Protecting your Assets

Essex Bulk Services started with our tachograph analysis software over 10 years ago, when at the time they were managing 20 trucks … fast forward to today, and the family-run business, specialists in transporting bulk materials regionally and across the UK, operates 120 trucks and 140 trailers, maintain and repair their vehicles in their onsite workshop, which is also offered commercially and now operate their very own Driver CPC training academy.

To mark this decade, Subir Gupta, who has been managing the account since the beginning, spoke to Craig Childs, the company’s Director and Transport Manager, about more recent software developments, including Asset Maintenance and becoming one of the first operators to recently take on the new Asset Finance module.

First, what made you decide to change from arguably one of the biggest fleet maintenance software providers to Asset Maintenance?

Aquarius has been our preferred supplier for tachograph analysis software for 10 years now, and since then we’ve successfully embedded many of your driver compliance tools including Time & Attendance and eSIGN into our systems.  We then looked at your fleet compliance tools with the idea of having everything related to our driver and vehicle data integrated in one system and all the reporting functions on one App for the drivers, and so added Driver Defect.

As you’ve said, we already had in place a sophisticated digital system for vehicle maintenance as we run a busy workshop for our own 260 assets and external customers, but when we took on the daily walkaround checks, we liked the idea of the cross-integration of Asset Maintenance with the Driver Defect App, so you persuaded us to give it a trial!

What did you think at this trial stage?

Aside from all the operational, cost and compliance benefits that you inherently derive from integrating driver defects with a live vehicle maintenance system, what stood out for us was the flexibility of Asset Maintenance as compared to our current provider at the time. We liked the fact that we would have control of the system, and would be able to make the everyday changes we need in the workshop without incurring several hundreds of pounds in development costs each time a part number needs to be updated for example. This was one of the main business reasons for us taking on Asset Maintenance and we’ve never looked back.

Are there any other advantages of having all your driver and vehicle data integrated onto one platform?

Many. As a FORS Gold and Mission Zero operator we take our compliance responsibilities very seriously, and as part of this we must be able to demonstrate a consistent standard of roadworthiness and compliance, which the software enables us to do.  At the click of a button, we are now able to report on all our KPIs related to driver and vehicle compliance.

For ease of management too, having all our driver / vehicle data on one platform gives us greater visibility, meaning we are able to target ‘hot spots’ in real time.  Plus, it means we are not having to maintain more than one data set – its simply easier and more efficient.

Equally for managing driver data, the connectivity between all the driver and fleet compliance systems, gives us a deeper layer of information when it comes to real-time analysis, forward-planning and compliance reporting.

Are there any added considerations because you run a commercial workshop?

Yes, as a commercial workshop with external customers, we also have to exercise due diligence when it comes to vehicle safety.  For example, if we have inspected a vehicle and made recommendations that the owner chooses not to do, and then that vehicle is involved in an investigation or accident, we need to be able to show the DVSA our record of inspection. With Asset Maintenance we have a full audit trail for all our PMIs. 

Moving on to our new system Asset Finance, you were one of the first to test and trial it alongside Asset Maintenance, what did you think?

To be honest it’s another gamechanger for us running a busy commercial workshop. It enables us to intuitivelymanage our inventory and suppliers, and monitor maintenance / part costs by asset type, tankers vs trailers vs. trucks for example in real time.  Plus, like Asset Maintenance, the system is completely flexible which ensures it meets our company’s specific needs.

Is there anything you’d like to finally add?

I’d like to end by talking about the great service and support we receive from Aquarius, because it’s this positive working relationship that underpins everything and is why we’ve been a customer for 10 years. Also, the fact you listen, and are always open to suggestions and if they are commercially viable, you will put new developments in place.  By having one company and one account manager to call for driver and fleet software support, also makes life a lot easier.

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