Driving compliance through analytics. By Sonia Sedler

In an industry where accidents occur all too frequently, improving safety and reducing incident rates is a goal for most fleet managers. Not only do accidents put the driver at risk, they also compromise the assets being transported, delay operations and can result in a loss of revenue. The single biggest factor contributing to road freight accidents is a lack of compliance to driving standards. It is not surprising, therefore, that increasingly organisations are looking to gain greater insights into driver behaviours and improve performance.

Monitoring compliance, however, is incredibly difficult to do when a vehicle fleet is moving on a 24/7 basis, across remote and varied terrains, and operating in several countries around the world. Organisations need to adopt technology that can track vehicles and respond to intelligence in real-time, has multi-geographical and multi-lingual application, and is able to identify trends so that companies know which aspects of non-compliance they need to focus the most energy on. This is where analytics comes into force – capable of capturing, assessing and reporting on data.

Journey tracking
In order to monitor compliance, 100 per cent of the journey being undertaken needs to be tracked in real time and the data made almost instantly accessible to agents, enabling them to engage with the driver and intervene if necessary via integrated telephony. Large companies transporting assets via road across the globe should look to implement one centralised journey management system, so they can get sight of their fleet anywhere in the world, and possess a single view of overall journey performance.

In-vehicle monitoring systems are able to capture information about the trip and feed back to a central platform, taking into account factors such as direction of travel, speed and distance covered, as well as whether the driver is following scheduled break points for the correct amount of time. Through this monitoring system, fleet managers can track driver adherence to health and safety guidelines.

Observation and intervention
A journey management service that incorporates sophisticated observation tools into asset tracking can provide organisations with in-depth behavioural and data analysis. Moreover, it can make sense of the data for them, by placing it into a simple driver scoring mechanism that enables them to see at a glance how compliant an individual driver is.

These observation tools can track driving behaviours that may increase risk and identify trends, providing deeper analysis than just looking at whether drivers broke the speed limit or had the required amount of breaks. Do drivers tend to speed when they are in a certain environment? Do they approach corners too quickly, but still within the speed limit? Do drivers of larger, heavier vehicles apply the brakes too late?

The data collected on the driver should also extend to levels of alertness, with a fatigue management functionality incorporated into the system. A pre-drive test should be conducted to ensure that drivers are well rested and in proper physical and mental condition before they get behind the wheel. Failure to pass this should be flagged on the system and the journey prevented from taking place at that time.

As well as observation, intervention tools should sit alongside real-time tracking. For example, integrated telephony with each vehicle could enable one-to-one personal contact between the driver and an operating agent. This means that emergency assistance can be provided if, for example, the journey deviates from the planned route, or if the data analytics detects that they might be at risk of an accident due to poor driving behaviours.

This telecom solution can also collect data on the level of driver alertness. This could either be by asking the driver to report to the journey management centre every two hours, for example, or by checking in with them at regular intervals. Their reaction time could be monitored throughout the journey – if it gets slower and it becomes clear they are not as alert as they were at the start, the operating agents can intervene in real-time and schedule a break.

Reviewing the data
Data analytics offers organisations much broader, deeper insights into their business and how their drivers operate. A journey management solution that can report a unified and reliable dataset back to field and executive management dashboards makes the findings actionable.

It enables fleet managers to review the data across multiple dimensions: what was compliance like on this type of terrain/in this country/between these hours of the day? They can then formulate corrective action plans if they identify particular trends, or certain cohorts of drivers who repeatedly commit the same errors.

At Sutherland, we recently implemented a journey management system, powered by analytics, for an organisation whose employees drive more than 150 million work miles a year across 80 countries.

After one year of implementing tracking, observation and intervention tools, there had been no fatal accidents, the accident rate per million miles of monitored trips had been reduced by 12 – 15 per cent, and there was 100 per cent compliance on quality, health and safety metrics. Cost per trip had also been reduced by up to 20 per cent, as fewer incidents resulted in increased operational efficiency.

Analytics can play in big role in fleet management to improve driver safety and make journeys more efficient. Through real-time journey trackers, analytics can monitor compliance, collect data on driver behaviours, assess levels of fatigue, and even intervene to reduce risk. It can also present senior managers with detail at both a micro and macro level, allowing them to channel resources where they’re needed. This is the technology to embrace in order to improve performance and overcome the biggest challenge in road freight. l

Sonia Sedler is the Managing Director, Europe, at Sutherland Global Services, a process transformation organisation working with organisations in various sectors worldwide, from travel, transportation and logistics, to finance and banking, insurance, and retail. Sutherland works with some of the world’s largest airlines, logistics companies and fuel distributors, providing end-to-end solutions to help save costs, improve safety, increase efficiency and revenue, and enhance the customer experience.