A spate of recent lorry crashes has highlighted the danger of drivers failing to use specialised truck navigation.
In one of the most high-profile examples, a 185-year-old bridge in Marlow, Buckinghamshire was closed for two months for repairs costing £200,000 when a truck drove over it despite being 10 times the structure’s weight limit.
But this is only one example in a string of incidents, according to the Local Government Association (LGA). The problem arises from drivers using consumer sat nav devices that do not take into account height and width restrictions or weight limits when providing route guidance.
A call for improved routing
LGA Transport spokesman Cllr Martin Tett said: “It is common sense that all lorry drivers should use sat navs designed for trucks, but this is only going to become a reality when it is a mandatory requirement. We are talking about a very small extra cost to drivers.
“Lorry drivers who get wedged in narrow roads or under bridges not only endanger themselves, other road users and pedestrians, but also cause massive disruption. This has a significant impact on local economies, particularly in rural areas.”
RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Surely using the right sat nav system for the right vehicle is a matter of common sense. HGV-specific sat nav systems have the ability to make journeys for HGV drivers safer and more cost-efficient and that’s a big issue for us.”
The RHA’s comment touches on a wider issue and that is the effect good routing and scheduling can have on overall business operations.
Safety implications are fairly evident. By providing drivers with truck navigation that takes account of vehicle length, height, width, weight and hazardous cargo, employers can help to protect their staff from potential accidents that might occur as a result of following inappropriate routes. Advanced driver terminals can also combine truck navigation with camera integration, helping to reinforce the safety advantages.
The bigger picture of business excellence
But the potential extends even further now. Data-driven routing and scheduling can also help to boost operational efficiency and cut cost by helping to reduce the amount of miles travelled and the time drivers spend on the road.
As a result of advancements in technology, routing and scheduling software can integrate with telematics to help enable truly dynamic planning and routing that takes account of all available data.
This means companies can take advantage of data on historic journey times, the most efficient routes between specified locations, the up-to-date traffic situation and estimated times of arrival (ETAs) for specific routes.
Such information can be utilised by routing software to help plan driving routes according to their suitability, not only in terms of safety but also in terms of mileage, fuel spend and journey time.
For example, planning can account for expected congestion to help arrange jobs at times when the impact of congestion is minimised. As a result, routes that may be particularly affected by rush-hour traffic could be arranged to avoid these times of the day, or start times might be brought forward to help drivers beat the rush. When delays occur, plans can be adapted accordingly and customers kept informed via automatic text or email notifications to manage expectations.
Given the advancements that have been made in this area and the increased availability of smart, connected software applications, it is perhaps surprising that some firms still allow their drivers to use tools that are unsuitable for the job.
By taking a best-practice approach to routing, operators can steal a march on the opposition and use the potential efficiency gains to future-proof themselves in a challenging business environment.