One of the biggest challenges facing smaller trucking operators is keeping compliance simple. Diesel News meets a Queensland operator who seems to have found an electronic fix to auditable compliance that doesn’t involve reams of paper or a selection of black boxes in the cabin.
Mick Baker runs a small fleet of trucks out of small base in Dalby, 200km west of Brisbane, on the Darling Downs. Still driving himself, Mick was looking for a mobile solution for his compliance problem. He just doesn’t have enough time, with a young family at home, to spend his weekends ploughing through paperwork, to ensure compliance when the auditor comes around to meet National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme requirements.
Mick has been keeping his compliance up to date for some time using a system called Ezicomply. It is designed for small fleets like his to manage compliance without creating a mountain of paperwork and to ensure auditors give the business a pass mark.
Each driver has the app on their phone, Mick uses his home computer to input and extract data. Even the mechanic in Toowoomba who services the trucks has access to a portal to enter all of the work they do into the system, either on a smartphone or computer.
Everyone involved with the trucks can get on the site, with access suited to their role, be it admin, driver, service, and so on. The system will log everything involved in the servicing of the trucks. The system will also warn Mick and the mechanic when warranty is due to be looked at.
“I don’t have to do any paper work,” says Mick. “It all goes back to my computer at home. The mechanic charges me to enter the data, but it’s a lot better than me having to do it. He had never seen anything like it before, when he started doing this.
“I have been trialling this system for over four years. It was on a trial for the first couple of years and it has changed so much and they keep adding more and more to it. To begin with, I was doing the Ezicomply and the paper in parallel to help them out. Eventually, we changed over and decided to go all electronic. We got an audit after that and they were happy with what we showed them.”
Each driver does their daily check using the phone to enter details each morning. As they walk around the truck, they tick off what they have done and it gets recorded in the system. Mick decided to let the drivers see all of the maintenance data, so they can check what work has been done to their truck.
All of the combination options are listed in the system. The prime mover and the trailers included have to be selected. It asks for the odometer reading and restates the masses the truck can carry. Any issues can be recorded at this point or at each point of the check.
The screen on the phone or tablet will show if wheel nuts need to be tightened or if the windscreen is cracked. It’s a comprehensive list and once the driver has checked them all they can hit confirm. If there is an issue, the driver simply hits the button and writes in the problem or a comment. The issue can be written on the screen with a stylus or just a finger, or typed in. If the windscreen is cracked, the issue will keep on reappearing until Mick or the workshop does something about it and then clears it via phone or computer.
There is also a trip screen where the driver can create a trip and then the system or the driver will fill in details such as loading date, time, location co-ordinates, GCM, docket number and freight description. There is also axle verification, enabling them to add in axle weights and the driver can take a photo of the weigh-bridge read-out to confirm this. A photo of the consignment note can also be added at this point.
There is also a fuel page for when the driver goes to fill up. Mick has decided not to use this function as he always fills up at the same location and the trucks run the same routes with the same load regularly. Any discrepancy or anomaly in fuel use will soon show up as a different number of litres on a fuel docket/invoice.
“It’s usually no more than 50 litres different,” says Mick. “I can tell if a driver has been putting the boot in and they know that. We are still getting 1.55/1.6 km/l running at 100 tonnes GCM.”
Mick expects the Ezicomply team will add in some form of driving record, but until an electronic work diary (EWD) gets the nod from the NHVR, the work diary still has to be filled in by hand all of the time, anyway.
Doing the Right Thing
“It’s just a record sitting on my computer,” says Mick. “It will do all of the quarterly compliances, fill in the details and quantify the number of services. That’s where I enjoy it, if someone comes out for an audit, I am not scratching around trying to find bits of paper. I just give them the computer and it can’t lie to them.
“If there is something which I haven’t done, it’s in there. I have got nothing to hide. I have always been like that, if I have done the wrong thing, well, I reckon I am pretty close to being on the right track.”
From the auditors point of view, the simple fact Mick has gone out and purchased a system like this which can’t be bypassed, demonstrates his willingness to do the right thing.
“It wouldn’t worry me at all if they pulled me up on the side of the road and said they would be going right through me, it wouldn’t worry me at all,” says Mick. “They would probably find the odd thing, there is always something, but I reckon there wouldn’t be any major issues they could come up with. They could just quickly look underneath these trucks and see everything is fine.
“I have got pretty high maintenance costs and some blokes say to me, why don’t I get my drivers to do it. My drivers do big days and I don’t need them to do it. They will help occasionally on some small things, but if you send it to the workshop, you know it’s been done properly and it won’t break down half way up the road.”