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Staying within the law – science of compliance

TRACE features in June’s edition of Roadway magazine from the RHA.
Here is a snippet of the article…

Making sure your operation complies with the requirements of your Operator Licence can be time-consuming. Louise Cole reports on the services and technology available to help companies save time and money and stay on the right side of the law.

“Compliance is not simply a matter of not being caught or fined. The purpose of regulation, as a spokesperson for the Traffic Commissioner’s (TC) Office points out, is to ensure “road safety, fair competition and reliability”. Compliance helps level the playing field between all operators by not allowing the less scrupulous to cut corners for commercial advantage, and it also makes good business sense to minimise the risk of breakdowns, major repairs or potential third-party liabilities.

The TC’s report and other statutory documents make it clear the repetitive offences which their office sees far too often: transport managers in name only; wheel-loss syndrome; drivers using mobile; operators not being proactive about ensuring that maintenance is fit for the spirit of the law, not the letter – and much more.

Roadworthiness
Being able to track and evidence all work done on your vehicles, including regular checks, is essential should the company’s roadworthiness ever become an issue with VOSA (now DVSA). Trace, from Trace Systems, is a VOSA-approved product which complies with the Guide to Roadworthiness. It tracks and alerts fleet managers to all major events – such as tachograph checks and MOTs – but also coordinates all the routine checks of a vehicle by the driver, any regular servicing and provides job lines for each fault found and its resolution.

Trace consultant Bill Davies says that the DVSA focuses on two major issues which Trace helps with. The first is fixed service scheduling. This is not as simple as a six-weekly rota. As TC Kevin Rooney pointed out in the 2012/13 Traffic Commissioner’s Report, six-weekly schedules are a starting point but in real-life servicing schedules should be linked to the performance and application of the vehicle, and servicing may need to be carried out far more often.
Trace can set servicing schedules by risk, and will highlight any vehicle which has missed its slot. “DVSA does not accept operators ‘pinching’ a week on a six-week service schedule and therefore the vehicle running for seven weeks without being checked,” he says. “Trace has a set of rules for each vehicle which can be modified according to its circumstances. It then tracks the vehicle’s compliance against the dates generated.”

Trace is used by many rental companies and the servicing schedules are set by proposed mileage. If the rented vehicle starts to exceed that mileage, the service intervals will automatically be changed to reflect the new requirements.

Trace is launching an Android version of its drivers’ walk-around checks application so it can be used on any mobile device, rather than a proprietary hand-held or laptop. The defect reporting feeds directly into the system on the correct inspection form, with any faults found logged individually so their resolution is completely auditable.

Their product can also handle LOLER regulations for tail-lifts or tanker certifications. It has a tyre control module – which the company is currently upgrading –which tracks the tyre’s life even if it moves from vehicle to vehicle after retreading. The system sits on in-house servers, rather than the cloud, as Davies says this allows it to be more highly customisable for each client.

Trace is sold by single or multi-user licenses, with the single user starting at £5,000. However, other pricing varies depending on volume. Davies says that return on investment, if the product is used quickly, should be about six months. Walker Snack Foods apparently recovers the cost of TRACE purely from the savings it makes by being able to identify warranty parts, as does Kerry AgriBusiness which, according to Davies, saved £150,000 on what would otherwise have been disputed warranty claims. “The system also runs a lot of comparison data between vehicles, allowing managers to see which are more cost effective,” says Davies. Indeed, in one case, the systems was so effective that it lost them as client as the data proved that the fleet would be cheaper to run under contract hire.”

For the full article, contact the RHA for a copy of Roadway

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