NOx and particulate matter, noise, alternative fuels, tyres and fuel management all come under the spotlight in the updated standard from the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme. Anne Johnson, FORS operations director, explains what has changed to make this the greenest standard yet.
FORS, the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme, is a voluntary accreditation scheme which has been in existence since 2008.
Originally set up by TfL it is now under management by the FORS Community Partnership consisting of AECOM, Fleet Source and CILT, whose blend of commercial and industry based experience has helped the scheme continue to flourish.
Initially a London specific scheme to improve standards in the freight industry, it now contains members from numerous sectors, includes many types of vehicles, and companies across the country promoting best practice in accordance with the FORS Standard.
This September has marked the two-yearly review of the FORS Standard, with version 4.0 coming into force in November 2016. Outlining the criteria which companies are measured against by FORS auditors to achieve either Bronze, Silver or Gold membership, the Standard defines the basic requirements that must be met by fleet operators wishing to become accredited members.
The audit process ensures that best practice is being demonstrated across all accredited members, and that any vehicle displaying the FORS sticker is demonstrating high standards of safety, efficiency and environmental protection. The FORS Governance and Standards Advisory Group (GSAG) was established by the FORS Community Partnership to ensure that the Standard is subject to continuous improvement, and remains relevant to the industry’s needs as well as being compatible with the latest legislation.
As part of this remit, the group of key operators and specifiers recommend changes and improvements as well as using their technical expertise to ensure the Standard is credible and they manage the integrity of the scheme. With environmental protection of increasing concern for fleets, this has received additional focus in the latest Standard.
UPDATES FOR FORS STANDARD 4.0
The Bronze level of accreditation already stated that fleet operators shall monitor and manage fuel consumption, to provide the fleet with insight on fuel efficiency. Silver and Gold accredited fleets were required to designate an individual as the ‘Fuel and Emissions Champion’, responsible for environmental sustainability in the fleet, including managing the toolkit relating to fuel, CO2 and emissions. The previous Standard was designed to encourage fleets to make changes themselves, by providing them with an insight into what vehicles they were using and what emissions they were producing, allowing them to track improvements by encouraging greater efficiency.
The new Standard goes even further, requiring the individual to monitor and manage fuel consumption and emissions output of the fleet, creating an increased awareness of emissions and active evaluation of fuel use.
This is done by monitoring additional indicators, NOx and Particulate Matter, as well as continuing to measure total fuel usage and transport related CO2.
Fleet operators are also now required to have a written policy and procedure to reduce instances of engine-idling, to ensure that the impact of emissions can be minimised, and to avoid the unnecessary pollutants emitted whilst the engine is idling. Operators are also encouraged to review consignments to ensure they are being moved in the most efficient manner.
By encouraging fleets to be accountable for their emissions, FORS creates an environment in which operators are given the insight to improve. The Fuel Use Tracker, available for members online, can track the fuel usage of up to 200 vehicles, track miles per gallon (MPG) achieved and highlight key indicators achieved through efficiency improvements.
Guidance is also available to develop ways to reduce congestion, another contributor to pollution in the capital. Training sessions are available for both drivers and transport operators, as well as toolkits and e-learning modules, to ensure that best practice is promoted throughout the entire fleet. Drivers are encouraged to upskill themselves and implement improvements, and can access e-learning online, wherever they are.
THE FORS STANDARD IN ACTION
F.R. Shadbolt & Sons is a Gold member of FORS, operating across North East London and North East Essex. Through recommended, and funded training the company has made significant improvements to its policies and procedures. The company has achieved an increased fuel efficiency of 31 per cent over the past 12 months, and all drivers have completed the Safe Urban Driving course.
Lowery Limited, the 150th Gold member of the FORS scheme, found the performance management toolkit enabled them to set targets, and helped the fleet in its target of reducing its carbon footprint and improving MPG.
Wright Minimix found that implementing new policies, such as an anti-idling policy, helped it not only achieve Gold accreditation but also significantly increase MPG. With a total of 24 lorries, and working across the South West from its base in Bristol, the company found FORS’ performance management toolkit especially helpful for reducing its carbon footprint.
FUTURE OF FORS
Reducing emissions is a priority for every fleet operator whether they travel in London or not, but with the Ultra Low Emission Zone coming into force in 2020, this is particularly important for fleets operating in the capital. FORS promotes best-practice for commercial vehicle operators; encouraging greener fleet operation through advice and training on driver behaviour. The result is improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions – benefits for the operator and the environment. Advice and training for transport managers helps them continually improve by broadening their skills-set and identifying efficiencies, saving the business time and money, and, ultimately, reducing the emissions footprint of the whole fleet.
FORS is in operation throughout the UK, with members across Europe as well. This year it celebrated its 4000th accredited member (Cargo Express), as well as its 500th Silver member (Neville Tilley Transport), 150th Gold member (Lowery Limited) and numerous milestones for its training programme.
For more information on the new FORS Standard 4.0, including a summary of changes and other supplementary documents please visit the FORS website. FORS has also published a new guidance document, providing information on each requirement operators need to demonstrate to the FORS auditor for each of the Bronze, Silver and Gold levels.
A comprehensive glossary of terms is provided, alongside audit checklists to allow operators to carry out a self‑assessment ahead of their initial FORS audit.