Drivers and managers of commercial vehicles generate documents having to do with vehicle inspection and maintenance every day — and most of those documents are on paper.
Those who must complete a driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR) every day often use paper forms, and managers track vehicle maintenance on whiteboards.
If they find a defect on a vehicle, or if a vehicle breaks down while on the road, they must have it corrected by certified mechanics. This can take time when the driver is recording the information on paper and without photographic evidence, because it can be difficult for the mechanic to decipher what needs to be repaired.
“Therefore, we’re hearing that mechanics are sometimes having to go out twice, which is very inefficient,” James Colley, co-founder and vice president strategic partnerships at Whip Around, told PYMNTS. “The vehicle’s stuck on the side of the road or stuck in the depot and not getting out and doing those pickups and deliveries or going out and seeing the clients.”
Digitizing Inspection and Maintenance Processes
Whip Around offers a cloud-based fleet maintenance software solution that helps with both the daily inspections and the communications with repair shops. When repairs are needed, it enables drivers to record the information about the defect, include photos and email a work order to a repair shop.
On May 17, the company announced the integration of its platform with that of Samsara, which helps business use IoT data. When the two are connected, data from Samsara is pulled into Whip Around, automating the collection of fault codes, odometer readings, engine hours, braking, speed, location, tire pressure and more.
This data can be included in a work order to help mechanics diagnose the problem. It can also be used to flag notifications about issues, schedule preventative maintenance and send reminders — all without the driver having to manually record odometer readings and other information.
When integrated with software used to run repair shops, the work order it generates can then be turned into an invoice to be sent to the fleet for payment.
Optimizing Inspections and Record-Keeping
Another reason companies move to digitize these processes is that they are concerned that drivers may not be doing proper vehicle inspections, which are required for compliance.
Software can ensure drivers are doing a thorough DVIR by providing a step-by-step inspection process and requiring photographic evidence.
In addition, there are concerns that paper-based documents may get lost while being passed between driver, manager and mechanic and may not be easy to find when needed if the fleet gets audited.
“There’s a big chance that that piece of paper that needs to go between three different parties over the course of probably a week can get lost or can get damaged,” Colley said. “Then, when the company gets audited, it’s very difficult to find the document record that they need to when it’s in a box on a piece of paper.”
With a digital solution, fleet managers can find documents in the cloud instantly with the click of a mouse.
Growing Accustomed to Digital Devices and Telematics
For these and other reasons, many fleets are shifting to digital solutions. Other factors driving this trend are the greater affordability and adoption of mobile phones, the entry into the industry of younger employees who are bringing with them the technology they’re accustomed to using and the requirement that fleets in the U.S. use electronic logging devices — which led to widespread use of digital devices and telematics in commercial vehicles.
“That got companies looking at other technologies that were out there and really spearheaded people to go and start looking at what’s available,” Colley said.
Whip Around offers a free solution for companies that have one vehicle as well as two paid plans that add more features, charging on a per vehicle, per month basis. Companies generally pay by putting their credit card into the system. If they want to do a longer contract, they talk with a sales rep and can get a discount. For companies over a certain size, the company can do net 30 terms.
A growing share of fleets of all sizes are investing in technology and automating the inspection and maintenance processes, and Colley said that’s especially true of those that are running 30 or more vehicles.
“Once you get to about 30 vehicles, it becomes quite a headache to manage it manually,” Colley said.