Optimizing the Driver Experience

Why is a good driver experience important?

In a nutshell – safety and productivity.

A good driver experience means letting drivers focus on what’s important: the driving and servicing of their routes in the safest manner possible.

It means reducing the copious requirements for human intervention that can distract and delay. It means removing unnecessary paperwork, tedious data entry and too many manual touch-points.

Technology designed for drivers

New fleet management technologies have brought the driver experience into the 21st century.

Technology has the ability to reduce the amount of human intervention and, correspondingly, the margin for error. The challenge for a fleet management system is to provide accurate driver and customer service time data without burdening the driver with time-consuming manual processes.

New fleet management systems are now designed for drivers who perform dozens of customer service stops per route. Every keystroke matters, every possible time stamp and location calculation needs to happen automatically. Effective fleet and route management systems can make it easier and faster for drivers to account for their full day, with none of the approximations that reduce the value of arrival and departure time reporting. All data and events can now typically be geo-coded (GPS) with maximum of position reports to increase precision.

Process-driven, consistent workflow

A built-in process-driven, consistent workflow is important as it encompasses repeatable processes and guides drivers into a mode of operation that eliminates mistakes or out of sequence steps. A systematic process decreases the risk of error.

New fleet management capabilities capture an effective workflow process that mimics what the driver would typically need to do and then improve on this experience by:

  • Eliminating paperwork and providing paperless route sheet information in the vehicle.
  • Ensuring a minimum of keystrokes to record exceptions such as extras and skips.
  • Automatically recording lift events and lift weights.
  • Automating the entry and completion of disposal tickets, exchanges, returns, deliveries and removals.
  • Eliminating any phone wait times.

The automation generation

Drivers can have too much to think about, too many buttons to press, too many calls to answer or make, and too many reports to submit. Virtually all of this can be easily eliminated or radically reduced.

For example, waste carts now come with RFID tags installed that automatically track individual stops. No driver intervention is required unless there is an exception. For a typical commercial route of about 100 stops, usually 95 percent can be automated. This means that dispatch will know automatically and in real-time when a lift is done, how much it weighs and so forth. Drivers can now focus on driving safely.

In addition, automatic driver direction tools provide directions to the designated next stop based on the sequenced route sheet data. Again, no driver intervention is required. Driver direction technologies also let the driver graphically view all designated stops along a predetermined route. Directions can be provided in text or audible form. Driver direction can automatically re-calculate routes when a driver deviates from the designated route or makes an out-of-sequence manual stop.

Again, this is all automatic – ongoing stops do not have to be entered by the driver. Directions are typically derived from the driver’s schedule and provided to him automatically as his route progresses. The driver just needs to focus on driving safely.

No more paperwork

Transitioning from a paperwork-driven to paper-free environment is critical to improving the driver experience.

Drivers have traditionally been expected to manually capture all essential information – record times of arrivals and departures, note weights and so forth. In addition, they typically operate under time constraints for route completion. As a result, the recording of required information may be inconsistent, include guess-timates and be incomplete. This data has to then be inputted by a third party which creates a whole new margin for error and information alteration. The result – an unwieldy and often inaccurate information gathering process that puts too much stress on the driver.

A capable fleet and route management system should ask less of driver and deliver better data on a real-time basis. A better driver experience can virtually eliminate the need for follow up calls to verify service and can track all events and locations, including arrival and departure at customer sites, driving time, and time at landfill – automatically and in real-time.

A more productive driver

Think about it – a driver experience that eliminates extraneous activity is an experience that makes it easy for the driver to focus implementing his route. Often drivers receive bonuses for achieving certain levels of productivity. A driver who is properly focused will be more productive and more successful. A plus for both the driver and the waste organization!

Safety wins!

Ultimately, safety is the big winner of an optimal driver experience.

Drivers who rely on cell phones and pieces of paper to get route info are distracted drivers. Drivers who need to press buttons constantly are distracted drivers. Drivers who need to fill out forms en-route are distracted drivers.

Distracted drivers make mistakes. Mistakes cause accidents.

Improving the driver experience can make all the difference in the world.

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