Written by 6:00 am Feature, Service Operations

Engineers are van drivers too

Reducing fuel costs and improving road safety in service organisations  means convincing engineers they are drivers as well as engineers,  Field Service News editor-in-chief Kris Oldland discovers.

In our feature “Taming White Van Man” I wrote about my experiences driving a white van at the launch of Microlise‘s Clear field service telematics solution.  Having a  licence to drive cars  means, like service technicians, I am legally able to drive a van without any further training. However, it doesn’t mean I am qualified to do so in the most efficient and safe manner.

Service organisations,, of course, employ engineers first, not van drivers.  Indeed, one of the biggest challenges of improving the driving standards of our field engineers could possibly be convincing them they are professional drivers in the first place.

The size of the challenge was neatly put by Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans and Light Commercial Vehicles for  the Freight Transport Association. “If I meet a truck driver he’ll have told me within five minutes of meeting him that he is a truck driver. But van drivers don’t exist. If you meet one they’ll always tell you they are a plumber or electrician or some form of engineer, but never a van driver”

This mind-set certainly exists amongst both service managers and field engineers alike in some companies.

For many field service engineers driving a van is just a means of getting from one job to the next. Yet in reality, driving that van from A to B is actually an intrinsic part of what their job is. If they do it well – even just slightly better than they are currently doing so – the cost savings available for field service companies could be considerable, as has been very well documented.

So perhaps it’s time we reinvented the image of the White Van Man, repositioning him as the true professional he is, the pillar of our community, the saviour who comes to solve our problems in his tall white chariot. Let’s encourage our engineers to take pride in being not only professionals within their trade but professionals behind the wheel as well.

A  solution like Microlise’s Clear, which engages with the field engineers and puts the quality of their driving right in front of them, and which is translated into easily accessible graphics and pages, does reinforce the fact that they are in fact as much professional van driver as they are service engineer.

Microlise may not be treading an unwalked path with Clear – there are similar solutions already in the market. However, they have certainly developed what at first glance at least, seems to be a powerful tool, with an impressive feature set and attractive user interface.

And like many telematics products, if deployed correctly I would imagine it could pay for it’s self through the cost savings it would generate in terms of fuel reduction and lower maintenance costs within a year or so, maybe even less.

Field service solution tools like Clear that empower both service managers and engineers to improve driving standards across the fleet, be it 10 vehicles or 1000, are going to be crucial tools pivotal to success.

Join Field Service News and Microlise at a one-day interactive Field Service Conference, 4th November, Warwickshire. There will be workshops on compliance and driver engagement techniques, operator presentations on their experiences and business change management,  tips from former Stig Ben Collins on good driving practices, and the chance to test your driving skills on the City Circuit.

Register your interest here

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