Digital technology has the potential to save time and money, as well as helping drivers, protecting vehicles and improving customer service, says Andrew Tavener
Over the last few years, transport operators have invested enormously in digital technology in an effort to improve their operations. Vehicle telematics is a great example. Using intelligent algorithms, this technology ensures that commercial vehicles always follow the most efficient routes to their destinations. Offering real-time visibility, it delivers new levels of business agility, allowing operators to reroute vehicles on the fly in response to a raft of issues such as unexpected delays or new delivery requests.
However, when it comes to compliance, transport managers are still burdened by an incredibly manual workload. Manual downloads of tachograph data are both time consuming and disruptive: EU rules require these every 90 days or sooner for vehicle unit data, and every 28 days or sooner for driver card data.
Saving time with telematics
Clearly, the compliance model has to change. Instead of being downloaded manually, vehicle information can now be automatically downloaded remotely via telematics devices installed in vehicles. Digital access to this data saves time and opens the door to a far smarter approach to compliance management.
Telematics and mobile data communications now allow fleet managers to know the status of their drivers’ hours compliance; and to know in advance when to book a vehicle in for maintenance. Location tracking also identifies breakdowns more quickly, and unusual activity such as diversions from the set route. This added insight reassures drivers that any vehicle problems can be rapidly resolved.
Increasing driver safety
Improving the way employees drive delivers a wide range of cost and operational efficiencies. The data obtained by telematics technology can record and monitor harsh accelerating, breaking and speeding, which is key to identifying unfavourable and unsafe driver behaviour. This level of insight puts company managers firmly back in control.
Drivers who incur penalty points, for example, place the business at risk, potentially invalidating insurance or damaging company reputation, especially if they are pulled over for using mobile phones or dangerous driving. Managers can also monitor spikes in speeding penalties or drivers’ hours infringement, and proactively address any potential problems before they escalate.
With a single source of compliance data, companies can manage their drivers much more proactively. Transport managers can immediately spot any unaccounted distances, for example, and remedy them immediately.
Without telematics, however, this process can take up to three months.
Vehicle safety checks can be managed more efficiently, too, so that transport managers can easily see if the expected number, location and duration of vehicle checks has not been recorded.
Analysing live traffic
By providing real-time insight into traffic, navigation and delivery schedules, telematics technology enables transport operators to analyse real-time location against the planned route and modify journey timings accordingly, saving on time and fuel costs. Crucially, warning customers in advance of potential delays, and keeping them abreast of delivery status is always a great way to increase customer satisfaction.
Digital telematic information is now an essential component for fleet operations of any type and size. It reduces the workload for managers and drivers. As the overall fleet performance improves, vehicles can deliver products more quickly, improve the customer experience, and increase profitability.
Andrew Tavener is head of marketing at Descartes UK