Fors conference

FORS held its fourth Members’ Conference on 15 October with a theme of 'Safer, Smarter, Greener' operations.

Attended by 450 delegates, the one-day event at the National Conference Centre in Solihull featured interactive polls and speeches from major industry stakeholders including Highways England, Kier, Michelin and Rexel.

Host for this year's event was BigChange director Jo Godsmark, who is also an active member of the CILT (Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport) Outsourcing and Procurement Forum.

Godsmark is also chair and a trustee of the international Transaid charity, which FORS supported at the conference. FORS matched attendee contributions, raising over £1,000 at the conference, to support the charity’s work providing much needed training and transport to communities across Africa.

“With 95% of collisions caused by human error, and growing concerns over air quality issues, there is still a lot we need to do," Godsmark said. "Everyone in the room today recognises this and continues to work towards improved road safety and environmental protection.”

Main topics at the event included second generation smart tachographs, tyre pressure monitoring, and the switch to app-based fleet management tools.

Professor Geoff Clarke from AECOM explored the role of alternative fuels in a panel discussion with Graeme Neagus from Renault Trucks UK, alternative fuel consultant Martin Flach and Brian Robinson from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership.

A poll conducted during the session showed that 19% of the participating audience members already had an electric vehicle (EV) as part of their current fleet make up.

Professor Geoff Clarke said, “‘Greener’ has always been part of FORS via fuel management, tyre management, aerodynamics, and eco driving, but today when discussing ‘greener’ it is also appropriate to look at vehicles and the choice many members will be facing in coming months.”

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Natalie Geraghty, head of customer and communications at Kier Highways, discussed the need for operators to understand the importance of driver mental health. She said: “When it comes to mental wellbeing, we shouldn’t be competitive, we should be sticking together - just as we do with safety. We should all be tackling these difficult issues in the same way.”

Visitors could access a unique exhibition of 36 FORS Associates and four FORS Affinity Partners, showcasing products or services designed to help members meet the requirements of the FORS Standard and assist in driving-up industry best practice, with headline sponsor, FORS Associate Tachograph analysis software specialists Aquarius IT, taking centre stage.

Karla Harding, head of quality and compliance at Simply Waste Solutions, a FORS Bronze member said: “This is our first time at the FORS conference, and I am deeply impressed by the focus on efficiency and innovation. It feels like the industry is really trying to improve itself and that FORS is playing a key role in this. We will definitely be coming back.”

John Hix, FORS director said: “The FORS Members' Conference is our opportunity to welcome a large cross-section of our members from across the UK and explore in detail some of the pressing issues facing them as operators from diverse fields.

He added, “Safety is always at the heart of FORS, and we know our members are fully committed to achieving and maintaining safety standards far beyond the legal minimum requirements. We hope the event has really emphasised to our members the importance of greater efficiency to help reduce emissions and deliver climate protection.”