North Wales Fire and Rescue Service
With its team of over 1,000 staff members, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service helps to protect an estimated population of 678,461 people over an area of 2,400 square miles as well as hundreds of thousands of tourists and visitors to North Wales every year.
A forward-thinking blue light emergency service, the team is also committed to developing initiatives and promoting preventative campaigns to raise awareness and educate about the most common causes of fire.
Unfortunately, even with the best preventative measures in place, accidents do still happen and – more often than not – it's the support vehicles that take the front line at the scene of many emergencies.
Dave Bond, Head of Fleet & Engineering, and Geraint Jones, Workshop Manager, currently head up the Fleet Department and understand very well the pressures on the Service to ensure the best use of focus and resources.
One of their corporate objectives for 2015, as set out by the Wales Audit Office, was to use a variety of management solutions to optimise fire and rescue cover in the area, ensuring the best possible level of service despite financial constraints.
Clear leadership and business focus is essential in managing any fleet operation, but it can mean the difference between life and death when it comes to operating within emergency services.
The Service’s support fleet of 116 vehicles comprises a mix of Astra Hatchbacks, Nissan Navara pick-up trucks and even a motorbike. They have all been equipped with a MiX Telematics solution for over 10 years.
Dave and Geraint facilitate a meticulous operation and are experts in best practice when it comes to using the MiX Fleet Manager solution to its full potential.
The initial incentives for implementation were largely around vehicle utilisation and visibility, but the Fleet Department has been successful in adding a long list of additional benefits associated with fleet optimisation.
“Working with MiX Telematics gives us complete control of our fleet. I can access detailed information regarding all of our support fleet vehicles, ranging from vehicle location, utilisation, maintenance requirements, fuel usage and driver behaviour,” says Bond.
With a clear vision of the improvement objectives, Dave Bond and his team began to see a return on their investment soon after the first installation and have continued to do so ever since. He says, “Overall, the benefits far outweigh the investment costs.”
Visibility and utilisation
A major concern with any large fleet is the need to have instant access to vehicle locations. Often the most overlooked benefit of implementing a telematics solution is the provision of visibility.
The Fleet Department relies on MiX Telematics data obtained via live tracking to make informed on-the-spot decisions. They also use historical tracking to evidence recent vehicle activity and optimise vehicle utilisation.
“Because our vehicles work across different site locations, we need to make sure we are smart about vehicle utilisation. The last thing we want to see is a ‘lazy vehicle’ at one site and another site hiring in vehicles,” says Bond.
“Every Departmental Manager within our organisation has access to the MiX Telematics system and if they spot a vehicle not being used, and can evidence its lack of recent activity, they can request it be re-located to their site. Not only does this save hundreds of pounds in hire costs, but it prevents us from having to put vehicles on the road that are not equipped with a monitoring system.”
Road safety is of paramount importance, and the Service works with a number of partners, including other blue light services, to assist in road accident emergencies and promote road safety within the community.
Speed is a leading cause of road traffic accidents across the UK, and an area that is taken very seriously. As such, all of North Wales Fire’s support vehicles are equipped with speed restrictors. In recent years, the restricted speed has been reduced as a result of the data attained via MiX Telematics’ report analysis.
“Originally the limit was set at 70 mph when not sounding a blue light. Using comparative trip data from the MiX Telematics reports, we were able to provide conclusive evidence that there was little to no difference in overall trip times for a vehicle travelling at 70 mph compared to a vehicle travelling at 58 mph from point A to point B,” says Bond.
“Following this evidence, the speed restriction on all the vehicles was reduced to 58 mph. With speed being such a common cause of general road collisions, we were happy to implement this change. Our vehicles are branded with material prompting other road users to drive safely, so it’s very important that we practice what we preach and that our own vehicles are driven to the highest standards.”
Working to a fuel budget can be very challenging for any organisation. But through clever initiatives and accurate data analysis, North Wales Fire has been able to save fuel in a number of ways.
Often overlooked by many fleet operators, excessive idling can have a major impact on fuel consumption. By means of selected reports extracted from the MiX Telematics reporting suite, North Wales Fire has been successful in influencing positive internal changes.
“The system has proved to be extremely helpful over difficult periods when fuel prices were high and we were under financial pressure to manage down fuel costs and eliminate unnecessary usage,” says Bond.
“Last winter we saved over 21 hours of excessive idling thanks to our annual winter driving campaign, which encouraged drivers to use an ice scraper instead of leaving their engines on to de-frost windscreens. Once drivers were aware of how much idling for just a few minutes each day across a large fleet can cost, engagement levels increased to 100%, resulting in considerable savings that could be put back into the business”.
Gathering historical vehicle data allows North Wales Fire to build vehicle scripts, which contribute to a better resale value when a vehicle is taken to auction after three or more years of service.
“Vehicles that have served their time equipped with a telematics system achieve a far better resale value than those without. Yielding a better price allows us to re-invest the money into new vehicles,” says Bond.
Recycling the fleet in this way enables North Wales Fire to ensure they maintain the best vehicles on the road for their tough everyday jobs.
Maintenance costs can soon add up if vehicles are driven badly. To reduce the risk of unnecessary maintenance costs, a culture of careful and considerate driving is encouraged and supported.
Bond says, “Heavy use of vehicles and aggressive driving can mean excessive maintenance costs and, without the MiX Telematics solution, we would have no means of monitoring the way our vehicles are driven other than perhaps the wear and tear on brake pads!”
MiX Telematics captures RAG (Red, Amber, Green) reports, which are set up in MiX Insight Reports and based on driving events like over-revving, harsh acceleration and harsh braking.
“If we see that a driver is repeatedly driving out of the green band, we invite their line manager to approach the individual and present them with their own driving reports and compare it to other drivers so he/she can benchmark their performance against others. This is a subtle way of getting the driver to engage and, if necessary, we support the driver to make improvements and even offer extra training,” says Bond.
“I haven’t yet come across a case where we have not been able to make improvements using this type of tactical approach.”
Corporate Health Award
By using the MiX Telematics solution, not only has North Wales Fire realised benefits throughout its entire fleet operation, but they have also been able to reduce their environmental impact. The fleet department recently won the Corporate Health Award on the grounds of environmental efficiency in part for reduced fumes, eco driving and fuel mapping.
By adopting the MiX Telematics solution into its everyday operations, the Service has achieved best practices in a number of areas and shown its commitment to continual improvement and enhanced performance. For North Wales Fire, the MiX Telematics offering has become a valuable tool and a respected asset that provides efficiency, safety, reliability, compliance, optimisation and return on investment.