Innovative thinking can redefine the transport world

Friday, September 29, 2017

Better Business

By Chris L’Ecluse, solutions specialist at Teletrac Navman

Innovation can shine through in many different areas and there’s a lot to be said for innovative ideas that can drive cultural change inside a business and alter perceptions in the wider world.

In Australia an innovative idea has grown into a clever organisation that involves more young women in the trucking industry. The Pilbara Haulage Girls provide professional development opportunities and career pathways for newly licensed truck drivers. They run tailored boot camps to train female drivers with a strong emphasis on safety. They also promote stories of female truckies and are conducting research on the minority group. They’ve made trucking more appealing to women through smart thinking and task execution.

Here in New Zealand, the driver shortage continues to be a key focus and an issue to be tackled on many fronts. Let’s look at health and safety as a component that makes jobs in the industry more desirable – especially to certain groups of drivers.

  • Satellite communication: Using satellite communication channels means that even in remote areas drivers can get in touch. This can be hugely appealing to drivers concerned about heading out on the road alone, such as new drivers, female drivers, and those with young families or concerns back home.

  • Machine monitoring: Technology that monitors the vehicle status, and engine diagnostics, give insight into the health of your assets. This knowledge is especially relevant to drivers carrying dangerous substances or new drivers without years of experience with equipment warning signs.

  • GPS tracking: Real-time data allows fleet managers to monitor drivers and highlight any alarming behaviour. Instead of thinking of this as ‘big brother’, consider the metrics that could signal driver fatigue, such as harsh braking and cornering. This can be key for making new drivers more comfortable with long hours, or supporting drivers with particular health issues.

  • Bird’s-eye camera system: An on-board computer combines multiple down view cameras into one image, giving a 360-degree view of the truck and trailer surroundings. By hugely increasing visibility and removing blind spots, all drivers will benefit, and those learning can progress faster with the added support of the technology.

Technology can further add to the ‘cool’ factor of a job – and this can’t be underestimated in changing the perceptions of the trucking industry. It’s well known that the New Zealand driver pool is aging and industry leaders are focusing on how to get younger generations behind the wheel. Driving a heavy rig is a highly skilled profession, especially with the advances in modern trucks. Prospective drivers need to see that the transport industry can provide a highly skilled, forward-thinking and rewarding career.

  • On-board tech: Modern trucks have everything from Adaptive Cruise Control to LED cornering and manoeuvring lights, and Electronic Stability Programmes. These vehicles are feats of technology and the ‘bells and whistles’ should be celebrated and shared with the wider world. In fact, driving a new model high-tech truck is a bit like being in a real-life video game!

  • Telematics data: GPS tracking generates data on a wide range of metrics, so drivers and managers get interesting insights into the vehicle and overall operations. One idea is to use this data to create driver score cards. A healthy dose of competition can build a strong team and a good safety culture.

  • Smartphones and tablets: Loading, assessing, and securing freight, reports on machine health, RUC, and work hours – aside from driving, there’s a lot to do. Using personal devices to streamline processes and offer greater insight into and control over the mechanics of the operation empowers drivers.

Harnessing the advances in technology can make your workplace and the wider industry more attractive to prospective employees, those who may be considering a career change, and those that may not have even thought about a career in trucking. As an industry, we can find solutions to address issues in a variety of ways. Be innovative in your thinking and transform the culture and perceptions of the industry for the better.

Every year at the RTF’s awards night, Teletrac Navman sponsors the Innovation Award. The award recognises clever and hardworking people who are strengthening the industry through brilliant solutions to problems facing the industry.

The innovative use of technology can increase the safety and raise the appeal of jobs in the driving industry.

Photo Credit: Teletrac Navman

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