The Australian trucking industry needs someone to solve the EWD riddle. Every time a trucking operator wants to get over yet another regulatory hurdle, they have to put another black box in the cabin.
In many ways this has been a useful development for the trucking industry, with a large number of companies developing black boxes to fit in to truck cabins, customised to the needs of the particular application. These electronics suppliers are flexible and able to adapt their systems to the exact needs of the operation and pull down the data the business needs to be safe and productive.
Most of the kinds of tasks these black boxes are expected to complete have a direct bearing on the productivity of the particular job, like IAP, reviewing driver performance or keeping operations in the loop. However, when it comes to the proposed Electric Work Diary system, this is going to have little effect on productivity.
Trucking operators may to be expected to fit yet another black box – at considerable expense – into the truck. This is going to add nothing to the business’ bottom line and, if they are a good operator now, nothing to their compliance performance. It will just be an imposition on the business with no quantifiable gain for the expense of introducing yet another box into the cabin.
Of course, it is very understandable – the authorities want any EWD system to be secure and are right to expect it to be so. The question has to be one which came up in several chats I had with people at the Brisbane Truck Show last week – does it have to be another expensive black box?
Surely, just about every truck driver in Australia has a smartphone in their pocket, or sitting on the dash. Why can’t we record our hours and prove our compliance to fatigue rules with an app? It is a regulatory requirement, but we need to keep it simple, stupid.
It looks like the powers that be will be making it possible for the supplier of your current black box to be able to include an EWD in the hardware, but this will be incumbent on whether the box includes security measures to satisfy the regulators. Simply tagging on will not be sufficient, even a smart-chipped driving licence can be passed from driver to driver.
Last week I was looking at a smartphone-based telematics system which has integrated facial recognition and thumbprints into the logging on procedure. If a small player in the global electronics game can come up with a solution which is accessible to everyone, surely a first world government agency can get it together.