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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Zero Harm to Net Zero: Balfour Beatty features in Fleet News

The term Zero Harm has become a ubiquitous description of fleet ambitions to eliminate crashes when driving for work that result in death or injury, either to employees or the public.

The phrase was conceived by Balfour Beatty back in 2008 as a succinct way to define its risk management strategy: Zero Harm has since been adopted by dozens of fleets of all sizes to express their own commendable aspirations.

Over the past 15 years, Balfour Beatty has implemented a series of initiatives as part of its Zero Harm roadmap which has resulted in an impressive 65% reduction in at-fault incidents across cars, LCVs and HGVs since 2011.

Its incident rate, standing at just 4%, substantially below the industry average of 25-30%, reveals how close Balfour Beatty is getting to eliminating at-fault crashes.

Zero Harm remains central to the fleet strategy, ingrained in the business culture, but has more recently been integrated with the company’s sustainability policy, according to Chris Dickinson, fleet services director at Balfour Beatty Asset and Technology Solutions.

“Our objective as an internal fleet provider is to provide a safe and sustainable fleet which gives our customers the tools to complete their job,” he says, with ‘customers’ referring to the Balfour Beatty divisions served by the fleet team.

Dickinson joined Balfour Beatty as a business graduate with the group’s Rail business in 2008 and worked in a variety of operational roles before moving to the fleet team in 2017. He was promoted to his current position in July 2023.

Eighteen months ago, the division was renamed from Plant and Fleet Services to Asset and Technology Solutions (ATS) to better reflect the wide range of assets and services delivered across the group by the 500+ team in ATS.

Dickinson’s fleet services senior team numbers six, with a wider team of more than 100 fleet experts across the business: senior strategic fleet business partner David Shardlow, senior operations manager Stefan Smedley, driver risk operations manager Russ O’Neill, group transport compliance manager Adrian Wanford, head of operations Scotland Alan McCorquodale and administrator manager Kirsty Swinfield.

Ten years ago, Balfour Beatty surprised many in the fleet sector by outsourcing fleet supply and management services for all its cars and LCVs to experts Lex Autolease, retaining in-house control for the “strategic and complex” HGV fleet.

Until that point, most outsource contracts tended to focus on cars, with LCVs deemed mission critical and remaining under the management of a dedicated fleet or transport decision-maker. However, Balfour Beatty believed the two asset types could be treated the same for fleet management purposes, as long as it retained its grip on risk management and duty of care.

Lex Autolease is responsible for the in-life management of the 4,200 cars and 2,100 LCVs, including maintenance and 24/7 breakdown cover. It has a dedicated Balfour Beatty team working on the account.

Dickinson manages the strategic Lex relationship, with success measured via 48 KPIs across the end-to-end asset lifecycle (quote, order, supply, in life, accident management). Financial penalties apply should Lex fail to meet them; however, they have yet to be applied.

As a clear indication of the partnership’s achievements, the contract has just been extended for another three years, to 2026, with an option of a further two years.

“The KPIs are submitted monthly, and we review them with our dedicated account manager,” says Dickinson. “We also hold an annual strategic review to identify improvement areas and ideas around mutually beneficial growth and value adding activities. One example of this is the introduction of a reciprocal arrangement on service, maintenance and repair. We get the SMR business for any vehicle that is within 10 miles of one of our seven workshops after becoming one of Lex’s approved suppliers.”

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