THE Department of Agriculture has achieved big financial savings on its way to winning an environmental award for fleet management.
Over the past three years, the size of the department’s vehicle fleet has been reduced by 17 per cent to 499 vehicles and its annual fuel consumption has been reduced by 12 per cent or 220,000 litres.
These reductions translate to a conservatively estimated saving of $1 million a year.
In recognition of its achievements, the department has been presented with a certificate of energy efficiency best practice award.
The award is part of the Greener Motoring program, funded by the Federal Government and managed by the Australasian Fleet Managers Association.
The department’s director of contracts and procurement services, Bruce Cunningham, said a range of measures had been adopted to improve fleet management.
These include the introduction of a new budgeting system that ensures the cost of vehicle use is transparent and is fully recovered from business units and specific projects.
Previously business units paid a uniform amount irrespective of their vehicle use.
The incentive is that savings achieved by individual projects on their fleet costs can be allocated to research and selected other activities.
The department has also introduced a car pooling arrangement, instead of allocating vehicles permanently to each project.
This policy is supported by an online vehicle booking and management system, which is networked across the department’s 80 offices.
It means that staff in, say, Kununurra can book a vehicle for a specified period of time for their next visit to Perth.
Whenever staff use a vehicle, they record the number of kilometres travelled and the number of hours they had the car.
The online management system, which was developed in-house, then automatically debits the cost against the relevant business unit or project.
Another initiative was to increase the use of teleconferencing and videoconferencing, which has cut down the amount of travel under-taken by staff.
As well as reducing the overall size of its fleet, the department has shifted away from larger, six-cylinder vehicles toward mid-sized and smaller four-cylinder vehicles.
This required a big cultural shift for many staff, particularly those in rural areas, who were used to having large, six-cylinder 4WDs.
Yet another significant change was the introduction to the fleet of dual fuel/LPG vehicles, which have gone from zero vehicles to 43 vehicles.
These changes have been aided by fleet manager Commonwealth Fleet Lease, which handles tasks such as the acquisition and servicing of vehicles.
“Agriculture has been a front runner in this area,” Commonwealth’s State sales manager Joe Carriera said.
“People are now a lot more aware of environmental issues, but these sort of changes need cultural change across an organisation.
“They also require a commitment from the top of the organisation.”
Presentation of the energy efficiency award last week coincided with the launch of the department’s greening initiative, which aims to further improve environmental performance.
This includes measures to recycle office consumables, advance to-wards a paperless office and improve water usage.
Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said the department was already reducing its energy consumption.
Last financial year, energy consumption was cut by 2.6 per cent compared with the previous year and greenhouse emissions were reduced by 1.9 per cent.
Mr Chance said administration was one of the most significant areas where behavioural change and altering work practices could have a substantial impact.
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