Making an industry more productive, efficient and safer

Every industry is on the threshold of change and perhaps none more so than the transportation sector. How we get from A to B in the future may be very different from the way we do so today. So how is that driving change in the fleet management business? What sort of change do organisations have to look forward to and what should they be considering today?

By Annie Gray.

Transportation is a vital part of any functioning community and a driver of any economy. As Adam Heath, executive general manager, portfolio and products for Suncorp NZ which includes the Vero brand, told Management the commercial motor industry is a huge part of our economy – in 2012, road transport was responsible for about 91 percent of New Zealand’s total freight transport. 

“There are so many opportunities for making the industry more efficient, more productive, and safer, which benefits our customers and ultimately, all New Zealanders,” he says. 

And top of mind in the fleet management sector at present, it seems,  are the implications of the new Health and Safety at Work legislation on organisations that run a fleet of vehicles along with the efficiencies offered by telematics.

The new Health and Safety at Work Act creates a “positive duty” on officers (defined as directors and those who make decisions that affect the whole or a substantial part of the business e.g. CEO and COO) to exercise due diligence to ensure that the ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ or PCBU is meeting its obligations.

It also introduces much tougher penalties and SG Fleet NZ’s managing director, Geoff Tipene told Management the upshot is that directors and senior management need to set the direction and provide leadership in health and safety for their organisation.

“A vehicle is considered just as much a place of work as the office these days. Employers have a responsibility to ensure their employees are safe when on the road – and this extends to organisations’ running large vehicle fleets or pool car systems, through to ‘grey fleet’ – staff who use their own vehicles for work.”

 He says companies must ensure that they are doing everything they can to make sure their fleet and drivers are safe. 

From his point of view this should include: 

  • Ensuring vehicles are “fit for purpose”.
  • Ensuring vehicles are regularly serviced.
  • Ensuring vehicle familiarity, when a new driver takes over a new car.
  • Ensure daily checks are completed on commercial application vehicles.
  • Ensure drivers are up to standard. 
  • Driver assessments.
  • Driver licence checks.

Tipene said SG Fleet is doing a lot of work in this area including with company policies, the vehicles and the drivers themselves.

The company’s Driver Safety Intelligence is capable of doing everything companies require under the health and safety legislation. This includes driver assessments and licence management, to name a couple.

The majority of SG Fleet’s customers have asked for advice around the new legislation and it continues to be top of mind for their customers.

Telematics is also playing a big role around health and safety as well as the movement of vehicles and tracking these movements. Vero says that telematics is like the black box of an aircraft, an on-board system that captures data from the fleet and helps make decisions that save money by reducing fuel consumption and lowering maintenance costs.

Vero has just announced a partnership with global telematics company Coretex to offer its customers exclusive benefits on telematics packages and insurance. 

A statement from Vero says customers who insure with Vero and have Coretex installed in their commercial vehicles, will get an exclusive free upgrade upon renewal or inception of their Coretex telematics package and are able to access discounts on their insurance premiums or excesses.

Vero heavy fleet customers with Coretex on board will have their excesses capped and their single vehicle accident (SVA) excess halved. Commercial customers with lighter vehicles can also talk to the insurer about getting a discount on their premiums.

“It’s all about prevention, and with Coretex on board our commercial motor customers can be safer and more efficient on the road,” says Suncorp’s Adam Heath. 

“That should lead to fewer accidents and fewer claims, which means reduced premiums over time, but through this partnership we’re offering customers those cost savings upfront on their premiums or excesses.”

Coretex products include a compliance function that includes road user charging and driver logs, which help commercial vehicle operators lower administration costs for road user charges. They also offer fleet efficiency functions that help fleet optimisation, asset utilisation, fuel usage, waiting time, product wastage and maintenance.

“With emerging technology trends like Big Data and the Internet of Things, customers are being swamped with data and are seeking ways to use it to benefit their business and create efficiencies,” said Selwyn Pellett, CEO of Coretex. 

“Our product can contextualise large volumes of data and deliver it to our customers in real time, enabling them to take real time action and giving them better control of their assets and people.”

And telematics is playing a role at SG Fleet too. Tipene says the company’s Fleetintelligence report system can be accessed by customers via their phone, tablet or computer. The reports can be customised for viewing preference for each client so they are seeing data that is relevant to them. Electronic logbook and iphone app are currently being tested.

So where does he see the future lying for the industry? 

“Our industry is changing rapidly with how customers want to use their fleet or how they get around to do their business. We are more than just leasing and fleet management services we are also ‘mobility solution’ providers.” 

The company’s fleet management approach includes analysing telematics data and looking at how the fleet is used and achieving acceptable optimisation. Recommendations are made around redeployments of under-utilised assets or even a reduction in the fleet as they measure a fleet’s utilisation.

The industry, he says, is also moving towards how their customers need to get from A to B in the most cost efficient manner, even if alternate transport outside the tool-of-trade vehicle or pool vehicle is recommended.

Taking this further, as society moves more into the sharing economy will mobility be provided through shared vehicles? Eventually companies may have suppliers who orchestrate their clients’ transport solutions through their own vehicles and through other transport means, says Tipene.

Heath told Management that telematics are a great tool for helping its customers manage risks. “We’re confident that using Coretex products will help our customers be more efficient, and improve their safety on the road – which will ultimately lead to fewer claims.”

As to what prompted Vero to take this move, Heath says the company’s strategy is about creating value for customers and one of the main drivers behind the partnership are the changes to health and safety legislation that came into effect this year. 

So how does the Coretex system help make savings on fuel and maintenance? James Kyd, of Coretex says driver behaviour has a major impact on fuel usage and asset wear and tear. 

“The Coretex platform can provide detailed options from driver behaviour, reporting and dashboards, alerting and real-time in-cab feedback which is proven to improve behaviour through better driver training and incentive programmes. 

“Anecdotally, we also know that when drivers are conscious that they are being monitored, they tend to drive better and more efficiently.”   

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