HW Richardson Group uses driver training to improve fuel efficiency
The most satisfying thing about implementing safe driving and fuel efficiency has been turning around the sceptical drivers, according to HW Richardson Group’s General Manager People Development John McDonald.
“There were a number of more experienced drivers who at first were of the opinion ‘you can’t teach me anything’ but they quickly became the greatest converts.”
HW Richardson Group (HWR) joined EECA’s Heavy Vehicle Fuel Efficiency programme in late 2014, after a pilot with subsidiary Southern Transport proved successful, with a 7% fuel saving and 48% reduction in gear changes. HWR has a combined fleet of nearly a thousand vehicles.
“The trial with Southern Transport completely dispelled the myth that fuel efficient driving would mean a longer trip. A post-training review based on 21 trips showed there was in fact a seven minute reduction in time spent driving on the road. That definitely helped persuade our drivers to get on board.”
HWR is giving SAFEDNZ (safe and fuel efficient driving) training to its drivers, improving fuel data management, and speeding and idling management. It hopes to reduce fuel consumption by 10% which equates to nearly two million litres annually. “Seeing professional drivers adopt a different way of driving for good as been gratifying and the greatest highlight for me personally. A lot of our older drivers have now become SAFEDNZ trainers”, says McDonald. “This programme in continuous improvement has been the biggest behavioural change initiative in the heavy transport industry.”
McDonald says those attending the SAFEDNZ training quickly began to compete for the greatest reduction in gear changes and fuel burn. “It was great to see them all sit down in the lunch room and share their experiences with each other.” “There quickly became a bit of peer pressure amongst them to see who could deliver the greatest reduction in gear changes and fuel burn.” “Long-term I have no doubt that we will also enjoy savings on replacement tyres and a longer life from clutches, brakes and gearboxes, and reduced repairs and maintenance.”
HWR Managing Director Scott O’Donnell says fuel efficiency is also helping the company reach its safety goals. “The safe driving aligns with our priorities for both our people and the communities we work and live in. We want our staff to get home safely every night, and ensure the public is not put at risk by our transport operation.”
McDonald says the support from upper management has been crucial to the success of the Heavy Vehicle Fuel Efficiency programme, and will be in the future. “For the programme to work, and for continuous improvement, management needs to be committed, the fuel reporting needs to be extremely accurate, training needs to be refreshed so that people don’t fall back into bad habits, and follow up and monitoring is essential.” In the long term, the company will look at vehicle selection practices to help reach its fuel efficiency goals.