In its 137-year corporate history, Schindler has become the largest supplier of escalators and the second-largest manufacturer of elevators worldwide, in addition to being a distributor of information technology and consumer electronics in Europe.

Founded in Switzerland in 1874, the Schindler Group employs approximately 43,000 people worldwide and is headquartered in Eibikon, Switzerland.

Schindler is a multinational company operating a worldwide fleet of more than 17,000 vehicles. In charge of Schindler’s global fleet activities is Douglas Else-Jack, vice president at Schindler Management AG. He joined Schindler in 2003 and is stationed at the headquarters office in Switzerland.

The Global Category Manager for fleet is Tino Bergemann, who reports directly to Else-Jack. As global category manager, Bergemann works with the company’s national fleet managers and, to a lesser degree, national HR managers.

The Schindler fleet function is managed by corporate human resources.
“The fleet policy comes from corporate HR,” said Else-Jack, who is also a  member of the fleet steering committee. He represents corporate purchasing and non-production materials and services.

Since Else-Jack joined Schindler, there have been a number of changes in how the fleet is managed. His work at Schindler has been widely acknowledged as best-in-class by his peers in Europe. In 2007, Schindler’s then Global Category Manager, Raphaelle Jeanneret was named European Fleet Manager of the Year by Fleet News magazine. The award was given based on Schindler’s achievements in segmentation control and fleet supplier management.

Deploying Multi-Pronged Fleet Sustainability Initiatives

One of the more significant changes with Schindler’s global fleet has been gradual transition to a green fleet. Schindler’s green fleet and sustainability programs comprise a number of corporate-wide and individual country initiatives.

“The way Schindler approaches environmental issues mirrors our approach to business,” said Else-Jack. “We take a systematic review of the activity and focus on where we can have the maximum effect.”

Douglas Else-Jack.

Douglas Else-Jack.

Fleet represents 64 percent of Schindler’s global carbon footprint. “Since we started our global fleet efforts, we’ve reduced engine sizes and improved fuel/CO2 efficiency by more than one third,” said Else-Jack. This decrease would have been even more significant if not offset by the increased number of vehicles in Schindler’s fleet and an overall increase in vehicle mileage due to changing business conditions.

“Our fleet is very much a reflection of our business. We’re a growing business that is creating greater efficiency as we go ahead. But going forward every year, we’ve increased mileage and increased the total number of units,” said Else-Jack.

There are two distinct parts of Schindler’s elevator and escalator businesses: the new installation business and the service business. The larger of the two is the service business.

“If you look to the new installation business, our technicians are increasingly supervising subcontractors, so they’re covering many more sites than before,” said Else-Jack. “In the past, they used to go to a site for a week or so and do the work themselves. But now, they supervise that work. Since I’ve started, we’re adding 2-3 percent in unit mileage year-over-year, and likewise are increasing the number of units.”

The increase in mileage and units has occurred on a global basis. The average Schindler fleet vehicle in the U.S. accumulates approximately 20,000 miles per year.

“Our fleet applications are primarily in an urban environment driving. Of course, that’s also the type of driving that has the greatest environmental impact because it is all stop-and-go driving,” Else-Jack said.

Developing Selectors Supporting Schindler’s Green Fleet Initiatives

One manifestation of the green fleet program is selector development, which determines the types of vehicles purchased. Salespeople are primarily assigned passenger cars, while service technicians use utility-type vehicles or drive a passenger car if in a supervisory capacity.

“In 2003, we put together a fairly rigid selector for the utility fleet, which represents 90 percent of our fleet. Utility vehicles are viewed as a tool for the job,” Else-Jack said. “We had a drift downwards on the size of vehicles used. That’s been faster in certain countries than others. Those countries have been either much more progressive or their taxation regimes have forced them to change the size of the vehicle they drive. We’ve seen employees go from mid-size to small or small to subcompact vehicles, especially in southern Europe.”

Else-Jack added, “In North America, we’ve slipped a size. We’re out of full-size and down to mid-size vehicles. But I still have far too many large or super-size pickup trucks in North America, which I’m sure has more to do with driver preference than operational need. However, this is hard to address because in certain countries, such as the U.S. and the UK, fleet vehicles have an intrinsic HR value.”

Hitting Country-by-Country Emission Reduction Targets

Schindler has implemented a program  to reduce fleet CO2 emissions on a country-by-country basis. Each country operation is given a target to reduce its overall CO2 footprint.

“Our target, specifically on car/van fleets, is a 10-percent per-year reduction for the next three years,” Else-Jack said. “Quite a few of our country operations have already accomplished major reductions by downsizing their fleets. What I’ve also proposed corporately is the laggard countries, especially those with great opportunities for improvement, are given higher targets with the 10-percent per-year reduction is the starting point.”

The goal of the current reduction program will continue until 2013. The 10-percent reduction is a minimum goal.

Thereafter, Schindler will re-examine its emissions reduction goals and set a new series of targets. This is an ongoing program with a continually moving target. As Schindler attains each goal, a new target is set to lower annual carbon emissions even further.

“This is just the evolution of the original fleet management programs we had, which established safety norms and a total-cost-oriented approach. We still have total cost of ownership (TCO) targets to reduce the cost of running the fleet. However, we’ve now added the ecology target as well. These are not contradictory targets; they are complementary,” said Else-Jack.

Schindler started its green fleet initiatives in 2004. However, the program has even earlier roots.

“In 2000, we started an environmental monitoring program. In 2003, we started the fleet focus because increasing fuel efficiency was shown to be an absolute TCO gain. In 2009, we started actively targeting the fleet for specific reductions,” Else-Jack said.

A variety of metrics were adopted to ensure each specific country group reaches 10-percent or greater emissions reductions.

“We look to the vehicle manufacturers’ published grams per kilometer CO2 emitted by their vehicles, and we target an absolute reduction across the entire fleet base within that country. It’s a nice, simple statistic,” according to Else-Jack.

Schindler identified 12 primary actions that country groups can take to achieve the annual emissions reductions.

“We came up with specific actions countries could take,” Else-Jack said. “Of course, some of those actions have already been taken by some countries, but many of them are nowhere near covering a third of the actions we listed. There’s a vast amount of things people can do.”

An integral part of Schindler’s sustainability plan is achieved by implementing technological solutions, especially highly efficient engine technology, which varies by region.

“In Europe, we have highly efficient engine technology. If I look at grams per kilometers, it works out, respective of vehicle type, to average about 142 grams of CO2 per kilometer,” said Else-Jack. “In North America, our fleet is emitting more than 250 grams of CO2 per mile; however, I’m still trying to get an accurate number. There’s a large technological gap between the vehicles built in Europe versus North America.”

In Europe, the average Schindler vehicle is powered by a 1.3L to 1.7L diesel engine with a catalytic fuel converter. In North America, the Schindler fleet uses 2.0L to 3.5L gasoline engines, which have far higher CO2 emissions.

“In America, I’m struggling to get below 200 grams to the kilometer for my mid-size vehicles,” said Else-Jack. “In addition to the CO2 targets, of course, we’re also trying to manage reductions in NOX emissions. This highlights one of the difficulties of managing fleets worldwide with governments failing to agree on similar approaches!”

Modifying Driver Behavior

The reduction targets vary by region and type of vehicles in service. “There’s only so much you can squeeze out of them in terms of fuel efficiency,” said Else-Jack.

Schindler’s other sustainability focus is modifying driver behavior, where it sees the ability to achieve the greatest ecological impact.

“I can’t change my fundamental demand. I still need to get people to sites in a time-efficient manner with the equipment they require, so the demand isn’t fundamentally changing. Especially as our fleet continues to grow in line with business needs. But what I can do is start to impact how my drivers are behaving. That really is the next level for us,” said Else-Jack. “We’re a long way down the path of changing vehicle specifications. However, you can only do so much with the selector. In my view, one of the greatest remaining opportunities is driver behavior. You can easily get a 10-percent reduction per-year by changing driver behavior.”

Schindler implemented several programs designed to modify driver behavior using driver training programs. The function of the driver training programs is two-fold: learning safe driving practices and learning economic driving practices. “We’ve asked a number of driving schools to combine these two courses to provide a single, clear message and to expand the countries they cover.”

From Schindler’s perspective, safe driving and eco-driving are intertwined.

“We’ve seen significant drops in fuel consumption following driver training. Upon completion of the driver training, we intensified our fuel monitoring, along with programs to recognize excellence. By using more ‘carrot than stick,’ you can maintain these efficiencies over the longer-term,” Else-Jack said. “The danger is you do all the training, for a few months you get the benefits, and then it begins to drift back to old behaviors unless you have that monitoring and enforcement in place.”

The results of the driver training program have been very encouraging for Schindler.

“Since the start of the program, there has been an increase in fuel efficiency by approximately 30 percent,” Else-Jack said. “However, these gains have been offset by the growth of the number of vehicles in the Schindler fleet and the increase in fleet mileage. When you compare the number of CO2 tons per year, it has stayed reasonably static, because the growth of the fleet has offset the improvements.”

Schindler’s Global Green Fleet Initiatives by Region

Schindler divides the globe into the four regions: North America, South America, Europe, and Asia/Pacific.

North American Region: Schindler operates 3,200 fleet vehicles, comprised primarily of Ford and Chevrolet models. Vehicles are selected for TCO and environmental reasons. Schindler owns its fleet in North America and uses Automotive Resources International (ARI) for fleet management services.

Schindler’s ability to achieve good emission reductions in North America are restricted because of limitations in the types of models, limited retail diesel refueling infrastructure, use of lower quality diesel than in Europe, and limited number of smaller displacement engines.

“The limitation in the national fuel network in the U.S. doesn’t give our drivers easy access to diesel. There are also limitations from an HR perspective as to how far we’re prepared to push our North American personnel with regards to vehicle downsizing. I’ve been able to do more of that in other countries than I’ve been allowed to do stateside,” said Else-Jack. “In North America, we still have major opportunities to reduce emissions by changing vehicle specifications, in addition to modifying driver behavior.”

South American Region: Brazil is Schindler’s largest market in South America. “We have about 300 vehicles in Brazil. It is an ethanol-dominated fleet. These vehicles are on long-term rentals, as opposed to leasing or purchase, due to tax reasons,” Else-Jack said. The Schindler fleet in Brazil is comprised primarily of smaller vehicles. “The passenger cars in Brazil are classified as small- to mid-size,” he continued.

The Schindler Brazilian fleet averages very high mileage due to the size of the country. “Those guys are driving a lot farther. But, we also have less vehicles in South America because employees use public transport, especially in the major urban concentrations,” Else-Jack said.

European Region: This is Schindler’s most complex fleet market. “We operate 12,000 vehicles in 26 countries. We offer subcompact to full-size vehicles, ranging from cars to vans. Schindler does not operate pickups in Europe. The standard engines are 1.3L or 1.5L diesel engines,” said Else-Jack.

The types of vehicles used by Schindler follow a north-south divide in Western Europe. “In Northern Europe, the company car is still seen much more as an employee perk than it is in Southern Europe,” said Else-Jack.
Government taxation drives many fleet decisions in Europe. “In Europe, as in the U.S., vehicles are easy tax revenue for governments,” said Else-Jack.

Asia-Pacific Region: Schindler operates approximately 400 vehicles in the Asia-Pacific region, most of which are in Australia and New Zealand.

“In terms of Australia, I would put them, at the moment, in the same category as North America in regards to where they stand on emissions reductions,” said Else-Jack. “I would like to transition the Australian fleet toward comparable-sized vehicles as used by our Southern European fleets. However, this may be difficult to attain.”

The key issues in the Australian fleet revolve around driver preference, and the preference is toward larger displacement engines. “Also, availability is somewhat limited in Australia for more fuel-efficient models compared to other regions,” Else-Jack said.