Coronavirus and the Fleet and Mobility Management Community
NAFA Fleet Management Association continues to work with a host of federal, travel and transportation partners to keep our members updated with the most current resources and information regarding the current situation related to infectious diseases impacts and methods to limit its spread. Because many of you are on the front lines and in some cases are first responders, it is important for you to have the resources and information to respond.
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Advocacy, Legislative and Policy Updates
Response to the COVID-19 pandemic continued to be the primary focus of lawmakers and the Administration in May. While a broader COVID-19 relief bill may not take shape until later in the summer, many proposals are being circulated for inclusion. Some of the significant legislative and regulatory actions relevant to fleet managers and their employers that took place recently were:
Bipartisan Legislation Signed into Law to Enhance the SBA’s PPP Loans
Legislation Introduced to Provide Businesses and Other with COVID-19 Exposure Liability Protections
Legislation Introduced Prioritize COVID-19 Testing and PPE Distribution to Essential Workers
House Appropriations Committees Begin Work on FY2021 Funding Packages
House Passes $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Package
NAFA Endorses Bill to Expand 30% Alternative Refueling/Charging Instructure Tax Credit
NAFA and Allies Weigh in with Senate Committee on FCC’s 5.9 GHz Auto Safety Spectrum Rechannelization Proposal
FMCSA Extends Emergency Declaration for HOS Regulatory Relief
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The federal government has extended the Canada Emergency Benefit (CERB) by eight weeks to September amid the coronavirus pandemic. As the economy reopens, the CERB will continue to provide support to Canadians who struggle to find employment. A draft bill was recently introduced in the House of Commons to tighten the rules around the admissibility for the benefit. The Bill did not pass, however, the federal has indicated that Canadians will be encouraged to look for jobs and go back to work when possible.
The CERB was originally introduced for a period of four months ending in July to support Canadians who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. If eligible, employees can receive $2,000 for a four-week period (the same as $500 a week).
The Federal government has also extended the closure of the Canada-U.S. border to July 21st to non-essential travel. Both countries reached an agreement in March to temporarily close the border to non-essential travel — meaning no recreational visits — while keeping it open to commercial traffic and essential workers who cross the border for work and has already extended the deal twice so far.
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NAFA Member Information
Keeping It Clean, Making It Safe
If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide about disinfecting your fleet, check out Wayne Westerholm’s CAFM thorough report that includes a listing of solutions, terms, products, advice and cleaning plans. It’s a great resource to keep handy to protect your employees and customers. View the report
NAFA Member Stories, Best Practices and Advice
NAFA has received many powerful stories from members on managing Covid-19 with their teams. These fleet professionals offered a glimpse into their preparation, adaptation, and next steps into our “new normal.” Here is a sampling of their responses serving as a preview to a NAFA’s whitepaper playbook analyzing the fleet strategies and operations managing through the Codid-19 crisis.
Two Fleets Face Similar Challenges During the Pandemic
A tale of two fleets, different in nearly every respect but for one: the logistics of moving people from place to place. Make that two: their ability to accomplish their work has been completely reshaped, sometimes completely undermined, by the spread of Covid-19.
We caught up with two NAFA members to talk about their current challenges; they wanted to show their solidarity with other fleets and NAFA members who are also experiencing this shared history.
They requested anonymity, as their work situations are sensitive.
Garage Life in the Age of COVID-19
The current pandemic has created a new set of challenges for NAFA members. We caught up with a Fleet District Manager (he asked to remain anonymous) for a toll road agency in the Central United States to get his field report.
The majority of his management team is working from home, so the fleet is not operating at a normal rate and only doing emergency repairs. “My mechanics are working two days a week. We pretty much have a skeleton crew in the field.” His organization has 12 garages and normally has three to four mechanics per garage. “We’ve split them in half, so there are only two gentlemen working on vehicles at the same time. The only vehicles that we are kind of keeping an eye on and running are the essential vehicles…like our help trucks that run the road and keep an eye out for patrons if they run out of gas or if there’s an accident. We are doing a minimal amount out there just to keep the roads safe.”
What Fairfax Water’s Fleet is Doing to Manage the Pandemic Crisis
We caught up with NAFA Member Dale Collins, CAFM, to discuss how his team is dealing with COVID-19. Utilities are, by their very nature, essential services, and with so many workers and citizens self-isolating at home, the need to keep such services running is that much greater.
This puts pressure on fleets to strive for safety, keeping COVID-19 infection from affecting the team and sidelining crucial work. This also means having to make hard decisions should employees exhibit symptoms of the coronavirus. For Dale Collins, CAFM, Fleet Services Supervisor for Fairfax Water in Lorton, Virginia, there is no time to waste.
How Yale University’s Fleet Is Innovating During COVID-19 Challenges
When it comes to an unprecedented challenge like the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all learning on the fly, on the job. NAFA recently asked members to assess where they stand in their work and life following the first month of physical distancing.
Ronald S. Gitelman, CAFM, is the Senior Fleet Administrator for Yale University and faces very unique challenges, but never had a plan for students who are not allowed on campus as courses have shifted entirely online.
Gitelman, like many other fleet professionals, was well prepared for nearly every situation one could imagine, but he hadn’t imagined this. He has learned a lot during the past few weeks -- about Yale’s policies, preparedness, and staff -- that will affect his operations going forward.
Think Local: Effective Solutions and Targeted Operations Regional NAFA Members Share Their COVID-19 Response Actions
To help understand the challenges facing Fleet Managers in different parts of the country, NAFA would like to recognize regional members who have shared their experiences and strategies managing their fleets through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ingenuity, Innovation and Compassion Fleet Managers Share Their COVID-19 Response Actions by Industry
Many Fleet Managers are essential and have played an enormous role in the fight against COVID-19. It is more important now than ever that we recognize our essential services and the resources needed to keep our roads safe and clear as well as maintain the flow of goods and services required to help us get through this tough time.
NAFA would like to recognize members who have shared their experiences and strategies managing their fleets through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fleet Trust and Resilience in a Covid-19 World
Fleet is operating in the wake of a pandemic, economic crisis and civil unrest, and trust has become a core issue. According to the global research firm, Edelman, which has been monitoring consumer trust for over two decades, only 47% of consumers say that business has done a good job of ensuring that products and services have been readily accessible during the Covid-19 outbreak. Additionally, 44% say that businesses have done a good job of protecting essential employees whose jobs require them to work outside their home, and even fewer consumers believe businesses are looking out for their employees or partners--only 38% believe they put people before profits, 39% believe they protect employees’ financial wellbeing, and 38% believe they are helping smaller suppliers and partners stay in business by extending them credit or giving them more time to pay.
Can Fleet Safety Procedures Be Harmful to Driver Health?
Safety has always come first in the fleet industry. However, the coronavirus outbreak has encouraged fleet leaders to put safety culture at the forefront of their list of priorities. Organizations with a great safety record do so with a culture of safety-present as policy. Many fleet organizations have had to enact stricter safety protocols to prevent pathogen spread in fleet vehicles. The CDC suggests that drivers disinfect vehicles with a “diluted bleach solution,” or a solution comprised of 70% alcohol.
We are all living in a time warp as our collective confinement continues, but let us reminisce a moment back to Q1 2020. In January, California residents gained the right to wrestle back their user data from the tech platforms and other companies that had captured and exploited it. In February, Senator Josh Hawley posited that the FTC should take over Google, and Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced an antitrust modernization bill as a cudgel against big tech.
The country was speeding toward a new era where the big technology companies would be reined in and privacy protections would soon sweep the nation. Instead weeks later, what nearly swept us under was a global pandemic.
We are looking for a way out and it is those same big tech companies we complained about that are helping us get through.
A Risk-Averse Fleet Makes A Bold Decision That Pays Off
All fleets are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, and each organization is dealing with circumstances unique to them. Such is the case with the fleet of 2020 Fleet Excellence Award Winner Chris Schaefer. Schaefer won in the Excellence in Corporate/Private Fleet or Mobility Management category.
“Every fleet needs to be mindful of risk, but we’re an insurance company,” Schaefer says. “We are naturally risk-averse. We have to protect our drivers, employees, and customers, but also set the example based on the services we provide.” Schaefer, Fleet and Travel Manager for Westfield Insurance, has been working from home along with his team members. “We have roughly 1,500 people who work at our home office, so that is a large population to move to work-from-home setups, but we implemented that quickly.”
Fleet Protocols for a Post-Covid World
The federal government is pushing for states to reopen. Certain states––such as Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi, and Montana, among others––are slated to resume business before May 1st (while others––such as Arkansas and Florida––never officially shut down in the first place).
Each state will open slowly and with restrictions prohibiting large gatherings. With that said, it’s beginning to look like the U.S. is on track to gradually return to an active economy.
While commerce will eventually recommence, it will hardly be “business as usual” for a nation brought to its knees by the Covid crisis. School and universities are shut down for the foreseeable future, so fleet agencies that cater to this sector will need to find new purposes for their drivers. And the way we do business will never be quite the same. Let’s take a look at how organizational protocols in fleet need to be altered to reflect what we’ve learned from coronavirus.
2020 Flexy Winner: Stewardship, Change, and COVID-19 (Flexy Winner Interview)
We caught up with 2020 FLEXY Award Winner Steve Larsen, Director of Procurement and Fuel at Ruan Transportation Management Systems to discuss crisis management. Everyone working at Ruan has been charged with helping minimize the impact on operations that the coronavirus has caused.
As many reports and first-person accounts can affirm, many stores are faced with shortages due to supply chain issues as a result of panic buying. At times like these, the role of the trucking industry charged with getting the merchandise to our stores cannot be underestimated.
Larsen spoke to NAFA from his home where he and his wife are working remotely. What follows is a wide-ranging discussion about current needs, how Ruan is stepping up to the challenges at hand, as well as the efforts that gained him his Excellence in Corporate/Private Fleet or Mobility Management FLEXY.
Growing Tomorrow: Lessons from the Coronavirus
Of course, communication is always a good idea – but during (and after) a crisis, this is even more essential, as it presents a learning opportunity for leadership. Collect your anecdotal and analytical data now to create your playbook.
How did staff get around during self-isolation?
Did they park their vehicles and use a bicycle, or even an e-scooter to maintain physical distancing?
What apps were they using to stay informed – and can these be integrated in company software?
Firefighting Fleets: Managing Data and a Pandemic (Flexy Winner Interview)
The national coronavirus crisis is affecting fleets in unique ways, principally from being labeled essential to being temporarily shut down. FLEXY winner Brad Smith, Fleet Maintenance Supervisor for Poudre Fire Authority in Fort Collins, CO manages an absolutely essential fleet.
“Fire fleets have situations where some houses contain several functions and multiple assets running out of one place,” Smith explains. “The trucks stay at the station and crews are rotated every 48 hours, so we ensure that quality pass-on is done between the shifts. Lingering non-safety issues are monitored. I have currently halted all non-essential shop activity to include preventive maintenance actions that are not more than 500 miles or 30 days overdue. The goal of that is to keep as many reserve firefighting apparatuses at the ready in the event of major breakdowns and supply chain issues. We have six reserve apparatus with one currently in service.”
Together We Will Prevail: Insights on the Impact of Coronavirus in Fleet
The fleet industry has been through economic downturns in the past, but those have developed over time. The coronavirus pandemic, on the other hand, hit the industry within a matter of weeks…and there’s no definite ending to the crisis. As such, fleet managers have found themselves without a clear set of guidelines to follow to navigate their businesses during the outbreak.
We interviewed NAFA board members to get their insights on how fleet professionals can best contend with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, to emerge stronger (and more resilient) on the other side.
Mitigate Now: Nine Lessons from the Coronavirus
Challenging times call for operational strategies that can evolve as the situation unfolds. Maintaining the operations of a business in a simultaneous health and economic crisis is a critical concern for every leader today.
As the coronavirus crisis rages, fleet and mobility managers have a specific responsibility to act swiftly – to ensure the safety of employees, to assist the business in staying flexible, and where possible, to support efforts to save lives.
Preparing for Natural Disasters in Uncertain Times
According to Patti M. Earley, CAFM, Fleet Fueling Operations Supervisor at Florida Power & Light and President of NAFA, after a disaster, the most important mission is getting people’s lives back to normal as quickly as possible. “For most organizations,” Earley says, “restoration or continuity of daily functions doesn’t happen without the fleet. While there may be some advanced warning with hurricanes, most disasters don’t necessarily give you notice before they strike.”
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How to Maintain a Fleet During the Coronavirus Shutdown
The government is calling for the shutdown of “non-essential” fleets in response to the widespread Coronavirus epidemic. However, for fleets that do deliver products that are considered “essential,” such as food, medication and pet supplies, demand is skyrocketing. Suddenly eCommerce companies like Amazon are being called on to deliver essentials to a country in quarantine.
Fleet managers are responding quickly to the outbreak: Airlines have put workers on furlough. Navy bases have had to quarantine fleet staffers in response to two workers testing positive for coronavirus. Yet amid this massive restructuring, there has never been a stronger focus on the supply chain. While auto manufacturing plants such as Toyota, VW, Honda, Volkswagen are suspending operations, vehicle rentals are experiencing an uptick as rental demand from courier and delivery companies increases.
Quick Links to Resources
Assocation Partner Resources
In a time of uncertainty, knowing where to turn for support and insight is critical. NTEA, AFLA and NAFA take that responsibility very seriously, which is why your association partners are working together to help your business, while you keep the world moving forward.
The three organizations believe an informed community will help the industry emerge stronger after the pandemic, and this collaboration reflects the commercial vehicle industries spirit of community and cooperation. We recognize the importance of shared, accessible resources to promote positive outcomes for all of our combined stakeholders who play an essential and pivotal role in their communities and for our nation.
Learn More About the Collaboration..
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