Steve Banner reports on the latest digital tachograph download technology and related solutions from software provider Road Tech
Tachograph analysis specialist Road Tech has developed a new system which it claims will completely revolutionise the way hauliers run their fleets.
“It is going to make a huge, huge difference,” contends director, Adrian Barrett.
Marketed under the DOT – Download Optimisation Technology – banner, it downloads live digital tachograph data remotely. It tells transport managers in real time everything from when their drivers are due to take a break – an alert is flagged up 15 minutes in advance – to whether they are about to commit a drivers hours’ infringement.
It also shows how long they can keep driving before they have to take a mandatory rest.
“The point is that the information it provides is live and it is instant,” Barrett says.
“It lets you know that an infringement is about to occur, which means you can do something about it.”
That is likely to mean contacting the driver immediately to prevent a breach of the drivers’ hours rules. As a consequence there should be far fewer fines, plus an improvement in fleet safety, he contends.
“You can eliminate unsafe driving habits,” he states.
“If you are entering the world of Earned Recognition and you need to stop your drivers infringing, then there is no better way of doing so than using the DOT device,” he insists.
“Three companies have already ordered 150 DOTs between them.”
Road Tech was offering an Earned Recognition module on a free 12-week trial as part of its wide-ranging product line-up at the time of writing.
Compatible with the latest Generation 2 smart tachographs, DOT enables fleets to become more productive, Barrett says.
Drivers can no longer pretend that they are going to run out of hours when their boss can clearly see in real time that this is not the case, and that they have more than enough hours left to accept and complete another job.
Being able to obtain unlimited, live drivers’ hours data downloads remotely and automatically means that there is no longer any requirement to visit every truck’s onboard unit and access every driver’s card in order to extract it manually.
Doing so takes time; time is money; and the expenditure involved invariably exceeds the cost of the monthly DOT subscription, says Barrett.
Once data is downloaded it can be analysed for compliance. That is a service which Road Tech can provide under the Tachomaster banner.
Tachomaster has downloaded over 140m cards, charts and onboard units since 2006.
Working Time Directive data can be collected and reviewed too; and a Tachomaster app is marketed, which allows drivers to view their overall availability for the current two weeks. They can also see when they have to take their daily and weekly rests.
The DOT unit costs nothing to acquire. Instead, the benefits it has to offer are charged for at a monthly rate of £14.95 per truck.
There is no formal contract between Road Tech and the customer, says Barrett. The operator can withdraw at any point.
All Road Tech asks for is enough notice to give it time to stop the SIM working.
DOT can be switched from vehicle to vehicle, and is suitable for all makes of truck.
Operators can make DOT even more indispensable by adding Road Tech’s Falcon tracking technology for another £5 a month, adds Barrett. It allows them to see exactly where their trucks are right now as well as where they have been.
A bird’s eye view is offered using Google Street and Google Maps.
“You can follow the road drivers are travelling down and pretty much see which side of the road they are on,” he says.
“You can also see how close a vehicle is to a particular postcode,” he adds. If a load needs collecting then the nearest truck can be sent to the pick-up point, saving time and fuel.
“A well-known recovery company uses this facility because it allows it to dispatch the closest available vehicle to a breakdown,” he continues. “The people who work there say that it’s changed their lives.”
You can also see how many hits any geofence that has been established has received. Furthermore, you can review the different routes two trucks took to get from point A to point B, and identify the one that was the most cost-effective.
Falcon enables hauliers to monitor the driving style of whoever is behind the wheel and use the knowledge obtained to help drivers improve their performance, reduce the risk of accidents and achieve better fuel consumption.
“We know of one company that is giving 10p in every £1 it saves on its fuel bills back to its drivers,” Barrett reports.
DOT takes its power from the same source as the tachograph and is usually mounted behind it.
The operator’s own technicians can install the onboard units.
“We provide fitting instructions,” says Barrett. “Once you’ve installed one or two it will only take you around ten minutes.”
Alternatively, Road Tech can fit DOT itself for £90, or at a reduced rate for three or more units.
Road Tech is continuing to offer new products and services.
Among the latest to appear are time-stamped letters, which drivers can sign electronically to acknowledge infringements using iOS or Android devices. The letter is held on Road Tech’s servers.
Other Road Tech products include Checkmaster, which allows licence checks to be carried out through the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency; and PreDrive, an app which drivers can use to carry out daily checks.
The former enables an operator to see if the licence is still valid, which vehicle categories it covers and whether the holder has accumulated any points. Licence checks can be automatically scheduled.
PreDrive allows the creation of unlimited and bespoke checklists, records the time and location of the check, and allows photographs to be taken with accompanying notes. The completed checks are tamper-proof, says Road Tech, and the results are securely stored online.
They are accessible immediately, it adds; so no need to worry about paperwork going missing.
Roadrunner, the company’s all-embracing transport management system, can be used to pull together and analyse all the data that Road Tech’s various packages generate.
“Its dashboards give you all sorts of information, including how many jobs you are doing today, whether the figure is up or down on the same day last week, and how much revenue you are earning per vehicle per mile,” he explains.
Delivery and collection times can be managed, consignments tracked in real time and PODs and signatures captured. All the information Roadrunner contains can be exported to Sage and various other accounting packages.
Roadrunner Live is marketed as an option which enables customers to book jobs online and track and trace them. It keeps them informed of what is happening to their consignments and whereabouts they are 24/7.
Roadrunner can be used on hardware installed by Road Tech or on the operator’s own hardware. A hosted cloud version is available at £21.45 per user per week.
Everything Road Tech does is geared towards eliminating ring-binders crammed full of documents that still clutter so many transport managers’ shelves, gathering dust.
“It’s all about getting rid of bits of paper,” says Barrett; and improving efficiency and profitability in the process.