New technologies help detect, resolve vehicle defects faster
By Aaron Huff
With the rollout of the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) safety measurement system, the pretrip driver vehicle inspection reports required by U.S. Department of Transportation regulations 396.11 and 396.13 are now critically important.
DVIRs give fleets an early indication of what a DOT officer would find during a roadside inspection. Violations severely impact the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC – one of the seven CSA safety assessment categories.
Converting to an electronic DVIR process can help fleets resolve vehicle defects more quickly, but the process is only an improvement if drivers actually inspect the vehicle.
Zonar’s Electronic Vehicle Inspection Report (EVIR) uses a handheld reader and RFID tags – roughly the size of a half-dollar – placed in different zones around the vehicle. The Zonar system verifies that drivers actually inspect the vehicle’s components because drivers have to place the handheld within one-half inch of each RFID tag.
The EVIR is transmitted wirelessly to Zonar’s servers. Maintenance personnel can review the reports and schedule repair work through Zonar’s Web-based Ground Traffic Control (GTC) system. Fleet managers also can review performance metrics, such as defect rates and inspection times. Once repairs are complete, drivers close the loop by noting that the defect has been resolved.
The Zonar system – which costs $9.95 a month and about $300 for hardware – includes a telematics platform with various other fleet management applications.
Fleets may choose to deploy other types of electronic DVIR applications on their mobile phones and onboard computers. Xata Turnpike’s Web-based fleet management system includes a telematics device connected to the vehicle and a mobile application that runs on Motorola, BlackBerry and other Java-enabled handsets.
Drivers use their handsets to capture vehicle inspection reports, and managers can be alerted to skipped inspections. Fleets can benchmark driver inspection time against fleet standards to improve the quality of how drivers perform inspections.
Lexington, S.C.-based Southeastern Freight Lines recently began using Innovative Software Engineering’s DVIR application as an extension of its electronic logbooks and onboard computing platform.
“The DVIR application is easy to use for our drivers and maintenance technicians,” says Braxton Vick, senior vice president of corporate planning and development at Southeastern. “It improves productivity by providing real-time visibility into defects requiring repair.”
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