Andrew Tavener, Head of Marketing at Descartes explores how a joined-up approach to compliance data not only transforms the overhead but provides insight that can deliver additional efficiencies throughout the business.
Transport Operators’ compliance requirements can be hugely time consuming. Yet not only is the manual process of downloading and accessing tachograph data inefficient, companies are also unable to maximise use of this data to rapidly highlight and address key operational problems.
How long does it take to identify unaccounted mileage of a vehicle – and how long to evaluate the cause? Does the business have any idea of the number of drivers with nine or more penalty points – and the potential risk associated with driver shortage if they are banned? Is there any way of spotting a spike in penalties – and if so, taking early action such training and awareness or modifying delivering schedules?
Digital technology, including telematics, provides the chance to fundamentally transform compliance. Automated remote download of tachograph data not only removes the day to day burden, enabling operators to focus on more productive activities, but critically provides early visibility of potential problems.
Over the past few years Transport Operators have invested in digital technology to improve operations. Telematics, for example, combined with intelligent algorithms have enabled operators to achieve the route optimisation that has become essential to meet evolving customer demands. Real-time vehicle visibility has delivered new levels of business agility, providing operators with the chance to reroute vehicles on the fly in response to a raft of issues such as unexpected delays or new deliveries or pick-ups.
In contrast, however, to this highly slick and efficient operation, Transport Managers are still burdened by an incredibly manual compliance overhead. Manual downloads of tachograph data - every 90 days or sooner for vehicle unit data and 28 days or sooner for driver card data, are both time consuming and disruptive. Operators can spend 30 minutes per vehicle each week downloading tachograph data. Given the route optimisation process has to include drivers’ hours compliance and the pressure on driver resources – and the spike in driver wages – this unproductive time is both frustrating and expensive.
Clearly the compliance model has to change. Rather than manually downloading VU tachograph or driver card data, this information can now be automatically downloaded remotely via installed telematics devices. In addition to the obvious time savings associated with this automatic and remote download model, digital access to this data opens the door to a far smarter approach to compliance management.
Typically, the data routinely collected to ensure Transport Operators remain compliant is under-utilised. Managers spend time cross referencing vehicle and driver data in a bid to resolve unaccounted distance; but otherwise information is often collected and locked away. From paper-based vehicle safety checks onwards, this information is only pulled out again should an incident occur that requires verification.
Yet this data offers huge potential value to any company. Combining digital tachograph analysis and reporting, driving licence and driver CPC verification with the DVLA plus digital driver vehicle safety checks, all in one location, transforms the way this data can be used – for both compliance and operational processes.
The first step is to increase the frequency of tachograph data downloads – with remote, automated download via telematics, tachograph and driver card data can now be downloaded every day the vehicle is used. With the addition of a mobile app to support manual vehicle safety checks, operators can both ease the enforcement process and create a deeper compliance information resource. Drivers can be prompted to follow the required checks, ensuring the correct process is followed; an audit trail provided through location and timestamps; while the ability to attach photographs enables drivers to highlight any areas of concern.
With a single source of compliance data, companies can leverage automation to move from reactive to proactive management by exception. For example, automated processes for analysing vehicle and driver tachograph data ensures any unaccounted distance is immediately flagged to the Transport Manager. This ability to quickly identify and remedy such issues is far more effective than the current model of reactively addressing a problem that has been occurring for up to three months. A proactive, exception led approach can also be applied to vehicle safety checks – Transport Managers can easily see if the expected number, location and duration of vehicle checks, has not been recorded.
Similar benefits can be achieved with proactive driver compliance. For example, drivers incurring penalty points create a significant level of business risk – especially when nine out of ten drivers admit they would not automatically inform their employers. The status of a driver’s licence has a number of implications, from potentially invalidating insurance to reputational damage, especially if a driver has been pulled over for using a mobile phone or dangerous driving. Furthermore, given the estimated 50,000 shortfall in qualified HGV drivers, Transport Managers need a way to identify those drivers at risk of being banned, and mitigate the potential risk of driver shortage within the business.
With a smart approach to compliance management, operators can ensure drivers’ licenses are routinely checked to ensure penalty point information is up to date. However, there is no need to treat all drivers the same: the value comes from leveraging this data to focus activity on those drivers that cause the biggest problems or are at the most risk of being banned. Setting up a risk profile for each driver will determine the frequency of checks - a driver with nine points should clearly prompt more attention – a monthly check, for example - than one with zero to three points, who could be checked just twice a year.
In addition to enabling firms to keep track of ‘at risk’ drivers, this insight can also identify trends in driver activity. If there is a sudden spike in speeding penalties or drivers’ hours infringements, what is the issue? Are drivers not being allocated enough time to make deliveries or is there a culture that needs to be addressed through training? A Transport Operator with a large number of drivers on nine points is clearly at risk of driver shortage and can be proactive in addressing this potential problem.
Telematics information has without doubt become an essential component of Transport Operators’ push towards more agile and efficient business. The ability to extend the value of this model by remotely transmitting tachograph and driver card data enables operators to address the resource draining compliance overhead. However, while the time saving of automated remote download of tachograph data is compelling, it is the ability to focus on the exceptions, rather than the compliant operations, that transforms the burden and enables businesses to drive additional value from this compliance data.