Raising standards in commercial vehicle fleets

FORS, the best practice accreditation scheme for commercial vehicle operators, continues to help organisations run a safer, greener and more efficient fleet. With over 4,600 members, FORS director John Hix gives an update on what the scheme offers

FORS – the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme – continues to establish itself nationwide as the preferred best practice accreditation scheme for commercial vehicle operators. With the FORS Standard acting as the benchmark reference source for members, and through its comprehensive FORS Professional training programme, FORS leads the way in promoting safety, efficiency and environmental protection.

What is FORS?

FORS is a voluntary accreditation scheme set up by Transport for London (TfL) in 2008. Initially a London‑centric scheme to improve standards for commercial vehicles and their operations, FORS now has members right across the UK, Ireland and European mainland – all adopting operational best practice in accordance with the FORS Standard – the all-encompassing reference guide and information source for FORS members.

Any vehicle displaying a FORS sticker has passed a rigorous FORS audit, and is part of a fleet which is proven to meet the highest standards of best practice.

Managed by the FORS Community Partnership – AECOM and Fleet Source and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) – FORS uses its unique blend of commercial and industry experience to champion best practice across the road transport industry, with 4,600 members, and more than 137,000 vehicles accredited.

Training

FORS Professional, a comprehensive training programme that comprises workshops, eLearning and practical guidance, is undoubtedly the cornerstone of the FORS endeavour.

Two distinct pathways are available for drivers and managers. Drivers will benefit from TfL‑funded Safe Urban Driving (SUD) courses, fuel economy, staying legal and cycle safety – van drivers receive specific Van Smart training. A total of 12,039 SUD drivers took part in FORS training in 2016, with 30,120 eLearning modules completed.

For managers, FORS Practitioner workshops – a series of nine individual workshops covering all aspects of the modern Transport Office – is the definitive route to operational best practice.

FORS Practitioner workshops are run at an increasing number of locations across the country. FORS-online.org.uk provides an up-to-date schedule.

With a focus on safety training, FORS believes it is the catalyst to greater productivity and enhanced environmental protection.

Fuel and operational cost

Fuel consumption is the biggest annual cost for vehicle operators, and the impact individual drivers can have on reducing these costs is enormous. Thorough driver training can help maximise these savings, and FORS has the evidence to support the claim with FORS Gold members enjoying a 10 per cent reduction in fuel use year‑on‑year in 2016 (based on 82 FORS Gold members operating 7,590 vehicles).

Safer, defensive driving reduces emissions and ultimately saves operators money. Through demonstration and training, safer driving techniques directly influence the environmental impact of a truck fleet.

Staying Lo

The LoCITY Driving training is a seven-hour CPC-accredited course part-funded by TfL, and aimed at HGV drivers, van drivers and transport managers across the spectrum.

Training focuses on minimising environmental impact by emissions reduction using pre-journey planning and vehicle checks, fuel-efficient driving, and alternative fuels.

Encouraging fleets to be accountable for their emissions allows FORS to create an environment in which operators and drivers are given the insight to improve.

The LoCity course compliments the FORS training offering, giving drivers and transport managers the knowledge and skills to reduce environmental impact, using more efficient driving techniques, and guidance on journey planning and maintenance.

FORS Standard

The FORS Standard provides the benchmark reference document for all FORS members. It is devised and regularly assessed and updated by the FORS Governance & Standard Advisory Group (GSAG), and comprises leading operators, contract specifiers and industry bodies working in the transport sector, together honing the FORS Standard and maintaining its relevance to modern commercial vehicle operators.

Updates to the FORS Standard issued in November 2016 saw new criteria introduced to further ensure members maximise energy use, and therefore reduce their environmental impact.

The Silver level of accreditation requires fleet operators to monitor and manage fuel consumption, and both Silver and Gold accredited fleets are now required to designate an individual as the ‘Fuel and Emissions Champion’ – responsible for environmental sustainability in the fleet, including using FORS’ free of charge toolkits relating to fuel, CO2 and emissions.

The FORS Standard is inclusive and so members seeking accreditation may own many older vehicles which do not comply with Euro 6 emissions standards. For this reason, operators must train their workforce, equipping them with the skills they need to drive safely and as efficiently as possible to help meet environmental improvement criteria.

The FORS Standard insists on fleets creating a robust Environmental Fleet Management Policy to assess and monitor not only data on driver and vehicle performance, but also to closely monitor journey planning, vehicle service and maintenance, and even details such as engine-idling.

Most operators understand the commercial necessity of reducing engine-idling. From a commercial point of view, reducing idling saves money, and with telematics systems, it is also far simpler to monitor.

At Bronze, FORS members must have a policy and procedure in place to reduce idling, with an online toolkit available for members to use to action this policy.

Ultra Low Emission Zone

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will come into force in 2020, and while all operators will be affected, this is particularly important for fleets operating in the capital. Advice and training from FORS will help drivers and transport managers to continually improve emissions by broadening their skills-set to identify efficiencies, to help save the business time and money, and, work to reduce the emissions footprint of the whole fleet.

Some sources suggest that there are 40,000 premature UK deaths due to air quality related illness, and 9,500 annual premature deaths in London due to poor air quality. It is the responsibility of all operators to ensure they are minimising their impact on the environment, something FORS seeks to address.

This analysis gives real insight into what vehicles are using and producing, giving operators the tools to track improvements and encourage greater efficiency, monitoring indicators such as NOx and particulate matter, as well as continuing to measure total fuel usage and transport related CO2.

FORS in action

FORS Gold member, CMH Haulage, is based in East London, and provides haulage contracting, including bulk excavator and plant hire, to suppliers of foundation and building materials. 

Adnan Manzoor is the company’s owner, transport manager and elected fuel and emissions champion. He explains how important FORS is to the company: “We came across FORS when tendering for work.

When we looked at the requirements and benefits of joining the scheme we saw that they fitted in perfectly with our ethos of improving safety whilst complementing our drive to improve fuel efficiency and reduce our environmental impact.

The performance management toolkit really helped us set our targets for reducing our carbon footprint and accidents while improving our MPG. FORS has also helped us improve our filing systems and procedures.”

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