The Driver Handbook Expert View – THE ADVANTAGES OF DIGITISATION

Glen Davies, Transport and Logistics Specialist will deliver his expert view at 7:40am in the Innovation Zone at the Microlise Transport Conference at the Ricoh Arena on 15th May 2019…


Never before has there been a more powerful influence on fleet operations than the effect of digital technology. The pace of the digital revolution is quickening daily and one of the most important contributors to our industry’s debate is how autonomous and connected vehicles are going to affect how we operate.

The fleet sector isn’t new to the digital revolution though. Whilst self-driving vehicles may still seem futuristic, there are many digital forerunners that are now firmly entrenched in fleet operations. Take the term ‘telematics’, this was first coined in France in 1978; Honda launched the first vehicle navigation system in 1981; Microlise was first incorporated in 1982 and I was first introduced to fleet management software in the late 90s. Even government services are moving towards digital. The Government Digital Service was established in 2011 which has led to automated driver licence checking, paperless vehicle tax, DVSA Digital, Earned Recognition and remote enforcement. This shows we have recognised how automation can lead to a safer, more efficient and less impacting operation. It can make the world smaller, easier to keep an eye on and enable instant communications.

The role of the fleet manager is developing from being a tactical day-to-day doer, to a forward-thinking strategic analyst and digital systems can deliver immense value. They enable us to connect, collaborate and communicate. Imagine a day without a computer or smart phone in the office – it would probably be nice not to have the emails, but imagine everything you do digitally now, being back on paper and by landline.

The digitised workplace is the new norm and technology is a basic tool of the trade. Our expectations are high, the expectations of the people who work for us are high and if we are to attract and retain young talent into the profession, we must be progressive. Millennials are now the largest generation in the workplace. They are tech-savvy, open to change and they can’t stand the phrase, “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Already the post-millennial generation is also coming through and they’ve grown up with technology, the internet and social media.

So how far are we from a truly paperless office? We have finally started to digitise defect reporting and walkaround checks, but what about the information we provide to drivers – the driver handbook? Are you still providing a wordy printed document that is supported by a periodic signature to say the driver has read and ‘understood’ it, or have you moved into the 21st century? Books are great but we now have new ways of communicating. With technology, we can use graphics, video and animation. We can update and distribute information instantly, run topical campaigns, track and trace who accessed what and when. Then consider how virtual reality might play a part in driver education. We are investing heavily in digitising vehicles and our fleet operations, so it makes absolute sense we do the same for our drivers.

It’s time to throw out those old handbooks and go digital…

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