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5 strategies for guaranteeing safe loading and cargo securing

by Eleonora Malacarne on Sep 2, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Education and training are crucial for a fleet in order to optimise safety, not only for drivers themselves but for all the staff, and road users in general. For most fleet managers, “driver education” means ensuring drivers understand all there is to know concerning basic vehicle safety. But there is another aspect that cannot be overlooked with regards to maximizing safety and increasing efficiency (and saving money—as if you need reminding!): safe loading and cargo securing.

 

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Whether it is goods or equipment loaded on to a truck, or simply boxes on the front seat of a company car, remember there is always a safe way to secure loads, and that an insecure load which is not properly secured can cost you in a variety of ways: a driver can lose control of a vehicle, with serious consequences for both the driver and other road users, not to mention the damage to vehicles and cargo… products may fall off the vehicle and cause serious road hazards, accidents and legal complications. Moreover, if drivers are not trained properly on how to drive while transporting goods and materials, they could adopt unsafe practices that can cause even a safely secured load to become at risk.
 
So, how can you make sure all drivers are aware of load safety? Have a look at these 5 strategies!
 
#1 - Ensure that driver education is consistently on-going, not only reiterating the basics but also by scheduling regular meetings so as to focus on various topics: walk-around checks, driving in different weather conditions, defensive driving etc.
  
#2 - Training for drivers should include driving under load, because the handling of a laden vehicle is much different to an unladen one. Stopping distances increase, pulling away and accelerating take longer… these kinds of factors mean a driver should pay particular attention to their surroundings, checking all mirrors and responding in good time to a potential situation or hazard, avoiding overreaction due to poor observation and delayed adjustment to changing conditions. 
  
#3 - Keep up with load securement training, concentrating on both the inside and the outside of the vehicle. An unsecured load within the vehicle is still capable of causing an accident. Most people don’t worry too much about leaving loose objects on the back seats of cars, but sharp breaking can propel them forward into the driver’s footwell  where they are capable of wedging under a pedal and causing problems.
  
#4 - Drivers should be familiar with the correct way to strap-up and brace exterior loads for trucks and vans. They need to use the appropriate restraints according to the type of load and its weight.
  
#5 - It is of the upmost importance, all though it may seem obvious, to ensure that the correct vehicle is used for transporting a load, i.e. that it is designed to safely carry the intended load. It’s no good sending out a driver with a five ton load on a truck which is designed to only convey half a ton. If you think that is an exaggeration, think again—it has been known to happen! When a vehicle is overloaded it places a severe strain on crucial vehicle components such as the brakes, suspension and the drivetrain, which dangerously compromises the driver, the vehicle and the company.
 
 
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Topics: Fleet Management, Safety

Don't let idling drag your fuel economy down

by Eleonora Malacarne on Aug 31, 2015 9:00:00 AM

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Companies often do not realise how much idling can impact on the global fuel consumption of their fleet. Unnecessary vehicle idling for even the shortest periods of time, wastes fuel, floods the atmosphere with carbon emissions and causes unnecessary noise pollution.
 
The reason why many fleet managers fail to understand how much this is costing the company is simply because it usually isn’t monitored—which is true, ordinarily, unless you have telemetry devices installed in your fleet vehicles. With telemetry it is a simple matter to figure out just how long your drivers could be keeping the engine running unnecessarily—something you would never normally be aware of.
 
It is something we don’t often think about—it’s a habit that we practice unconsciously. But be warned, anything over ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than shutting off and restarting a vehicle. And the money you save by not doing it will more than offset any costs for wear-and-tear on your vehicle. Additionally, imagine if all the vehicles operating in your fleet are all keeping the engine running unnecessarily at least once during the day… this translates into how many thousands of euros? Not to mention the pollution!
 
It is a common misconception that it is preferable to warm up by idling rather than driving. The reality is that most of today’s engines do not need to warm up; and actually, the best way to warm the engine is by actually driving (whilst avoiding excessive revving)—just a few seconds are needed before setting off. Same story for warming up the cabin interior—easing into your driving is the most efficient way to get your vehicle system delivering warm air.
 
You should start sensitizing your staff, and set out a practical idling-reduction program. If you have all the metrics at your fingertips, it is a simple matter to plan a strategy for it. If you are able to capture your fleet’s idling baseline, you can further investigate the underlying reasons for the idling events. For example, drivers often leave vehicles running while doing a delivery or waiting at security gates.
 
If you identify the baseline and the reasons for keeping the engine on you can look into establishing a reasonable idling limit and train your drivers to that effect. If you develop a strong anti-idling culture inside your company you will definitely notice the savings, and it really is quite simple to achieve.
 
 
 
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Topics: Fleet Management

New driver fatigue campaign by the RSA: stop, sip, sleep

by Eleonora Malacarne on Aug 28, 2015 9:00:00 AM

A new road safety campaign has been launched by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) of Ireland—you may have already seen it on TV, the cinema or heard the radio advert. This campaign specifically focusses on driver fatigue, offering advice to motorists on the dangers of driving when tired in the form of an easy-to-remember slogan: “Stop, Sip, Sleep”.
 
driver_fatigue-rsaPhoto Credit: ©RSA.ie
 
Drivers who begin to notice the effects of driver fatigue should follow these guidelines from the RSA:
 
  • Stop: park in a safe place, preferably somewhere where you are able to take refreshment.
  • Sip: take a caffeine drink (150 mg of caffeine e.g. 2 cups of coffee).
  • Sleep: and then a 15 minute nap (most important)—set your mobile phone alarm to wake you. After the nap, the caffeine should have started to take effect.
  • Finally, get some fresh air and stretch your legs for a few minutes before resuming your journey.
 
By following all of the above advice you should be able to drive for another hour or so. However, these recommendations are really only to be used as a temporary remedy to avoid trouble, NOT as a technique to regularly drive longer hours for the purposes of work. Fatigue is physical and mental impairment brought about by inadequate rest over a period of time; people need seven-eight hours’ proper sleep every night and take appropriate breaks while at work in order to counteract the effects.
 
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 Photo Credit: ©RSA.ie
 
Driver fatigue plays a significant role in 20% of driver fatalities in Ireland every single year. And tiredness-related collisions are 3 times more likely to result in death or serious injury due to the increased chances of high speed impacts and the inability to take evasive action.
 
A survey conducted in 2014 by the RSA revealed that 10% of motorists have fallen asleep at the wheel. The survey also disclosed that motorists who drive in the course of their work, and motorists that admited to having drunk a quantity of alcohol, had a higher than average incidence of falling asleep at the wheel (almost 20% fell asleep at the wheel). 
 
You can watch the driver fatigue campaign video on the offical RSA page. Hopefully it will successfully sensitize the public to this dangerous issue.
 
 
 
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Topics: Road Safety, Safety, rsa, driver fatigue

How to convert 3 sources of fleet costs into ROI opportunities

by Eleonora Malacarne on Aug 26, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Other than staff and drivers, vehicles and equipment constitute the biggest asset for a company whose main business activity involves driving.
 
Fleet managers are continuously looking for ways to cut costs whilst also ensuring the fleet is kept safe. When it comes to protecting the assets themselves, one can obviously rely on insurance in case of theft, accident or third party claims, but there are other aspects that are purely down to managerial skills and expertise when it comes to cutting costs such as fuel misuse or theft, driving that is not planned, improper use occurring during working/non-working hours and incidents resulting from unsafe driving or due to improperly trained staff.
 
Let’s have a look at some possible sources of fleet costs and how best to manage them!
 
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#1 - Cost of time spent locating equipment
This is a common problem in small, but especially in large, fleets. In the construction and public/government sector, fleets are quite heterogeneous—comprised of different types of vehicles— and, according to the purpose and usage, vehicles might reside in different depots or locations. You can imagine how time consuming it can be, locating hundreds of vehicles belonging to the same fleet? With the help of technology it is a much, much simpler task, whether they are close or scattered over some distance… And think of the precious time you will not only save, but are able to invest in promoting your business!
 
#2 - Cost of unnecessary maintenance due to random maintenance planning
For your fleet maintenance planning, you can obviously follow best practice guidelines from vehicle manufacturers, or reference servicing trends, but do you really know what is happening to your vehicles? Are they being used correctly, i.e. within the parameters of what they are designed to do? If not, are vehicles being unnecessarily subjected to increased wear and tear? Are speeding drivers causing needless damage to equipment or tyres? Is maintenance scheduled appropriately, according to the use and performance of the vehicles? Get the right metrics with SynX and you will be able to plan for your maintenance far more effectively!
  
#3 - Cost of accidents caused by unsafe driving or equipment
The cost is not only financial, but always human, first and foremost… nevertheless, there are inevitably economic costs incurred such as insurance premiums hikes and the expense of vehicle replacement or repairs. If you have complete control over your fleet with technology, you can prevent unsafe driving and enhance fleet maintenance. These often unconsidered sources of costs can be controlled and ultimately converted into an opportunity for your business.
 
 
 
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Topics: Fleet Management, ROI

More business sectors that can enjoy the advantages of fleet management solutions

by Eleonora Malacarne on Aug 24, 2015 9:00:00 AM

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In a former post we detailed how service companies, the construction industry and government fleets enjoy the benefits of fleet management solutions. In this post we look at how three other sectors, which operate fleets, could potentially benefit from similar technology.
 
#1 - Delivery fleets

Managing a delivery fleet effectively means recognising the link between well organised dispatch times and excellent customer service. With the assistance of technology, managers can keep tabs on fleet vehicle locations in real time, see that deliveries are on schedule, receive updates on deliveries—the monitoring system in the trucks and vans also have the advantage of proving that they have been completed.

#2 - Rental fleets

Equipment rental companies can also employ technology for their fleets—they can utilise GPS trackers to keep tabs on all their vehicles, both delivery and sales, but also on the equipment they rent out to customers. Fleet telematics keep track of all vehicle movements:  the time taken to complete deliveries, stop and idle time (this data helps improve fuel efficiency), run-time and the location of stolen equipment. Furthermore, all this information makes for far more accurate invoicing.   

#3 - Education fleets
 
Telematics are extremely useful for tracking trucks, vehicles and vans on and around education facilities, contributing to a safer environment for all the staff and students. Efficiency will be greatly improved, helping to keep maintenance tasks and general upkeep from falling behind schedule and enhancing the public perception of the university, improving PR and much, much more!  
 
There is a golden opportunity for fleet telemetry in just about every industry that uses vehicles and equipment in order to run their operations. If you want to learn more about the genuine advantages of fleet technology and how they can benefit you, contact us!
 
 
 
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Topics: Fleet Management, fleet management system

Industries that can benefit from the use of fleet telematics

by Eleonora Malacarne on Aug 21, 2015 9:00:00 AM

When you hear about telematic devices and fleet management systems you probably imagine trucks or long haul transport vehicles. But these are not the only industry sectors or vehicles that can benefit from the use of this technology. Fleet telematics systems are the perfect solution for all kinds of companies.
 
Have a look at this short list… chances are that your sector is included. If so, why not try out some of the technology?
 

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#1 - Service Companies

Contractor or service companies operating in sectors such as plumbing, HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) or electrical often need to use different trucks and vehicle assets according to the size or type of job requirements. Real-time location, made possible with fleet telemetry, allow managers or owners to keep track of their vehicles’ location at any given time.

 

#2 - Construction Industry

This particular business sector uses both heavy and light machinery as well as very expensive pieces of equipment. Jobsites can often be in quite remote places—keeping track of vehicle location and theft prevention is essential for this kind of business.

 

#3 - Government Fleets

County and municipal fleets are comprised of different types of vehicles: from street sweepers to public work vehicles, from refuse and recycling trucks to emergency service vehicles, just to mention a few. Technology can assist these fleets, again, especially with regards to location: depending on whether there is local or centralised control, telematics technology may now be obligatory in order to respond promptly and effectively to emergency situations.

 

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Topics: Fleet Management

The eternal challenge of cutting fleet costs

by Eleonora Malacarne on Aug 19, 2015 9:00:00 AM

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On numerous occasions now, we have devoted our blog to the necessity of cutting fleet costs. Whether we’re discussing end-of-year or finalizing budgets in our blog posts, and in just about every meeting or discussion, the topic of costs and how to cut them will never go out of style!
 
But what are the top cost containment concerns for fleets and how can you improve and reduce expenditure in these areas? Let´s have a look!
 
 
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#1 - Controlling fleet safety costs
Safety has been disregarded in the past—grudgingly attended to primarily for auditing purposes—but is gradually becoming more of a priority as companies need to protect workers and also, in the case of businesses using fleets, other road users. Furthermore, companies cannot ignore recent corporate manslaughter legislation, nor can they afford to overlook the importance of company reputation.
 
Increasing costs are generally a symptom of a poor health and safety system, where there are no proper risk assessment procedures and/or training programmes for drivers in order to eliminate the toll of preventable accidents. Health and safety complacency also contributes to increased repairs, vehicle replacements, employee downtime… in a never-ending chain of costs.
 
There is definitely room for improvement for many companies: action can be taken such as training drivers, monitoring their driving style in order to make it safer, sensitizing staff to driver distraction, setting up policies and systems within the company,  or even recourse to technology, to mention just a few.
 
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#2 - Managing fleet maintenance costs
Strongly connected to safety (despite what many people might think), is maintenance. A maintained vehicle is a safe vehicle. But most of the time people forget about maintenance… and continue to do so, as long as everything is still running smoothly. One day a breakdown occurs or an accident and they suddenly realise just how important it is to have a maintenance system in place. Again, set up a maintenance policy, use tools for recording maintenance and promote walk-around checks as well as weekly and monthly checks—these are also a legal requirement…
 
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#3 - Decreasing fuel costs
Although fuel prices are, relatively speaking, more predictable—fuel will always be an expense that your fleet needs to factor in to the budget. Even though this is, for the most part, an expected overhead, it is likely that your fleet is spending unnecessary money on fuel as well. Some of the contributing factors to unnecessary fuel consumption include vehicle idle and drive time, speeding, and inefficient routing. The use of fleet telematics can prevent unnecessary fuel costs by enforcing acceptable idle time thresholds with automated alerts, monitoring driver efficiency to catch drivers who speed to make up their time, and identifying drivers that may be taking longer routes to job sites in order to pad out their hours.
 
 
 
 
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Topics: Fleet Costs, Fleet Management

Driving distraction and inattention: safety tips for drivers

by Eleonora Malacarne on Aug 17, 2015 9:00:00 AM

There are numerable causes of accidents these days but the press tend to focus on accidents relating to distraction through the use of devices such as tablets or mobile phones; the truth is that there are a lot of other driving habits/behaviours, as well, that should be discouraged in order to maximise road safety.
 
Speeding is definitely one of the worst habits and drivers caught up in traffic jams, for example, tend to put their foot down once the roads begin to clear in order to make up for lost time. But according to a recent research from the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) situated in the UK, the most frequent contributory factor in road accidents is the “failure to look properly” sometimes combined with the misjudgement of another vehicle’s speed and path. Carelessness, hurrying and recklessness is also cited, and “aggressive driving” is one of the top causes of accidents showed in the research.
 
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What is apparent, above all else, is that human error is still the main cause of accidents. Drivers might get complacent behind the wheel and that’s when inattention starts to creep in. If you combine this with distraction and fatigue, it is clear how important it is that drivers’ maintain their full attention behind the wheel—this is why driving habits should be assessed and rectified if needed, with either the help of technology and/or with a precise policy of continual training and refreshing.
 
And it is with drivers, driving behaviour and safety in mind, that we’d like to share some road safety tips—a useful reminder of how to maintain a safe attitude on the road which can never be repeated enough.
 
1 - Drive smoothly and use the steering wheel firmly but not sharply, avoid sudden movements which could potentially lead to losing control of your vehicle.
 
2 - Anticipate the need to slow down and go through the gears as you decelerate to reduce your speed gradually rather than speeding along and then hitting the brakes suddenly (unless it is an emergency), this way you avoid the wheels locking up and have better control over the vehicle.
 
3 - Always fasten your seat belt.
 
4 - Pay attention to the weather and reduce your speed in adverse conditions.
 
5 - Prevent and anticipate events by maintaining constant attention to the road.
 
6 - Reduce speeding when turning, or tackling bends, but minimise the use of brakes.
 
7 - Most of all, keep eyes peeled at all times to avoid accidents...
 
 
 
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Topics: Safety

Worst practices to avoid: ignoring warning lights

by Eleonora Malacarne on Aug 14, 2015 9:00:00 AM

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It is something that has happened to a lot of us at some time or other, we are driving along and suddenly one of the warning lights on the dashboard lights up. How would you behave? Would you stop and check what exactly it is that the light is warning us about if it isn’t overly clear, or just forget about it?
 
Apparently, many fleet drivers opt for the second choice. According to a survey carried out by Venson, and recently published by Fleetworld, 28% of drivers working in fleets ignore dashboard warning lights. The same survey claims only 42% of the interviewed drivers see maintenance as part of their responsibilities.
 
Vehicle servicing and maintenance is definitely one of the most important fleet activities; confusion or irresponsible attitudes have to be avoided at all costs.
 
Fleet managers and companies, where driving is consistently a primary business activity, have to communicate properly with regards to servicing and maintenance. We are continuously reiterating how, ideally, management ensures there is a precise policy on maintenance, made up of regular checks, daily, weekly and so on (depending upon vehicle usage), and that there are precise schedules and procedures outlining how drivers and staff are expected to deal with a vehicle defect or breakdown.
 
Tyres are an essential safety aspect of vehicles (and a key part of fleet costs), they should be checked and maintained regularly. According to the survey mentioned above, only 66% of the interviewed checks tyre pressures and inflates tyres if needed.
 
The importance of maintenance cannot be over emphasised not only as a method of reducing unnecessary costs, preventing downtime and wear and tear, but as a means of optimising vehicle safety—companies and drivers are, and should, feel responsible for their own safety as well as respecting the welfare of other people on the road. Driver and staff education has to be reinforced in order to minimise damage and the potential risk of incidents.
 
 
 
 
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Topics: Fleet Management, Safety, walk-around checks, maintenance

How to make your fleet safe with regular vehicle checks

by Eleonora Malacarne on Aug 12, 2015 9:00:00 AM

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A best practice norm to be implemented in all fleet vehicles is preventative maintenance: this consists of walk-around checks as well as performing scheduled checks. Something that is necessary in order not only to make drivers and everyone on the road safer, but also to cut on costs, keep vehicles roadworthy and comply with legal requirements.
 
Daily vehicle checks are a straightforward practice that all drivers should incorporate into their routine at the beginning of their shift before they set off. These regular vehicle checks (walk-around checks) provide an opportunity to spot any defects and potential problems, making sure the vehicle is in sound working order. It is also hopefully helps remind the driver to adopt a more safety conscious approach when driving.
 
The Health and Safety Authority, Road Safety Authority and An Garda Síochána of Ireland have worked out some useful guidelines which are globally valid in order to assist employers in managing vehicle risks. Here are some of the videos they have produced to help you understanding how a walk-around check has to be performed in different types of vehicles:
 
1 - Van Checks
 
a video to demonstrate a list of things that should be examined and ticked off by the driver as part of a walk-around check for commercial vans (that do not require a tachograph) every time he sets off or takes over the vehicle from a colleague.  
 
2 - Bus Checks
 
 
a similar video demonstrating the walk-around checks that a bus driver should carry out on a Public Service Vehicle prior to setting off, paying particularly attention to the safety features to protect passengers inside the vehicle.
 
3 - Car Checks
 
 
some people might be tempted to be complacent as regards to walk-around checks and cars, but that would be a mistake—this video highlights the kinds of things that should still be examined and ticked off in much the same way as the previous two videos.   
 
If you want to know more, feel free to contact us or to download one of the daily walk-around checks we created for your fleet operations.
 
 
 
 
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Topics: Fleet Management, safety at work, 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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