ARI Hosts Annual Energy Fleet Forum in Houston
MT. LAUREL, NJ (November 7, 2013): ARI®, a leading global fleet services provider specializing in complex car and truck fleets, hosted more than four dozen industry leaders at its annual Energy Fleet Forum held recently at the Westchase Marriott in Houston, Texas.
The day-long session featured a keynote presentation offered by Colin Dover, senior director of SAP’s Platform and Analytics Center for Excellence, who discussed the latest innovations in fleet-related technology and how the latest advances will affect fleets working in the energy, gas and oil sectors specifically. Additional sessions on energy fleet benchmarking, alternative fuels, maintenance, cost reduction strategies, and licensing and compliance were also featured.
“We are incredibly pleased to be hosting this event for the third year in a row and we’re grateful that so many industry leaders could join us this year,” said ARI President Carl A. Ortell. “We have always sought to make this event an opportunity for our clients and partners within the industry to come together and learn from each other, but I can tell you that we learn just as much – if not more – from listening to the discussions and participating in the sessions and we appreciate the opportunity to spend this time with all of the attendees.”
The fleet benchmarking session followed the morning keynote and highlighted an analysis of data gathered by a pre-forum survey that was sent to all invitees, as well as information gathered from client interviews and ARI’s own fleet database. The survey focused on policies and procedures, and covered everything from fleet administration, upfitting, maintenance, fuel use, violations, accidents and repairs, driver’s policies and telematics. An analysis of the responses revealed that the biggest challenge facing energy fleets is reducing maintenance costs. Other top concerns included managing fuel spend, the development and enforcement of a driver policy, data integrity and reporting issues, and fleet right-sizing.
“There are issues and concerns that are unique to energy fleets. For example, 47 percent of all of our survey respondents said that more than half of their fleet is upfit vehicles,” said Suzanne Wilson, marketing research manager for ARI. “This presents specific maintenance and lifecycle issues that affect total cost of ownership. Some issues, however, are universal, such as fuel spend, violations management and the development and enforcement of effective driver’s policies.” Wilson noted that ARI worked to design this year’s sessions around the concerns expressed by the survey respondents to ensure that the sessions would address the challenges they are currently facing.
The day also included four breakout sessions and opportunities for networking among attendees. David Mann, the director of fleet for Knight Oil Tools, noted that hearing the experiences of other fleet managers and having a chance to discuss how others approached different challenges was invaluable. “I discovered that regardless of fleet size, some issues and concerns are universal among fleet managers, and having a forum like this to be able to learn from each other is incredibly useful.” Mann noted that he came away from the event with practical information he’d use in running his fleet when he returned home, including information about the cost difference between running an alternative fuel fleet versus a gas fueled fleet, methods for reducing licensing costs and strategies for managing maintenance spend.
Yvette Gentry, fleet manager for TETRA Technologies, has attended the forum for the past three years, and noted that she keeps coming back because she finds value in spending time with other energy sector fleet managers. “I find the most value in ARI’s Energy Fleet Forum primarily because it’s the one event that has many of the other fleet managers in the energy sector in one place and it’s a good place to benchmark and discuss issues one-on-one. This event allows me to truly network with others in my industry and exchange contact information so we can communicate beyond the event to ask each other questions and exchange ideas.” She noted that she considers it to be one of the top two events of the year, emphasizing that “it provides me with the most relevant information and peer discussions of any fleet event I attend.”