Volvo Connect at United Utilities

Our Digital Services team caught up with John Blackmore (Head of Bioresource Operations) and Martin Shaw (Regional Logistics & Industrial Cleaning Manager) from United Utilities to find out more about how they use Volvo Connect to work with their drivers and improve their fleet efficiency within the waste water industry.
Volvo Connect at United Utilities

United Utilities transport sludge liquid through various treatment stages over 4.2 million miles annually, overseeing 148 drivers operating 179 LGV fleet items; this includes 65 Tankers, 42 Tippers and 58 Tractor units, which are all Volvo vehicles. This highlights the importance of driver training for John and Martin, sparking conversations about 3-4 years ago surrounding telematics and how this data could potentially be used to improve driver behaviour.

John told us how he collaborated with Martin to get an understanding of how, in other industries, telematics were commonly being used to ‘…increase mpg, review driver performance and to increase the overall standard of driving across the fleet’, but for United Utilities this wasn’t a common use for the data at that time.

The company used the previous Dynafleet system since 2011 and then continued with the platform when it migrated to Volvo Connect, primarily for the remote tacho download function via the Driver Times service as their main benefit initially. They then began to use more of the data available to them for training and coaching purposes, as well as setting performance targets to encourage better driver behaviour throughout their fleet. 

John also told us how the United Utilities drivers are incentivised through their Volvo Connect scores, as well as their ‘area team mpg’ target which is tailored according to geographical differences between some of their more rural routes vs longer motorway routes. Martin then told us how he has managed Volvo Connect objectives for their drivers over the last 4 years, initially setting driver performance scores around the average at the time, now seeing a minimum expectation of 94 for drivers to achieve this objective. This demonstrates the confidence Martin has in the United Utilities drivers to take their training on-board and hit these targets regularly with ‘…some far exceeding that on a regular basis’. 

Martin works with 7 teams across the business to review the Volvo Connect driver performance scores, via the Fuel & Environment service, on a fortnightly basis. Together they discuss the potential need to support any of their drivers with training, and they also analyse and ensure the vehicle parameters are set appropriately within the ‘user-friendly’ Volvo Connect system to make sure the scoring is fair across the fleet.

John added how the use of Volvo Connect has ‘transformed the conversations and the coaching element of the team leaders and the drivers..’ helping highlight specific areas for individual drivers to improve on, for example, coasting or cruise control usage, encouraging rich conversations throughout the driving team, also introducing a healthy element of competition. 

Martin told us how both United Utilities drivers and Agency drivers have access to the Volvo Connect App for monitoring their scores, and as a company they ‘…set the same expectations with the agency drivers…’ helping to keep driver performance high across the board following training and support.

John shared how fleet mpg has increased by 8.5% over the years since using Volvo Connect data, and how their idling time has dropped considerably through the monitoring and supporting of their driver performance targets. 

Martin then demonstrated how well their drivers are scoring regularly, and over the last 30 days the Performance report in Volvo Connect shows their top 5 drivers hitting a score of 100, with the top 23 achieving a score of 99!

United Utilities have implemented an apprentice driver pathway over the last 3 years, which sees a mixture of male and female drivers coming through the ranks and demonstrating how combining the company’s driver training programme with Volvo Connect, they can all achieve high performance scores even if they don’t have years of driving experience behind them. 

Working with their drivers and implementing targets using Volvo Connect, United Utilities are hitting a brilliant fleet average performance score of 95 - 96 consistently. Martin confirmed that by achieving these scores, the company’s ‘unfair wear and tear repair’ costs have dropped from around £30k - £40k a month in fleet recharges to around £1,200 a month, which has also removed the need to schedule a monthly meeting with their in-house workshops and fleet maintenance teams (saving time as well as money!).  

Martin confirmed how the company receive vehicle handover training for new vehicles, and when required, additional training and support when onboarding new drivers from their local Fleet Solutions Manager, Ricky Hughes from Thomas Hardie Commercials. Combining their own in-house training, with Ricky’s support when required, and the company’s use of Volvo Connect, United Utilities have seen an increase of around 6.4% in driver performance scoring since they began using the platform.

We look forward to hearing how John and Martin continue to use Volvo Connect and it’s services to improve driver performance and fleet efficiency going forward, and we would like to thank them for their valuable time that they set aside to share their experience with us.