FTA training: Operators take first step towards van excellence

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I thought I’d left all this behind more than 20 years ago.

In front of me is an exam paper for the Freight Transport Association’s Certificate of Excellence in Van Operations.

I’ve just spent the past three hours learning about legislation, maintenance, defect report, driver compliance and a host of other van fleet management topics and now is the moment of truth: how much can I remember?

Fortunately, it’s an A-B-C-D multiple choice paper. As the trainer quipped: “You already have a 25% chance of getting it right.”

The FTA launched the certificate five months ago as a way to promote and introduce people to its Van Excellence programme.

This was only its second ‘public’ course, having previously been undertaken with manufacturers and large fleet members.

Six fleets participated and all were using it as the first stepping stone to the Van Excellence code
of practice.

The format of the half-day course is a trainer – ours was the animated, enthusiastic FTA senior trainer Derek Rose – and a 36-page part-completed workbook in which to make the additional notes.

Interaction was encouraged and a lot of time was spent discussing individual fleet operations and issues faced, which was an unexpected benefit enjoyed by all delegates.

The morning begins with an overview of the certificate’s aims – raise van fleet operating standards, improve the sector’s image, highlight practical solutions – and its objectives: improve driver safety, manage an efficient maintenance system, ensure legal compliance, appreciate powers of enforcement agencies.

During the morning we learned the definition of terms, from a car-derived van to the meaning of kerbside weight (vehicle plus fuel, tools, oil – i.e. ready to go but excluding drive and load weight) and GTW (gross train weight – the vehicle plus anything being towed).

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