Common Themes Unite Fleets

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NAFA President, Bryan Flansburg, CAFM; NAFA CEO, Phil Russo; and Tina Mercardo, NAFA’s Director of Meetings in Brazil at PARAR’s annual event

Three conferences, three countries—the same fleet problems.

The more globally dispersed the audience, the more I realize that most fleets are facing the same issues. As my travels took me from Saint Louis to Sao Paulo to Niagara-on-the-Lake over the past few weeks, I noted the common themes of fleet utilization and sustainability and hundreds of fleet managers from all walks of industry trying to learn as much as possible to do better.


NAFA hosted a sold-out Essentials of Fleet Management seminar in Saint Louis in October. Class members were all fleet managers who represented the full realm of corporate and government organizations.

An initial survey of the room on day one indicated heightened interest in utilization guidelines and return on investment for alternative fuels.

Students were very interested in the parts of the curriculum that dealt with vehicle selection, acquisition and lifecycle analysis and asked detailed questions on annual mileage thresholds. Pain points included:

  • When to use hours, km/miles or shifts to calculate utilization.
  • How to estimate asset criticality and factor it into the number of vehicles an organization needs.
  • How to calculate downtime.


Next up, Brazil, with PARAR’s annual event. With 1,000 in-person attendees and over 30,000 people live-streaming sessions, this has rapidly become a must-attend event.

There was still a focus on utilization, but from the other side of the equation— how to minimize fleet utilization through a planned use of public transportation, ride shares and pools.

A panel on electrification compared the distribution and use of the three million electric vehicles currently on the road across Europe, South America and North America and sought answers to the difficult questions of:

  • What will the charging infrastructure support in North America?
  • How important are rebates in the electric vehicle ROI equation?
  • Why do North and South America lag behind and what will it take to catch up?


Back home to Canada to attend the Canadian Institute for Procurement and Material Management 2018 Fleet Management Workshop. This event was focused on Federal Fleet Management, and there were some familiar faces in the crowd from my Department of National Defence days. NAFA provided classes on fleet audit and the economics of fleet, and attendees left with some much needed tools to address lifecycle costing and vehicle selection. The conference filled a gap in federal fleet training that had been missing for several years.

Overall, a great experience in fleet education and reinforcing my understanding of what some of the main issues are. Next up, NAFA is investing time and resources in developing a Fleet 401 Masters class that will address some of these issues and be offered as a pre-conference event in Louisville on April 14, 2019 just prior to the annual Institute & Expo.

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