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How to use technology to assess risks in your fleet

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 22, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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Technology is taking over simply because it has proven itself an invaluable aid to companies that wish to increase efficiencies and savings and automate processes that are essential to successful fleet management. But these are not the only areas technology can be of use, as safety and risk assessment can be further empowered through the use of tools that can detect safety faults or breaches in the system. How is it then possible to use technology in order to assess risks in fleets, and what are the tools available that can make life easier in order to do this?


Dashboard cameras


Fleet dash cams today can help fleet managers save insurance premiums via footage—a useful tool to review incidents quickly and objectively. Dashboard cameras record the road ahead (in some cases, behind too) and provide high definition video that can be used as a reference to clarify events, to help you speed up claims and prove liability.


Traffic information


Traffic information integrated with fleet management software map providers can easily help in detecting potential congestion problems and assist in establishing a change of route where necessary. Traffic jams are a contributory factor regarding collisions and may also affect the ability to observe driving hours legislation.


Speeding and dangerous driving alerts


A system of speeding and dangerous driving alerts gives you total insight into the worst practices of your driving team, which can potentially lead to a collision or an infraction that can cost a lot in terms of budget and resources and damage your business reputation. If you know how your team is driving, you can easily help them with corrective training.


Driving information


Whether a driver is good or very experienced, no doubt at some point he will come across situations where his driving style might be impacted by adverse weather or road conditions. If you have access to the driving information of your team, you can definitely help deal with these eventualities en route or even decide to take a different one if the former choice might have become problematic.

 

 

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Topics: fleet risk management, fleet risk assessment

Vehicle condition and speeding among top causes of fatality in new RTÉ TV series

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 20, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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Vehicle condition, speeding, impaired driving (drink and drug driving) and driver distraction—the main causes of road fatalities—are going to be the topics of a new RTÉ TV series, “How’s your driving”, that aired Monday, February 12th (available online through RTE Player). The programme has been produced in association with the Road Safety Authority of Ireland (RSA).


Actor Simon Delaney will take viewers on a journey through Irish driving habits as well as investigating how well people know the Highway Code. The episodes will also include sections where drivers take a series of challenges on a test track—the first episode, already aired, examined the effects of impaired driving and how drinks and drugs can impact behaviour behind the wheel.


During the show, Delaney invited one driver, who had finished his second pint, to drive through a test course together with an instructor. The driver already feels uncomfortable while driving and eventually runs over a cardboard cut-out of a child in his blind spot. In the second part of the show, another driver gets dressed up in what looks like a “drug-driving suit”; basically, a brace of weighted and jolting apparatus that reproduces the impaired driving effects of cannabis, LSD, ecstasy, etc. Both the drivers involved in the experiment seem to be extremely worried about the simulation and increasingly aware of how this can impact on their safety and life. Showing this first-hand to volunteers did indeed have a strong effect on their awareness.


The RTÉ TV series not only deals with impaired driving, in the next episodes other dangerous driving events will be showcased: speeding will be one of the next topics, and drivers will be able to see how even adding just 10 km to your speed can make a difference; distracted driving will also be focused on—in this case, one driver will simulate driving while using a mobile phone; third and last, but not necessarily in order of importance, we will also see how vehicles that are not kept roadworthy or not well maintained can become dangerous by simulating the experience of driving with unsafe tyres.


The series aims to be a real eye-opener for drivers and approaches the topic from a different perspective if compared with recent RSA campaigns. We think this would be really useful as a driver training tool, particularly if you have a safety policy or a fleet policy with instructions on these aspects, or if you wish to sensitise drivers to the importance of carrying out walkaround checks.

 

 

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Topics: Road Safety, fleet safety

How to make sure fleet vehicle utilization hits 100%

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 15, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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Fleet vehicle utilization is an extremely important parameter for companies looking to increase efficiencies and cut the costs of their operation. For some directors, though, this metric is not looked into enough or sufficiently explored when they are looking to minimise costs. The truth is, all activity sectors of a fleet need to be looked into, and assessing global fleet vehicle usage is something that can definitely help a fleet run more efficiently and at optimum cost.

Now, when it comes to fleet vehicle utilization, what are the factors you need to examine in order to get a complete view on vehicle usage and which can later be of use in order to take action?

#1 - Measuring vehicle usage with technology

In order to have a complete view on vehicle usage, first thing you need to do, if you haven’t done so already, is to check the vehicular activity minute after minute and their actual usage. Technology provides an invaluable aid in doing this and can be utilised according to specific needs: it allows users to check for time spent at locations, actual vehicle usage in order to evaluate if some can be used differently or whether there is time available for different scheduling, that routes have been effectively plotted when there is more than one job, and choosing the most efficient option to reach arrival point. If you are able to grasp all this, you’ll appreciate just how much can be done!

#2 - Check job scheduling times

Again, on job scheduling times: the best option would surely be to cross-check the information you are able to get via technology and tracking; but before you do it, is there anything in the organising of jobs for your drivers that you can improve upon and make more efficient? Do drivers know exactly where they need to go so they can easily set off? Is there enough journey time, or is the schedule given unrealistic? Assessing the way you assign jobs or plan for driving might be beneficial per se.

#3 - Verify your maintenance system and approach

Fleet vehicle usage is not only about having a sensible plan and getting the most out of your vehicles, but it’s also about keeping them on the road all the time—minimising any possibility of downtime. Regular maintenance plays a paramount role in this; so if you are adopting reactive maintenance practices or not doing your walkaround checks, you really need to look into this—there are a lot of ways in which you can control and improve your maintenance approach and system (technology is indeed another method).

#4 - Check fleet safety

As it happens with maintenance, practising safety is another aspect that keeps vehicles on the road. If you have a solid safety culture within your company and focus on this indispensable component, you will surely be able to minimise collisions. Check up on the driving style of your team and correct any unsafe action while driving; it can only benefit general vehicle usage rate.

 

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Topics: Fleet Management

How fleet organisations should take care of driver education

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 13, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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When it comes to dealing with how a driving team operates a fleet and executes the typical tasks of its profession, whether delivering goods or prospecting for potential customers or, again, working as a service provider, most fleets state that training and driver education are highly important. Training is mostly undertaken when new things come up such as new processes and vehicles rather than as a refresher on the Highway Code or a simple check if driver education has been effective or updated over the years.

Driver education consists in learning about driving from a theoretical point of view, while training focuses more on how a team should drive so as to respect safety and ultimately manage fuel consumption. They are not completely separated of course, despite driver education seemingly harking back to school days. You can take this logic and apply it to fleet safety. Safety education teaches drivers the importance of taking safety seriously, the techniques of defensive driving, and tests the ‘what’ of safe driving. Safety training, on the other hand, puts a driver behind the wheel (or some simulation thereof) and applies the education: learning what pressure to apply to a brake pedal, how far to turn the wheel, how to use the mirrors, and how to react in an emergency—the ‘how’ of safety.

During recent periods, authorities have reiterated the importance of training and education. In the UK, more than 1.4 million drivers, including more than one million caught for speeding, were sent to offender retraining courses in 2017 by the police—a measure that is actively used in the UK. Whichever drivers are found committing a driving offence can be offered a training course as an alternative to prosecution. On another note, FTA Ireland, the country’s most active membership association for the logistics industry, has called on the Department of Transport and the Road Safety Authority to increase funding for education and awareness campaigns for all road users. According to the FTAI, the focus must be on education and awareness, and that includes periodically reviewing the ‘rules of the road’, as every road user (and probably mostly those driving professionally) has a responsibility to educate themselves about the potential risks involved in driving.

Fleet organisations should probably start with driver education and follow up by reinforcing the theory with training. By the time they are hired by the company, most drivers have received some level of safety education, but likely not training specific to that education. Newly hired employees to be assigned company vehicles should be the starting point for driver education, and most of them probably would have not gotten additional training since their licence courses. Although this is certainly part of learning to drive safely, the responsibilities that come with driving a company-provided vehicle go beyond initial training.

These are some of the items that might be included at the start of an education program— we can probably classify them as basics:

  • Why and under what criteria the company provides a vehicle.
  • Personal use rules.
  • The employee's responsibilities in carrying out proper vehicle care.
  • How accidents/violations are classified (chargeable/non-chargeable), and what the consequences are if chargeable accidents occur.

 

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Topics: Fleet Management

The 4 fuel related problems fleet directors no longer want to worry about

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 8, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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In the present global situation, any company using vehicles for daily tasks are eager to delve more into fuel data to disclose fuel related problem or discover a way to monitor and decrease fuel costs. Fleet directors are constantly looking for ways to optimise any type of action related to the management of their fuel and prevent those costs from increasing and impacting; but what solutions are fleet directors looking for in this field, and what are the problems with which they would rather no longer be concerned?

1. Unauthorized fuel usage

This aspect covers different fuel related issues across fleets. Unauthorized fuel usage can actually manifest differently within the same fleet, whether it’s out-and-out fuel theft, using company vehicles or fuel out of permissible hours, or stealing fuel in other ways. Fleet managers ought also to consider the problem of purchases from a fuel card that cover items not strictly related to fuel (hence, why it might be important to restrict products available to buy with such cards).

2. Increasing fuel spend

Fuel spend might be increasing because your business is more active, but you might actually find out that there is unauthorized fuel usage, poorly planned routes or drivers not sensitized properly to the effect their driving habits have on consumption. The combination of all of these factors, and an unclear pricing from your provider, might cause unexpectedly higher fuel spend—which would surely not happen if you had a fuel management system that was able to prompt you with solutions should any issues appear...

3. Unclear fuel policy

It can be seen as a very basic, but sometimes we take these things for granted. If it is true that the rudiments of fuel card use or fuel purchases for fleet drivers are fairly clear and pretty much down to common sense, why not avoiding misunderstandings by clearly detailing what is allowed in terms of fuel purchases or how fuel cards should be used. A lack of clarity is the enemy of fleet managers and potentially leads to the kind of problems fleet directors surely wish to avoid. Use our fleet policy template and modify it to deal with fuel management or use simply as a starting point if you wish to completely reassess your fleet policy.

4. Undisclosed impact of maintenance and driving on fuel

The correlation between driving style and fuel consumption is quite clear; despite this, not many fleet directors point it out to their drivers when it comes to training them in how to consume less fuel. We are obviously not talking about robotically using practices that save fuel when it is necessary to adapt according to the road conditions or journey; but remember that in general, safer driving corresponds with saving fuel. Idling, harsh braking, rapid acceleration, speeding, or even driving with a vehicle that has issues and is not correctly maintained, does culminate in a higher spend (and can be extremely risky as well). Show to your drivers how important this is; explain it to them and make real life examples to support you—they will understand as this eventually impacts on global safety.

Fuel reports calculating average consumption per 100 km, fuel purchase information coming in in real time and driving events are all metrics that allow a deeper understanding of how fuel is spent and whether there are any errors in the fuel process that suggests fuel receipts do not match actual usage. Contact us if you need help with this.

 

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Topics: Fleet Management, Fuel

What are 4 key vehicle management concerns a fleet director has?

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 6, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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Among the multiple responsibilities fleet managers or anyone managing a fleet in a business capacity have—especially in small companies where the fleet manager role doesn’t really exist—vehicle management concerns come high up on the list. A fleet cannot disregard the importance of drivers and human resources, particularly with the present shortages, nor can it operate without vehicles, and it’s all too easy for worries to beset the busy head of the fleet director.

 

If we consider four important vehicle management concerns all fleet directors probably have, we would surely find the following:

 

1. Protecting vehicles

Your drivers and vehicles might be at risk on some assignments due to adverse weather conditions, operating in remote areas or with heavy loads, theft attempts or other illicit actions.

 

2. Maximising the use of vehicles

Vehicles are necessarily bound to the initial cost of the purchase and then incur costs regardless of whether they are used or not. Fuel might not be one of them as it depends on the activity, but if vehicles are not used for a long time, they still incur fixed expenses and would need to be used massively to amortise initial costs. If this does not happen, you have probably spent too much on your vehicles and may need to sell them on. Try hiring similar vehicles on a needed basis or make more use of the vehicles you have.

 

3. Getting the largest possible vehicle lifespan

We all wished our vehicles lasted the maximum time, but it is virtually impossible to totally eliminate vehicle downtime, though there are surely a lot of actions you can do to increase vehicle lifespan and reduce wear and tear. Drivers are often not conscious of the impact of their driving on fuel consumption and on the wellbeing of vehicles. Driver training and driver behaviour data can definitely contribute to better overall driver education and in looking after your vehicles in a more intelligent way.

 

4. Spending the lowest amount without sacrificing safety and regular maintenance

With all the expenses that a fleet manager needs to manage—and, usually, minimise—vehicles and their servicing are the one with which they struggle most. Some of them erroneously carry out maintenance on a reactive basis in an attempt to make savings, even though this could potentially lead to safety issues if vehicles are not regularly maintained and into increased expenses if there is no process for a regular maintenance calendar.

 

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Topics: Fleet Management

Lack of fleet drivers: the top 2018 challenge for logistics and transport

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 1, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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Hauliers, transport and logistics companies and all businesses utilising vehicles for work have already classified the lack of fleet drivers as the top challenge for the year in a recent survey by Paragon Software Systems published in the Commercial Fleet and HGV Ireland websites.

 

The ongoing driver shortage is happening all around the world. In the US the trucking transport industry is especially at risk; and according to recent news, New Zealand companies are looking for Irish drivers, offering them a full relocation package. But what is the situation really like in Ireland and the UK?

 

According to recent news published in The Irish News, a company currently operating in Northern Ireland declared a few months ago that it seems "virtually impossible" to recruit the dozens of staff it needs, and this might have a direct impact on the price of products in the shop which could be forced to increase. The story seemed to be repeated by virtually every haulier as driver shortage continues due to an ageing workforce and the inability to attract younger drivers due to high licence costs, lack of consistent training for driving employees and concerns about the transport and logistics sector not being innovative enough or embracing technology.

 

The situation is not different in the UK as claimed in a series of publications by the FTA known as the FTA Skills Shortage Reports. According to FTA data, the driver shortage number rose sharply to 52,000 in the second quarter of 2017, which is an increase of 49%. This is attributable to losses in the workforce not being adequately replaced with the younger drivers the industry was unable to retain. A large proportion of drivers are aged 45 and over (63% of the workforce); and as for the current workforce, the percentage of UK nationals is decreasing as EU nationals fill the driver deficit.

 

According to the same survey, transport costs are the second biggest challenge of the sector (13.4%) followed by congestion (7.2%), lack of investment (7.2%), urban transport restriction (6.2%). The need to compare planned routes against actual performance (46.4%) and demand for more accurate time windows (45.4%) is also quoted as prominent, as companies struggle with fuel prices and increasing customer requirements and expectations.

 

There are a number of challenges that technology provides invaluable help in meeting. Innovation can be key to assuring safety, ongoing training, job security and better working conditions for drivers. With all the systems that ensure monitoring of driving for risk assessment purposes and which promote ongoing training, drivers feel protected and more deeply involved in the company’s workings. Adequate route planning can support businesses in more realistic job scheduling and in providing the driving team with less travelled, more efficient routes.

 

Get in touch with us and learn more on how we can help to retain your driving talent.

 

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Topics: Fleet Management

Fleet Safety and Dangerous Driving: how to approach a roundabout or intersection

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jan 30, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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From our lengthy experience with fleet operations and companies that manage vehicles, we learned that safety and dangerous driving are never promoted enough and there is always room for improvement when it comes to talking about the hardest sections of the highway code, as even the most seasoned drivers have not always fully mastered those or are swayed by pressure to complete jobs in a manner that might compromise safety.

 

Roundabouts and intersections have proved particularly insidious. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the US, 40% of all crashes involve intersections, the second largest category of accidents, led only by rear end collisions. Fifty percent of serious collisions happen in intersections and some 20% of fatal collisions occur there. Some older stats provided by AA motor insurance revealed that 45% of Irish motorists have been involved in a collision or near miss on a roundabout between 2008 and 2010. Of these, 8% admitted to being at fault. A further 72% blamed the driver of another car. Following on from this, 7% said a van or truck driver was culpable. And 3% attributed blame to a motorcyclist.

 

From our experience, 66% of harsh braking events occur at roundabouts. Harsh braking indicates a driver uses unusual force to stop a vehicle in order to avoid a collision and is often a symptom of aggressive or distracted driving, which can potentially lead to increased costs and claims as well as danger. Harsh braking is one of the dangerous driving metrics that can be measured with the help of a fleet management system, and reviewing them with fleet drivers is a great exercise. If you see evidence of harsh braking frequently occurring at roundabouts within your fleet, you can share best practices with your team:

 

  • Slow down as you approach the roundabout—reduce your speed in anticipation to avoid harsh braking.

  • Use the guide signs and lane designation markers to position yourself in the correct lane well in advance of the roundabout.

  • When you’re first in the queue to enter the roundabout, observe traffic coming from your right and wait for a gap where you can safely merge with the moving traffic.

  • Follow the flow of traffic until you are approaching your exit and use your indicators in a timely fashion when approaching your exit.

  • Never stop inside a roundabout, change lane or pass other vehicles.

 

Hoping this might be useful for your drivers and their training! If you wish to detect dangerous driving events within your fleet and prevent them from happening, get in touch to learn more about driver behaviour alerts.

 

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Topics: fleet safety

How to do vehicle inspection checks with the SynX Driver app: a tutorial

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jan 25, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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Driver daily vehicle inspection checks, also known as walkaround compliance checks, are a simple measure to guarantee compliance and ensure fleet vehicles are kept roadworthy and are less prone to the unwelcome surprise of a sudden breakdown.

 

Drivers usually have the closest contact with the vehicles. Some of them use vehicles nearly every day, and with a daily vehicle inspection checks routine, they can prevent issues before they escalate. Drivers are not meant to do thorough checks as they are not specialised mechanics, but they can easily spot any obvious defects that need attention. Such practices are key in maintaining compliance in a fleet organisation as well as preventing safety issues and sanctions.

 

Transpoco has designed a Driver App that helps deliver a smoother and quicker process for vehicle daily inspection checks: in this short video tutorial you will be made aware of the main features of the walkaround checks functionality within the app:

 

 

 

Here is the step-by-step process to get started with the App and the automated Walkaround Checks:

 

  1. Download the app and sign in with your account (it is included in the SynX Perform and SynX Maintain packages, available as a stand-alone or you can also sign up for a free trial. As soon as your account is set up, you can get the app!).
  2. Click on “Walkaround” and select the vehicle you wish to check.
  3. Pick your desired checklist—you have ready-made compliant checklists or can create your own customised one.
  4. Select if you wish to start from inside or outside of the vehicle.
  5. Start doing checks by swiping right for “OK” and left for “Defect”. The system has an extra feature to prevent drivers from rushing while doing checks as a mere tick-box exercise.
  6. Save defect details—you can also attach pictures of them.
  7. Enter your current mileage data.
  8. Once all checks have been gone through, you can choose to submit the checklist or review it (while in review, you can also add extra comments).

 

All checks are recorded in the SynX Walkaround software and can be reviewed and actioned upon by authorised users (you can schedule appropriate maintenance through the software).

 

The Driver App has extra features to review the checks history if needed. We have recently added an extra functionality to allow viewing of historical walkaround checks from any vehicle the driver has access to. This new functionality would help in cases where a driver switches between vehicles but might be required to show all checks completed on the current vehicle if stopped by police.

 

If you wish to enjoy the benefits of automating compliance and maintenance checks, get in touch and sign up for a free Maintain trial!

 

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Topics: SynX Product Updates

How an advanced GPS tracking system empowers your sales fleet

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jan 23, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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When people first approach us, they think that GPS tracking systems and fleet management technology is exclusive to companies fully dedicated to transport or the prerogative of those who operate specifically in the logistics sector, even though in a wide variety of businesses there are many workers who use vehicles as part of their jobs.

 

A good example are businesses that utilise company vehicles to develop sales activity. Every day sales fleets or, in smaller businesses, sales representatives, run vehicles in order to meet potential customers and offer them a product or service. They might also visit those who are already clients to explore new solutions or further develop business with them. In any case, whatever the exact nature of their business visit may be, sales fleets do all have a few points in common:

 

  • Sales teams that drive to customers are not professional drivers, driving is just an incidental part of their job

  • Despite the necessity for sales people to spend most of their active time selling, a lot of it is actually spent driving or sorting out admin work

  • Companies managing a mobile sales team sometimes struggle to organise their staff’s time to maximise efficiency 

  • Part of the sales person’s working time needs to be spent looking for new business opportunities—but how?

 

When it comes to tackling the four challenges just explained, advanced GPS tracking systems like SynX Move and fleet management systems like SynX Perform can really get the best out of a sales team fleet. With the help of technology and fleet management automation, companies can in fact:

 

  • Help their sales fleet adopt a safer and more fuel efficient driving style, educate them in road safety and keep vehicles compliant with the help of compliance and maintenance tools
  • Maximise the time spent in “real” sales activity by optimising schedules, choosing the best routes, providing assistance to drivers if they get lost or need to divert and predicting possible traffic issues

  • Optimise time spent behind the wheel and reduce the administrative work time (often dedicated to logbooks and taxable miles paperwork, that you can now automate), so the sales team can work more on closing deals.

  • Make use of detailed activity and journey reports to disclose what areas and companies your sales team is mostly concentrating on and learn what is still left unexplored.

 

Companies managing a sales fleet have already chosen SynX to steer their fleet to success. Have a look at our case study on the media company Radio Kerry: though it might seem unusual for a radio station to utilise a fleet management system, Radio Kerry actually had specific requirements for their sales fleet. Being a small team, the need for managing time and resources wisely is paramount—and here is how SynX helped.

 

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Topics: GPS & Tracking, fleet management technology

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