Fraser Crichton: Sustainable Mobility Maestro Transforming Transportation

Fraser Crichton
Fraser Crichton | Corporate Fleet Manager | Dundee City Council

Fraser Crichton’s journey in the transport sector spans over two decades. Starting his career in an agricultural equipment company, Fraser seamlessly merged his agricultural background with a new career path. His tenure with Dundee City Council began in 2002 as a Transport Officer, marking the initiation of a remarkable professional trajectory.

Over the years, Fraser navigated through various transport roles within the council, culminating in his current position as Corporate Fleet Manager. His leadership has been instrumental in overcoming challenges, with a notable achievement being the consolidation of disparate fleet vehicles into a unified entity. This transformation streamlined operations across diverse council sections including construction, social work and refuse collection.

Currently overseeing a fleet of nearly a thousand vehicles and plants, Fraser Crichton stands as a testament to the successful convergence of agricultural roots and a thriving career in the transport sector.

Let’s delve into the journey that reflects dedication, adaptability and a commitment to optimizing fleet management!

Tell us something more about your organization and its mission and vision. What strategies have you employed to ensure a smooth transition between generations while maintaining the company’s values and vision?

As a local authority, we aim to provide services to the public. The moment I realized the need to change the transportation sector was when I attended an air quality meeting 12 years ago representing the transportation sector for Dundee City Council. This meeting highlighted the severe situation around poor air quality across the city and the need for improved air quality management. In that meeting, it was also mentioned that the transportation system in Dundee was responsible for 35% of the carbon emissions.

The difficulty lies in trying to translate the hidden dangers of poor air quality to the public when transitioning to low-carbon vehicles. Older generations have their set views and it’s difficult for them to accept changes. Younger generations tend to be more knowledgeable about how these issues will ultimately affect them, however, they’re less able to afford them. I started to look at holistic ways of providing EV infrastructure across entire sectors of the city. This was then expanded to the greater region.

Enlighten us on the impact that you have made with your work through your expertise in the industry.

I have been successful in deploying electric vehicles into the Fleet and providing EV infrastructure to the wider public. Our latest charging hub on Clepington Road—was designed with accessibility in mind proving that it is in our interest that we provide service to all people of Dundee.

I think that another huge milestone in my career derives from working with our local communities. I’m now aware that sometimes, our projects are met with disapproval and it is my role to give the public a voice and accommodate their needs. I think we are now at a point where there’s a general understanding that every citizen in the city has to be involved in what is a dramatic innovative transition.

What do you see as the most significant challenges facing the automotive industry today, and how are you addressing them within your role?

The challenge the industry is facing today is, in my view, the speed of innovation which at times runs ahead of how people are able to adjust to this change and therefore can cause a disconnect within different social sectors.

Ultimately, as a local authority, we are trying to create a just transition. As complex as it can be, what you’re trying to avoid is disparities between communities which is why we are determined to deploy EV infrastructure across the city and provide access to chargers in areas of different demographics.

As a leader, you likely face challenges on a regular basis. Can you share an instance where you encountered a significant obstacle and how you navigated through it, drawing upon your leadership skills and resilience?

Like all organizations, the key is people and communication. An example of this would be the design process of any project. You’re always involved with architects, designers, engineers, and others. Different solutions are talked about in this space and, as insightful as this is, it can be quite difficult to incorporate all the different elements into the final project. This requires a great deal of discussion, but we always come to a conclusion at the end. For example, our Princes Street hub features curbs made from recycled plastic bottles as opposed to concrete, which we’d normally use. At the core, we are charging vehicles, but ultimately, we have created much more at these sites.

Another obstacle is that there will always be people who will try to interfere and argue with any form of innovation. This continues to happen today and only by persuasion and accommodation of different views and needs, can we inspire future ways of thinking.

Our multi-modal hub on Queen Street is a perfect example of how important it is to involve other sectors to ensure resilience. We understand that people are coming from rural areas and are using their cars. But when they get to the outskirts of the city, we want them to choose a different mode of transport to get into the middle of it, so the hub was built next to the railway station and a bus stop. There’s also an ability to cycle or walk along the esplanade all the way into the city.

Once you start to bring all the different sectors into the loop, more people are involved in the whole idea of low emissions and it becomes easier to motivate the people that are against any changes. Ultimately, it requires time, effort and dedication to ensure the city’s vision for a cleaner and more accessible future.

Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?

As we further deploy EVs in the future, the energy demand will be continuously growing. To ensure further deployment of the EV infrastructure, we are determined to make our solutions as resourceful as possible, which is why we try to strengthen our renewable energy sector.

Too often, the industry becomes too focused on charging, when in fact, the vehicle itself becomes an energy source and we must understand that this innovation is all about bio-directional energy use. Cars, buildings, offices, wherever the energy is required, we must be in a position where we’re able to transfer the energy from one place to another.

In a rapidly changing market, innovation is key. How do you foster a culture of innovation within your organization, and what role has innovation played in the company’s continued growth and success?

Within the organization, I have not only talked about the major benefits of innovation to the public, but I have actually proven that innovation works. From a small beginning, we have continued to embrace it and deploy it across the city by providing access to chargers in areas of different demographics. Proving the benefits of our infrastructure can inspire a wider audience, especially within the next generations.

How do you envision the company evolving to meet the demands of the ever-changing business landscape while staying true to its core values?

Going forward, we’d like our council to be in a closer relationship with the private sector, where we’re looking to combine the virtues of both sectors to deliver a comprehensive transportation system for citizens. I believe this can be achieved by embracing the hybrid sort of working between the two.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for your organization?

I’d like to continue to be involved in the clean transportation transition, but more progressively involved with other renewable energy sources. We are currently relying on solar energy and I’d like this to expand to solar, wind and heat pumps all complementing the whole transportation sector.

What advice do you have for aspiring professionals looking to make a significant impact in the automotive sector?

The key to any progress is the team that you create around you. You’re in a much stronger position to make these challenging changes if you have a supportive and enthusiastic workforce behind you.

Another major factor is open-mindedness on future innovation requirements. This requires huge collaboration efforts and as always, people are the key. Ultimately, one of the hardest but most beneficial impacts is understanding that you will make mistakes but they are the biggest lessons that you will learn and to succeed, you must understand that you will make these mistakes and appreciate every decision you make won’t always be the best.