LBS Builders Merchants trials electronic daily walk-around check05 May 2010

An ingenious electronic daily walk-around check system, launched by Truckfile at the CV Operator Show, has been proving itself at LBS Builders Merchants in Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire.

Paul Clarke, managing director of Truckfile parent company Magic Internet Technologies, explains that, with the new system truck drivers need no longer use paper.
Instead, they us a simple ruggedised handheld reader to do their mandatory checks. That unit automatically recognises small, weather-resistant RFID tags permanently attached to the vehicle exterior in the inspection zones, as per VOSA guidelines.

Most important, the unit automatically identifies the vehicle, the driver and the components to be checked – and won't allow the driver to proceed until he or she signs off each location as inspected.

Drivers pass or fail what they see against a checklist, noting problems as either non-urgent or unsafe. If it's the latter, the system automatically notifies the transport manager concerned that the vehicle is off the road, and links the information into the Truckfile workshop management system database.

Neil Fearn, transport and health and safety manager at LBS Builder Merchants, explains that one of his 18 tonne rigids was equipped with the RFID tags a few weeks ago, and the system has been working reliably ever since.

"I'm very happy with it. With this system, we're going as far as we possibly can to force drivers to walk around their vehicles. That's any transport manager's biggest headache: anything becomes just a tick box exercise.

"The point is I can't physically get all of them to look at their vehicles properly and report defects. I've got 10 branches. But at least, with this system you've gone as far as you can to police it."

The LBS man adds, however, that beyond this, the Truckfile walk-around check provides a much quicker way of keeping workshop staff informed of defects. "It's instantaneous," he says, adding: "The next stage is just to get a printout working in the cab so that if our driver is stopped by VOSA, they can see that the walk-around has been done electronically."

Fearn is confident that this system will replace the existing paper-based defect system. "We're very close to getting VOSA acceptance. Once, Magic Internet have got the print side completed, I've offered to get my VOSA contact to assess the system and then we'll put it in front of VOSA for full approval."

Asked about the cost, Fearn says that it's still a trial so that hasn't been raised. But he adds: "You have to remember, this is an add-on to the Truckfile workshop management system, so I wouldn't anticipate this being a massive additional cost. Also, whatever the cost, it's far outweighed by the overall benefits of compliance."

Brian Tinham

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