went for Gold”.
“Since incorporating the Safe Urban Driving (SUD) course into our professional development plan there has been a marked improvement in employee understanding and awareness of vulnerable road users” – Rachel Wildman – Transport Administration Assistant.
Drivers have been providing far more feedback when they are representing the company out on the road and in customer premises, which we believe is due to the FORS related training that they regularly undertake, as well as other amendments that we have made in the way we communicate with the drivers’.
“Economically, we have seen a marked increase in mile per gallon figures since drivers’ have become involved in FORS related workshops and our introduction of in-cab safe and efficient driver training, which was as a direct result of our membership of FORS” – Matthew Hughes – Director
As a company whose motto is “in pursuit of excellence” we have always strived to be the best of the best and the FORS standard provides us with a set of procedures that are continually evolving, with membership being rewarded by the promotion of what is now the recognised best practice standard in road transport across the country.
Clients recognise FORS membership as a commitment by the accredited organisation to strive for continual improvement and in our case this has led to an increase in our client base.
Quantify your improvements
- Performance data – While we have always invested in safety, it was not until we became involved in FORS that we fully appreciated how much impact on costs could be made by looking at ways to improve our mile per gallon. Therefore, all our drivers undergo at least one days in-cab safe and efficient driver training every six months now, which is already paying dividends in a significant improvement in average miles per gallon figures across the fleet. We are fortunate in that collision incidents are low and we do not have issues with penalty charge notices as we do not collect or deliver in urban environmnets.
- Nonetheless, the introduction of an independent qualified collision champion has helped both management and drivers in understanding why incidents occur and how they can be avoided.
Average mpg across fleet
|Incidents per 100,000 Kms||
Number of PCNs
|Percentage improvement||12.95% improvement||Reduction 0.2%||
- Driver health and fitness review – We now have in place regular fitness and health checks and this is backed up by six monthly eyesight checks carried out on all employees that hold driving licences, irrespective as to whether they drive as part of their job or not. We have also introduced health and wellbeing into everyone’s professional development plan and first aid training is now the norm.
- Strategy for recruiting drivers – A detailed recruitment plan is in place and we actively encourage applications from all and we intend to involve ourselves in visits to local educational facilities in the very near future.
- Noise assessment – Our FORS Practitioner attended the very first presentation of Workshop 10 – Managing noise in logistics – in Croydon, which resulted in all our planners undergoing refresher training on the importance of considering the environment when planning vehicle journey’s.
Modal shift and alternative vehicles – Despite the difficulties in transferring the movements we carry out to alternatives to diesel vehicles, we invest a great deal of time and effort into investigating all types of vehicle available and we involve ourselves in the Freight in the City initiative, as well as trialling an electric vehicle for our office staff to use.
In order to make continual fleet improvements we have brought forward our fleet replacement plan to uprate the fleet to Euro VI vehicles as soon as possible.
Another initiative that we are now implementing is to plant over 100 trees on a plot of land that belongs to one of our transport managers, Clive Mindham. This is something that we have decided to carry out following the information we now collate regarding the environmental impact our fleet makes and to in some small way do what we can to reduce our carbon footprint, until we are able to source alternative fuelled vehicles that are viable to what is an ever expanding business.
Attaining FORS Gold is the culmination of a large number of changes that we have made since first applying for FORS Bronze, with a clear demonstration that keeping to the standard has improved our way of operating and has given us the opportunity to promote our ongoing “pursuit of excellence”.