Last 12 months has shown haulage industry at its best, says Tim Griffiths, r2c Online’s Operations and Product Development Director

Despite the haulage sector facing incredible challenges in the past year, most businesses have done a fantastic job of keeping their fleets compliant and operational,  Tim Griffiths has said.

“The past 12 months have been unlike any we have ever seen,” said Tim. “But it has also shown the haulage industry at its best. The level of professionalism in the haulage and logistics sector has shone through in the manner in which they have kept their vehicles operational in the most trying of circumstances. As a company supplying fleet management, SMR and compliance support, we have seen first-hand how these businesses have managed superbly, and continue to do so as more issues are thrown their way.”

As the lockdown restrictions continue to relax, hauliers face the combined challenges of MOT backlogs, technician shortages, working from home and parts delays. With many MOTs deferred last year, the testing system is under enormous pressure and hauliers have been impacted by inspectors needing to shoulder this increased workload. As well as the long-standing shortage of technicians for servicing and repairs, there are some parts delays, especially from Europe after Brexit, which means hauliers are having to remain even more vigilant that they keep within scheduled maintenance intervals.

It’s a challenge for fleet operators to ensure they remain compliant and manage downtime, says Tim, but one they are meeting.

“The DVSA is rightly trusting well-run businesses, through schemes such as Earned Recognition, to do a good job when it comes to compliance in terms of maintaining vehicles and ensuring the accompanying administration is in order. But those companies are facing issues they have never had to encounter before,” added Tim.

“There can be occasions where these extra pressures can result in problems with record keeping, causing compliance issues. That business then has to be very careful it does not repeat that mistake because the DVSA will be keeping a close watch, which could mean stopping their vehicles more often for checks and looking for non-compliance issues. And the more time vehicles are being inspected, or off the road for work, the more money it costs a business,” said Tim.

“But at r2c Online, we offer an end-to-end solution that helps businesses ensure there is a complete audit trail, providing real-time insight into the operational status of vehicles and proactive management of servicing and maintenance. The consequence is that a fleet can be confident it is doing everything reasonable to remain compliant and operationally effective.”

The move to remote working has not helped the transport and logistics industry either, Tim added. While most fleets have continued to operate, many of their office staff have been working from home, and this has created extra work to ensure records are up-to-date and stored in the same place – especially for those still using manual processes.

“The fact is that the vast majority of fleets have done an incredible job in the circumstances in keeping vehicles on the road, but there still remains the problem of keeping everything you need – schedules, timesheets, maintenance records, running costs and so on – in one easy-to-access location when offices are not being used – and they are not likely to be fully staffed again in the immediate future,” Tim added.

“The solution is to ensure that every part of the process is combined digitally: from understanding when there is future workshop capacity to an up-to-date inventory of parts availability, aligned to a clear record of timelines and schedules for vehicles and jobs as well as the ability to combine all of this in one place,” said Tim.

“Because r2c software can be accessed online from almost anywhere, it also helps resolve some of the issues of remote working too. Remaining compliant is a challenge for many fleets, of all sizes, at the moment, but we have been able to help them navigate this difficult period.”

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