29 Oct 21

“Great fleet managers are innovative and resourceful”

Those are the words of Almy Magalhaes, senior manager, procurement and services Europe, Ecolab. He was elected Global Fleet Manager of the Year in 2018 at the Fleet Europe Awards. We caught up with him to find out how things have been since winning the award and how his company has coped during and since the global pandemic.

Before we continue, check out "The World in 2022, a fascinating snapshot", which is taking place at the Global Fleet Conference on 2nd December 2021. It’s a virtual conference – 4 hours - you can register here.

How has the Global Fleet Manager of the Year Award supported you in your role?

The award has been a landmark in my career. On top of assume a new role with increased responsibility, it enabled me to quickly expand my network across the fleet community. This included service providers, start-ups and fleet managers at global level. Following the award, my engagement at specialised events and participation in high-level discussions with fleet leaders, accelerated my market acumen and awareness of fleet trends.

What will be your focus element in 2022? 

We are working hard to scale fleet electrification in Europe. Regulation has forced automakers to bring more EV models to market. National and local governments are stipulating increasingly more decarbonisation programmes and infrastructure is expanding to allow the transition to speed up. All these facts have encouraged us to focus on planning our transition journey. Now is the time to move from pilot to deployment and it’s a transition that crosses industry borders and involves energy, infrastructure, mobility, and automotive players. The key for Ecolab is to couple sustainability with economic viability through innovative technology and proper policy that will guide our mobility transformation.

Which primary skills of fleet managers came under the spotlight in the last few years?

Great fleet managers are innovative and resourceful, using out-of-the-box thinking to develop new ideas. By being proactive and thinking beyond today, it’s key be anticipate both challenges and opportunities. This demands a combination of analytical and conceptual abilities to implement a strong cost reduction and control program, while sustaining flexible services and embracing new technologies.

What lessons came forward for fleet managers during the pandemic?

The main actions taken immediately to avoid disruption in our business were to focus only on essential travel, vehicle maintenance, and postpone purchasing of new vehicles.

Even with the excellent work being done by businesses across the fleet industry, the risk of COVID-19 is still present. While many businesses can continue to operate from home, fleet workers simply don’t have this option. This means measures have to be put in place to ensure social distancing, that vehicles are hygienic and everyone follows the rules so that drivers feel safe while at work. In addition.

What is the best strategy to perform to overcome or endure the chip shortage?

These ongoing issues and the delay of new vehicle deliveries means that maintaining a fleet is more critical than ever. Preventative maintenance, coupled with developing safer driving habits, can be a solution to help improve the longevity of vehicles and reduce unplanned downtime. Be flexible by adopting alternative car models. Short-term rental services should also be considered.  

What is the most challenging region to manage and why? 

Dealing with the APAC fleet management market outside Japan, Australia, and New Zealand is not simple for global fleet managers and services providers. The main reason is the diversity in the region, including everything from language to government regulations and business culture. Despite the challenges, Asia should be a priority for fleet management companies looking to expand their business. Several emerging nations in this region need solutions to manage expanding requirements. With a clear customised strategy, fleet managers and vendors can find a win-win.

What is your main tip in terms of global supplier management?

The key to success is to have the knowledge and ability to move in different environments. Global suppliers need to sell internally what they know is the best solution. In order to do so, it’s important to identify regional differences, like culture, fleet sizes, country maturity levels, primary key cost drivers, available makes and models of vehicles, taxes and regulations and to have policies in place.

Authored by: Alison Pittaway