Using technology to boost safety and efficiency

Incorporating new technology can improve the relationship between operators and drivers, attract new talent to the industry and provide meaningful cost savings.

The relationship between operators and drivers is shifting to create a safer environment for everyone on the road.

Operators are empowering drivers to control their routes, while giving them more tools to assess their ability to drive safely.

The technology being supported by insurers like Zurich may be new, but these changes have been happening for years.

Looking back nearly two decades, one of our customers received a report about the effects of sleep apnoea on safe driving.

We worked with the operator to raise awareness and provide services to treat the condition, something that was not only a success from an organisational perspective in supporting the health and wellbeing of staff but also on an individual level.

A couple of years after the campaign began a driver tracked me down to say thanks.

He was diagnosed with sleep apnoea and provided with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device and, as a result, lost a lot of weight and had a lot more energy.

It was amazing to see the positive effects on his quality of life in person – and it was the most excited anyone has ever been to see someone from an insurance company!

It’s easier to incorporate new ways to manage, monitor, and support people along the logistics pipeline.

It’s about improving how you make use of the data your business is already collecting.

An ageing workforce and a lack of new talent was already weighing on the industry ahead of COVID.

By using new technology, we can maximise the capacity of the existing workforce while supporting the mental and physical health of drivers.

We can also make the industry more attractive by focusing on safety and security as part of a long and fulfilling career.

Real business benefits

We’ve seen excellent results from the integration of tech to prevent crashes by tracking and measuring telemetric events like fuel efficiency, g-force and driver alertness.

This results in cost savings of anywhere from 8-20 per cent in operating and fuel costs — a not insignificant reduction to one of our biggest expenses.

Many companies are already doing a lot to support drivers including tech-based solutions that pre-empt problems.

These solutions can provide a lead indicator on drivers, including alertness levels and psychological metrics that can help drivers assess their ability to do the job.

This provides an objective measure of readiness which is more useful than simply ticking a box on a form saying that you’re good to go.

Not all technology solutions need to share results with the office.

Some can simply provide real-time driver feedback around alertness and attention, lane deviation or speed.

They’re little things that add another set of eyes to help keep everyone on the road safe.

These devices monitor the driver and report back only to the driver to identify problems.

This empowers drivers to continue to take ownership of their work and routes.

The operators that are already supporting drivers like this will have the easiest time adding more options to support their fleet.

For others, gradually adding programs to driver routines may be the way forward.

Tools to support safety

Many of the tech-based solutions can be added to tools that drivers are already using (smartphones and tablets) as part of their routine checks and add just a few minutes to their regular schedule.

Here are some of the initiatives that Zurich are currently supporting via Zurich Resilience Solutions’ service programs for customers:

Preventure enables drivers to reduce their own injury risk using wearable technology to measure movements, receive alerts when they move in an unsafe or inefficient way and set challenges/earn rewards.

AlertMeter® is a cognitive test on a tablet / smartphone device that takes less than 120 seconds to indicate to a driver how alert they are compared to their personal baseline.

It is a powerful enhancement to traditional Fit-for-Work (FfW) programs.

FatigueFit is an online compliance assessment to ensure regulatory requirements under the WHS/OHS Act for fatigue risk management are met.

The output report is generated immediately and links to a practical, online toolset, including SleepFit solutions to improve driver well-being and productivity.

SleepFit solutions are all about creating better mental health and physical health through the power of sleep.

Did you know 40 per cent of us don’t get enough sleep?

SleepFit’s digital programs help drivers with sleep awareness, screening for sleep disorders and kick-starting healthy sleep habits.

What’s great about these tools is that they provide an objective measure of performance.

It can help build trust between an operator and driver because it’s not about how you feel but whether there is an issue that’s been identified that can cause a problem.

The program’s success is only as good as their operator support.

It comes down to implementation and communication.

Like anything, if you throw tools at people but don’t show the benefits or provide training and ongoing support, they will not be as effective as they could be.

Well-supported programs like these can reduce downtime, increase efficiency and ultimately prevent major losses (including injury and death).

Peter Johansson is Senior Risk Engineer at Zurich Financial Services Australia.
With more than 20 years’ experience in loss control, he helps Zurich customers develop effective driver performance management programs that save them much more than just the cost of fuel.