A Question of Risk - Fleet World March 2006

The amount and variety of fleet software available to management is growing at an impressive rate. But, the requirements of management can vary immensely. Duty of Care legislation delivers a heavy load of responsibility onto the shoulders of management when it comes to monitoring the safety - and suitability - of the fleet.

We ask the major fleet software specialists what they can offer in the way of new technology that can help management by delivering the information it needs, whether that's keeping track of costs, mileages - or whereabouts of drivers.

Gavin Clark, Sales and Marketing manager for Chevin says helping managers to automate as many of the processes as possible has been a priority for the past few years. 'We set up a Fleet Safety Advisory panel, containing experts in the field of road risk, to ask them how we can improve the software. The advice we received was invaluable, and subsequently we have added numerous features to help fleet managers to lower the risks to their fleet drivers and businesses.

'Features such as Online Expense forms that capture licence details, accident and servicing details, ensuring that without any intervention by the fleet manager, the fleet management system is constantly updated with odometer readings, endorsements, fines, accidents, business mileages and fuel recharges. Our online Driver Risk Assessment tool enables the fleet manager to schedule his drivers to sit in front of their PC and complete a process that will build up a profile of the driver's role, mileages and knowledge of the road to highlight any drivers that require further training, automatically. Then all the relevant exceptions or high risk items are automatically sent to the fleet manager via status emails, desktop KPI information and red marks on the fleet status tool, a true 'belt and braces' approach to safety.'

'Our unlimited user system, deployed across the internet/intranet allows anyone with the right password to login from anywhere in the world to update their information live on the system, pushing the administration out into the field, giving more time to the fleet manager to actually manage their fleet, not just crunch numbers in reports and spreadsheets."

ALD Automotive is to implement a telemetry system fitted to all new leased vehicles within the next few months following on from a pilot scheme that was run on 3.200 vehicles some 18 months ago. With the development of telemetry and associated software over the Last 18 months. ALD claims it now has an affordable telematics offering for the fleet market. From the spring, units will be installed in new cars, enabling a wealth of management and driver information to be transmitted and then analysed online. From vehicle fault code analysis to driver exclusive access to journey logging online, the ProFleet2 facility, as it is branded, is claimed to be unique in the market. The units will also ensure vehicles are serviced on time as the technology will 'flag-up' a two-month/2.000-mile warning that a service is imminent thus enabling ALD Automotive to contact drivers and book cars in to dealerships.

ALD's ProFleet2 system is designed to assist in the management of health and safety and duty of care obligations. While full details of the technology have yet to be revealed ALD Automotive managing director Keith Alien said: "The system is designed to assist in the management of health and safety and duty of care obligations and transmit information. the key element being accurate mileage reporting. We have developed a range of software applications to receive and analyse data from the telemetry unit within the car which will assist fleet administrators in proactively managing their fleets. Ensuring vehicles are maintained in line with manufacturers" guidelines and any faults are identified and rectified as soon as possible will also contain repair costs and protect residual values.

'It should be highlighted, however, that the in car telematics unit is not a tracking device; it is a product focused on enhancing safety. In a non intrusive way we will be able to provide drivers with a service second to none in terms of their safety and we are very confident about its future success with fleet managers and drivers alike."

A new fleet software package that lets fleet managers track and report on driver hours is being launched by cfc solutions. The Driver Hours Module-is designed for car, LCV and HGV operators. Drivers can 'clock on" in a number of ways - such as using a dedicated in-car device or by interfacing with existing systems such as digital tachographs and telematics systems. It also supports multiple drivers using the same vehicle - for example where a team of three drivers take turns to drive, load and unload. The module can be used either as a standalone product or in conjunction with cfc's FleetPlus software package, in use by around half of the UK's top 100 fleets.

Andy Leech, sales and marketing director at cfc. said: 'Clearly, because of changing legislation, driver hours is a subject that many operators -not just commercial vehicle fleets - are taking more seriously and this product provides a complete solution. We are reaching a point where it is arguable that every fleet manager should monitor and manage driver hours while this is still a suggested practice rather than a legal requirement.

Another new software product from cfc solutions lets companies who outsource their fleet monitor the performance of suppliers - with a special accent on ensuring that duty of care responsibilities are met. Fleet Police will help fleets ensure, for example, that agreed service standards are being met. that costs are being controlled, and that the true costs of leasing and fleet management agreements are being identified.

Meanwhile. ECO Manager - yet another new product launched by cfc solutions - is the first specialist software solution designed to help companies manage employee car ownership schemes. The product, already fully trialled and in use by a cfc customer, has been developed as a result of growing demand for software that both solves common day-to-day problems associated with ECO schemes and also enables employers to meet the latest Duty of Care obligations for work-use vehicles.

An audit trail of all vehicles driven on business and all staff taking to the wheel is crucial to safeguarding any company against possible prosecution in the event of a serious road traffic accident.

According to Jason Francis, managing director of fleet software and occupational road safety experts Jaama. Key2 Vehicle Management software is instrumental in ensuring that companies put safety first. In the event of a serious and perhaps fatal crash involving an occupational driver, police officers will be looking for evidence of why the vehicle was at the scene, the mechanical condition of that vehicle and the physical condition of the driver "It is therefore imperative that companies are able to provide investigating police officers with comprehensive details on both vehicles and drivers. This includes such data as being able to prove that frequent vehicle safety checks are undertaken, vehicles are serviced in accordance with manufacturer warranties and driving licences are monitored.

'Companies should also remember that health and safety responsibility for at-work drivers rests with them irrespective of who owns the vehicle being driven on business. Therefore, it is essential that staff who drive their own cars on business are included in all checks and policies." Key2 Vehicle Management software is capable of storing all information relating to both vehicles - driver checks on oil, water, tyres, brakes, and windscreen washer for example - as well as generating automatic reminders via email, fax. text or letter informing drivers that a service or MoT is imminent. The technology will also generate reminders to check driving licences via the DVLA database and drivers" eyesight, for example.

Six months ago RAC Software began working closely with RAC Risk Management to develop a simple and comprehensive Duty of Care solution for Fleet Managers and Board Directors alike - a one-stop service -TotalCare. Aidan comments, 'By combining our 21 years and RAC Risk Management's 12 years of experience, we have developed a simple software-driven system that will guarantee full compliance with Duty of Care for business drivers. It covers every element, both the vehicle: ensuring it is fit for purpose; monitoring proper maintenance; checking driving licences, and the people side: risk management and the provision of defensive driver training to improve personal safety.

Fleet Panel

The fleet for Yorkshire-based AMCO Interinvest Ltd., which operates nationwide, consists of 250 cars. 150 vans and 10 trucks. Fleet Manager. David Coggins, has used cfc's FleetPlus system for nine years now.

'The way we are using it specifically for Duty of Care, is that every driver who drives on company business, whether a company vehicle, their own 'private' vehicle or a person who can drive a pool vehicle must be on the system", he explains. 'On the system we record their driving licence number, their classes, their endorsements - and specifically, when the licence was checked. On an annual basis we ask drivers to present their licence for checking.

'We have also just introduced a 'permit to drive" scheme, whereby we classify all our mixed fleet of vehicles. Cars are cars, obviously, so as long as people have a Group B driving licence they can drive cars - and cars only. People with a Group B licence could drive commercials provided they've had a 'tool-box talk' on safe loading, etc.

So. in effect, we've training for the different types of vehicles. For example, nobody can drive a four-wheel-drive vehicle off-road until they've had proper off-road training. This is all recorded on the FleetPlus system - so anybody can pick up the system and find out. say whether Joe Bloggs can drive a seven-and-a-half tonner.

He explains that the system also allocates people to a specific vehicle. This is important for tracking, because when a reg. number comes in you can say who the driver is. So are designated pool vehicles.' Is he happy with the system? 'Very..!'

 

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