Award-winning innovation: Fleet Manager of the Year saves lives, $1m a year

By Stephen Easton

Monday May 27, 2019

John Barlow

If thinking about the exciting world of fleet management doesn’t curl your toes, maybe a million dollars for the whole state will.

That’s how much the New South Wales Department of Industry is saving taxpayers every year through clever coordination of its cars, while also reducing the number of road accidents staffers get into.

The program that achieved this earned senior manager John Barlow the title of Australasian Fleet Manager of the Year for 2019 from the professional association for this specialised field.

Not only did it save about $1m a year, Barlow’s innovation and optimisation strategy also tore strips off the department’s insurance costs, reducing at fault claims by 90% according to executive director of corporate operations Katherine Tollner.

“This award is a fantastic achievement and recognises the work John and his team are doing to lead the way for private and public sector organisations in Australasia,” Tollner said.

“The strategy challenged traditional fleet management approaches by adopting vehicle telematics, using hybrid electric vehicles, and successfully piloting car share services in regional NSW.”

The vehicle telematics systems could also save the lives of staff, who often travel long distances on isolated country roads.

“The telematics system will automatically alert a 24×7 third party call centre if a vehicle rolls, it detects an accident or the driver activates the duress alarm,” said Barlow. “Processing vehicle usage data electronically through telematics also saves us significant time, resources and money.”

The Industry department has reached out into the latest in vehicular developments. It has invested in hybrid vehicles and charging stations at “numerous regional and metro locations” around NSW, as well forming a deal with the GoGet car sharing service.

In the town of Orange, there are about 900 Department of Industry staff members and since last July there have also been six GoGet cars that anyone can use.

“This means department staff now have alternative vehicle options and the Orange community benefits as they can also access the vehicles,” explained Barlow.

“As a result of the Fleet Optimisation Strategy the department has been able to reduce the number of pool vehicles by 80 vehicles.”

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