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Fleets are ready for latest lockdown, AFP says

Date: 05 January 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

New skills learned since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic mean that fleets are well prepared for the latest lockdown measures, according to the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).

The organisation's chair, Paul Hollick, said that while there was widespread fatigue regarding the current situation, fleet industry professionals now knew exactly how to handle its demands.

He said: "Fleet managers are now experienced in this area and almost have a 'lockdown mode' into which they shift, where they move to meet a different set of priorities and needs from when looser restrictions are in place.

"The situation is completely different from last spring, when we were faced with a long list of unknowns and had to improvise our way through an unprecedented situation. 

"This week, we once again are finding ourselves in an emergency but it's now a familiar one, and fleets know what needs to be done."

Hollick said that while the most important fleet management responsibilities would fall to those involved with the NHS and vaccine distribution, delivery fleets would also be preparing for increased demand, which they should now be ready for.

He added that other tasks, more mundane but still important, would also be on fleet managers' agendas this week.

"They'll be looking at, for example, the ongoing effects of laying up company cars for a further period, with implications for everything from maintenance and safety to taxation and vehicle storage," he said. "This area has almost become a fleet management specialism in itself.

"Of course, these are skills that everyone wished that they wouldn't have to use again but the fact is that this is an aspect of our profession that has become well-established in a short period of time and serves an essential purpose for businesses."

Hollick added that the lockdown could also create some space for businesses running vehicles to take a wider look at their future transport needs.

"We'd very much encourage fleet professionals to make positive use of this time, which is something that many have done during the previous lockdowns. 

"It would be useful for them to consider issues such as the future shape of their fleet or the fact that, if the vaccination programme is effective quickly, we could be looking at a fairly rapid remobilisation of relatively normal operations.

"Also, we'd urge them to take a perhaps use this time to increase their skills. We saw an uptick in demand for the AFP's training courses during the previous two lockdowns, and new proficiencies will undoubtedly help fleet managers to prepare for the new normal, whatever that eventually looks like."