FORS – the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme – recently welcomed its largest ever delegation to the sixth FORS Annual Conference at the International Conventional Centre in Birmingham.

With the theme for 2023 ‘Building a resilient FORS Community for the road ahead’, the event featured more than 40 exhibitors, plus a diverse range of speakers with practical advice on maintaining rigorous processes for compliance and safety, as well as how to deliver greater business efficiencies.

Presentations and panel discussions from the FORS and GSAG (Governance, Standards and Advisory Group*) teams, covered a range of topics covering accreditation, stakeholder management, training and updates to the FORS Standard.

FORS Concession Director, Geraint Davies and FORS Technical Advisor, Glen Davies spoke about the success of the Future of Accreditation programme, which has seen initiatives such as a redesign of the Bronze Audit to ensure it is fully aligned to both Operator Licence undertakings and the DVSA’s Earned Recognition scheme. The Future of Accreditation team has also published a new competence framework for fleet auditors with five progressive training modules. To ensure continuous improvement, a new post-audit satisfaction survey has now been established.

Underlining the FORS spirit of collaboration, Geraint listed some of the organisations that FORS has been fostering relationships with, such as Logistics UK, RHA, DVSA, Office of the Traffic Commissioner and the Mineral Products Association. Geraint also referenced some results from the recent Accredited Operator survey; stating that “We are aligning our priorities to what matters to operators”.

Speaking of the continuing digital transformation, delegates were informed of updates to the FORS Professional training portfolio as well as a redesign and simplification of the website. Geraint concluded with the promise of a new digital audit solution to be rolled out in 2024.

Looking to the future, the FORS team spoke of targeting emerging and growing sectors such as cargo bikes and single van operators, as well as a focus on growing accreditation for Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PCVs). Updates to the FORS Standard are expected to be published early in the new year, with Version 7 effective from summer 2024. Minor changes to most existing requirements are expected in Version 7, but in line with best practice, operators will see the biggest difference in environmental expectations. As GSAG Chair, Steve Agg said: “GSAG needs to look at the impact for society at large as a result of FORS being around.”

Information on ways to improve performance and compliance in partnership with external agencies was provided by Senior Traffic Commissioner Richard Turfitt and DVSA Head of Enforcement Marian Kitson. Mr Turfitt spoke about the importance of internal monitoring of key compliance, particularly looking at active engagement from senior management. Ms Kitson shared the DVSA vision to 2030, which showed their use of data to achieve better road safety outcomes, make transport greener and move towards a more technology-based future.

Also speaking at the conference was former logistics managing director, Rebecca Jenkins, who gave delegates pointers to build greater resilience into their business through what she defined as “relentless innovation”. Shireen Ali-Khan, engagement specialist at Women in Transport, shared practical ways to ensure representation of women and minority groups are at the forefront of company culture, with the understanding that diverse teams are “more innovative, problem-solving and profitable”.

A number of other key speakers gave their perspectives around the topic of road safety, including headline sponsor Drivetech, represented by UK Commercial Consultant Anthony Marco, Darren Lindsey, Director of Project Edward and Mark Cartwright, Head of the Commercial Vehicle Incident Prevention Team at National Highways.

FORS Accredited Operators continue to enjoy the benefit of free attendance at the annual FORS conference, providing them with valuable insights and expertise from industry leaders. This is just one of many ways in which FORS delivers exceptional value to its community. Additionally, FORS Accredited Operators have access to complimentary regional training, webinars, and other informative events, along with a comprehensive range of legislative and business-focused information readily available through FORS digital channels.

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