Grocontinental Drivers Go Top Of The Class

Storage and Distribution specialists, Grocontinental, has seen an increase from 20% to 65% of its drivers achieving a ‘B’ rating on MAN’s ‘EcoStyle’ driver and vehicle performance reporting tool.

The general improvement in driving standards has also led to an improvement in efficiency and, importantly, a stabilisation of fuel economy across the fleet. MAN EcoStyle ‘went live’ at the Shropshire-based company in January.

Grocontinental now operates a fleet of 54 MAN TGX tractor units, after having taken delivery of its latest units in December ’09, thus completing its fleet renewal.

MAN EcoStyle is a web-based vehicle and driver performance system, allowing Grocontinental to monitor a range of key driving parameters via on-board Telematics; harsh braking and acceleration, maintaining ‘sweet spot’ engine revs, minimising idle time and so on. Drivers are then trained according to their strengths and weaknesses to obtain optimum productivity, subsequently rated ‘A’ to ‘F’ where an ‘A’ grading is regarded as outstanding in all key driving parameters.

Grocontinental’s Transport Manager, Chris Humphries, and Driver Trainer, Joe Wheelan, attended a specially provided MAN EcoStyle training course at MAN Truck & Bus Manchester. The course was specifically designed to ‘train the trainer’ in order for Grocontinental to show its own drivers how they could maximise vehicle productivity; the aim is to let drivers have their own input in influencing vehicle efficiency, irrespective of the terrain or the load on the vehicle. Grocontinental is now rolling this out to their 70 drivers as part of the company’s CPC training.

Chris Humphries said, “It really opened my eyes on how much a driver can influence the fuel economy of the vehicle. We were driving the training vehicle, which was fitted with a permanent fuel metre, and we saw how our driving could go from the worst case of 0.8 mpg to actually using no fuel at all!”

Grocontinental has also created a text-base system to provide drivers with on-the-road instructions – accessible only when the vehicle is stationary. The system was driven through by Joint Managing Director, David Grocott, keen to discourage the use of mobile telephones while driving. Mobile ‘phones have since been removed from the fleet, and replaced by written instructions sent from the planning office.

“This is the first time that we feel that we are able to influence the way our drivers handle their vehicles in a more safe and efficient way,” said David Grocott, “We have made a huge investment in the new trucks and this new technology ensures that we stay at the forefront of the industry and continue to expand and develop our business.

Grocontinental is one of the UK's leading international storage and distribution companies. From the company's 24/7 purpose-built 25-acre site in Whitchurch, Shropshire, the company oversees 120,000 pallet spaces of multi-temperature storage and 4,000 daily pallet movements, all controlled by the latest in systems technology.

The company's transport division comprises 56 tractor units and 120 temperature-controlled trailers which operate throughout Europe.