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Adopting a compliance-first approach to optimising fleet operations

Adopting a compliance-first approach to optimising fleet operations

Doing more with less is fast becoming a mantra of our industry – and yet, despite the efficiencies most organisations have already worked to attain, pressure on margins continues to mount. In line with the rising consumer demand for ever faster, more personalised delivery options, retailers are unwilling to accept the additional transport costs these entail, and are pushing back on transport companies as a result. 

Add in driver shortages, emissions charges, rising congestion and penalties for missed delivery slots, and transport operators are left with the growing concern of just where can additional performance be found?

The answer lies in building a far more collaborative, compliance-led approach to workforce management; an approach that, quite simply, cannot be achieved without technology. 

Earned Recognition

Better management of driver and vehicle compliance is not only critical in achieving more efficient fleet management operations; it is also key to unlocking wider operational benefits, such as cost reduction, greater accuracy and accountability, improved information sharing and a better customer experience. 

If ever an incentive was needed, the DVSA’s Earned Recognition pilot will help direct focus onto the worst offending transport companies. This is a perfect example of how transport operators can automate their processes to drive efficiencies by working collaboratively on compliance management. 

By rewarding compliant operators with fewer checks in return for access to their compliance data, the Earned Recognition pilot will help the DVSA focus its resources on the seriously and serially non-compliant. Accredited and compliant operators will benefit by avoiding the expense and impact on their customers of delays from roadside checks. 

Alongside other providers and operators, Descartes is working with the DVSA on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) required by the Earned Recognition pilot for tachographs and the management of drivers’ hours through smart technology solutions.

Descartes’ Smartanalysis is the industry’s leading tachograph analysis and reporting Software as a Service solution for fleets of all sizes. With more than 100 standard reports and KPIs configured specifically to meet the DVSA’s Earned Recognition pilot, transport operators can now take advantage of in-depth tachograph and drivers’ hours data to achieve Earned Recognition status. 

In addition, the latest release of Descartes’ SmartLicence provides transport operators with the ability to automatically validate their drivers’ CPC certificates and digital tachograph cards. Driver CPC training can also be monitored, along with any changes to driving licence details. SmartLicence conducts checks in accordance with the risk profile of a driver, with higher risk drivers receiving more frequent checks. Any changes to the licence, such as new points, are highlighted in standard reports and can be configured as an automated email alert, making it much easier for fleet managers to spot issues that need their attention and take appropriate action. 

Efficiency gains

The benefits of adopting compliance management technology do not stop at compliance. Replacing paper documents with electronic systems improves accuracy by reducing errors; it cuts costs, including the cost of processing paper-based documents, and it creates visibility and therefore accountability. There is also potential to drive greater value by moving beyond siloed technology deployments to joined-up paperless operations. 

For example, digital tachograph data is also valuable outside a transport manager’s traditional compliance remit – it should form an essential component when optimising operational efficiency using automated route scheduling processes for vehicles. Rather than relying on manual updates of drivers’ hours information, a direct feed from the electronic driver hours solution into the paperless route planning software ensures this key criterion is included within the planning process by default.

With this aspect of the process considered automatically, the schedule can be planned far more efficiently – there is no need for drivers to park up in laybys for a rest or to wait for delivery slots due to the excessive drivers’ hours contingency built into the schedule. Critically, no company or driver will have to face the iniquitous choice between exceeding drivers’ hours law or missing a customer delivery slot. This approach, not only delivers the compliance data required for Earned Recognition, it delivers a competitive advantage and clear bottom line value by fully optimising fleet operations within a compliance first framework. 

With the start of the Earned Recognition pilot, tachograph analysis and compliance management technology is no longer an added convenience for road transport operators; it is a fundamental necessity. Adoption of electronic compliance management solutions is also an opportunity for operators to move beyond siloed paper-based operations to create a joined-up model for effective, end-to-end information sharing that can truly transform transport operations – and unlock opportunities for crucial efficiency gains.

Andrew Tavener, Head of Marketing, Descartes Systems UK

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