Five years ago, someone tried to sell Chad Brown, owner of CNC Cartage in Brisbane, dash cams for his trucks at the Brisbane Truck Show, to sell him his own eyes on the truck. He asked whether he would be able to see the dash cam from his office when the truck was on the road, in real time.
“I can’t be everywhere, and I have all of these drivers doing their job – I want to know they are doing it properly,” says Chad. “If they do have an issue, I can look at it and sort it out straight away.
“It’s taken that five years to get to where we are at now, to be able to see trucks in real time, driving down the road. It’s cloud based and stored there for as long as we want it.”
Each truck is set up with six cameras, one each on the left- and right-hand side, two looking forward from each side of the cab and two looking rearwards. It gives the system a complete 3600 view and, when downloaded, the image is crisp enough to read things like rego plates on passing cars.
“I had the police come around because there was a road rage incident on the Sunshine Coast. We had it recorded from one of the trucks. One of the drivers saw the accident happening and stopped to tell the police we had live video of the incident. We gave them all of the footage for them to use in court. That’s not what it’s really for, it’s so we can prove everything that has happened on the road.
“We could put a camera on the driver, but I need to believe my employees are doing the right thing all of the time and this system isn’t, by any stretch, to check up on them. This is to prove whether something has, or hasn’t, happened. The biggest part of our business is proof of delivery.
“Something like a bunch of frames and trusses will be going out to an unmanned site. The driver has to unload it into the right place. We have to prove he did so and delivered that which was supposed to be delivered. This camera system helps us to do that.”
Chad understands drivers make mistakes just like everyone else on the road. He feels he has to rely on drivers doing the right thing. This is backed up by a continuing training program that ensures drivers know the correct procedures and rules around their tasks.
“In the building industry, let’s say a builder gets five deliveries to a site and something happens on that site – simple things like running over a mower box or hitting a lamppost coming into a street – they will blame all five until someone can’t prove they didn’t do it,” says Chad. “We’ve had these cameras in all the trucks for over six months – we can show what we’ve done.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the time our drivers didn’t do it, because the drivers know we’ve got this system and they are not going to get away with it.
“A big part of what we do now is making sure we have all of our workplace health and safety in place. It’s massive – we have a full-time employee doing all of our safe-work method statements, making sure everything is compliant. We cannot get on a lot of the sites unless we have all that stuff ticked off.”
This may feel like a difficult hurdle for a small business to get over, but from Chad’s point of view it is also a barrier to entry for competitors with less attention to detail and a more relaxed attitude to doing the job properly.
“We were at a site yesterday and we realised one of the trucks had the crane service labelled for six months instead of twelve months,” says Chad. “They picked up on it and wouldn’t let us unload. The previous Friday they had sent back five trucks from other operators from the site. We were alright – I sent them the report and the truck was unloaded.
“Unfortunately – or fortunately – this is becoming more the norm on building sites. No matter what we do to make sure we are compliant, there’s always something else they want. We put a lot of work into being compliant and being able to prove we are compliant. We can prove that what we are doing out on the road and on site is the right thing.
“This gives us a massive edge over our competitors – even the biggest crane truck provider in Australia doesn’t have the technology we have got.”