With cases of COVID-19 infecting over 3 million people across the World (at the time of writing), many countries are in lockdown. Outside of this lockdown, the need for transport and logistics operations is as critical as ever and in some cases, organisations are under even more pressure to ensure that supermarkets are stocked and that groceries and essential medicines can be delivered to people’s homes.
However, it is imperative that there are no short cuts taken when it comes to driver wellbeing and safety. Harnessing technology that allows frontline workers to maintain social distancing has never been more important.
The following article provides some insight into how Microlise can help reduce contact and keep essential transport workers safe.
Creating a Plan
It’s essential to generate an effective plan to maximise fleet and driver efficiency. Our Planning & Optimisation solution is a web-based SaaS solution that enables planners to access their planning tool from home. Combining this with web conferencing tools enables the whole planning office to work remotely.
The tool allows for manual changes, but also enables a team to re-spin a plan in the event of changes, such as a driver or drivers reporting in sick or being unavailable.
The Microlise Planning & Optimisation tool can pre-allocate all vehicles and drivers meaning that during execution, transport operators need only adjust resources by exception. In-line with the Planning & Optimisation tools, the Microlise Journey Management solution is also entirely web-based, and can be used from home in exactly the same way, reducing the need to have transport staff present in the office.
Journey Management provides a real-time view of the fleet vs the plan, showing which vehicles are running early, on-time or behind, as well as which jobs are complete or still pending. This visibility allows operators to be proactive in managing issues and the customer experience.
Drivers can be logged onto a mobile device loaded with our SmartPOD app – part of our driver management and Proof of Delivery offering – by utilising a Driver ID mechanism such as a Dallas Key. Where this is not available, a simple password code can be provided.
Once the driver has logged on, their allocated journey will be retrieved and whichever vehicle they’ve logged onto can be allocated to their route.
Electronic tripsheets within SmartPOD provide details of all daily routes, customers, locations, timing obligations etc. Drivers can review these without the need to contact the transport office. Any changes made by transport operators, such as new drops or drops removed, will be reflected straight away via the device so the driver can be notified appropriately.
Trailer Parking Location
Where yard management solutions are integrated, drivers can be advised of the location of the trailer they require for their journey. This trailer can then be collected and checks completed electronically without the need for contact with yard staff.
When integrated into yard management solutions, SmartPOD can also advise the driver about where to park their trailer and the driver can confirm the parking location electronically.
Messages can be exchanged between SmartPOD and the Microlise Web Portal to support basic text-based comms between office staff and drivers without the need for face-to-face contact.
This solution provides drivers with all relevant numbers needed to support them during their shift. This database can be updated over-the-air via a mobile network, which is particularly useful when many office staff are working from home. The numbers can be called up from Microlise managed devices, enabling the driver to contact relevant parties, when it is safe and legal to do so.
Driver Hazard Warning
It is perhaps more critical than ever to support driver safety during this period of increased pressure and to allow our emergency services to focus resources where they are needed the most.
Microlise’s award winning Driver Hazard Warning solution warns drivers of low bridges and assists them in making safe routing decisions when operating large vehicles.
With this tool, drivers can arrive on-site and provide electronic risk assessments that they have recorded as read, including any new documentation or policies that relate to COVID-19 safeguards. This ensures drivers are well prepared and reduces the need for paperwork to be completed at the gatehouse.
Generic documents can be provided for all drivers to refer to during their shift – typical updates might include changes to H&S policies and business updates.
Text messages and emails can be sent to customers about impending arrivals so that they can receive goods efficiently and allow drivers to continue on their journey. Customer arrivals boards can also inform gatehouses of drivers and vehicles that are due to arrive so that delays at the gatehouse can be reduced.
Our Proof Of Delivery solution enables drivers to take photographs as proof-of-delivery rather than relying on the more traditional customer signature. This supports full contactless delivery, allowing drivers to take photographic proof and sign for orders themselves within the workflow, removing the need for direct customer interaction.
In times of high pressure and tight scheduling, efficiency and safety can often take a back seat in favour of just getting the job done. DPM provides drivers with mobile feedback and tips for improvement to ensure that operations are kept safe and cost-effective and to support ongoing driving improvement without the need for office-based training.
Debrief On the Go
The requirement for on-time and in-full delivery on the first attempt is critical to keep abreast of current demand but there will always be exceptions. These exceptions can be configured to require drivers to select from an appropriate list of reason codes, ensuring that issues can be explained and understood without the need for direct interaction.
Traditionally briefings would be provided to colleagues through groups or potentially in one-to-one sessions. The Microlise Knowledge Portal enables organisations to create materials that can be shared with employees and these can be shared through email campaigns and courses that can be monitored to ensure all those relevant have seen the details. This could be general updates or specific courses that ensure staff are aware of social distancing processes within the business.
Video content can be uploaded to provide staff with talks and info from familiar places in a time when they may not be on-site.
On top of this staff that may be furloughed could be provided training courses to ensure that your organisation is in a good position when it returns to full capacity and that staff are keeping skills up-to-date.