Some companies, if diligent, may have binders containing required documentation in the cabs of their trucks, but more often than not, even those tend to get damaged, lost or misplaced.
Poorly managed or missing documentation consistently features in the top roadside enforcement violations each year with in-cab documents relating to the driver and asset prone to damage, expiration or misplacement that can result in heavy fines and other indirect costs.
There's no end to the amount of documents required in the transportation industry, which is why more and more carriers are going digital.
Cloud-based fleet maintenance software platform Whip Around recently launched its Whip Around Wallet – a documentation management system that helps drivers more easily store and manage paperwork on the go.
Tim Boyle, co-founder and chief communications officer, said the company has been learning from its customers over the past six to 12 months about the challenges they face with documentation and decided to invest in creating a document management system with multiple features designed specifically for the trucking industry.
“Our customers are bound by rules and regulations and generally are getting pulled over by enforcement or going through weigh stations and have a suite of documentation that they have to keep readily available for the drivers and the assets,” Boyle said. “What people were finding is they were managing these on paper (prone to damage or loss), or they were getting lost in emails, or they were using document storage products like Dropbox or Google Drive that had pretty basic functionality that wasn't necessarily tailored to the way fleet operators or fleet managers work.”
Whip Around created a system that allows companies and drivers to store documentation digitally in a central location but that also allows those documents to be tagged based on document type for quick and easy access. The system also triggers alerts when documents near expiry/renewal dates, which Boyle said is one of the biggest pain points fleets face.
“There's a lot of documentation that obviously needs to be renewed annually or biannually or something along those lines, and we heard a lot of stories around customers that were forgetting about it,” he said. “These expiry dates were getting lost, and they were getting caught out when they were either getting put through an audit or the drivers were going through a weigh station.”
The Wallet feature was also built into the app for the driver side of management to solve for roadside enforcement challenges by allowing drivers to access digital documents to share quickly and get them back on the road. Drivers can also upload their own documentation like medical certificates and set their own reminders to ensure on-time renewal.
“We're also starting to see the use case for things like bills of lading and different hazmat permits and all sorts of other documentation that are being uploaded by drivers on either a per load basis or depending on the type of cargo they are permitted to carry or the state they're operating in,” Boyle said. “Any documentation that is currently being managed, even digitally, we find a lot of inconvenience in the existing systems; the way they are built, a lot of them are not catered particularly well to the transport industry, so the way we've approached this is really building a document management solution from the ground up that's really focused on our end user, which is fleet operators.”
A range of documentation can be stored in Wallet, including vehicle permits and cab cards, carrier insurance policies, driver medical certificates, evidence of periodic inspections, period inspector credentials, ELD documentation, trailer documents and more.
Wallet is a paid add-on feature, and users must subscribe to one of Whip Around’s base-level plans.
Boyle said inspection decals can wash off or fade over time, and paper documents can be lost or damaged, “so having that document in the cab, centrally available and assigned to an asset to be pulled up by a driver is a really quick way to ascertain the return on investment because that is one of the highest roadside violations in the U.S. every year,” costing – on a federal level – up to $13,000 in fines.