Being in the business of helping companies manage their fleets efficiently has, over the years, brought us many exciting problems to solve. More and more companies are asking for tools that are predictive in nature, to help them see where they can cut losses before they happen. The best challenges and solutions go well beyond just fuel savings; they tackle their most important assets: human and physical resources.
Today, fleet management systems must be adaptive, customizable, and very user-friendly. The full integration of multipurpose modules and peripherals under a single system is a must. There is no more one-size-fits-all. Every solution needs to be built for the very unique reality of the client’s fleet and be adaptable enough to grow with the client’s evolving needs. Coencorp started with this ideology 30 years ago and has been growing with solutions to our client’s needs ever since. We always seem to have something new and exciting about to happen.
Right now, every fleet dependent industry is focusing more on driver and road safety. Where lawyers and insurance brokers have traditionally focused on how to pay for accidents, with the help of specialized software companies like Coencorp, they are embracing new trends coming from the availability of big data. They influence the CEOs and that trickles down to the fleet managers we serve. They are asking for modules that incorporate Business Intelligence (BI) into Preventive Maintenance (PM) programs and we are already prepared to deliver and implement these solutions. But, first, let’s see where this need comes from: preventable accidents.
Fleet vehicles in heavy industries, such as mining, construction, and resource transportation tend to be larger trucks. Truck accidents are much more dangerous than typical passenger car crashes, due to their incredible size and weight. While a passenger vehicle weighs about 4,000 pounds (1,800kg), an 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds (36,000kg), and the big mining trucks can make this look like a kid’s toy. Anytime these vehicles are on the road, they need space and qualified drivers to navigate that space. It’s easy to understand how trucking accidents lead to catastrophic outcomes, especially for the occupants of any passenger vehicle sharing their roads. Understanding the most common causes of trucking accidents helps your team (drivers, dispatchers and fleet managers) be more responsible.
Go Beyond Human: Extra Pairs of Eyes
Despite having most of the responsibility to drive safely, truck drivers make mistakes like anyone else. They may drive drowsy, drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, drive distractedly, or drive recklessly. However, recent studies from the American Trucking Association show the majority of trucking accidents caused by driver error are due to passenger vehicle drivers (78%), not the truck driver (22%). This indicates the importance of improving your trucker drivers' defensive driving techniques. For example, keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, being patient with slower drivers, cautious with reckless drivers, and always using turn and hazard signals appropriately.
Some companies, such as waste management leader Republic Services are so dedicated to road safety that they have incentivized it in a fun and novel way. They have an annual safe driving competition for any and all employees. They have even gone the extra mile in allowing the employees time to practice and giving additional training when requested. Driving is a stressful job that is operationally essential to your company’s success, so why not do everything possible to keep your drivers at their best?
Vehicle manufactures are more and more standardizing new safety features into the on-board computers, such as proximity warnings, cameras, collision prevention steering controls, and sensors that read a larger variety of crucial vehicle functioning statuses. All this beautiful data can be fed in real-time to your fleet management system by mobile relays and give you the power of correcting errors as they happen.
People Are Human; Data Entry Shouldn't be!
Transportation vehicles can drive thousands of miles every day. To keep up with the expected wear and tear these vehicles take, your fleet team must regularly maintain the trucks. Equipment failure, such as worn brake pads, worn tires, worn fuel or liquid lines, a cracked windshield, and even overused wipers can cause a major traffic accident, because of how they impair the driver ability to maneuver the vehicle. Standard practice, and in many cases regulation dictates that it is a driver’s responsibility to check his/her rig at the beginning of every shift and submit a vehicle maintenance report. This report should be entered into the fleet management system (FMS) and the data used to plan your Preventive Maintenance programs.
Remember that manual entry will always have its problems. Human error or negligence plays a big part in faulty data collection. The technology is readily available today to capture data directly from the engine computer. Fleet management systems like Site Manager 2.0 (Coencorp SM2) have integrated real-time data collection peripherals (The ETUs & VDUs) compatible with the truck’s on-board computer to relay engine and other alerts directly into the maintenance modules of the software. This minimizes down time and improves safety at the same time.
Manufacture Crucial Communication
Improper fleet maintenance isn’t the only reason a truck’s equipment could fail at a dangerous moment. Equipment manufacturers may be at fault of negligence or errors during parts' production, leading to defective or dangerous components. While they tend to have systems in place to capture most errors, some only appear after the part has been in the field. These errors could be design flaws or mechanic/installer errors. Either way, the driver usually doesn’t know about them until it's too late. Engine alarms may pick up on some of these errors and report them incorrectly, but it should be taken as a sign something is off. Keeping these details in the maintenance module of your FMS is the first vital step.
Staying in close communication with your vehicle manufacturer is the second. Manufacturers often send out recalls and/or recommended maintenance check-ups. They do this because something was found to need correcting and you will benefit from it. Yes, it can cause downtime, but this too can be alleviated with planning. Your FMS should have an integrated preventive maintenance module, like SM2-Maintain, that allows you to easily schedule maintenance appointments and collect the mechanics actions and reports. Don’t wait for these notifications to come in the mail; get chummy with your manufacturer’s representative and be proactive. It will lead to less downtime and that means more up time for business.
Now We’re Talking Business... Intelligence, That Is!
Poor weather can throw a truck driver for a loop if he or she is not adequately trained and prepared to drive in certain conditions. You can create fun training programs in-house to motivate your drivers’ skill improvements, like Republic Services does with their safe driving awards. Rain, snow, and ice challenge truckers’ abilities, due to the heavy weight and slower stopping speeds of the vehicle. They need to develop proper braking techniques for all conditions and to avoid skidding, hydroplaning, or jackknifing.
Here too, technology is helping fleets run safely. New advances in business intelligence are offering predictive models that guide the drivers on safer routes. Often combining the most up-to-date telemetry devices that plug into the vehicle’s on-board system, relaying the data from GPS devices, and delivering new user-friendly modules and/or dynamic dashboards in their FMS. Like the weather, these systems require flexibility and are often customized for the specific needs of the fleet in question. For more information on this, please contact our technical support team about how to use this and/or about our SM2-Locate module.
The Final Straw
You know the old saying "the straw that broke the camel’s back?” Its wisdom is in the warning that when something has hit its limit, any additional weight, no matter how small, could overload it. Truckers and cargo loaders must abide by industry-specific rules when it comes to loading commercial trucks for this very reason. Weight, size, length, width, and height limit and load capacity, not to mention special methods of securing certain cargo types for transportation. Mistakes or negligence during loading procedures can destabilize or dislodge a load causing breakage or accidents if it falls off the truck. Emerging technologies such as cellular mobility, telematics, sensors, real-time monitoring, and data analytics can minimize the impacts that most commonly cause trucking accidents. Trucking companies can now monitor specific driver behavior and a greater variety of vehicle conditions, thus empowering them to prevent more accidents before they occur.
For more information about how you can maximize your Preventive Maintenance Programs, please contact our support team at 1-866-263-6267 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Our goal is to keep your fleet moving forward.
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