Galaxy Insulation and Dry Lining supplies building materials including insulation and dry lining blocks from 14 locations across the UK. Wayne Allen, Group Logistics Manager, manages its 64 HGVs and 21 vans, which are deployed across its 14 depots. He explains the steps he took to raise Galaxy’s on-road safety game.
64 HGVs, mainly 26 tonners with Moffat forklifts
“Our goal is to create the best long-term experience for everyone that orbits our group – employees, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. Safety is an intrinsic part of that mission.”
Tracy Shepherd, Group Managing Director
- Cut fuel use by 30,000 gallons through minimised mileage in 2021-22 against 2019-20, despite adding 38 vehicles to the fleet
- CO2 reduced by 500 tonnes in 2021-22, against 2019-20
- Drop in false claims due to cameras
- Only carbon-neutral construction distributor in UK
Galaxy was formed in 2009 and for many years had only two sites in Sheffield and Leeds. In 2016 and 2017 respectively it added sites in Haydock and Birmingham, and then in 2020 expanded to depots in East and West London, Bristol, Bedford, Swansea, Tonbridge, West Bromwich, East Midlands, Glasgow and Newcastle.
This meant a massive shift in scope and also visibility for the fleet, and Group Logistics Manager, Wayne Allen says the company’s responsibility for road safety grew commensurately and the senior management realised they would need more extensive controls in place to fulfil this.
Initially Wayne was tasked with accrediting the new London depots to FORS, as it is a frequent prerequisite of London contracts.
He says the task was made easier by the fact that depot location was driven by the availability of good staff, and many depots now boast market leaders in various aspects of their operations, including many who are highly trained in sustainability.
FORS appealed to the company because “it incorporated the management of vehicles, personnel, and the complete structure of our operation,” says Wayne. “We had systems in place for fleet servicing, MOT, drivers’ hours and efficient route planning. However, it was time-consuming and problematic keeping all depots up to date with legislation and up to the same standards. FORS helped us to have a more integrated, efficient system for the whole organisation.”
The first site achieved FORS Bronze in 2019 and from there, Wayne and colleagues worked continuously until every site achieved FORS Gold in June 2021.
FORS requires a safety-oriented specification for vehicles, including 360 degree cameras, driver training, governance systems, and at Gold standard, near miss and collision reporting.
“The whole FORS process was a challenge, but a really worthwhile one,” says Wayne. “We would not now be carbon neutral had we not gone through that process.”
As well as maintaining its FORS Gold status, Galaxy will now aim for DVSA Earned Recognition status. Wayne says this will prove it has excellent compliance systems.
Wayne says it is important to recognise the value of the process. “Audits and accreditations are a chance to review where you are, and to have helpful, constructive input as to how you can be better,” he says.
The company is working towards #netzero, and is currently the only carbon neutral company in its sector. Wayne says that this began with proper fleet management and safety.
Galaxy now has an electric van, and all electric forklifts. Its major benefit, however, came from ‘going local’. Having more regional depots allowed the company to cut mileage and driving hours, yet improve customer service.
Galaxy offsets the remaining carbon emissions.
Driver performance and training
Galaxy uses RAM Tracking to monitor its drivers, and line managers read the generated reports weekly. However, Wayne emphasises that when feedback is given to drivers, it is never punitive, but always supportive.
Equally their driver training is geared to maximise driver investment in the process. “As a driver assessor I will go out in the cab with drivers but I always tell them: “I am learning – so teach me what you do. We can all learn every day.”
Training and individual accreditations are entered on a fleet SharePoint portal, which will alert drivers and managers to anything which requires refreshing.
As well as the compulsory driver training which comes with FORS, Wayne puts his van drivers through the same courses as the HGV drivers, and the company pays for Driver CPC courses and any other obligatory training.
He has also written and shared 26 Toolbox talks and uses the Van Driver Toolkit and other resources from Driving for Better Business. “If someone is offering you free expert advice, you’d be foolish not to take it,” he says.
The company has also ‘grown’ its own drivers, putting 11 employees so far through its Warehouse to Wheels programme.
Galaxy’s insurance claims handler provides a claims portal with a dedicated phone line for drivers to call in the event of a collision. This provides instant first notification of loss, and better collation of information at the scene, both of which Wayne expects to drive down claims costs.
Wayne says that safety is an integral part of Galaxy’s culture. The £95m turnover company is now employee-owned, but it already had a long history of close ties with its employees. It emphasises employee well-being, with a health scheme, financial well-being consultancy, and mental health first-aiders. It has invested in defibrillation kits for every depot.
Family commitments, such as sports days, are built into shift patterns or routes wherever possible, and it even allows employees to bring their dogs to the office.
Wayne visits every depot every six weeks to spend time with the staff. He describes an egalitarian business where they try to know everybody’s name, the MD wears exactly the same unform as everyone else, and many of the staff are related. This makes Galaxy’s safety an extension of its culture, says Wayne, because if you care about the individuals, then it is natural to care about their safety.
However, whatever company structure fleets exist within, Wayne would recommend seeking accreditation, as a worthwhile process, bringing greater safety and many other benefits. “Become a more sustainable business, engage and become inclusive with all staff to gain improved employee relations. It’s now part and parcel of who we are.”