5 Ways to Find the Right Video-Based Provider for your Fleet
BY MIKE FERRY, CORPORATE SAFETY DIRECTOR, O&G, AN AGC OF CONNECTICUT MEMBER
Ensuring the safety of a construction fleet can be a daunting and difficult task. Vehicles often operate in crowded environments and on uneven surfaces, resulting in a higher chance of collision or asset damage. Due to the industry’s unique challenges, construction companies remain adamant about mitigating fleet risk. To ensure the safety of employees and the public at or near jobsites, and to make certain the transportation and delivery of materials is secure and reliable, fleet managers are turning to advanced technologies to provide insights not otherwise readily available.
Video-based safety solutions are at the forefront of many fleets’ comprehensive safety programs, with an increasing number of managers and drivers realizing the value of video for its measurable impact on fleet operations. A comprehensive driver communication strategy, coupled with education surrounding the safety and exoneration benefits, are key to ensuring buy-in from drivers and other stakeholders.
Whether a driver is personally cleared of wrongdoing in the case of a collision in which he was not at fault, or learns of the exoneration of a colleague as a result of the situational context and insight only available from a fully-managed video safety program, opinions on video begin to shift. With video-based safety technology, management is not only able to pinpoint risky behavior, intervene with constructive coaching, and change driver behavior, but is also able to identify and reward excellent work and cultivate a culture of healthy competition among drivers. Many times, fleet managers may not know how good their drivers’ skills are, and video brings those skills to light. With positive reinforcement — a handshake, a hat, a shirt, recognition in front of peers, etc. — the value of video in helping drivers proves indisputable.
To effectively compete and thrive in the construction sector, companies must evolve with the industry and continuously improve operations. A better safety culture has to begin with upper management, trickle down throughout the organization, and provide a platform for drivers to ensure their voices are being heard and their concerns are being acknowledged. Some of the most innovative ideas, those that change process, procedure and productivity all at the same time, come from the people who experience operational challenges firsthand — the drivers. Company cultures that shift to those of open communication and collective goals perform the best.
In addition to improving driver safety, other areas of business operations also benefit from video-based technology. With video, managers are able to pinpoint and eliminate “mystery damage” to vehicles and assets at a jobsite, reducing unnecessary costs. The true money-saver comes with the reduction of costs associated with both large and small-scale collisions. Typically, fleets find that it’s the accumulation of minor fender benders that are the most costly. By targeting and curbing risky driving behaviors and exonerating drivers when not at fault, the company is able to improve their services — on the road and at a jobsite — and protect their brand.
“Video-based technology has allowed us to dial in and empower our drivers to practice safe habits behind the wheel — such as following speed limits, avoiding distractions and wearing a seatbelt,” says Tom Halpin, safety manager, O&G Industries, an AGC of Connecticut member.
“With our video-based program, the likelihood of injury has reduced and our drivers are safer today than they were a few years ago. When we decided to go down this path, we were one of the first in our region. We expected success in reducing risk but the complete revamp of our safety culture has been an unexpected win. Now we’re able to use positive reinforcement, combined with targeted coaching to further enhance the comprehensive safety program we’ve integrated into our company.”
Once you’ve decided that video-based safety is a fit for your company, there are key things to keep in mind when navigating the vast array of providers to find the solution that will meet your fleet’s unique needs.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN SEEKING A PROVIDER:
- Fully managed service with rich analytics: Find a program that will provide accurate, unbiased data that is immediately accessible, as well as custom risk profiles that will help assess your fleet’s strengths and weaknesses. The service should do all of the heavy lifting — analyzing and scoring events to allow management to focus on areas of highest risk — saving fleets time and money plowing through large amounts of data or hiring additional personnel to do so. Valuable analytics demonstrate ROI and performance improvement. That data can be used to incentivize drivers to continue their good work and improve where necessary. The insights gained from the system should allow fleets to customize intuitive coaching approach to meet the needs of its drivers.
- Hardware platform flexibility: To ensure a video-based system meets the fleet’s needs, it is critical that the provider offer hardware that is a fit for your fleet’s cab design. Based on cab design and the company’s goals with the video technology, the positioning and size of the camera are an important option to companies that want to assess a full view of what’s happening in and around the cab — not just the driver. The availability of separate dual-facing cameras offers greater flexibility and a more detailed picture of vehicle activity. Selecting an open platform allows fleets to add additional cameras when necessary, creating a 360-view to capture minor collisions, mystery damage, backing incidents or other common fleet dilemmas. The option to set cameras in hand-selected locations throughout the cab or to opt into road-facing cameras only, ensures fleets will eliminate blind spots and achieve their intended outcomes as a result of system adoption.
- A configurable program: Selecting a one-size-fits-all solution will lock your fleet into a program it may soon outgrow. Not only should the selected system meet the fleet’s current needs, but its offerings should be able to continuously meet the changing needs of a growing construction business over time. For a fleet that operates in low speeds in tight quarters, for example, extended recording options grant visibility into low-impact issues that do not trigger events. In order to get a handle on backing accidents, 360-degree capabilities are important for assessing mystery damage and minor incidents that add up over time. Fleets are able to pull the footage, review and act accordingly.
- Customer service: Find a provider that offers undisputed expertise and a commitment to standing side-by-side with fleets to optimize the pilot, rollout, adoption and results. Beginning with initial rollout, there is a large learning curve for fleet managers and drivers as they begin to understand the power of video and the actionable data the system collects. A provider of choice should emphasize strong communication between company leadership and drivers — beginning with installation, throughout system training and well into program adoption. The provider should not only know the ins-and-outs of the video-based system, but also have experience changing at-risk behaviors. Throughout rollout and beyond, the vendor should be a partner to your fleet — providing advice, counsel and guidance regarding safety scores, risk thresholds, driver feedback and coaching. They should offer communication strategies to help with the adoption, provide training on coaching techniques, offer e-Learning to accommodate fleet schedules and offer to meet with drivers for added assistance.
- Automatic offloading: Unlike some onboard systems that take hours to send video event data, automatic offload within minutes of the incident should be a standard offering of the selected program to ensure fleets have pivotal information at the time when it’s most critical. Having immediate insight into the event that transpired will allow fleets to not only exonerate drivers straightaway and speed the resolution process, but also to respond timely and effectively to customer concerns or complaints, in order to protect its brand and boost customer service.
To guarantee the highest caliber of safety, construction fleets must evaluate the state of their current safety culture and commit to raising the bar, considering a video-based safety system as a defining factor. A reward-based coaching program dependent on analytics can help ensure driver buy-in. It’s essential for individual fleet managers to assess which video-based system provider will align with the current and future needs or their business and employees. Fleet managers need to consider not only capabilities like hardware flexibility and a configurable program, but also customer service from the provider. Once a fleet manager is able to find the right fit for their company, they will have a substantial and solid safety program.
As the corporate safety director at O&G Industries, Michael Ferry leads the safety program and department for O&G’s diverse divisions of business including commercial construction, heavy civil, materials, as well as the company fleet of 500+ DOT and non-DOT vehicles.