James Burman (JB): Please could you give me an overview of FORS. What is it and what does it do?
Graham Holder (GH): FORS is about industry best practice. It started off in 2008 and evolved into the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme. The organisation aims to raise the level of quality within fleet operations, and to demonstrate which operators are achieving exemplary levels of best practice in safety, efficiency, and environmental protection. Vehicles in the scheme are divided into five main categories, covering everything from heavy goods vehicles, down to powered two-wheelers. FORS is a voluntary membership scheme with 4,847 members, in the region of 101,000 vehicles.
JB: What are the various levels of accreditation?
GH: There are three levels of accreditation; we've got approximately 65,000 vehicles in the Bronze category, 24,000 in Silver and 11,500 in Gold. Bronze accreditation confirms that you employ good practice and comply with the requirements laid out by the FORS Standard. Silver is about road safety and driver training, as well as the equipment fitted to your trucks. Gold focusses on ‘the managerial’ side of things, including the environment, and more advanced policies and procedures.
JB: Why should logistics operations specify FORS within their transport contracts?
GH: It's about looking at your supply chain, and how you want it to operate. Let’s talk about this in the context of the Bronze accreditation. Within the Bronze standard, there are 32 requirements broken up into four sections: drivers, vehicles, operations, and management. This breakdown gives you a comprehensive and independent assessment on the organisation and operation that is going to potentially sit within your supply chain. What you're getting is a benchmark to show that your supply chain is audited frequently and that it meets a certain standard.
JB: Are there cost savings associated? What might that look like for a logistics operator?
GH: You've got improvements on emissions and fuel usage, due to the change in driver behaviour, often attributed to a reduction of harsh acceleration, braking and cornering. These improvements decrease wear and tear on the vehicle too. The natural progression for FORS operators is to implement telematics if they haven’t already, and with telematics comes record and proof of a reduction on emissions, increased performance on vehicles, reduced maintenance, and increased fuel usage and mileage.
We encourage companies to use this information when communicating insurance costs. You’re undertaking all these initiatives, implementing driver training and professional development, and you're looking after your vehicle fleet. Why shouldn't you get a saving from your insurance?
JB: Are there any other sort of environmental positives around FORS? Or is it mainly fuel savings?
GH: It’s also about raising awareness. One of the elements of the driver training – an e-learning module for the silver accreditation – focusses on environmental sustainability, and how it’s linked to driver behaviour. For example, there's a legal requirement to turn the engine off if you're going to be static for a certain period of time. If not, you could get a hefty fine. Do all drivers know that? It's all about the education. That module is free to members too!
JB: What impact has the pandemic had on FORS?
GH: The pandemic has hugely impacted FORS. We recognised that logistics was one of the crucial elements keeping the infrastructure going during the pandemic. So firstly, we made sure nobody lost their FORS accreditation during that period. Obviously though, there was a need to keep up the quality of the accreditation, and while originally most of what we did was face-to-face, we had to become remote. We ran audits remotely, which we are still doing now, and put a greater push the e-learning elements of the training. Now, we've just come back to on-site audits, but we are running a mixture of remote and face-to-face accreditation.