5 Apr 17

Unilever: Applying the global fleet rules to MEA

With a total of around 1,750 vehicles in the Middle East and Africa, consumer goods multi-national Unilever ensures that the global fleet policy applies in these regions too. Global Fleet Manager Lee Warner explains how this works.

First of all, Lee Warner points out that the global fleet policy has only been in place for around six months, but is extremely comprehensive. This move was to allow the company to streamline and gain control over the local policy governance, sourcing and ways of working. It covers OEM selection, sourcing strategy, eligibility, safety standards, CO2 caps and management process requirements. On top of this, and to ensure that the policy really works, the local policy must be stricter than, or in line with, global standards.
Minimum requirements
Where vehicle choice and eligibility for a company car are concerned, there are clear guidelines, one of them not often seen in car policies. The market choice list structure has to be assessed to optimize TCO and variations to the policy must be supported by a clear business case and signed off by policy owners – this is found elsewhere. Where Unilever varies from some others, however, is in this stipulation: sales vehicles will only be provided to employees who drive at least 10,000 business miles per annum. This is checked annually, and if there are any drivers not meeting these requirements then a meeting is held between the local and central team to decide what will be done.
Recognizing that its suppliers are not necessarily present in every territory, Unilver stipulates that if there is no coverage from approved partners set by the global team, then local sourcing can be used. Suppliers are vetted by local teams and the business case is presented to key stakeholders depending on the size of spend.
Safety and driver behaviour
The Middle East and Africa do not escape from these important aspects of the Unilever fleet policy. Minimum vehicle requirements are set within the global standards.Quarterly reviews are held with the Global Fleet and regions around how to improve safety and driver awareness.And these regions being what they are, global security teams are in place to react in the case of any terrorist threat or attack.
Reporting and control
How does Unilever manage to ensure that the Middle East and Africa conform to company policy? In terms of the fleet team, there are fleet leads in each country (Middle East/Africa – some cover multiple markets depending on size) who report into the country Service Delivery Manager, part of the same division as Global Fleet. An international fleet manager for the EMEA region is planned, to reinforce the overall team.
A central reporting tool covering key markets is being implemented in 2017 to cover 15 key markets.And a new vehicle capital expenditure process was implemented in 2016 to govern outright purchases, which is of particular relevance for Africa and the Middle East. While smaller markets are still often operated through a manual process from local fleet team, the five year goal is to have all 49 markets in a central reporting tool.
The Middle East and Africa are clearly not the same as Europe or North America. Lee Warner points in particular to a fragmented supplier network and coverage, and the difficulty of obtaining compliance to global standards, especially as there are differing manufacturers.Driving and safety conditions can be poor, and this leads on to the security and wellbeing of employees.More practically, local supplier invoice verification and payment process can be challenging, while reporting data can be very difficult to obtain and is often inaccurate. At the moment Lee Warner and Unilever are examining how Telematics support can enhance driver behavior control, fleet data transparency and total cost of ownership optimisation.

Authored by: Steven Schoefs