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Fleet Profile: Adler & Allan

Date: 02 August 2023   |   Author: Rachel Boagey

Paul Tate, fleet manager at Adler & Allan, an environmental risk reduction company, shares his innovative strategies with Rachel Boagey to greenify his fleet and inspire others to follow suit.

With a passion for sustainability and expertise in fleet management, Paul Tate is driving positive change within his organisation and the industry.

Having joined Adler & Allan as the fleet manager two years ago, Tate's passion for fleet management blossomed during his notable 12-year tenure at Siemens, where he gained invaluable experience in the field. Building on this foundation, he proactively pursued further education, earning a diploma in car and van fleet management.

Tate's influence extends beyond his immediate responsibilities at Adler & Allan. As a respected member of the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP), he actively shares his knowledge and expertise to educate and empower the corporate fleet industry.

In his role at the environmental risk reduction company Adler & Allan, Tate not only manages the van and car fleet but also leads efforts to make the fleet more environmentally friendly. 

Recognising the significance of his position, he has assembled a team that reports to him, and together, they have implemented a comprehensive strategy aimed at greening the company's growing fleet of 160 cars.

One of Tate's key initiatives is the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) within the fleet. Although the transition is still in its early stages, with electric vehicles gradually replacing traditional petrol and diesel options, Tate is confident in the potential of EVs to contribute to a sustainable future.

Through his dedicated efforts and the implementation of a well-rounded strategy, Tate has successfully guided Adler & Allan's fleet towards a more sustainable path, exemplifying his commitment to driving positive change within his organisation and the broader industry.

"We recognise the importance of embarking on the journey towards electric and hybrid vehicles, and we are currently developing a new strategy to make these options accessible to all drivers. However, the reality is that some of our drivers' job roles pose challenges in transitioning to electric vehicles, and the higher cost of electric vehicles makes it harder to justify the switch," Tate explains.

As Adler & Allan's fleet operates on an outright purchase basis, Tate often finds himself advocating for expanded options to accommodate the acquisition of environmentally friendly vehicles. His commitment to sustainability and persuasive efforts have been crucial in gaining support for these advancements. Despite the challenges, Tate and his team are actively working on formulating an approach that ensures electric and hybrid options are available to all drivers within the company.

"While I would like to have made more progress with electric vehicles, our operational requirements currently limit our ability to go further. For instance, one part of our business deals with disaster response vehicles, where sending an electric vehicle to an incident involving a volatile substance is not feasible."

Tate explains the fleet does not currently have any electric light commercial vehicles (LCVs), but they are exploring the possibility. "We need to strike a balance between the environmental aspect and our operational requirements, such as routing, timing and distance," he says.

Tate emphasises that the increasing demand for EVs will necessitate a comprehensive overhaul of the infrastructure in our towns and cities as transportation shifts from oil to electricity. "There are numerous worst-case scenarios we need to address to ensure readiness for EV adoption, such as evaluating the charging infrastructure available in each area and determining if they are located in restricted height areas, which is a concern for some of our vehicles. These are just a few of the scenarios we must consider," he explains.

Tate firmly believes that fleet managers must conduct thorough research, especially concerning electric LCVs. "While we all aspire to make our fleets greener, the infrastructure challenges are a significant concern," he asserts.

"As fleet managers, we all have the desire to transition to greener fleets, but we face day-to-day challenges and operational limitations," he acknowledges. "We still have a substantial task ahead of us, which involves installing millions of EV charging stations in forecourts, commercial car parks, businesses and public spaces. This ensures that drivers have convenient access to charging wherever and whenever they need it."

Tate clarifies that his fleet intentionally did not rush to be among the early adopters of EVs. "For us to switch to electric, it must align with our company's cost considerations and provide convenience for our drivers; otherwise, it will not be a viable option," he explains.

From experience as an early adopter at his previous company, Tate says the reality of these vehicles was not fully considered. He says, "We put leased electric vehicles in a location, and they could only do 70 miles, and the nearest service agent was 130 miles away. 

"Now, I always consider whether the right provisions are in place to support the vehicle; otherwise, we'll end up back in diesel or petrol, and that's not the direction we want to be going." 

The Adler & Allan fleet is indeed facing pressure to adopt EVs due to the government's ban on petrol and diesel cars scheduled for 2030. "The government targets are putting pressure on us to make the switch, but there are many industry activities that seem like mere checkboxes and may not be the best choices for our fleet," Tate says.

As an environmental risk reduction specialist, Adler & Allan is committed to assisting public and private sector businesses in understanding and managing their environmental risks, thereby minimising their impact on the environment, operations and reputation. For this reason, Tate emphasises the importance of not rushing into decisions for their own fleet.

To propel progress, Adler & Allan's fleet aims to contribute to the electrification of the UK's network, supporting other fleets in their transition to EVs. "Aligned with government targets, we are collaborating with numerous partners across the UK to transform their forecourts and car parks, enabling them to reduce carbon emissions, align with their net-zero strategies, and plan for a future free of emissions," explains Tate.

The company is at the forefront of a £400m investment in ultra-rapid EV charging points by independent forecourt operator MFG, with plans to install these charging points across 500 of its sites by 2030. Furthermore, the Adler & Allan fleet is actively expanding its own internal network of chargers to enhance charging infrastructure availability.

Of the fleet of 160 vehicles, six of those are currently electric and driven by company engineers to directors. Tate shares that these EVs consist of Teslas and Polestars. However, he acknowledges that integrating EVs into their fleet has presented challenges due to the nature of their fleet drivers' job requirements.

"Some days go really smoothly, and the electric vehicles perform well," says Tate. "But on other days, frustrations arise when the charging infrastructure encounters issues or when our drivers arrive at a charging location only to find a long queue." 

Tate identifies the mixed usage of charging stations by both business drivers and leisure drivers as another challenge faced by their fleet.

He explains, "You may have individuals who have ample time to charge their vehicles leisurely, taking breaks and enjoying a coffee along the way. On the other hand, our fleet drivers have tight schedules, and every minute counts as they strive to reach their next
job promptly."

Tate's observations highlight the need for further development and optimisation of the EV charging infrastructure to cater to the specific requirements of fleet drivers. It underscores the importance of balancing the convenience and efficiency of charging stations, ensuring they align with the demanding schedules of business drivers while accommodating the needs of leisure drivers.

It's not just the infrastructure (or lack of) that's holding him back, either. Although the industry is recovering post-pandemic, Tate says vehicle supply is a problem that remains. 

"I don't know how the manufacturers are going to be able to produce vehicles in the quantities required to meet these goals," he explains.

In his role at the AFP, Tate also uses his background and knowledge to advise fleets on risk compliance. In recent years, much attention has been given by the fleet sector to big, strategic subjects such as electrification. These are obviously very important but on
a day-to-day level, Tate explains how many AFP members are looking for advice and assistance in dealing with a whole series of everyday challenges.

He says, "The ongoing impacts of everything from the pandemic to the current economic crisis means fleet managers are today facing many difficult issues for which there are often no easy answers, such as rising costs across the board and ongoing supply difficulties."

Although Tate says he is not quite where he wants to be with EVs, he has implemented eco-friendly measures to optimise fleet efficiency. These include driver training programmes focused on fuel-efficient driving techniques, regular vehicle maintenance to improve fuel economy, and telematics systems to monitor and optimise routes. 

By actively promoting these practices, Tate has not only reduced operating costs but has also enhanced the overall sustainability of the fleet while he continues to research the viability of EVs. 

He also highlights that work-related stress has an adverse effect on businesses in terms of maintaining business output and performance, staff turnover and attendance, along with business image and reputation. "I think the days of forcing an employee to drive ridiculous hours are over. Fleets now have to be mindful of corporate manslaughter and legislation which rightfully protects the employee. At the end of the day, you want them to go back to the family after work." 

Tate ensures his fleet drivers feel comfortable to let him or his team know if anything doesn't feel right and to speak out if they aren't feeling confident. 

With Tate's leadership and unwavering determination, Adler & Allan is steadily progressing towards a more sustainable fleet. As EV technology continues to evolve and become more accessible, Tate's vision of a greener fleet is inching closer to reality. 

His passion for sustainability, coupled with his expertise in fleet management, serves as an inspiration for other organisations to follow suit and make a positive impact on the environment through their fleet operations.