HGV & EQUIPMENT INVENTORY FLEETS
In the second of this three part blog, we will provide tips on managing different types of enterprise assets starting with Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) fleets and associated equipment inventories. The purpose of these articles is to share and provide clarity on the best approach in managing them as part of an overall fleet/asset management strategy with view to helping you save time and money.
The HGV industry has been under much scrutiny in recent years due to the number of accidents involving cyclists and the need for the DfT (Department for Transport) to tackle road safety. In addition there has been much debate about the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK logistics sector with MP’s concerned that “just 2% of all HGV drivers are under the age of 25, with 60% over 45”.
This presents a potential ‘ticking time bomb’ in encouraging the recruitment of younger people into the haulage industry, as a way of solving the driver shortage crisis.
With this is mind and by following our five tips below, we hope you find them useful and effective to help save time, money and remain compliant:
Tip 1 – Driver recruitment & retention
Retaining good drivers in your fleet is a skill all too often lost. Fleets are finding they can use the data they collect on driver performance in their retention efforts. It can be used to measure driver performance on fuel economy, safe driving or other metrics, with top drivers getting incentives or bonuses.
Larger fleets tend to go beyond that with predictive modeling by using predictive analytics for recruiting and retention. This type of data analytics lets fleets not only identify the drivers most likely to have an accident before it occurs, but also those drivers most likely to leave.
Regular driver license checking with the DVLA helps to ensure that you and your drivers are compliant.
Tip 2 – Driver Management
Using tachographs to record information about driving time, speed and distance ensures that drivers and employers follow the rules on drivers’ hours . Regular checking and recording of tacho data is mandatory to maintaining and protecting your company’s Operators license (O license). GPS tracking is another great way of monitoring drivers’ hours but with the addition of driver behaviour and location.
Vehicle tracking systems record the speed of vehicles, which means employers can see straight away when a driver is speeding. Drivers will be aware of this so are much less likely to break the limit.
Not only is this safer for the individual driver, but the company’s image will also benefit as the majority of fleet vehicles are branded with the company’s name and information. Members of the public will often report incidents of speeding and careless driving and when this involves a company vehicle, such reports can quickly bring a firm’s name into disrepute. Vehicle trackers can, therefore, help to maintain or improve the public image of a business.
A driver communication strategy is just as important as an asset management strategy. Do you know your drivers? Do they know you? How often should you communicate with them? One benefit of a driver communication strategy is that it increases the fleet policy compliance to help reduce unnecessary costs. Fleet policy is a crucial part of a company’s overall cost-control strategy.
“The best time to control costs is before they occur and the way to do this is by establishing policies and procedures that inhibit unnecessary spending and protect corporate assets.”
All too often, managers attempt to control fleet costs on the back end. Fleet policy provides the mechanism to curb money-wasting behaviours.
Tip 3 – Vehicle & equipment inspection checks
Vehicles – Daily routine inspections of HGV vehicles is a critical safety precaution and is more comprehensive than inspecting cars and vans. Referring to the HGV inspection standards helps to prevent:
- Vehicle downtime
- Unplanned maintenance
Part of these checks help to also reduce fuel costs such as ensuring that drivers maintain properly inflated tires, avoid excessive idling, check for defects and drive the posted speed limit. Using an inspection checklist will ensure that your vehicles remain healthy and compliant.
Equipment – Checking the operation of equipment and tools for defects prior to use is also crucial to driver/employee performance. These include inspections such as PAT, LOLER, PUWER and any PPE clothing. This helps to maintain risk assessments and audits and in turn helps you to track and control associated costs. This isn’t rocket science, but it is effective in producing time-proven end-results by the simple fact of drivers and employees complying with a written fleet policy.
Tip 4 – Maintenance & Compliance
Transport operators who choose to take a systematic and preventative approach to Fleet Maintenance Management outperform and win more business than those who choose to stick with reactive type maintenance regimes. A well-designed and automated preventive maintenance program offers resounding benefits including reduced costs per mile, advanced identification of premature failures, increased service life and enhanced customer satisfaction.
“The value of preventive maintenance in reducing operating costs could mitigate the effects of other adverse variables like rising fuel prices”
Tip 5 – Asset Tracking
Vehicles – Many companies choose to install trackers onto their vehicles in order to improve the efficiency of their staff. Vehicles can be monitored to ensure that they are sticking to the routes and jobs that they have been assigned. A driver cannot claim to have been stuck in traffic for hours if this is not the case as the tracking device will show his or her precise movements.
Vehicle tracking allow you to respond to customers more quickly by sending the right vehicle at the right time. Thanks to GPS tracking, you can pinpoint the location of any vehicle in your fleet at any time and dispatch them to the nearest job, whilst identifying areas of reduced productivity and explore ways to increase their time utilisation.
This also means that drivers cannot make fraudulent overtime claims. Long haul drivers, in particular, often work with little supervision so could exploit their employers by claiming extra hours. Without a tracking device, there is often little evidence to counter a fraudulent overtime claim. However, a tracking device can show exactly what time a vehicle was parked up for the night. Fuels bills will also be reduced if drivers stick to the speed limit and do not wander off course.
Being able to locate a vehicle in the case of breakdown is also an important benefit of a tracking device. The sooner the location of a stranded vehicle is confirmed, the sooner a recovery can take place. The stranded driver can be found quickly and there is little risk of them having to stay with their vehicle for a long time. Additionally, from a business point of view, the benefit of a vehicle tracking system is given due to the fact that the vehicle will be found and repaired more quickly, wasting less money on waiting times.
By law, commercial drivers must take regular breaks and employers can ensure their drivers are doing so if they are tracked. This not only ensures the business is complying with its legal obligations but also benefits the individual driver’s safety at work.
Equipment – Like vehicles, equipment can be also tracked. GPS tracking your equipment and or large kit inventores gives a level of insight into your business that essentially creates a positive return on your investment. To put it simply:
“Tracking equipment will allow your business to operate much more efficiently and at lower cost”
Some of the benefits are as follows:
- Slash tool costs – As projects continue to become scarcer and less profitable, tool-intensive organisations are looking internally for cost improvement opportunities that can deliver immediate and significant bottom-line improvements.
- Stop tool loss – Organisations that track equipment through GPS can report that tool retention increases dramatically. The reason? Tools are suddenly returned on time. Field workers start taking better care of the tools assigned to them. And tools that have not been seen for a long time “miraculously” start showing up.
- Improve Materials Management – Tracking materials and consumables is a tedious but critical task in most organisations. Paper and spreadsheet systems are not only labor-intensive, they’’re also error-prone. Automating your material and consumable management processes leads to improved accountability, reduced waste, optimised inventory levels, reduced paperwork, less manual tracking and counting, and improved billing accuracy.
- Streamline Tool Inspections and Calibrations – For many organisations, strict adherence to a tool inspection and calibration schedule is mandatory and regulated by governing bodies and auditors. Companies can be held responsible if they fail to comply or are unable to prove compliance. Tool inspection and calibration in fleet management software as a functionality helps ensure that your tool, equipment and fleet repairs are always performed on time and automated with detailed records of calibrations and inspections enabling you meet regulatory requirements.
Tip 6 – Use a Fleet and equipment life-cycle management tool
Many organisations continue to use spreadsheets to manage their fleets. Whilst this is time consuming, limited in capability and inefficient, Fleet Management Systems are far more comprehensive, affordable, easier to use and user-friendly.
The key benefits of fleet and equipment life cycle management supports the focus on TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). For instance, fleet management software can calculate the replacement dates of all of your vehicles and equipment and the costs associated with replacement. This will help a business replace these in a timely fashion and not be faced with unexpected costs.
An increasing trend is technicians and field agents using mobile devices to perform their daily tasks. Keeping track of these devices and controlling their usage and associated costs is an increasing challenge that an equipment lifecycle management tool can help with.
A fleet and equipment management system also ensures:
- Keeping traceability of vehicles and kits to increase accountability and report adequately on costs allocation.
- Automate administrative tasks (e.g. ordering/renewal of vehicles/kits, allocation to drivers, recording of damages and fines, shared/pool vehicles calendar, returns /re-sell)
- Invoice reconciliation and correction
- Supplier contract optimisation (leasing, fuel, etc)
- Driver Management – Monitor driver behaviour and usage
- Maintenance programming and compliance control
- Monitor fuel use and consumption
- Up to date information on the total cost of ownership of an asset
- Benchmark vehicles/equipment management activities against industry best practices
- Keep all the information in one place for management to make timely decisions about assets in order to balance risk, cost, and benefit of equipment over their life cycles
It’s important not to view fleet and asset tracking systems as a method of spying on your employees, but to see them as a means of protecting their safety as well as your business. The ability to be able to locate a vehicle or piece of equipment at any given time has obvious safety benefits. Should a driver be involved in an accident, their exact location can be pinpointed within seconds and passed to the relevant emergency services. If the accident happens to be serious, this speed could potentially save lives.
Managing your assets throughout their entire life-cycle can be complex, but having this information will help optimise your fleet. As the fleet management software automates tasks and performs all the analysis of vehicles and equipment data, it frees up employees to perform other tasks within the business.
BulbThings provides a complete fleet and equipment life-cycle management tool with an integrated fleet tracking system that uses the latest IoT technologies to collect and analyse vehicle and driver behaviour data. This collaborative web app allows you to interact with your drivers and get information about allocation, usage, critical events and costs in real-time, ensuring you are in control saving both time and money. In fact, you can save up to 20% of your fleet TCO. We’d be glad to offer you a free tailored ROI and cost savings estimate.
To learn more about BulbThings please visit our website www.bulbthings.com or feel free to drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org