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Digitised vehicle inspections reducing commercial fleet spend

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A number of recent surveys of commercial fleet managers carried our across the UK (including  those from Webfleet and Samsara) have indicated a focus on reducing fleet spend in 2023 and the importance of investing in technology to realise these cost savings.

Longer replacement cycles (partially driven by new vehicle supply constraints and by cost pressures) mean that fleet managers must contend with an ageing fleet and have to ensure their operation in a safe, reliable and economical way.

Ensuring a safe and reliable (ageing) fleet with minimal downtime can only come out of better SMR management which in turn is a function of how efficiently vehicle condition is monitored, issues identified/anticipated and resolved. Technology in the form of digital fleet inspection software can help with better SMR management.

Digitised vehicle inspections can help fleet managers

  • Assess fleet condition and plan maintenance/repair
  • Identify and anticipate potential safety and compliance issues

Nothing new here although you will be surprised at the number of mid-large fleets still operating on paper based inspections and excel sheets. The trick is to move away from manual/semi-digital processes to digital tools that not only make the inspection process simple but also reduce the admin overhead required to manage the outcome of the inspections effectively.

ClearInspect is one such tool that helps fleet managers administer vehicle inspections seamlessly with an AI enabled app that can be used by drivers or team leads. Most visual inspection checks are via image capture using the smartphone app and images are automatically analysed to identify defects or damages. A customisable easy to use checklist enables capture of other information on the condition of the vehicle.

Alerts are generated for the fleet administrator or manager along with a dashboard for viewing inspection results. Efficient damage management helps not only track but also reduce repair costs for fleet managers and this tool is ideally suited for small to medium fleets (passenger and commercial).

More information available on the website or a free trial can be arranged via hello@clearinspect.co.uk

Lightfoot’s Elite Driver Championship reveals first winner

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Lightfoot has announced the first four-figure winner of its new driver engagement initiative, the Elite Driver Championship.

Providing prize draws ranging from £1,000 to £7,000, the new, big cash prize pot joins the suite of rewards that Lightfoot Elite drivers can win through the Lightfoot driver app, including its weekly Drivers’ Lottery, where individuals can win up to £200.

The difference with the Elite Driver Championship is that to be eligible for the big-ticket cash prizes, drivers must maintain an average score at or above 85% – Lightfoot’s Elite Driver Standard – for the duration of the prize draw.

That’s exactly what Tom Curtis of DeterTech in Telford achieved, bagging himself £4,000 in the very first draw.

Launched in April, the Elite Driver Championship gives drivers who consistently achieve the Lightfoot Elite Driver standard the chance to win £1,000 every single month, as well as the opportunity to enter the mid-year bonus bonanza, where three drivers will win between £500 – £2,000.

At the end of year, drivers who have maintained the Elite Driver Standard from April through to December will be eligible for the Championship Christmas cash pot of £7,000. Three drivers will also win between £500 – £2,000.

Paul Hollick, Managing Director of Lightfoot, said: “Adopting a driver-focused rewards-based approach has been a game changer for fleets using our ‘beyond telematics’ tech. Now, thanks to Allianz’s sponsorship, we have serious sums of money on offer that can be won in the Elite Driver Championship. We believe this will lift driver engagement to all-time highs, week-in and week-out, helping to streamline the process of fleet management.

“That’s important because drivers who actively engage with Lightfoot through the app perform at least 10% better drivers than those that don’t, which means that fleet managers only need to focus on the few drivers that consistently fail to hit KPIs. In terms of fuel savings, emissions reductions, driver safety, and lower accident levels that’s huge, bringing immediate and lasting benefits to fleets, their drivers, and the environment.”

Lightfoot’s in-cab device engages with drivers in real-time, delivering ‘in-the-moment’ nudges that modify driving styles for the better, aided by audible end-of-journey scores. This guides drivers towards their weekly goal of achieving Elite Driver status, which unlocks access to weekly prizes, The Drivers’ Lottery, and the Elite Driver Championship.

Lightfoot’s ‘beyond telematics’ approach has helped fleets achieve engagement of 90%+, realising average fuel and emissions savings of up to 15%, EV range extension of up to 15%, as well as reductions in at-fault accidents by up to 40%, wear and tear costs by 45%, and vehicle idling by 24%.

Since the launch of the Drivers’ Lottery in 2019, Lightfoot has given away over 111,000 prizes, with a total value just shy of £370,000, and has helped cut CO2 emissions in fleets by over 200,000 tonnes, reducing fuel use by almost 90m litres.

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: Introducing ClearInspect – Making fleet inspections simple, efficient & accurate

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ClearInspect helps fleet managers efficiently assess & track vehicle condition based on smartphone images and thereby reduce damages and costs.

Damage repair costs in fleets

Ageing fleet due to supply shortages and inflationary cost pressures mean fleet managers need to find effective ways to reduce damages and associated repair costs. Vehicle inspections are largely manual and tracking damages requires extensive admin effort. Vehicle damage history is a messy plethora of emails, messages, paperwork, image files in folders even for ‘well managed’ fleets. Overall resulting in lower accountability and frequent unrecorded damage ending in huge repair bills.

Making damage assessment efficient

ClearInspect is a simple intuitive mobile app that helps even untrained users carry out fleet inspections in a guided way. Walk around images of a vehicle captured using the app are analysed automatically to identify & assess damages, documented uniquely and a vehicle condition report is generated. Damages are also categorized as new and pre-existing. Fleet managers can get alerts on new damages to any vehicle, also see the latest status of each of their fleet in a dashboard. Reducing time and effort in inspections and tracking damages is one area where fleets see benefit from using ClearInspect. Better tracking results in increased accountability with users of the fleet and thereby has been proven to reduce damages and related costs for commercial fleet customers of ClearInspect in the UK and Europe.

Walk-around / Pre-use checks, Handover, regular inspections – all in one

In addition to its unique image based damage assessment functionality, the app has a fully customizable checklist that can be used to carry out all types of inspections. Available for both iOS and Android devices (phones, tablets) as well as a mobile weblink feature that enables inspections to be carried out in a mobile browser (without an app download). A web dashboard is available for fleet managers to see inspection details and vehicle damage history.

About ClearQuote Technologies Limited

ClearInspect is a product of ClearQuote Technologies Limited, recently established in the UK with its headquarters registered in Cardiff, the company operates an extensive engineering team in India and includes clients in Australia, UK, Europe & India and powers several thousand vehicle inspections a day.

Visit https://clearinspect.co.uk for more information or write to hello@clearinspect.co.uk for a demo and a free trial. 

Government hopes for ‘longer lorries’ economy boost

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Longer lorries will be introduced to UK roads to support the government’s priority to grow the economy, boost productivity, slash road emissions and support supply chains.

Legislation has been laid out to safely roll out the vehicles on roads from May 31st. The longer lorries will be able to transport fast-moving consumer goods and retail products, as well as waste packaging, parcels and pallets.

These new lorries will move the same volume of goods, but will use 8% fewer journeys than current trailers. This will generate an expected £1.4 billion in economic benefits and take one standard-size trailer off the road for every 12 trips.

As part of efforts to grow the economy and cut emissions, government is changing regulations to allow longer trailers on GB roads, which it estimates will save 70,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.

These longer trailers, known as longer semi-trailers (LST) measure up to 2.05 metres longer than a standard semi-trailer and can be towed by a lorry.

The move follows an 11-year trial to ensure LSTs are used safely on roads, and operators will be encouraged to put extra safety checks and training in place. The trial demonstrated that LSTs were involved in around 61% fewer personal injury collisions than conventional lorries.

Vehicles which use LSTs will be subject to the same 44 tonne weight limit as those using standard trailers. These new vehicles are also expected to cause less wear on the roads than conventional lorries due to the type of steering axle used.

Operators will be legally required to ensure appropriate route plans and risk assessments are made to take the unique specifications of LSTs into account.

In addition to these new legal requirements, operators will also be expected to put in place extra safety checks including driver training and scheduling, record keeping, training for transport managers and key staff, and loading of LSTs.

It is expected that LSTs will create almost £1.4 billion in net economic benefits by ensuring more goods are carried on fewer vehicles, supporting productivity and boosting the economy.

The net economic benefits figure has been calculated as part of the LSTconsultation impact assessment.

With over 300 companies in the UK having already taken part in the trial, and almost 3,000 on the road, some of the biggest brands will be rolling out the extended use of these longer semi-trailers including:

  • Greggs
  • Morrisons
  • Stobart
  • Royal Mail
  • Argos

Gavin Kirk, Supply Chain Director at Greggs, said: “We welcome the introduction of LSTs into general use. Since 2013, Greggs has been operating LSTs from our National Distribution Centre in Newcastle. We were early adopters of the trial as we saw significant efficiency benefits from the additional 15% capacity that they afforded us.

“We have converted 20% of our trailer fleet to LSTs, which was the maximum allowable under the trial, and these complement our fleet of double-deck trailers. Our drivers undertook additional training to use these trailers and we have monitored accidents, finding that they are as safe as our standard fleet.

“Due to the increased capacity, we have reduced our annual kilometer (km) travel by 540,000 km, and saved 410 tonnes of carbon per year from LSTs. This supports our wider ESG agenda, the Greggs Pledge.”

The trial revealed the important environmental benefits associated with the introduction of LSTs, including a considerable reduction of 70,000 tonnes of CO2 and 97 tonnes of NOx over the trial.

The average CO2 reduction across the lifetime of the trial is similar to the amount of CO2 captured by roughly 11,600 acres of forest per year.

The savings in NOx emissions averages to the entire annual NOx emissions of around 2,000 diesel cars per year.

Introducing LSTs is an important, easy and affordable measure to continue to reduce CO2 emissions from the haulage industry without significant technological and infrastructure development, as the government continues to work closely with the sector to ensure all new heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are net-zero by 2040.

The move is part of the government’s comprehensive 33 actions to address the shortage of HGV drivers and boost recruitment and retention.

5 Minutes With… Andy Harrison, General Manager at Aftercare Response

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In the latest instalment of our fleet management industry executive interview series we spoke to Andy Harrison (pictured), General Manager at Aftercare Response, about current supply chain challenges, the trend toward longer fleet leases and the associated maintenance implications, and the importance of nurturing the next generation of qualified ancillary engineers…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Aftercare Response is the UK’s leading provider of mobile maintenance and breakdown services. We specialise in on-site commercial vehicle body repairs and ancillary equipment servicing, but also offer a host of other services such as fleet maintenance contracts, OEM warranty work and nationwide emergency roadside assistance. And there’s plenty more!

What have been the biggest challenges the Fleet Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?

The global shortage of parts and components has been well documented and, as in many industries, the impact on productivity has been significant. The lengthy delays in receiving chassis has contributed to increased costs and added huge pressures to all aspects of the supply chain. The shortages and delays experienced have created a considerable amount of additional work for all parties in terms of updating, chasing and processing jobs.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

We continue to focus on building partnerships with our customers to deliver added value to the relationships we hold. By adopting this approach the volume of work continues to increase and, for us, the biggest opportunity is growing with our clients. We remain focused on the evolving needs of our customers to ensure that our service delivery is shaped around their business.

What are the main trends you expect to see in the market in 2023?

We operate within the commercial vehicle sector, both LCV and HGV. We’re seeing many fleet operators running their vehicles for extended periods. As operating costs continue to rise, many businesses are exercising more caution when it comes to investment and are changing vehicles less regularly. In this context, conversations around fleet maintenance are increasingly important – and that’s where we come in!

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Fleet Services sector?

I have over 45 years’ experience working within the commercial vehicle fleet sector, and I’m amazed at how innovative and transformative it is. It’s incredibly fast-paced and changing constantly; the businesses that survive are those that ensure they are at the forefront of new developments, driving the charge to bring new and better products and services to the market.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

I love working within the fleet sector. The pace of change in the industry today offers a vast amount of opportunity for a business like ours. We’re a flexible, highly adaptable team that’s always looking for new and innovative ways to provide the best service within the industry. Each morning, the challenge of the coming day being different to yesterday excites me and I really enjoy sharing my experience with colleagues who are building their careers within the industry. 

And what’s the most challenging?

We’ve recognised that historically there has been a shortage of qualified ancillary engineers, which is of course challenging when you’re a business that requires a growing number of engineers to service customers that operate all over the UK. We’ve therefore decided to employ technically experienced engineers and provide training to upskill them across our diverse servicing offering. We’ve seen good success in growing our engineering pool by adopting this approach – and it’s great to open the opportunities that employment at Aftercare Response offers to a wider range of people.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t assume you know everything, always look to learn new things. It’s certainly guidance that I can apply every day in my role!

IAM Road Smart takes aim at reckless company car drivers

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Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has expressed concerns around the percentage of at-work drivers who believe it’s acceptable to drive under the influence of drink and drugs.

It surveyed the safety attitudes and behaviours of 2,010 UK motorists and, astonishingly, found 31 per cent of those driving for work believe driving after using Class A drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy is acceptable, compared to 5 per cent of non-company car drivers.

The survey also revealed that over a quarter (26 per cent) felt it was acceptable to drive when they may have drunk too much alcohol, and 24 per cent would drive after using cannabis. In both cases, only 5 per cent of non-company car drivers felt it was acceptable.

Highlighting the differences between motorists driving for work and non-company car drivers, IAM RoadSmart’s Driving Safety Culture Report found 21 per cent of company car drivers had regularly or often ignored a red light within a 30-day window compared to 3 per cent of other drivers.

The research also found that 21 per cent of at-work drivers often read a text or email whilst driving compared to 3 per cent of other drivers. Even more dangerously, 19 per cent said they often typed or sent a text while driving (compared to 2 per cent of non-company car drivers).

The latest figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) revealed up to a third of all road incidents involve someone who is at work at the time, this could account for over 20 fatalities and 250 serious injuries every week.

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “It is incredibly concerning that this latest research shows we still have far too many drivers who don’t understand the dangers of driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, and not acknowledging the danger they pose to themselves.

“By choosing to ignore key safety features like red lights or even using social media whilst driving, you are putting yourself at much higher risk of being involved in a crash. With a third of all incidents involving people driving for work on UK roads, businesses also need to hold themselves accountable for the responsibility they play in keeping their workers and other road users safe.

“IAM RoadSmart is calling on all fleet managers to adopt best practices such as checking licences, monitoring driver performance, and offering coaching to their most high-risk drivers. Not only will this save lives but also bring a direct benefit to the profitability and competitiveness of hard-pressed UK plc.”

‘Finding ways to cut vehicle downtime is the only way fleet and leasing companies can stay competitive’

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Leading technology provider for the automotive industry, OEC, has found huge efficiencies with its innovative authorisation platform, reducing vehicle downtime for manufacturers, fleets and lease companies…

  • Athoris can save millions in processing costs by enabling efficiencies through providing access to manufacturer, repairer and leasing company data
  • The digital tool can be fully integrated into any third-party application, seamlessly working in suppliers’ workflows to provide e-invoicing and automated authorisation

As fleet operators and lease companies face pressure from all directions, with heightened operating costs, skills shortages and challenging efficiency targets, a huge area for opportunity is the processing time of authorising the many jobs that keep a fleet on the road. Service, maintenance, repair, body, glass and MOT are all costly – both in time and money – for suppliers, fast fitters, fleets and lease companies, so making this happen as efficiently as possible is key to remaining competitive.

Leading technology provider for the aftersales industry, OEC, has found a way to do this with its innovative authorisation platform, Athoris – reducing vehicle downtime and saving millions in processing costs. This web-based application is an intelligent digital workflow tool, transforming complex authorisations into a single click action, that is completed in seconds, reducing the number of manual administration processes required by technicians and leasing companies.

With access to original equipment (OE) approved data, pricing, labour and parts information, direct from the manufacturer, Athoris provides a line-by-line breakdown and automatic approval without the requirement for human interaction – reducing the number of processes and checks in the event of further approval or payment failure, and resulting in quicker integration of billings, invoicing and payments for fleet operators.

Tim Perry, Fleet Product Manager at OEC comments: “Athoris is an essential solution for the lease and fleet sector, helping suppliers, lease and fleet companies, alike gain huge efficiency in the vehicle work approval process. Athoris helps get work approved quicker, repaired quicker and back on the road quicker. It drives efficiencies and reduces administration through our high levels of automatic authorisation.”

European OEMs have tried and tested Athoris, with one manufacturer saving over three million pounds per year, and eliminating an average of 80 per cent of its authorisation time. Faster authorisation means faster completion of repairs, keeping fleets on the road as much as possible. Tim added: “Cutting vehicle downtime is the only way fleets and leasing companies can stay competitive. We give back thousands of working hours a year, allowing technicians and accountants to use their technical expertise where it matters.

“Also, by being a web-based service, Athoris is compatible with any third-party application, allowing for line-by-line breakdown for invoicing and payment. This, coupled with its e-invoicing and automatic approval for parts and accessories, with access to the OE databases, is a huge win for all companies working in the fleet sector, at a period when time and money are more valuable than ever.”

To learn more about Athoris or for more information about OEC and its range of technology solutions, visit the website: https://oeconnection.com/

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Introducing Aftercare Response, the Commercial Vehicle Services Specialists

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Fleet maintenance has become a hot topic in the post-Covid era, with operating costs continuing to rise and a degree of uncertainty regarding the return of business growth to pre-2020 levels. Exercising caution against heavy investment in new vehicles, many commercial vehicle operators are extending their fleet age for longer periods – and against this backdrop, the requirement for efficient maintenance and repair plans is paramount.

Aftercare Response, part of Bevan Group, is proving to be an essential partner for many businesses in this position. Founded in 2003 (as Bevan Aftercare), Aftercare Response is now the UK’s leading provider of mobile maintenance and breakdown services in the UK.

With over 260 active customers – and more companies choosing to partner with Aftercare Response every week – the business is experiencing a particularly buoyant time.

Aftercare Response offers a wide range of services, including:

  • On-site commercial vehicle body repairs.
  • Tail lift installation, maintenance, servicing and repair.
  • Fleet maintenance contracts.
  • OEM warranty work.
  • Nationwide emergency roadside assistance – available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

What really sets Aftercare Response apart is the on-site service offered. 95% of jobs are completed on-site at customer premises nationwide; not only does this reduce vehicle downtime, it also reduces overall fleet mileage and emissions, as well as fuel and driver costs.

Aftercare Response Video

Aftercare Response customers have total control of each job, following the launch of Aftercare Response Video in 2021. The first initiative of its kind within the industry, the platform allows engineers to share videos with customers, providing recommendations direct to camera and enabling the customer to make a fully informed decision on whether to proceed with the suggested work. Aftercare Response Video ensures end-to-end visibility, complete transparency, and improved knowledge – as well as enabling the customer to re-charge damage repairs fairly. The videos supplied are also proving invaluable in supporting warranty claims.

Investment in Electrification

With the continued shift towards vehicle fleet electrification, Aftercare Response has invested in training to ensure that its engineers are educated on the requirements for working safely with new technology.

Recently awarded Enhancement Scheme Approval to complete tail lift fitments to N1 and N2 panel vans, Aftercare Response is now able to fit tail lifts to all types of manufacturer panel vans –equipping drivers with a safe way to transport heavier loads.

In today’s climate, effective fleet maintenance is more important than ever – and finding a proactive, innovative partner to support your business is essential. Contact Aftercare Response today to find out more about how the team can support your business requirements.

Find out more at www.aftercareresponse.uk or email info@aftercareresponse.uk for more information.

Importance of value proposition & target market when launching a car subscription business

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At Tomorrow’s Journey, we have helped build many car subscription businesses, and a critical aspect of a successful launch is to define your target audience and proposition. With a clear understanding, it can be easier to attract and retain subscribers, and your product may be able to stand out in a growing competitive market.

Read our full article here -> https://www.tomorrowsjourney.co.uk/industry-insights/car-subscription-business-model-value-proposition

First, it is crucial to understand the needs and preferences of your target market. This includes the type of cars they prefer, the duration of their subscriptions, and any additional services or features they may want. Conducting market research and gathering feedback from potential customers is an effective way to identify their preferences. Surveys, testing different product features and pricing options, monitoring market trends and consulting industry experts can help you make informed decisions.

Next, offering a range of vehicles that aligns with your target market is essential. Focusing on a particular niche, such as EVs, small cars, or luxury vehicles, allows you to better meet your customers’ needs and differentiate your product from competitors.

Finally, providing flexible and customisable subscriptions is critical to a successful car subscription product. Customers have varying preferences regarding the duration of their subscriptions, and a good car subscription product should cater to these differences. Allowing customers to switch to a different type of car, change the duration of their subscription, or adjust their monthly mileage allowance while on an active subscription are ways to differentiate your product.

In conclusion, these three factors – understanding your target market, offering a range of vehicles that aligns with their preferences, and providing flexible and customisable subscriptions – are critical to building a successful car subscription business. Considering these elements in the early stages of developing your product can create a fast-growing and lasting value proposition.

If you’re thinking of launching a car subscription business get in touch here -> https://www.tomorrowsjourney.co.uk

Sustainable fleets: Shift your thinking

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By Stewart Signs

With global pledges to cut emissions in place, we all need to start looking at what we as an industry can do to achieve our goals. Electric and hybrid vehicles are a great start, but there are other factors to consider when looking for ways to improve the sustainability of your fleet.

Vinyl has given us a whole host of opportunities to create innovative and effective branding solutions. With environmental consciousness at an all-time high, maybe it’s worth considering an eco-friendlier option?

Non-PVC vinyl is a more environmentally friendly alternative, which is helping our industry take positive steps towards a more sustainable future. You still get the durability and versatility of traditional material, but with a greener approach.

What is non-PVC vinyl?

Developed by our partners 3M, Envision™ Print Film is a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional PVC films. This non-PVC film is made in part with bio-based materials and uses 58% less solvent in the manufacturing process, making it the greener choice without sacrificing performance.

What makes Envision different?

3M Envision range films offer you a sustainability edge at an affordable price. Designed for use on vehicles, signage, walls, windows, floors and more, this film has unmatched versatility over other products on the market.

How can choosing non-PVC vinyl benefit you?

Not only is non-PVC film naturally versatile, extremely durable, and highly conformable, but it also aligns with sustainability initiatives. If your business is already taking steps towards a greener living, it’s worth considering how non-PVC film can help enhance your environmental plans.

Why Stewart Signs

At Stewart Signs, our journey in sustainability began 20 years ago. It’s a core principle within the company that determines our decisions. As a business, we’re actively looking for ways to improve our impact on the planet and ways to help our clients do the same.

We provide tailored solutions to local and national business needs throughout the UK. What’s stopping you from taking the next step and choosing non-PVC film? Let us help you and your business make greener choices for a greener future.