Pre-start Checks for Heavy Vehicles
Performing pre-start checks on heavy vehicles using a paper-based system can be inefficient and time consuming. The paperwork often requires filing and retrieving previously completed reports in a timely and efficient manner can be difficult. In addition, human error in the field might lead to particular items on the safety checklist being omitted and even ignored.
The national model Work Health and Safety Act will be adopted by all Australian states by the end of 2011 which means there will be a greater onus on occupational health and safety checks. It is thus important for supply chain and logistic managers to investigate available technologies to automate the process and ensure that all regulatory requirements are adhered to and safety inspection reports are safely stored and readily accessible.
Mobile technology such as PDAs (personal digital assistants), smartphones and tablets are increasingly being used to automate pre-start safety checks for heavy vehicles. Field safety checks can be conducted using mobile devices, completely eliminating the need for paperwork and any additional data entry or filing processes.
Most devices have an inbuilt camera and microphone which means that inspectors can capture and edit photographs as well as add audio recorded notes to their inspections. Barcode scanners can be used to identify the appropriate checklist for each vehicle and the report cannot be completed unless all items on the checklist have been addressed.
Once the safety check is complete, the report is sent wirelessly to a central database. The database can be accessed via any desktop computer and reports can be printed or attached to an email. The database allows for secure storage of all previously completed reports and if there is an accident and a report needs to be located, electronic storage allows for efficient retrieval.
Many managers express concern that their inspection processes will have to be modified in order to use the technology. However, the software is completely customisable to any inspection process. Thus as inspectors would already be familiar with the paper-based process, learning how to use the software is not difficult and requires minimal training.