Fuel buyers under fire for 'poor decision making'

19 January 2006
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19 January 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor

Fuel purchasing decisions are often poor and its use inefficient, according to fuel storage firm Keyfuels in its submission to the Burns Inquiry which examined conditions affecting the UK's road transport industry.

The inquiry's report, published in December, looked at the impact of high rates of fuel duty and the operation of foreign lorries in the UK.

Keyfuels manages more than 1.5 billion litres of fuel for the heavy goods vehicle (HGV) sector a year. In its submission it said in order to justify any reduction on the tax levy, the freight industry must demonstrate efficient use of fuel. Better controls could result in £500 million savings.

Simon Clifford, sales and marketing director, told SM: "Procurement specialists are thin on the ground and there is a deafening silence as far as fuel management controls are concerned."

He said even where buyers find good deals there is a lack of management once it's delivered.

"Most organisations place a lot of effort on buying well but what's the point if you surrender control of the asset purchased?"

Geoff Dossetter, external affairs director for the Freight Transport Association, said Keyfuels was overcritical of the industry. "You can always do better but I think it's slightly over the top in its condemnation of drivers and operators. The government has had a number of initiatives around driver training and fuel conservation and the more intelligent companies do these things."

Clifford also said fuel purchasing for light commercial vehicle fleets could be improved using three methods - following the market index, spot purchasing and paying a third party to buy for you on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Lynne Bundle, fleet manager for Pfizer, agreed fuel could be bought and managed better. "We have just recognised that ourselves and we've got a fuel project under way to work on it."

She said drivers of the 2,200 cars in the pharmaceutical firm's fleet currently buy their own fuel and claim it on expenses.


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