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Top humanitarian fleet management trends revealed at 2022 Annual Fleet Forum Conference

The economic and social impact of the pandemic, the challenges fueled by the global supply chain disruption and the accelerated climate-focused action are pushing fleet managers to re-evaluate and adapt their fleet programmes.

In parallel, fleet managers cannot lose their focus on reducing costs and road crash risks. Over 2 days at Fleet Forum Annual Conference, approximately 650 fleet managers. We’re here to tell you about the emerging trends.

1. The current global vehicle supply environment undergoing the most significant upheaval since Henry Ford

This quote from The Economist resonated with the humanitarian fleet management community. Global shortages of electrical steel and semiconductors will persist through 2022, pushing automakers to reduce output and abandon tried-and-true strategies like lean inventories and just-in-time production.

Automotive supply chain issues are unprecedented. Humanitarian organisations must wait longer, be less picky when choosing vehicles, and accept that some features might not be available as a result of the chip shortage. In addition, the global freight market is extremely volatile, not only leading to higher costs, but also impacting the predictability of shipping time.

Figure 1: Results of participants poll at the 2022 Fleet Forum Annual Conference

There is a serious risk that fleet managers have to resort to operating vehicles beyond their disposal policy, ultimately driving up fleet costs and emissions. The coming period is forcing fleet managers to be more innovative and optimise as much as possible.

2. Humanitarian organisations are focusing on the drive to optimise fleet

In 2022, nearly 50% of Fleet Forum member organisations have a dedicated Global Fleet or Road Safety Manager and are expanding fleet management positions regionally. A growing number of aid and development organisations, particularly mid-sized organisations, are starting to see fleet as an area from which they can gain efficiencies.

Next to that, fleet managers are increasingly focused on a range of optimisation activities, from investing in better quality data to rightsizing their fleet and reducing fuel consumption. Fleet Forum members who have successfully established internal vehicle leasing programmes are now expanding the fleet management support they provide to their country offices to optimise all parts of the lifecycle, with special focus on fleet operations.

3. Optimisation can only take us so far …. It’s time for innovation!

Shweta Surender - thought leader on urban mobility, smart mobility and the future of transport at Frost & Sullivan - provided an insight in how the future can look like. A future where vehicle ownership is no longer important, rather organisations are focused on new forms of mobility, starting with vehicle sharing. The pandemic forced us to re-evaluate our work and many employees will continue to work from home, changing the role of fleet managers. While it may take longer to feel the full effects of this future, there is no doubt it’s in the near future for humanitarian organisations.

Two key innovative approaches were announced at the 2022 conference. Firstly, WFP and UNHCR have joinedforces to offer UN agencies with safe, efficient and sustainable fleet services. Starting with leased vehicles in 2022, UN Fleet will expand its offering to fleet management services. Sister UN agencies are in talks with UN Fleet to match their requirements and start benefitting from these services. Secondly, Save the Children presented their revolutionary approach to fleet replacement: a fleet service charge model designed to decouple fleet financing from project cycles. They have rolled this approach out with a handful of donors and plan to scale this up in the coming months.

4. Data, data, data

Fleet Forum has one mantra: collect and analyse your data to gain insight in your performance. And at the 2022 Fleet Forum Annual Conference, it was clear to see this mantra is resonating with many organisations, humanitarian and commercial alike. The International Committee of the Red Cross & Red Crescent (ICRC) took home the Best Transport Achievement Award for their road safety improvement program, in which they credit their success to consistent road crash reporting and analysis.

Figure 2: ICRC analyse their crash data to identify targeted road safety interventions

Experts from Toyota Gibraltar Stockholdings (TGS) also hosted a session and demonstrated how fleet managers could use road crash analysis to plug the holes in a road safety risk management programme. TGS announced they are further developing a data analysis service, starting with road crash analysis.

5. The emerging climate-focused action

Last Annual Conference was a turning point in Fleet Forum history; more than 50% discussions were around sustainability. Jan Egeland, Secretary General of NRC made a simple, yet strong call to Fleet Forum attendees: You can not contribute to climate change while responding to the impact of it. Many humanitarian organisations are acknowledging that greening their operations is part of their commitment to the SDGs.

This year we see the ambition gradually turning into action. Firstly, global fleet managers are starting to implement sustainable fleet initiative. And those who already started – such as ICRC and Save the Children – are reporting back on their progress to the Fleet Forum community. More donors encouraging organisations to conduct a baseline of their emissions. In the past 12 months, more than 30% of Fleet Forum members have conducted such a baseline. Organisation who don’t have a dedicated global fleet managers are using the potential to get visibility and reduce fleet emissions as part of their pitch to senior management for fleet investments.

Suppliers are matching the ambition of humanitarian organisations; system providers are adjusting their product to enabler better environmental data capture and vehicle manufacturers and distributors are incorporating smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles in their value proposition. Since last year’s conference, 3 Fleet Forum members have solidified their commitment to sustainability by purchasing electric vehicles and they are now participating in a Fleet Forum-faciliated project to capture the lessons learned from operating EVs.

Did you miss the 2022 conference? If you’re a Fleet Forum member, you can view the conference recordings at this link.



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