Written by 6:00 am Feature, FSM Technology

All van drivers must turn semi-pro

Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) are the lifeblood of the UK economy – it’s a sentiment we hear quoted all the time, and while their professional use and maintenance is very important, it’s something that many companies neglect. John Mills, Head of Mobile Workforce Telematics for Microlise, wants that to change.

The number of vans registered in the first quarter of 2015 was up 23% on the same quarter in 2014, at 98,000. According to the Department for Transport the last twenty seven months have seen sustained year-on-year growth –  exceeding that of cars. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) estimates that there are over 3.4 million van drivers on the roads.

It’s clear that LCV drivers and fleet managers have found themselves at the epicentre of a seismic shift in consumer behaviour. Many organisations are now engaging with their customers through home visits and deliveries. Historically, however, driving has been a necessary but often overlooked secondary part of the job for field service engineers and LCV drivers.

This means that significant financial savings and improvements in fuel economy, environmental impact and safety are sometimes overlooked – but they are very much there for the taking. Giving the professional the tools to do the job is an important first step in identifying and taking appropriate action to realise the potential financial and customer experience benefits.

Giving the professional the right tools

During the  2015 Open golf tournament at St Andrews, Irish amateur Paul Dunne came within a whisker of becoming the first non-professional to win in more than 80 years. The truth is, he was about as likely to win as a field service engineer with no training or telematics analysis tools is to drive in an economical, low environmental impact and safe way.

It might work but certainly wouldn’t perform in the way it should. It would be inefficient, unpredictable and downright dangerous (I have experience…). Engineers go on training courses for all types of equipment from simple tools to complex installations. But we then  hand them a key to the van and say ‘on your way’ and hope for the best. The lucky ones also get training and coaching on driving style and risk minimisation. The unlucky ones can’t hope to match their colleagues who are using the latest technologies to track and improve their driving behaviour.

Delivering the benefit

So, the first step for LCV fleet operators and field service operatives is to appreciate what an important element driving is of the job – too often, it is seen as secondary. Once driving skills are recognised as essential, driver performance can be given the status it deserves, and the latest tools put  in place to realise tangible benefits.

It’s been a long time since a non-professional won the St Andrews Golf Open, and though Dunne came close this year, the professionals have won every single one since 1930. Going pro can clearly provide immediate and fast improvements in the LCV fleet context too. Savings vastly greater than the million pound winnings of the St Andrews Open are up for grabs given the right solution and team motivation.

Try it for yourself

This Autumn we will be hosting our Field Service Conference at the fantastic MIRA facilities near Coventry. This year’s theme is Driver Engagement. The packed event will give delegates the opportunity to not only hear from industry leading speakers and practitioners, but also to get first-hand experience of driving on timed city courses and other handling tracks at the MIRA proving ground whilst interacting with our driver engagement solutions.

Join us there: Click here to claim your free place

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