View source: Tyler Fussner

Electronic driver vehicle inspection reports can expedite the sharing of critical maintenance information throughout an operation, allowing for planning, preparation, and timely execution of service.

Frequent topics of conversation in the commercial vehicle industry revolve around the adoption of new vehicle technologies – the driving force behind such conversations being that spec’ing technology throughout the vehicle can help optimize performance, reduce costs, and create a more efficient operation. Though seemingly left to the wayside of such conversations is the adoption of technologies from an organization’s operational standpoint: There are technologies to incorporate in a fleet’s organization that go beyond vehicle specification which can impact the way those interacting with the vehicles carry out their responsibilities.

Driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) are one such example. Abandoning the pencil and paper method of yesteryear and incorporating a digital platform to execute such a process can reveal profound efficiencies for a fleet’s organization across multiple departments.

Building an eDVIR

Filling out a DVIR is second nature for drivers today. Transferring to a digital process allows for some customization and flexibility in the way in which DVIRs are completed. There are many ways in which fleets can establish an electronic driver vehicle inspection report (eDVIR) system. First, a fleet must have an idea of what they want their eDVIR to include.

“Most of the things you are looking for in an eDVIR is anything safety-related, anything that could result in a citation, anything that could impact the safety, the reputation, and the relationship of the company to its customers, drivers, and the community in general,” said Ric Bedard, CEO and founder of Cetaris.

“There are specific items that are required by the Department of Transportation that must be inspected,” said Kevin Aires, global leader of product success at Verizon Connect. “But, above and beyond that, it is really important that businesses think about what else makes their fleet safe. That depends on the company and what they do and the services they provide customers; that could depend on the types of vehicles they have.”

Dashboards offer a familiar access point for critical maintenance data gathered through eDVIRs. Providers understand these needs, and accordingly offer both standard template formats for eDVIRs and customizable reports for fleets to accommodate specific items. Take electric vehicle inspections, for example.

“A lot more [queries are raised] around the battery, some questions that we wouldn’t be asking in a diesel situation, but we need to be asking those upfront depending on the vehicle,” Mike Bosch, senior director of digital technology at Ryder, explained of RyderGyde’s eDVIRs.

“As we are getting more and more mixed fleets, and over time I think we will have a mix of both EV and diesel, as well as some other alternative fuels out there, we have really been focused on the experience of how we can consolidate that and make that a single experience across the board for the drivers and for the fleet managers as well,” Bosch said of standardizing eDVIRs according to vehicle-type.

Trimble Transportation offers flexibility in the form of adjustable template reports.

“You can have different inspections for different types of vehicles,” said Renaldo Adler, industry principal – asset maintenance for Trimble Transportation. “The inspection for a tractor is different than the inspection for a trailer, it could be different for a service truck or a pickup and delivery, versus a Class 8 tractor and trailer, or a flatbed, the list goes on … [The DVIR] can be customized by the customer by the type of equipment they are trying to inspect. [DVIRs are] provided through templates, and then you can add to and change those.”

Teletrac Navman’s eDVIR solution, within the TN360 Platform, offers customization options. Furthermore, there is the ability for fleets to create their own templates to assign to specific assets.

“Say you have a crane truck, and a crane truck has a bunch of different items that your normal truck doesn’t have because it is outfitted differently,” said Oswaldo “Ozzie” Flores, product manager at Teletrac Navman. “As an organization, you can go in there and customize [the DVIR form], add those additional fields, and save that as a template.”

Inspection checklist customization is a critical component for fleets to remain agile in establishing safety reports according to their current needs.

“What we saw during the pandemic is that safety took on a new meaning,” Aires stated. “We think about safety for our drivers in terms of road safety, but all of a sudden, companies started thinking about the safety of my employee in terms of their health. We saw a need for companies to start using that customization aspect around inspections to incorporate things like vehicle sanitization.”

Verizon Connect’s reaction was to deploy a pre-configured sanitization template that fleets could incorporate into their eDVIR checklists.

Whether adjusting to changes in the needs of inspection, or accounting for different operational needs across a diverse fleet, having access to various reporting forms is crucial. Take, for example, fleets operating under varying DVIR mandates internationally between the U.S. and Canada, or across varying Canadian provinces and territories. Geotab accommodates such a need by providing different templates for U.S. and Canadian fleets.

Brent McInnis, product manager for Geotab, noted that there are additional stipulations for Canadian inspections, such as the inclusion of a signature on a completed DVIR. Plus, Canada requires more information on vehicle inspection reports compared to the U.S., such as the vehicle’s odometer reading – which can be captured automatically using the Geotab vehicle tracking GO Device – or the height and width of the load, which must be entered manually by the driver.

“[With Canadian DVIRs], we can automate it for [customers] and set it up for what is necessary for them,” McInnis said of standardized DVIR forms. “We base it off of the license plate of the vehicle. If you have vehicles in several different provinces, as long as that [information] is populated in our system, then you will get the appropriate form. You can still customize your defects list, for example, but anything that is required on the report we will at least show you and give the driver the opportunity to enter that information.”

Customizing a report to capture the information required according to a fleet’s needs is one thing, but having the ability to determine the level of severity for defects on a report offers another level of customization which can establish prioritized action items for the organization as a whole.

“We have different severity levels, major and minor,” McInnis said of Geotab Drive’s defect designation capacity. “We also offer a third severity called ‘regulated’ in our system. That is usually stuff [like] a tear in your seat. It might not be super interesting, but at some point, it might need to be repaired. It may not impact the safe use of the vehicle, but still needs to be noted down.”

The severity level designation for each item on the checklist is defined when the checklist is created, not when the pre- or post-trip DVIR is created, McInnis clarified, which means a driver cannot flag comfort or amenity defects with out-of-service severity.

Dissemination of information

The digitization of DVIRs changes the way various departments within a fleet receive, digest, and act upon the reported information with an emphasis on speed via real-time notification systems, prioritization alerts, and customized reporting configurations.

“The whole point of a DVIR is for the driver to sign off that these are the things that are wrong with my assets,” said Cetaris’ Bedard. “The next step is transmitting that to the company, to have a technician who also must sign off to say that they have performed the repair and that it is completed, and then the final stage is for the driver to sign off that the repairs were completed to their satisfaction.”

“Everybody wants information right now,” Teletrac Navman’s Flores said. “Being able to have that real-time notification and real-time alerting is a very valuable feature for customers. Not only that, but it cuts down on having to go through and run reports and do reactive management rather than proactive. Proactive management leads to better efficiencies and better safety.”