The 2016 Australasian Fleet Conference & Exhibition was a mammoth two-day experience that brought the fleet industry’s heavyweights and experts to one place over the 21st and 22nd of April.
A strong contingency of fleet managers, industry suppliers and AFMA members attended the array of plenary presentations and breakout sessions which has been regarded by many delegates as highly informative and offered an insight into the future of fleet management.
One of the most interesting presentations came not from a hardened fleet manager or business exec, but from Nicole Fauvrelle at Sparke Helmore Lawyers talking about legal responsibility of fleet managers. It’s a cold reminder of the raw reality of what happens when regulations are ignored. Nicole highlighted that the vehicle is a workplace and comes under the same OH&S scrutiny as an office or worksite. Employers are at risk by not incorporating their vehicles and drivers under risk mitigation strategy.
“You cannot afford not to operationalise your OH&S strategy,” she said. “Know your business and your driver workforce, invest in a data management system to obtain and maintain accurate records, and set down robust, relevant, appropriate and enforceable policies and procedures to facilitate safety and protect your biggest asset, your people. This also makes good business sense as lagging safety systems and incidents will hit your bottom line through lost time and insurance premium hikes. There are so many factors contributing to road crashes today, it’s crucial to ensure these matters are sorted.”
Other hot topics were of course, the large scale shift away from fossil fuels, toward electric vehicles both in Australia and overseas.
Kristian Handberg, Manager for Electric Vehicles at AGL Energy Limited, said “It’s becoming more important for businesses to think about their next generation of fleet vehicles, especially when factors such as cost-cutting and emissions reduction are involved. The market for plug-in vehicles is heading in the right direction – even with oil prices down right now, growth is still strong. We’ve set a target for EVs to comprise 10 percent of the AGL fleet by 2018.”
Procurement and Fleet Manager Richard Shuster from Churches of Christ, in Queensland attended the full two days and Conference Dinner and walked away one very happy man.
“This year has raised the bar to a much higher standard, reflecting the subjects relevant to fleet managers right now,” he said. “It appeals to the skill sets, requirements and demands we all face right now. I feel like the narrow topics with more niche subjects were also covered in the smaller sessions really made sense to all the right people. The Conference Dinner was also a great night and keeps the identity of the Conference together across the two days.”
Richard also said the networking with people in the fleet industry is more important than it may appear.
“Networking is just as important as the hands-on part of the business. Relevancy is key. When you pitch to your stakeholders, you’re also bringing home ideas and solutions; ‘Here’s the future, here’s how we plan for it.’ Whether it’s car sharing and driverless cars, the disruption of technology means we have to keep across everything.”