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How to make walkaround checks easy: introducing our SynX Perform app

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 12, 2016 9:00:00 AM

 

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Our SynX Perform Driver app has now a new feature for simplifying the process of vehicle checks, allowing fleets to save time and eliminate paperwork while maintaining safety standards and legal compliance.

Drivers will be able to carry out walkaround checks on vehicles by means of their mobile devices with the new Perform app more easily, which will help to eliminate errors and make the process more efficient.

Once inspections are done, checks will be recorded in the maintenance interface of our solution SynX Perform, eliminating the paperwork associated with checks and maintenance, and allowing a fleet manager or anyone responsible for running a fleet to keep control of maintenance by accessing the records at any time, from any browser.


How to make walkaround checks easy app


Walkaround checks are one of the first, basic steps that help keep vehicles roadworthy and compliant with current legislation. A well-maintained vehicle is also a safe vehicle, and it is a legal requirement to have a system in place for carrying out routine safety checks. Companies who operate vehicles and whose business typically depends on driving are legally required to have a routine maintenance program as well as a schedule to perform regular checks and a system in place for reporting/recording maintenance and defects.


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Guidelines such as the checklists we propose in our resources section are a good starting point, but the app is definitely going to make drivers and fleet managers’ life easier, as we shall explain: if you have been going through the whole process with pen and paper before, or used one of these checklists, we are sure you will quickly come to appreciate the benefits of the interaction between the app and the software. And if you still do not have a system in place, with SynX Perform and the app, you have a very good opportunity to set one up in a very easy and user-friendly way.


How to make walkaround checks easy


SynX Perform is our fleet management solution that integrates fuel card data with safety, maintenance and driver behaviour. The system is available 24/7 on any device and browser and is enhanced by the help of our driver app, which does not only include the vehicle checking option, but also offers updates on any driver challenge you as a fleet manager might want to set up: driver challenges are an excellent training and rewarding tool for raising awareness of how important safe driving is, while also underscoring how this impacts on global efficiency and costs.

 

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Topics: GPS & Tracking, technology, fleet maintenance

Fleet maintenance best practices: is prevention better than cure?

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 10, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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You have surely heard or read the old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This, now common, expression originated from Benjamin Franklin, who coined the phrase when he wrote a short essay about how to prevent house fires. As he noted, it was much less expensive to practice fire safety than it was to rebuild a house that had burnt to the ground.

If we look at the saying and its meaning, we notice some of the obvious advantages of prevention over cure, as

• it is better to try to keep a bad thing from happening than it is to fix it once it has happened;

• it literally prevents the discomfort and costs of experiencing a preventable, negative event.

• it's easier to stop something happening in the first place than to repair the damage after it has happened.


Now let’s consider how Benjamin Franklin’s words of wisdom from the eighteenth century could apply to something as modern as fleet maintenance… particularly the eternal debate on whether to opt for preventative maintenance (prevention) or reactive maintenance (cure):

Some might argue that reactive maintenance allows fleet managers or anyone in charge of controlling a fleet to address an issue once it happens, thus optimising time and focusing on problems only when required. But the truth is that an event such as a breakdown always causes unanticipated costs (try to think not only about the cost of repairs or vehicle replacement, but also the delays it can cause and the workforce downtime to mention just a few) and disadvantages for a company.

A preventive approach seems in the first analysis as more time consuming, since preventative maintenance is based on a series of regular checks and servicing, scheduled according to a combination of factors: type, make and model of vehicle and manufacturer’s recommendations, scope of the vehicle and company’s activity, the weather in operational areas and so on. But in actual fact, a preventative maintenance philosophy offers advantages in a breakdown, such as a faster and more active response with a deeper knowledge of each vehicle and of the likely reasons which might have caused the breakdown itself. And it eventually results in lower costs as well…

In terms of fleet maintenance best practices, what do you think, which attitude would you recommend? Preventive maintenance really seems to be the best option. But how would you organise a preventive maintenance system? What would you use in order to decide how to plan servicing for your vehicles? If you need help with that query, have a look at our software page and see what SynX Perform can do for you!

 

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Topics: fleet maintenance

How does a vehicle tracking system work for decreasing mileage

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 8, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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Promoting the strengths of vehicle tracking systems and offering them to businesses of all sizes is our particular field of expertise; we help our customers to manage and operate a more successful fleet on a daily basis. If we think about what is consistently one of our customers’ top priorities, and you guessed “cutting costs”, you’d be spot on. But how to go about lowering costs in a fleet is often not a matter of getting services at a more favourable price, but rather of changing the way in which things are done.

For example, if we deal with cutting down on fuel costs, we have different ways of changing what we currently do that is consuming excessive fuel. We can act on how we drive and minimise any aggressive driving patterns, decrease our idling fuel consumption or also simplify things by finding better planning routes therefore reducing our overall driving… less driving, less spent fuel.

But how does a vehicle tracking system work for that purpose and in which ways can it impact on the mileage of a fleet? Let’s have a look at them!

1 - Optimise your journeys: there are a lot of options available in a reliable fleet management solution in order to plan your journey better. You can easily restrict the operating area of a vehicle, learn if drivers are taking too many detours, study a new journey carefully to avoid a congested area, find out if there is any unauthorised usage of vehicles and so on. If you can see what is happening on the road, you’ll have a variety of means at your disposal to decrease mileage!

2 - Use data to streamline your processes: you might have a driving policy or a fuel policy in place but if you do not have accurate data available it won’t be effective or won’t be focusing on the relevant causes of fuel waste. If you know where there is mileage waste or excessive consumption you can amend your policy, create a new one and establish new processes by considering what is actually happening in the fleet.

3 - Metrics will help you make informed vehicle choices and improve your image: excessive fuel consumption might be caused by inefficient vehicles, so when considering new vehicles make sure you know how efficiently your current vehicles perform before opting for a different vehicle. If you use any or all of these systems it will help you to run a greener, more economic fleet, thus reducing your carbon footprint.

If you want to know more about how a vehicle tracking system could help you in cutting mileage and fuel costs, you can visit the software section of our website and see what SynX could do for you!

 

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Topics: Fleet Management

17% of fleets still do not understand the importance of driver training

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 5, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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We often reiterate throughout our blogs how important it is not only to maintain a profitable business but to keep everyone safe, ensure operations run efficiently, have all departments collaborating together and secure the staff´s buy-in.

The points regarding drivers are obviously key for businesses that revolve around driving operations—they need the drivers to physically complete jobs— it would be impossible to complete them without drivers. In order to maintain efficiency in the driving operations, you need to maintain the highest safety standards within an organisation as well as making drivers’ lives easier.

Driver training should be an important part of this process and ongoing education and assessment is a direct consequence of driver monitoring: this is an aid to developing risk assessment strategies, cutting fuel costs, increasing driver retention and eventually generating more profitable activity.

According to a survey performed by Brake, the road safety charity, on the topic of driver training about speed published in the second part of its Fleet safety survey report 201517% of the fleets interviewed “do not train, assess or educate drivers on speed”. One in five organisations do not do any training or educate drivers at all with regards to speed.

This seems quite a worrying statistic, since it indicates there is still an awful lot to do in relation to safety and efficiency. We all know some safety regulations could be just seen as “common sense”, but sometimes rules are never repeated enough and there are still a high number of violations. If we think about driver distraction, for example, we all know it makes perfect sense not to use our mobile phone behind the wheel, yet how many people flout this law on a daily basis?

In the research done by Brake, the charity shares other methods that may be used to train drivers which could also be used for other aspects of driving. We share them in this blog post, hoping they might help you in creating an effective driver training strategy:

• internal communications and briefings: potentially on any type of topic, useful if done regularly;

• induction awareness training: useful for having drivers know how much their style impacts on safety and consumption;

• interview questions during recruitment: has to be mandatory and helps as starting point for training new hires;

 remedial training: should necessarily follow after a violation or any other event requiring it;

• refresher awareness;

• online driver risk assessment;

• psychometric tests.

 

Do you actively use any of these methods for driver training, and which do you find to be the most successful? And what do you use to monitor drivers and evaluate where they may be in need of further training; does this happen only in the event of a fine?

 

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Topics: Fleet Management

Drink driving limits: uniformity needed in the UK

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 3, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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There is growing pressure in the UK after Scotland and, recently, Northern Ireland have decreased their drink driving limits from 80mg to 50mg.

Scotland reduced the legal alcohol limit in December 2014, while Northern Ireland, following suit just a few weeks ago, introduced the Road Traffic Amendment Bill. According to the amendment, Northern Ireland will be lowering its limit to 50mg per 100ml, in line with Scotland, but professional and learner drivers will face a limit that is lower still, of 20mg per 100ml.

Part of the measures that will be introduced by the bill will increase the police force’s power to establish roadside checkpoints as well as run breath tests.

The current limit in England and Wales of 80mg was introduced more than 50 years ago and the government seems reluctant to bring the limit in line with the new guidelines happening in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Drink driving is still a high contributory factor in one in every three fatal collisions; in one in every four fatal crashes, the driver had consumed alcohol.

Any alcohol impairs driving, even if consumption is under the legal limit. When you drink the alcohol hits your brain within minutes, impairing driving skills very quickly. The only safe advice, is to never ever drink and drive.

 

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Topics: Road Safety

How to prevent vehicle theft: use technology to protect your fleet

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 1, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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A number of police operations took place in the UK in January to apprehend suspected van thieves active in West Yorkshire and Lancashire. Two sites in Lancashire, particularly, have been identified as the locations to which the vehicles, stolen from across the North of England, were brought in order to be broken into parts and then sold on.

A large number of spare parts such as engines, doors and panels have been found and were suspected to have originated from vehicles stolen from the Yorkshire and Humber region.

The news follows a trend of vehicle thefts active in the area going back at least as far as 2010—Ford Transit Vans being the most stolen vehicle throughout the UK. According to the news release, 478 Ford Transit Vans have been stolen between January 1, 2015 and December 11, 2015 alone, with an estimated value in excess of £7.5m (around €10m).

You might have a large or a small fleet, but your vehicles are always subject to a lot of expenses. Every day you have to deal with fuel, maintenance, safety and at the same time be able to cope with the need for hiring skilled drivers, for cutting costs, emissions and insurance premiums. The theft of a vehicle is generally an unforeseen issue but it could really cause problems within your organisation...

According to the Chief Superintendent of West Yorkshire Police, “These types of vehicles are often owned and utilised by small businesses and for some, the theft of a vehicle can result in the loss of contracts and future work.” It, therefore, becomes indispensable for fleets to have a strategy against theft.

How to prevent vehicle theft within your fleet then?

GPS tracking and fleet management solutions offer a great deal of advantages, one of which is the monitoring of fleet vehicles' movements. Preventing theft is usually not the main reason for installing a GPS tracking device or a fleet management system, but it offers the added bonus of tracking vehicles should they ever be stolen.

Systems like SynX can offer you a lot of obvious advantages, and some less obvious opportunities, for your business to develop and improve. If you want to know more on how to drive your business forward, contact us!

 

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Topics: Fleet Management, fleet safety

Self-driving vehicles: from myth to reality

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jan 29, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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© Michael Shick - Commons Wikimedia
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Google_self_driving_car_at_the_Googleplex.jpg

 

When talking about self-driving vehicles or cars, some of you might remember what was probably considered the most iconic self-driving car of all times…

It was the year 1982 and a new series called “Knight Rider” introduced us to a specially customised Pontiac model known as KITT—an acronym for “Knight Industries Two Thousand". A car not only able to self-drive, leap into the air, accelerate to 300 mph, but also capable of speech and even engaging in intelligent conversation! But most importantly, KITT was designed and programmed to help its driver, the dashing hero of the series, fight injustice at every opportunity.

 

self_driving_vehicles_3.jpgKnight Rider KITT, Photo Credit: Driving Spirit.com
http://drivingspirit.com/10-iconic-cars-of-tv-film/knight-rider-kitt/

 

If you were among the enthusiastic fans of KITT, you may also be well aware of the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) that takes place every January in Las Vegas. According to the press, the quantum leap made by the industry in the field of self-driving vehicles has been the top attraction of this year’s event.

Google, Apple and Tesla as well as other companies are working in order to get the perfect driverless vehicle. Many US states have already granted license to manufacturers of such vehicles to access US roads for testing. According to researchers, self-driving vehicles will be affordable and especially helpful for elderly people or those with special needs.

According to AA director Conor Faughnan, driverless vehicles will also have a positive impact on road safety and particularly on drink-driving: "In ten or fifteen years, rural publicans may well see their customers drinking and afterwards tell their car to safely bring them home. The technology is literally already there to do this. It's just a matter of time until the legal and social norms catch up."

 

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Engine for in-vehicle artificial intelligence showcased at CES 2016, Photo Credit: Techyhints.com
http://techyhints.com/techs/nvidia-reveals-drive-px2-supercomputer-for-self-driving-cars-ces-2016/

 

David Hasselhoff, the star of Knight Rider and also former owner of the 1986 Pontiac Firebird 5.0-litre V8 145hp (which was even showcased in Co. Kildare, Ireland, in 2014), has probably never asked KITT to pick him up after a night out at the pub, but it is indeed an example of how this technology could be helpful. On the other hand, only time will tell if self driving vehicles will completely eliminate the likelihood of an accident, will be safely operated without the help of a human his knowledge on how to manage them safely...

 

 

 

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Topics: Road Safety, News and Reviews, GPS technology

Fuel savings for fleets: how to identify areas for improvement

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jan 27, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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When we try to explain to our potential customers how much money they could save on bills if they monitored driver behaviour, they do not realise the great potential that driving style awareness offers.

Driving style is one of multiple factors that can positively impact a fleet’s cost, but this doesn’t often become apparent until you have the full visibility of your fleet’s activity. Most people might assume technology will disclose misuse and help with traffic and route planning. This is indeed true, but it is only half the story: savings come from many other sources, which you can only capitalise on if you start monitoring your fleet fully.

We saw for ourselves, within a fleet of ten commercial vehicles (Ford Transit vans) used for deliveries by one of our customers, how dramatically the performance and fuel consumption could vary among fleet drivers. The results we obtained suggests that the company could save as much as €10,000 per year if all drivers adopted the driving style of the best ranker.

The best performer/ranked driver had an average consumption ratio of 10.5 litres of fuel per 100 km. The performance of the rest of the drivers, compared with the best ranked, showed there was a difference in their consumption ratio ranging from 15-30%, with the worst ranking driver showing a consumption ratio of 15.2 litres/100 km. If all the drivers’ consumption ratio matched that of the best performer, the Ford Transit fleet would have saved €9744 per year.

Before you start setting about schooling drivers into adopting different driving styles, firstly you should monitor their behaviour to highlight the difference between the best and the worst driver. This is the logical starting point for identifying savings and improvement: you should easily pinpoint where money is being lost and what actions need to be taken.

If you want to know more on how to generate fuel savings for fleets, contact us for a talk or for a SynX demo, it will really make your life surprisingly easier (and your bills much lower…)

 

 

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Topics: Fuel

Driver retention strategies: learn how GPS tracking can be your ally

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jan 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM

There is a lot of discussion lately surrounding driver turnover, shortage and retention, due to a very particular situation: a combination of ageing workforce, retirement, low number of qualified staff and some other factors.

Companies whose business relies on driving are therefore starting to focus on hiring strategies as well as focussing on retention, often underestimating the contribution that technology can make in encouraging drivers to stay. The truth is, when companies first think about fleet management systems and potential GPS tracking solutions, the Big Brother Stigma is ever present.

We have already examined how GPS tracking can actually benefit drivers and how it is advisable to introduce the idea of this technology before its full implementation; making sure everyone is aware of what is going to happen. But with this post we would like to focus on the benefits of these tools with regard to keeping your staff happy. Lots of drivers are becoming quite reluctant to take jobs now that technology has become some pervasive in the industry: they fear that too many aspects of their job will come under excessive control. The focus should instead be on the usefulness of the data obtained rather than pointing out misdemeanours; and if you get it right, fleet management software can be one of your top driver retention strategies.

 

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Want to know how? Have a look at these points:

 
#1 - Be open to dialogue and share

Driving data obtained by telemetry is not frequently shared, and executive decisions are taken inside companies without fully explaining the reasons behind them. So be ready to share the newly available knowledge with drivers and they will come to realise how it can actually help them in their daily jobs.
 
#2 - Use scorecards and driver behaviour

This is a very important feature within the software that can help keep staff safe and motivated. Drivers are very proud of their job and always want to excel, so it is a very powerful tool for retention. And don’t forget to reward excellent conduct—you can use the driver challenges option with SynX in order to set up competitions with prizes.

 
#3 - Give drivers the whole picture

Driver training and internal meetings are never bad, but it is very important that you provide context for the information you deliver. For example, if you see recurring driving issues in specific areas, get feedback from the people on the road instead of just dispensing warnings—the “must do and don’t”s. If you create a dialogue with drivers you might even discover they can provide solutions, help you in rerouting, or offer you a more complete view of an issue.

#4 - Make driver’s life easier

From minimising the frequency of calls by using your PC to locate them, to diverting drivers to less trafficked areas or directing them if they are lost… there is a great deal of integrated tools in your GPS tracking software than can make their job much simpler. So… make sure you use them!

#5 - Have a 'techy' company

If you use technology in the right way and help your drivers perform their daily tasks well, these tools can become a useful aid for retention, empowering drivers and helping to create a more “fashionable”, technically savvy, brand for your company.

 

 

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Topics: Fleet Management

Work related accidents: 55 people killed in 2015 in Ireland

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jan 22, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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The Health and Safety Authority of Ireland (HSA) has released some worrying figures on work related accidents early this January.

According to the HSA reports, the total number of fatalities reached 55 in 2015, exactly the same number of fatalities that occurred during 2014. The agricultural sector registered a decrease in the total number of accidents (18 against 30), while the construction industry saw an increase (from 8 to 11).

The main cause of fatal incidents in 2015 were vehicle related.

These figures mark the importance of introducing risk assessment, of emphasizing health and safety at work as well as training employees on best work practices.

The Assistant Chief Executive of the HSA, Brian Higgisson, stated that there need to be further improvements in 2016: “There are high levels of safety and health awareness in Irish workplaces and we must ensure that this translates to changes in behaviour and fewer accidents in all the sectors this year.”

If your company relies on the use of vehicles and on driving in order to operate, you really should ensure safety is very much a priority again in 2016. This does not only involve actual driving activity but also coupling, uncoupling or any loading and unloading task your staff might have to undertake. You can refer to the HSA website at any point or to some of our former blog posts which specifically focus on safety tips.

 

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Topics: Safety

About this blog

Welcome to the SynX blog!

Here is where we post all our latest and greatest tips and info on best practices for fleet management. Everything you need to know on fuel, safety, maintenance plus news and reviews. Subscribe to get the latest news and feel free to comment on any of our posts or give your feedback!

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