With petrol and diesel prices skyrocketing, a massive driver shortage which is getting worse by the day, and supply chain issues causing delays for critical parts, keeping a fleet of heavy vehicles on the road is more and more challenging for fleet managers.
Any efficiencies gained in vehicle costs, fuel costs and driver costs can have a major impact on profitability due to the margins on transport being very thin. Another 2% on top of margins which are only 2% is a 100% increase in profitability.
The driver is the primary influencer of costs when transporting goods as they are responsible for:
- Loading, transporting and unloading materials safely and without damage
- Driving, often in challenging conditions, without causing damage or undue wear and tear on the vehicle
- Meeting deadlines despite traffic issues
There is pressure to cut corners, and some drivers have never been trained properly. So let’s look at the whole process and where there are risks, and identify where truck driver training courses can help:
This is a quick check of the vehicle before setting off for the day. A thorough inspection can be done in as little as 10 minutes if the driver has a system and knows what they are looking for. Pre-trip inspection training, plus an initial induction for the specific truck and trailer, and either an app or a checklist make this process quick. The advantages are that problems can be spotted early and dealt with before they become serious mechanical issues that take the vehicle off the road.
Solution: online pre-trip inspection training + app or checklist.
Understanding the vehicle
Modern heavy vehicles are full of technology to help the driver. Usually the manufacturer or dealer has induction material for a driver, for example these overviews of Volvo’s Driver Support systems. A training company might be able to do this if they are trained on the vehicles, or the driver should read and understand the manual. The truck might include features that have a significant impact on fuel economy, such as adaptive cruise control, but drivers used to older trucks might feel intimidated turning these features on (or may not know how to use them).
Solution: induction or training by dealer, manufacturer or trainer + read the manual.
Loading the vehicle and securing the freight
Either the driver or a dedicated loader will place the goods onto the vehicle and secure them. A good loader is very efficient and can save valuable minutes. The driver must know how to secure the load effectively and legally (or to check that the loader has done it correctly, seeing as they are ultimately responsible). Having the right load securing devices makes it quicker to secure the freight.
Solution: online heavy vehicle load security training + check all load securing devices are fit for purpose + ensure forklifts are working well and forklift operators are trained
Coupling and uncoupling the trailer
Every year, hundreds of trailers are seriously damaged due to them disconnecting from the tractor unit. A good driver will be fast at manoeuvring to connect or disconnect the trailer, but will also know the checks to be made.
Solution: online or in-person trailer coupling training + check the fifth wheel or bolt and pin coupling is in good condition.
Drivers should have a good understanding of the road rules, know how to drive in challenging conditions and be able to manoeuvre at low speed without causing damage to the truck or trailer. Drivers should know about truck fuel economy and fuel efficient driving.
Solution: Safe and fuel-efficient driving (SAFED) training + online driving in bad weather training + practice at low-speed manoeuvring in the yard
Drivers should have training in defensive driving and avoiding rollovers. Rollover crashes are extremely disruptive and cause massive damage to the vehicle plus injuries or death to the driver.
Solution: in-cab and online rollover prevention training + tyre monitoring and fatigue monitoring
Scheduling and speed awareness
Drivers are under a lot of pressure from dispatchers to deliver goods on time. All people in the supply chain should understand fatigue management, speed awareness and how to be more efficient in scheduling.
Solution: speed awareness and fatigue management training + implement effective software for job management + train dispatchers.
Drivers who get regular training tend to be more loyal. They become more valued members of the company because they can be more efficient and useful across a broader range of tasks. The cost of training is minuscule compared to the benefits it brings.