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that the company’s management procedures have allowed significant growth in the company’s operations without becoming out of date and irrelevant.
The FORS Standard allows us to maintain effective compliance control of our operation; the audit process has enabled us to use the bronze standards as our basic management system. These days 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.
The standard also gives us the impetus to put continuous improvement processes into our operations. Having spent the previous year collating fuel, accident and fines data we now have 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 in the next two years, this is particularly important, not only to the bottom line, but in terms of the company’s social responsibility. Currently, we are achieving 6.56 MPG for a fleet of 60% 32 tonne tippers, our incident rate for traffic collisions is 0.0914/10000km and Fines and Charges are 0.0609/10000km. So we now have something to improve on.
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.
We passed our initial audit first time round with one minor and several observations. The minor action point was to increase the frequency of our document review process and the observations were around a lack of detail in some of the policies, all of which have been improved. This gave us the wake-up call we needed as it was the first time any of the company policies and procedures for its transport operation had come under any external scrutiny against a rigorous set of standards. 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.
Once we had the Bronze accreditation we made the most of the benefits on offer, in particular the Toolbox Talks and Driver CPC Training (Safe Urban Driving).
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’.
FORS Driver CPC courses, especially Safe Urban Driving have enabled the drivers to be more aware of their responsibilities out on the road. 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‘.
The company progressed to FORS Silver as we were finding that about 80% of the available work now demanded Silver FORS as a minimum, so if the business was to grow this was now the minimum required standard. 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 actually do something with the data to improve our operational efficiency to reduce costs is to make us more competitive commercially. We are now seeing the benefits of being Silver accredited as we are receiving more enquiries from prospective new customers as a result and more enquiries converted to sales.
As stated previously, 2017-2018 is our baseline year, and if all things remain the same this should provide a platform from which to improve. Roddy Taylor (Transport Manager for the R Collard Group) says that over the next 12 months we shall be implementing a number of interventions to improve fuel consumption, like a closer look at driver performance and a reduction of harsh braking and acceleration incidents, as well as looking at planned and actual mileage. A reduction in these incidents should also have a direct effect on the number of damage incidents on vehicles and as 33% of the fines and charges were moving traffic offences, this should reduce as well.
Incidents per 100,000 Miles
|Number of PCNs per 100,000 Miles||0.0609||
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 the declaration every six months. We have integrated this with our eyesight checking process and a hard copy Driver Licence, Driver card and Driver Qualification Card review.
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 are trialling shrouds for 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, 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 leasing EURO VI and will continue to evaluate alternatively fuelled vehicles. We will also be continuing to use 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.
Becoming Gold accredited means that the company can stand tall amongst its peers for compliance and operational excellence. Following progression to Silver the company has realised the marketing power of FORS accreditation, as a company we strive to grow year on year and reputation is at the core of that strategy, FORS Gold will enable us to 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 is going to be sustaining the benefits we will achieve from it.