With the introduction of the Heavy Vehicle National Law in February this year, there is now more consistent legislation and regulation across most Australian states and territories for heavy vehicles over 4.5 tonnes. With the Northern Territory looking to introduce legislation at a later date and Western Australia being the only state not to introduce the legislation, Australia should soon have a more streamlined compliance environment for freight providers.
As evidenced at this year’s International Truck and Trailer Show, technology companies are offering the market a variety of tools and solutions to help manage compliance. Many of the leading suppliers are positioning their offer as a technology driven compliance management service helping businesses to become more efficient and reduce their operating costs.
ACA research suggests that only a minority of businesses see technology as a cost effective solution to compliance management. Despite falling installation costs and increasing availability, the use of supporting technologies remains limited. The most commonly used technologies are speed limiters, but these are installed by default in most new trucks, meaning that this result is a reflection of businesses updating their fleet, rather than businesses making a conscious choice to install the technology.
Further variation in take-up is evident by size of business, with those running 25 trucks or more the most likely to have systems and technology in place to manage their operations. While businesses with 1 – 5 trucks were least likely to have these systems in place, they also saw limited risk in this, largely being comfortable with their existing manual processes for driver and vehicle management. As demonstrated in the chart below, the area of greatest concern is businesses with 6 – 25 trucks, as despite their larger size, most still lack systems to manage driver fatigue, vehicle maintenance and mass limits.
Despite running a substantial fleet, many of these businesses with 6 – 25 trucks see additional investment in compliance as unnecessary. Whilst for some this is due to limited trip lengths or distances, many others still feel that manual processes can suffice, or instead choose to place the onus for monitoring compliance on their driver.
The key factor impacting take-up remains cost, with few businesses feeling that technology can at this point provide them with significant cost savings or efficiencies. Despite strong agreement that technology delivers positive outcomes in terms of driver safety, this lack of evidence of a direct financial return remains the most significant impediment to growth in telematics use within the Australian marketplace.
Recently we commented on factors that are constricting the growth of technology in the auto sector. A number of leading industry experts we have spoken to argue that compulsory electronic work diaries (EWDs) are likely to be the catalyst for a more widespread adoption of compliance technologies. Many of the businesses we have interviewed say they are currently in a holding pattern and will make decisions about technology investments once the EWD picture becomes clearer. In the meantime, providers should be developing clearer proof points, and innovative pricing structures that can simplify the decision process, and create a strong business case to support implementation.
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