Knight Build has attained a gold recognition for continued commitment to improve the fate of vulnerable road users, by drastically improving safety, environmental impact and efficiency through the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS).
Knight Build Ltd. is based in Brentwood, Essex and primarily carries out works in London and surrounding areas. The current management team joined forces in 1994 and since then Knight Build has become renowned for complete shell & core projects, complex basement construction, structural alterations, demolition, underpinning, piling, concrete frames, groundwork, brickwork, roofing work and drainage solutions. Edward Daize, Financial Director & Transport Manager explains how Knight Build has benefited as a company through FORS.
As a construction company, the importance of transportation for us to deliver to our sites in London became more of a priority as more and more clients had made this a mandatory requirement. Even the London Borough Councils made planning conditions effective to bring about the changing requirements of transport in London. As such it was the requirements driven by clients and the London Borough Councils that highlighted our need to become FORS accredited. I realised that FORS would benefit us, as contractually without FORS we may possibly not be considered on upcoming projects.
The initial FORS bronze assessment was an eye opener; it highlighted shortfalls and areas that needed improvements. Although Knight Build Limited passed our initial assessment first time round, we were complacent and did not realise the full benefit of progression and on our second assessment it was pointed out that we needed to demonstrate how we were above and beyond compliance in order to make further progress. This indicated to me that we needed to improve and hence I personally took up the role of transport manager within the organisation.
I had been the Financial Director at Knight Build Limited since its start and my working life was spent ensuring that we operated profitably in order to grow and expand our business. Although I had not previously been heavily involved in our transport department, such was the importance of the changing times I thought it best to have Director Involvement. With the growing needs of any business the importance of transportation became more of a priority for us, especially with the majority of our projects based in London. With this growing need for regulation, I became involved more and more with the operational side of our transport department and I could see first-hand the challenges faced in respect of not just adopting the FORS standards but also in progressing with the standards. It was never going to be an easy task, but I got stuck in. Firstly, to ensure that I was adequately aware of the responsibilities, I undertook the CPC Transport Manager responsibility by gaining the necessary qualification. I then became a FORS Practitioner. By doing so I had a comprehensive understanding of the elements I learned, and putting them into day to day practice was essentially much easier. Obviously it was a gradual and painstaking job (most people do not like change and avoid this at all costs) but eventually the benefits of working in compliance with the standards and in an efficient manner could be seen. This resulted in less missed deliveries, work being completed well within the normal working hours with better working conditions and practices being adopted. One huge benefit was the reduction in stress for the drivers whom previously must have felt that everything was their fault, as invariably they would get the blame for everything outside their control including traffic related issues. I now see the transport team from a different perspective-as an important side of our business and the people in this team are all professionals and therefore further developing their skills with added training is not the hindrance they possibly initially thought but just a second look at what you do and how it can be improved.
‘The reduction in accidents and fuel savings speak volumes about what FORS membership has brought to Knight Build Limited.’
Cost efficiency to an accountant like me is the biggest incentive driver, and we are seeing savings being made by efficient transportation, the avoidance of wasted journeys and missed deliveries/collections which all previously caused added stress to a driver’s day. Implementing efficient planning in our transport processes has helped reduce driver stress and create a safer environment ofworking attitudes. FORS workshops obviously helped underline important practices and the need for the same to ensure that from a management perspective it is driven in the right direction. I also found by sending our lead driver on a CPC manager refresher course that it made him even more aware and educated of the challenges we had set ourselves and the changes required to improve the working conditions and practices which would benefit not just the company but the whole team involved. It certainly makes implementing change easier if more than one can understand the requirements and benefits as a whole.
‘Changes occur so why not remodel your attitude to these changes based on the latest information and data available which is what ongoing assessment and training is all about’
The benefits of the FORS scheme has been clearly evident and introducing policies such as the Anti-Idling Policy combined with on-going driver awareness training through e-learning courses and FORS Toolbox Talks which has resulted in a reduction in Fleet related incidents, PCN’s and Co2 emissions.
At Knight Build Limited we have always aimed to be the best in our field in what we do. This features not only in our outlook to our primary work objectives but also to all ancillary requirements and ensuring our transport is run both efficiently and safely is a goal we will continue to meet. Becoming Gold member’s means we are doing exactly “what it says on the tin” and showing the minimum standard that we work to. Also, the merits of this hard work will filter back in cost savings as working efficiently does not need to be at the detriment of safety. It can be very rewarding to see how the transport in our organisation has become both cost effective and efficient in such a short journey and the benefits have more than outweighed the costs. Our membership of FORS is tantamount to this ethos and we will continue to support and work to these standards which we feel is creating a safer working environment for drivers. Cutting greenhouse emissions, reducing the companies’ carbon footprint and the resulting health benefits to the general public should not be understated; this together with the added hope that vulnerable road users will gain more protection by the added professionalism in the transport sector that FORS brings will help reduce unnecessary accidents and incidents.