Safety compliance for fleets has never been simpler
All road users in South Africa dream of safer roads. The Road Transport Management System (RTMS) strives to make this possible. The challenge with this self-regulation scheme is that administration can be cumbersome. Well, it USED to be cumbersome. That’s no longer the case, as MARISKA MORRIS discovers
Thanks to Altech Netstar’s new Vigil Safety and Compliance (VSAC) system, RTMS compliance is as easy as tying the shoelaces on your safety boots! This system was borne out of actual challenges with RTMS administration…
Morne Klingbiel, product manager of VSAC, and developer, Willie Holtzhauzen, worked together at a transport and logistics company where they managed the safety department. It was during long, frustrating hours spent with paperwork and filing systems that they thought of an automated system to assist with RTMS audits.
“Requesting evidence required by the auditor from numerous departments, as well as scanning through files to find documents, proved to be time consuming. Returning empty-handed due to careless filing practices is unacceptable. So, development started on a system whereby the entire process could be simplified to capture and store the documentation relevant for an RTMS audit,” Klingbiel says.
The VSAC system aims to reduce the amount of paperwork as well as man-hours spent preparing documents for a RTMS audit. “It started as a way to help companies manage this process with an electronic, automated system to reduce the paperwork. In the office environment, we are reducing the paperwork from around 200 000 copies to about 50 000 copies a year,” Holtzhauzen notes.
Since development started in 2011, VSAC has grown into a very agile system. As clients become familiar with the system, they request additions to meet their specific business needs. Holtzhauzen notes: “It has grown beyond RTMS; it is actually a total fleet-management solution, which provides financial control of the entire logistics value chain.”
VSAC uses an automated document-control system to scan documents and allocate or store them in a designated location with the use of a unique barcode on the cover page, or pages, of the document. When used correctly, it offers a wide range of services from listing the duration of various contacts and creating diesel orders, to invoicing directly from the system and providing accurate calculations relating to the driver and fuel consumption.
The financial and diesel management modules are critical tools for driving cost management and profitability.
It was not easy to create VSAC. A big challenge for the developers was to find a simple way to link the scanned documents to a specific driver, vehicle or load. Holtzhauzen says: “The biggest challenge was to make it easy to scan a document and have the system do the thinking.”
While VSAC makes it easy to access these documents, it is important to keep updating the information on the system. Training is also essential, and is provided by Netstar. Klingbiel explains: “A full installation process is completed by an experienced team. Training of the users then takes place at the client’s premises using the employee, vehicle, load and diesel documentation.”
The system is unique to the market. While various features are offered by other companies, the Netstar system provides a range of features through one system.
“We are yet to come across a system that offers the numerous module functionalities offered by VSAC,” notes Klingbiel. This multi-module functionality has become important in RTMS auditing.
“The auditors no longer consider only a company’s compliance with safety. They also look at how the company manages vehicle maintenance, for example,” says Holtzhauzen. An added bonus of the VSAC system is that it is also available to non-Netstar clients.
“The system can be easily used and integrated with any telematics solution, provided the client’s service provider is willing to give us the required information,” Klingbiel comments. However, this might cause a delay. A telematics solution from another company might not allow information to be sent on a per-second interval.
There can be a delay from half an hour to half a day. So, while it is not required for a company to use a Netstar fleet-management or tracking device, Holtzhauzen notes that it will make the process more seamless. The VSAC system can be used by small, medium or large transport companies.
“The system caters to any size or type of fleet including heavy vehicles, short-haul delivery vehicles, buses, courier vehicles, earth moving, plant and mining vehicles,” Klingbiel points out. VSAC is already available on the market, and can also easily be adapted to foreign legislation so that it can be used outside South Africa.
“The system can be accessed through a desktop version, which is installed on site. Alternatively, a web-based version is available enabling users to access the software from an internet-enabled device. By making the necessary changes, for example to speed limits, and or permissible loading masses, the system can be tailored to suit any country’s legislation,” Klingbiel says.
The team is excited about the VSAC system, which it believes will make RTMS compliance so much easier. Klingbiel notes that the initial RTMS accreditation is easy as only three months of data is needed. The challenge is renewing and maintaining the accreditation.
“That is where the difficult part comes in, as the data has to be maintained for a 12-month period,” he comments. The duo is also sure that the system will assist in saving lives.
“The object is to promote best practice in self-regulation, thereby ultimately preventing overloads, ensuring adequate vehicle maintenance, driver wellness and compliance with regulations. It is essentially promoting and improving road safety for all users,” Klingbiel concludes.
What is Road Transport Management System (RTMS)?
It is an industry-led, self-regulation scheme that encourages transport operators to implement a vehicle-management system that raises the standards and productivity of businesses, preserves road infrastructure and improves road safety.
Why is it important?
The road infrastructure is deteriorating rapidly due to overloading and poor maintenance and a large number of accidents that involve heavy trucks. The aim of RTMS is to empower the industry to turn this situation around.
What does it do?
RTMS creates standard rules for the industry that should really be a “business norm”. Poor compliance creates unfair competition, which the RTMS aims to remove from the industry with high operating standards and self-regulation. .