Process & Procedures: Sticking to Standards

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Elevate your fleet operations by committing to a set of standards.

The efforts of determined managers who create successful fleet management programs can be recognized in a few, but very different, ways. There are many reasons why an organization benefits from recognition.

1. Demonstrate leadership in improving service.
2. Meet goals for environment, health and safety, and quality.
3. Show employees that there is a plan (preferably audited).
4. Be one of the best you can be.

The NAFA Fleet Excellence Award (FLEXY for short) is well known. This includes the Larry Goill Quality Fleet Management Idea Award and Sustainable Fleet Awards. This is a self-nomination process, and the awards are presented at NAFA’s annual conference.

The E3 Fleet Standard was created for Canadian fleets in 2006 and is now expanding to the United States. This standard is focused on environmental performance and includes a verification audit.

The most prominent performance standards are those developed by the International Organization for Standards and commonly referred to as ISO. There are 21,884 international standards now in effect, including a standard for writing standards. ISO was founded with the idea of answering a fundamental question, “What is the best way to do this?”

The Greek word “iso” meaning “equal” is used to ensure the standards are the same everywhere in the world.


A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose. There is a Plan-Do-Check-Act process (as described in the last issue of fleetdigest). This is a continually improving process that requires measurement and review.

An ISO standard sounds intimidating and complicated, but thousands of organizations have been certified to ISO standards. There is a simple way to start the three standards most commonly sought for fleet operations.

Fleets that have their own garages or fuel facilities often choose the ISO 14001 standard for environmental management systems (EMS). The standard has three components: minimizing how operations negatively impact the environment, complying with regulations and legislation identified in the EMS, and continual improvement. An early win in developing an EMS is better housekeeping in the facility.

Aspects & impacts

An EMS will fail if the organization starts at the wrong place. The very first step is to identify “Aspects and Impacts.” Make a list of what the organization does, i.e, refuel vehicles, perform maintenance, remove and replace parts and fluids. Then describe how these activities could create an environmental impact. The outcomes are sometimes unexpected.

One garage that started an EMS thought a leak from its underground fuel tanks would be the worst catastrophe that could happen. True, but the probability of a major tank failure is very low. The bus wash was routinely producing thousands of litres of oily wastewater every night, and no one was monitoring the garage’s oil/water separator system. The EMS made this its highest priority.

ISO 9001 is the Quality Management standard and is more likely to benefit an organization with no garage and a lower environmental impact. A quality management system identifies all of the processes and outputs in the business operation and looks for nonconformances that cause service failures. ISO 18001 is the standard for health and safety, and begins with hazard identification.

The respect gained by meeting an internationally recognized standard is felt throughout the organization. Fleet managers stand taller for making the effort.

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