As the dust settles on a turbulent 2022, we look ahead to some of the things that are in store for the industry during the coming year. Operators have had a tough year, facing issues such as the continuing driver shortage, soaring fuels costs and ballooning inflation as well as additional headaches such as the enforcements changes to roadside record-keeping – and more changes are afoot this year.
Another new tachograph
In August 2023, we will see the introduction of yet another new tachograph with all new vehicles registered after this date due to be fitted with the next iteration of the smart tachograph.
In order to avoid confusion with the different versions of unit that have preceded it, the term G2V2 has been coined when referring to this new unit (Generation 2, Version 2). This new unit will include additional features that were not added to original Gen2 units introduced in mid-2019. Notably, this includes more detailed location tracking, which could prove useful for those vehicles that are operating internationally, as the new functionality should make the recording of border-crossings easier.
The new devices are also due to feature Bluetooth compatibility with the aim of making it simpler for drivers to record manual entries via their phone which can then be transmitted to the tachograph and written to the driver card. Given the number of conversations I have had with operators about the current record-keeping requirements, this sounds like it could be a welcome addition! However, at this stage, details regarding how this would work remain sketchy but more information on this should be made available over the next few months.
Another new feature is the requirement to record the type of load that the vehicle is carrying (i.e., goods or passengers) along with the location of any load or unloading activity. It remains to be seen how much additional work this will create but, again, more details will be made available throughout the course of this year.
The introduction of an updated tachograph will also mean we will see a further revision to the driver card in preparation for the extension of roadside record keeping from 28 to 56 days due to be introduced at the end of 2024.
End of DVSA’s remote tachograph enforcement trial
In related news, April will see the conclusion of the DVSA’s remote tachograph enforcement trial. Even before they were first introduced in 2019, the industry rumours regarding the roadside accessibility of certain key bits of information from the original version of the smart tachograph (G2V1?) ensured that this has been a hotly debated topic. Although it has never been the case that enforcement authorities have been able to carry out a full download of a tachograph remotely, the fact that they can access certain elements of data has been a bone of contention amongst many drivers and operators.
Introduction of Roller Brake Tests
Many operators will be aware that from 1st January 2023, unless the vehicle falls into an exemption category, roller brake tests need to be carried out with the vehicle appropriately laden. It is important that fleet operators are made aware of this because if the vehicle is presented incorrectly, the test fee will be forfeited and the test will need to be re-booked.
After a very successful 2022, as a company as reported by Subir, we look ahead to what’s in store for us in the coming year. Our recent rebrand continues to receive very positive feedback from customers and you will see our brand identity popping up all over the place – from the logo looming large at the usual industry events, through to proudly being displayed on polo shirts! As part of the rebrand, we have also introduced our quarterly electronic publication, CONNECTED – read the first edition here. It contains updates from us, industry and compliance-related articles, blog pieces and good news stories from around the transport sector – feel free to contact us if you would like to be added to the distribution list!
As a software provider, we expect to see the themes that emerged during 2022 continuing. We have noticed from trade events and general enquiries that operators are concentrating on digitising the majority of back-office operations; from tachograph analysis and defect checking through to document management and fleet maintenance operations. Very often, these operators will have systems for some, if not all of these functions, but we are seeing an increasing demand to integrate them using a single system which is where we can help!
Over the last year, we have noticed a shift in mindset throughout the industry. The transport sector has always been a huge fan of paper and, historically, it has been quite a task coaxing some operators across to any sort of digital solution. This is now changing, with smaller operators now taking a keener interest in moving at least part of their operation across to an electronic format. Whether this marks a gradual shift in demographics, with the younger generation now coming through, or whether it is a recognition of the many benefits of using cloud-based solutions, it is hard to say.
We are also seeing an increase in operators making use of remote downloading technology, via both after-market devices and OEM-installed kit and we now hold a range of APIs between us and third-party downloading platforms.
2023 will see a major update to our Aquarius App, which will serve to further integrate it with our other systems – and some of our customers are already making use of our robust gate-checking facility, enabling them to further tighten up on their defect reporting procedures.
Our Asset Maintenance solution that enables the scheduling of fleet maintenance activities remains hugely popular and we continue to receive very positive comments from customers who often praise its flexibility and its user-friendly interface. Over the next few months, we will be demonstrating to customers our new parts and finance bolt-on which will enable operators to have an overview of costs and inventory.
As ever, we look forward to working with our customers during the course of the coming year. As many of you know, the way we develop all of our products is by working in partnership with users by responding to their feedback and suggestions. Input from operators is always welcome!
By Marc Caplin, Aquarius IT’s Compliance Advisor