Part of the Ferns Group, Ferns Surfacing is one of the south’s leading reinstatement companies. The company undertakes more than 40,000 projects annually, often with short timescales and in challenging environments. Ferns can provide all aspects of reinstatement on the public highway and on private land, ranging from minor remedial work to large scale resurfacing.
Head office is in Maidstone, Kent and the company has other depots in Wembley, Dagenham, Colchester, Norfolk, and Bedfordshire. Ferns Surfacing employs around 200 staff and has a fleet of around 160 vehicles, mainly tippers ranging from 3.5 tonnes to 32 tonne hiabs, and 20 pick-ups used by supervisors.
Ferns undertake around 800 jobs a week, covering around 60,000 miles a week, many of which are short runs. Almost all jobs are time sensitive and carry large penalties for delays. Completing each individual job often involves three or four different teams, meaning that accurate co-ordination of vehicle movement is critical. Delays can mean penalties, usually of around £500 per day, but for major projects daily penalties could be as much as £10,000.
With CO2 emissions becoming a significant part of the tendering process, Ferns also required a system for accurate measurement and proof of reduction in carbon emissions.
Whilst driver safety had always been paramount, recent information from the transport police and the traffic commission revealed that companies monitoring driver behaviour could have stronger mitigation in the event of any prosecution.
This has brought driver behaviour into sharper focus.
Ferns chose the LINK and ecoPLUS, to install into their 100 vehicles, which work with the cloud-based Webfleet system for fleet management control. Implementation involved the Contracts Managers from the start so they were given an opportunity to make suggestions about how the system could be set up to so it most benefitted them and Ferns’ working practices. They, in turn, were made responsible ensuring thorough communication and gaining buy-in from each of their teams of 40 staff.
Once the system was installed, I asked what the driving standard at Ferns was like and was told by Webfleet Regional Manager that it was the second worse he had ever seen in our sector, said Contracts Director Andy Saunders.
For Ferns, one of the most important functions of the system is OptiDrive, which benchmarks all drivers and gives them scores for easy comparison. This makes all drivers aware of their own performance standards and identifies areas requiring improvement, such a speeding, harsh braking, cornering and idling. To encourage them further, at every depot Ferns offered an incentive of £100 every week for the driver with the best or most improved performance. Conversely, worst offending drivers are given appropriate training and support to encourage them to drive more efficiently and safely.
Within three months significant improvements were achieved, with the easy to use OptiDrive indicator playing a major role in influencing drivers to change their driving styles. Speeding reduced by 95% and driving events, such as harsh braking, reduced by 65%.
The business benefits gained from the Webfleet installation have been phenomenal. If it cost twice as much, we’d still use it, said Andy Saunders. As well as fuel savings of £160,000 in 12 months, the improvements in driver behaviour have also led to a reduction of £50,000 in our insurance premiums. The ecoPLUS facility has proved a major benefit to our tendering process as we have been able to track CO2 emissions and demonstrate improvements. We are very happy with this outcome.