The 2013 Microlise Annual Transport Conference hailed as a huge success

Microlise held its Annual Transport Conference at the East Midlands Conference Centre on the 14th of May 2013. Hosted by Quentin Wilson, over 400 delegates heard from a number of leading industry figures about how they are bringing best practice to their transport and logistics operations. The full day event was broken down into a number of themes; reducing fuel usage, costs & emissions, improving health and safety and the enhancing customer service.

Key note speakers came from a range of industry sectors and membership and compliance bodies and covered a variety of topics. Speakers shared their thoughts, predictions and experiences with the audience at the conference and in many cases, made themselves available for questions in the exhibition area during interludes.

Geoff Dunning, Chief Executive of the RHA gave the opening address, speaking about the challenges that the industry has faced over the last 12 months and highlighted the challenges that were on the horizon and how only operators who are profitable, compliant and sustainable will succeed.

Beverley Bell, Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain gave an interesting and entertaining presentation on what is expected of transport operators in the UK today, highlighting how companies often think they understand the requirements of compliance with operating license regulations, and illustrated how, in many cases, they simply don’t. Some of the examples Beverley gave were both amusing and hair raising!

Nick Hay, MD of Fowler Welch Distribution made an interesting and compelling argument that telematics was not the silver bullet to improving fuel economy and fuel efficiency, but how getting the culture right was paramount. Nick contended that telematics is a vital tool in measuring the effectiveness of this culture. Nick has Microlise Fleet Performance Telematics deployed across his fleet and reported an improvement in MPG of 6% in 12 months, which continues to rise. Nick also shared with the audience the significant reduction in accident rates and insurance costs Fowler Welch have experienced in the same period.

Graham Lackey, MD of Brit European highlighted the pioneering work Brit European are doing in the use of dual fuel vehicles within their fleet, the huge investment they have made in this area and the support received by government funding. Graham and his team have been particularly innovative in how they have overcome the issues with range and the reticence of fuel suppliers to make investment in gas bunkers on truck routes by developing their own mobile gas station, which they use to support their fleet and prove to fuel companies that there is demand in a location before moving the mobile platform on. Graham will use Microlise to measure the efficiency of the dual fuel vehicles in his fleet going forwards.

Oli Wanklyn, Operations Coordination Manager at BSKYB took delegates through the challenges BSKYB have faced in driving the benefits of Telematics through their engineering fleet operation given the size of their fleet of over 2500 vans, highlighting the limited amount of time that team and regional managers have available to spend with their engineers, which are all ‘home based’. Using information from Microlise Fleet Performance Telematics system as a base, BSKYB have put in place a simple communications and reward package that has resulted in an overall fuel economy improvement of 7% and a reduction in speeding of over 90%.

Alex Fiddes, Executive Director Next Generation Testing at VOSA gave an overview of the work VOSA do to help to ensure safety compliance in UK fleets, the challenges the UK faces from some overseas operators and the work VOSA do in targeting rogue drivers and operators. Alex played a video of a horrific road accident in which 7 people were killed that left nobody in the conference hall in any doubt as to the danger of not maintaining heavy goods vehicles to the required standards.

Simon Chamberlain, MD of Chamberlain Transport presented at the Microlise annual conference for the second time. Simon was again well received as he gave an informative and interesting view of the world from a successful, medium sized, family owned operator. Simon detailed the benefits he has seen from the Microlise Fleet Performance Telematics system over the lifetime of the solution – right from the first vehicle implementation through to his recent addition of Smartwitness cameras connected into the Microlise system. Like Nick at Fowler Welch, he reiterated that Telematics isn’t a ‘magic wand’ and the importance of good management and the right driver culture.

Andrew Gadd, Progamme Manager at Interserve FM talked about how Interserve, a large facilities management company, fitted Microlise tracking units to their van fleet this year and how telematics data contributes key management information to their SustainAbilities programme.

Jim Hochin, Director of Operations at Openfield and Ian Fisher, VP IT – Strategy, Planning & Innovation at DHL opened their talk by depositing a huge wad of paper delivery notes on the stage by ways of highlighting that, due to the nature of what DHL collect and deliver on behalf of Openfield, they generate 480,000 pieces of paper every year for around 120,000 loads of grain being collected from farms and delivered to manufacturers. Ian & Jim explained how using Microlise’s innovative SmartPOD application on Android phones, will allow DHL drivers and sub-contractors alike to remove this paperwork in a very cost effective and easy to use manner.

Shaun Foley, COO of Bidvest Logistics shared with the audience how Bidvest have made an improvement of over 5% in fuel consumption. Bidvest logistics have been a Microlise customer for a number of years and use a range of Microlise Transport execution modules across their fleet of over 400 food service trucks, pioneering the Microlise Customer Service Board. Shaun explained the importance of customer service to Bidvest and how Microlise helps to differentiate their service with the ability to provide real-time delivery exception information to their customers. This has enhanced their customer’s service experience – even when things were not necessarily going to plan on a trip.

There was also time set aside for networking over coffee breaks and an excellent hot buffet lunch, where attendees could also spend time browsing a number of Microlise partner stalls displaying complimentary technologies and services. The eco driving competition was also a huge success with the top three delegates winning a Kindle Fire.

This year’s conference sponsors were MAN whose display of latest generation MAN Euro 6 trucks in the external exhibition area was met with great interest. Brit European also brought along one of their new dual fuel trucks, complete with a JCB (another Microlise customer) on a low loader, for people to look at. Graham Lackey commented, “The number of delegates showing interest in the Brit European presentation and our truck on display is indicative of the level of interest in the duel fuel debate and testament to the quality and organisation of the Microlise Transport Conference.”

The conference presentations were wrapped up by a thoroughly entertaining talk from Ben Collins, formerly “The Stig” on BBC Top Gear, who shared some of his varied and exciting experiences during his time as a racing driver and Hollywood stunt man.

Feedback from the day has been hugely positive so far, with over 90 delegates already pre-registered for next year’s event – which continues to increase.

The Microlise Transport Conference was met with positive comments regarding the event overall like, “It’s the most useful conference I have ever attended” and “I was really impressed. I liked the sessions from companies who were making the same journey. Quality line up, very impressive…”

The speakers were highly praised with comments like, “I thought the speakers were all excellent…” and “The themes were topical and made interesting by each of the individuals presenting”.

At the same time, it would appear that we were, “spot on” as one delegate put it, with this year’s themes. “The selected themes were perfect for the day, tinged with regulatory and compliance content which was then supported by relevant companies sharing their positive experiences with Telemetry.” Comments directed at specific speakers such as, “Chamberlain Transport reflected what I see in my own day to day job,” suggest that the topics were completely relevant to the audience.

Bob Harbey, the director at Microlise responsible for the event said, “We are delighted with the success of this year’s event, we have almost doubled the number of attendees from last year’s conference. It is testimony to Microlise and our customers that so many people were happy to stand up and tell people about how they are using Microlise technology, coupled with good organisation and processes, to improve their transport operations performance. I would really like to thank all our guest speakers for their fantastic contribution, as well as convey our gratitude to all of the delegates who made the effort to attend”. Bob concluded by saying that plans were already underway for next year’s free event and that he was encouraged by the feedback from delegates which indicated over 95% of attendees would recommend the event to their colleagues.