This year has seen a new start for FORS, the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme, with its new management team taking the reins and promising to put operators first.
Transport for London (TfL) announced Sopra Steria as the new FORS administrators in October 2021 after a competitive tender process, with management of the international accreditation scheme beginning in early January 2022.
Ian Henderson, FORS Concession Director, is the man charged with leading FORS. Henderson has vast experience in the road transport sector, as lead on several transport and technology contracts and fulfilling operational roles at both TfL and the Metropolitan Police.
Henderson’s goal is clear, to place the FORS community of accredited operators – some 4,900 fleet operators from across the UK – front and centre of the future of FORS as the new team develops the scheme’s mandate to drive-up standards within the industry. He says, “FORS has come a long way since it began in 2008, yet its goals rightly remain unchanged – to offer a simple, easy-to-use gateway to unlock efficiency and operational gains for the FORS community’s businesses. We want to engage with operators; to share ideas and experiences in order to take FORS forward. Key to this will be how FORS can become an effective business enabler for fleets in their pursuit of future business wins.”
Alongside Sopra Steria, FORS will also benefit from the input from a number of other industry stakeholders, each with transport-specific competences to help develop the scheme.
“FORS is a mark of quality for operators, suppliers and employees,” says Henderson. We want to build on these ideals, and to deliver tangible benefits to our operators and specifiers. The road transport industry faces big cost and environmental challenges; we want to provide this vibrant community with the tools they need to help their businesses prosper.”
Glen Davies has been brought in as FORS Technical Advisor. Davies helped establish FORS with TfL at its inception in 2007, and now re-joins the FORS team to provide advice, guidance, and support in the technical aspects of road fleet operations.
Aimee Mitchell is FORS Head of Business Operations and is taking a lead on service and delivering customer excellence. Aimee has spent the previous few years supporting users through digital transformation within her operations and will be guiding her team with a ‘customer at the heart’ ethos.
Chris Douglas, FORS Growth Lead is charged with expanding FORS in new sectors and territories within the UK. Chris brings 28 years’ experience in road haulage operations, trade associations (Logistics UK) and consultancy, having previously managed the Department for Transport’s Freight Best Practice Programme.
Although the Sopra Steria team have plans to update FORS’ digital offering, including its website, for Ian Henderson it will be business as usual for FORS-accredited operators during its first year at the helm. He says, “The FORS community is striving for excellence in safety, sustainability, and service. Sopra Steria’s digital transformation experience will be put to work to help operators reach their accreditation targets. We are working to launch a range of accessible digital tools which will really add value to our community.
“For vehicle fleets,” he said, “FORS offers clear methodology, training and guidance regarding legislative requirements. Importantly, FORS acts as a business enabler; allowing truck operators to demonstrate a best practice pathway towards higher levels of safety, increased efficiency and greater protection of the environment.”
2022 will see Version 6 of The FORS Standard come into effect; the sixth iteration of the document which outlines how FORS operators must meet the accreditation criteria at each stage of the progressive scheme. While Version 6 does not contain huge changes to the scheme, Henderson knows helping FORS operators make the shift to decarbonisation will become more important over time, as the transport industry faces ever-tougher emissions reduction targets.
Henderson says, “Decarbonisation is the challenge of the century for the road transport industry. While our operators already know FORS as a quality benchmark setting the standard for safety, more can be done for them to better demonstrate their progress toward a low carbon future.”
He adds, “FORS has come a long way since it began, and we are very much looking forward to building on its successes and ensuring FORS remains relevant for the future needs of the industry.”