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Fleets must prepare for next ‘Covid-level’ event, says AFP

Preparing fleet operations for the risk of future ‘Covid-level’ events will become essential to winning new business.

Formal documents assessing possible risks and solutions for the fleet supply chain could be required by potential customers as part of tender documents

That’s according to speakers at an event held by the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) that also emphasised how Covid has shown the need for well-managed fleets.

Speaking at the ‘Back to Normal? A Post Covid-19 Landscape for Fleet Operators’ webinar, Duncan Webb, head of fleet at facility services provider ISS, said that formal documents assessing possible risks and solutions for the fleet supply chain could be required by potential customers as part of tender documents.

He explained: “Making sure that risks are better understood and managed, as well as how they would be handled in the event that anything like this happens again in the future, is going to be an ongoing part of vehicle management.”

Webb also outlined how he was making a host of strategic changes following the pandemic.

“During lockdown, we saw a one-third reduction in accidents and we want that to continue, so we now have a plan of activity designed to achieve that objective, getting people back to work safely from the point of view of both driver and vehicle.

“Also, we don’t want to return to the kind of overall mileages that we were seeing pre-Covid and we are looking to technology to help us do that, especially through the integration of fleet and travel functions. People will simply move around less in the future.”

And Webb warned that the effects of the pandemic on fleets were far from over.

“We are going to be living with Covid for a while yet. Personally, I think the direct effects on how fleets are operated will last at least another 12 months, with the impact working its way through the industry.”

At the AFP webinar, Shaun Atton, head of fleet and facilities at Auto Windscreens and winner of the Financial Superstar accolade at the 2021 Great British Fleet Awards, also spoke about how the pandemic had affected his operations and said that Covid has really “revealed the importance of a well-managed fleet”.

“There have been many issues to consider. For example, because so many of our vans were sitting unused during lockdown, we had a lot of unused mileage on our contracts. As a result, we’ve extended our lease cycle from three to four years, creating the opportunity to use all of our contracted mileage and make significant savings.

“However, we have reinvested that saving into the fleet with a range of new measures including installing rear-view cameras, upgrading our telematics and more.”

Paul Hollick, chair at the AFP, explained that the webinar had been designed to help fleet managers handle conditions arising in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The coronavirus crisis has changed, probably forever, the backdrop against which fleet managers operate and this session identified those fundamentals and discussed strategies that should deliver results in the future.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.