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Mercedes-Benz FleetBoard rises to the occasion for Warburtons

An ambitious scheme to slash diesel consumption and exhaust emissions by installing Mercedes-Benz FleetBoard telematics systems across its fleet of 750 distribution vehicles, helped Britain’s Favourite Baker win a coveted national fuel efficiency prize.

Warburtons was named Fuel Efficient Operator of the Year in the annual Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme (LCRS) awards after cutting its diesel consumption by more than 8%, a remarkable result which represents an annual reduction in carbon emissions of 1,719 tonnes.

LCRS is a free-to-join industry initiative set up by the Freight Transport Association to record, report and reduce carbon emissions, and its awards scheme recognises companies that have made the greatest contribution towards achieving this goal.

Warburtons’ fleet is dominated by 7.5- and 14-tonne rigid trucks, which make 18,000 deliveries per day from 24 depots nationwide. The company had already taken steps to cut its fuel use, specifying automatic engine cut-off systems on all new trucks to prevent wasteful idling, and choosing automatic transmissions to improve mpg returns. Its 12 in-house driver-trainers also deliver courses in safe and efficient driving techniques, over and above statutory Driver CPC requirements.

But, says Group Transport Manager Mark Sutcliffe, the biggest single impact on fuel efficiency and carbon emissions has come from its installation of Mercedes-Benz FleetBoard.

“The whole process of conducting an initial evaluation, then rolling the system out, educating drivers and backroom staff in the use of the FleetBoard equipment and its supporting software, monitoring and then working to improve the results, took 15 months of hard work by our teams,” he said.

“But through this initiative we have not only reduced fuel consumption and carbon emissions but also evolved our culture of continuous improvement in distribution and levels of engagement across our teams.”

Warburtons carried out two trials of FleetBoard telematics. The first involved five vehicles, operated by six drivers, at one of its distribution sites. The results suggested further investigation was warranted so a wider, deeper selection of 30 drivers across several depots were invited to take part. This extended trial underpinned the business case for roll-out.

Crucially, although a part of the Mercedes-Benz family of companies, FleetBoard offers a suite of telematics products suitable for virtually all vehicle makes, which can be tailored to suit a range of applications. The latest additions to Warburtons’ fleet are Mercedes-Benz Atego 13-tonners, but the company runs trucks by other manufacturers and the equipment works equally well with all.

The operator used FleetBoard’s Vehicle Management Performance Analysis programme to provide detailed feedback on the performance of each truck – and driver – on its fleet. Reports produced in-depth information on factors including harsh braking, over-revving, ‘green band’ driving, use of engine and exhaust braking, number of gear changes and speeds, as well as recording the vehicle’s gross weight and the ‘degree of difficulty’ of its route. The software can also track the position and time of the vehicle at every point along its route, its weight, fuel consumption and a host of other factors, as required.

Mr Sutcliffe continued: “FleetBoard has given us an accurate picture of driving performance throughout the working day, and how driving style impacts on our fuel consumption. We focus on the scoring system, which gives drivers marks out of 100 based only on driving style – mpg is not a factor in this calculation – enabling all drivers to be compared equally regardless of their vehicle or their journey. In this way we were able to ‘iron out’ differences between individual trucks and routes.

“From an initial baseline score of 65, the average FleetBoard score for drivers across all our depots rose steadily through the 15 months of the implementation, to finish at a high of 90. Many individuals were consistently scoring well into the 90s and our encouragement for all drivers to raise their performance continues. These results by our drivers mean that we have already achieved our business case benefits.

He added: “The project quickly became self-sustaining. The competitive spirit between drivers meant they were all eager to improve their own scores. The FleetBoard project, and the work we’ve done to implement it, has created an incredibly positive ‘buzz’ at every level of the company, from our delivery drivers right up to the Boardroom. In terms of driving staff engagement within distribution I believe it is one of the best projects we have completed.”

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