Whether you are comparing your vehicles, drivers or depots performance, internal benchmarking is an established way to monitor and identify ways to improve performance
To see the bigger picture and to fully understand how efficient your operation is, it is also important to compare yourself with other transport operators performing similar operations to see how you fare; or in other words external benchmarking. Traditionally, accurate information on similar operators is difficult to obtain, but there is now help at hand in the form of On Line Benchmarking (OLB).
OLB was launched in 2008 and is a free internet based system for operators of vehicles of 7.5T GVW and above, to externally and anonymously compare their operational fleet against similar operators using a range of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Funded by the Department for Transport and managed by AECOM, OLB is seen as the next generation in benchmarking and gives transport professionals a much better understanding of actual performance, by comparing like-with-like.
The system has been designed to be user friendly and only requires the operator to input their latest operational performance information onto the web based system once a month. All the information is anonymous, so no other system user knows how individual operators are performing and all the information is fully secure, meeting the latest stringent Government security requirements.
For new system users, OLB requires the transport operator to input information on their vehicle fleet including depot information (location, name etc) and specific individual vehicle information (registration, engine type, miles covered, deliveries made etc). Much of this information is already recorded through existing systems and can simply be imported using in-built spreadsheet templates.
Operators can choose to enter as much or as little information as they like, but the more information they put in, the more they get out from running subsequent external benchmarking reports. Once all information is entered, external benchmarking reports can be run. These reports allow the participant to compare their performance using multiple choice criteria of vehicle type, operation type and sector, allowing for like-for-like comparisons.
The results are live and change as and when operational performance information is updated. This means they are always current, relevant and continuous, and never become outdated or redundant as per older versions of benchmarking reports, which were printed and based on a snap-shot of performance.
Scott Hardy, project manager of OLB, said: “Feedback from system users has so far been very positive and OLB is becoming an important performance management tool for transport operators to understand where they can become more efficient, and ultimately save cost.”
Expanding the range
The range of KPIs currently available numbers 16, but this range is continuously being evaluated, enhanced and further added to. A new Maintenance category of KPI was added recently, allowing transport operators to measure and compare their performance according to a range of maintenance related KPIs.
The entire range of KPIs currently available:
Furthermore, the OLB benchmarking platform is used by Transport for London’s Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) to provide a free benchmarking service for its members, covering vans as well as trucks. The system is used to help members progress through the bronze, silver and gold membership levels and includes additional KPIs covering Penalty Charge Notices, safety and fines. Find out more at www.tfl.gov.uk/fors
The number of participants using the free to use OLB system is continuously growing as word spreads throughout the industry of the potential benefits being offered. Shirley Dunst, distribution manager for Colas, said: “OLB identifies the most effective fuel intervention measures, including the more obvious interventions that can sometimes be ignored in favour of more radical, and sometimes more costly solutions.”
Mike MacDougall, transport manager for PS Transport, added: “OLB has helped us to identify where we are as a business across a wide range of hauliers and identify areas for us to focus on in the future.”
Top tip: start simple
Start off by entering data from a sample of your depots and vehicles. You can then roll out the system to the remainder of your operation when you are comfortable with using OLB.
For more information
If you are not already participating and taking advantage of free external benchmarking via OLB and would like more information, please visit www.freightbestpractice.org.uk/benchmarking or e-mail email@example.com