Vehicle outsourcing can help LAs focus on core services, writes David Hunt, Managing Director, Ryder Ltd.

Against a background of local government cost cutting and the constantly evolving and increasingly tougher legislation governing the operation, maintenance and emissions of commercial vehicles, managing own fleet can be a distinct hassle.

Incorrectly equipped trucks, vehicles breakdowns and inflexible maintenance procedures can adversely affect the quality of service that a Local Authority can deliver whilst having a negative impact on its bottom line. It is also important to take a long hard look at the impact your transport operation is having on the environment and work with your solution provider to look at ways to ensure your vehicles meet the highest standards.

Knowing how important it is to ensure that transportation methods meet the highest environmental standards, during the past 12 months Ryder has conducted an audit of the transport operations for a wide range of manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers and in many cases has identified where changes can be made to loading patterns, delivery routes and even truck body styles and dimensions that will significantly help to reduce an organisation's carbon footprint.

With 40 years of experience in the UK in the provision of truck rental, contract hire, maintenance and fleet management services across a wide range of private sector organisations, as well as Local Authorities, fire and rescue services, NHS trusts and even the MoD, Ryder is now being approved as an accredited supplier on government framework agreements. This will enable the company to offer its knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm for innovative transport solutions to the widest range of public sector organisations.

Procurement made easy

The framework agreement, administered by Buying Solutions, a trading company of HM Treasury, has identified Ryder as a class leading supplier of fleet management and leasing services. Inclusion on the framework agreement allows public sector bodies to source vehicles and services from Ryder to a known high quality and standard within an agreed pricing framework, which provides pricing comfort and transparency.

Ryder is somewhat unique in the commercial vehicle sector in the UK as it is an independently-owned organisation that buys all of its vehicles and maintains them at its own network of national depots. It also arranges in-house finance on all deals so that there are no undisclosed third party agencies involved in any contracts.

The company's aim is to ensure that your fleet is always ready for work and we have the infrastructure mechanisms in place that can build, develop and run all the different aspects of your transport operations. This includes everything from planning, procurement and people, to preventative maintenance and administration.

Manage fleet at the touch of a button

The 2005 contract awarded to Ryder to supply and maintain 300 vehicles on behalf of Gloucester County Council not only highlighted the value of innovative fleet management technology, but was the first time that the County Council had awarded a contract to a single supplier to cover all aspects of managing its vehicles.

Cllr Charles Gillams, lead councillor, environment and community, said at the time of contract award: “We put the contract out to tender and we chose Ryder because they offered best value overall. The company has the most technically advanced fleet management computer system in the UK today and using it to manage the operation of the council's vehicles will have real benefits to Gloucestershire people ' both in terms of delivery of front line services and cutting unnecessary costs.”

FleetCare Online is Ryder's unique fleet management system which has been developed in-house to provide online access to detailed vehicle information and documents to analyse fleet costs and reduce internal administration. It can also be tailored to match any operational and fleet structure, giving greater control over compliance and vehicle spend.

With web access it is simple to use, there is no need for additional software, and there are no integration costs. It will save time and money and allow public sector organisation's to focus their resources on managing and delivering their core services. In addition, all invoice and payment records can be viewed, enabling real-time review of budgeted fleet costs with access to individual vehicle invoices.

Data can be sorted by cost centre, location or vehicle, and you can examine all unbudgeted non contractual billing. The system also provides immediate access to mileage reports enabling you to compare variances between actual and contractual mileage, and analyse data by location or vehicle type, saving you valuable administration time.

Ensuring the right levels of maintenance

Poor maintenance is a major cause of vehicle breakdowns and non-availability, but whilst public sector organisations need to ensure that their vehicles are adequately maintained, they also need to be vigilant against practices and procedures which encourage costly and needless over-maintenance and service and repair activities which take inordinately longer than the commercial norm. Such practices waste money with no appreciable gain in vehicle availability.

Fleetcare Online provides access to the preventative maintenance planner where, at the touch of a button, you can review when your vehicles are due for planned maintenance, analyse fleet repair history, and review individual work orders and repair invoices. You can view defect reports, identifying repetitive defects and identify time taken on repairs. This transparency ensures that all work is carried in a most time and cost sensitive manner.

Getting the right people

In addition to the provision of vehicles, Ryder can also provide professional, qualified drivers for any of its trucks and vans. For example, the contract which it manages for the Airedale NHS Trust, centered on the Airedale General Hospital, in Keighley, includes the provision of delivery vans and drivers.

The vehicles are used for the delivery and collection of mail, parcels, medical gases, pathology and sterile items between the hospital and some 90 GP surgeries, clinics and other hospital departments across a region covering 500 square miles of both Yorkshire and Lancashire. The vans also deliver essential medical supplies, such as gases, to patients' homes.

The Trust has contracted delivery vehicle services from Ryder for almost a decade. “Ryder has consistently out-performed its competitors in the delivery of best value and quality of service,” comments Marjorie Tindale, the Trust's Head of Facilities Support Services.“

The very nature of clinical care services calls for time-sensitive deliveries and during the past five years Ryder has provided a very high level of reliability. Ryder's drivers have proven to have outstanding levels of sensitivity to the material types being transported. Overall, the partnership between the Airedale NHS Trust and Ryder is an excellent example of working together.”

During 2011 Ryder is making a major investment in enhancing and freshening its fleet which will see the average age of its rental fleet fall to less than 28 months ' all of which will be to Euro 5 specification, enabling the entire rental fleet to be compliant with the new LEZ requirements effective from January 2012.

The new vehicles will range from high specification 44 tonne tractor units and rigid 26 tonne curtainsiders with tail lifts, through to 18 tonne, 12 tonne and 7.5 tonne trucks in a variety of body configurations and a large number of new Mercedes-Benz 3.5 tonne vans. This latest investment in upgrading and growing our rental fleet underlines Ryder's commitment to providing customers with the most modern, reliable and flexible rental vehicle options.

With the addition of these new vehicles, approximately 70% of Ryder's rental fleet will be HGVs with an extended range of vehicle payload and specification options. Consistent with latest usage trends, whereby 80% of Ryder's rental fleet is being used by customers for their core fleet needs, we expect the majority of the new vehicles to go on long term rental.

We see this trend as positive and, with the continuing strengthening of rental prices largely as a result of the strong demand for rental vehicles to provide customers with enhanced flexibility in their fleets, we remain positive about the outlook for the UK commercial vehicle rental market.