Staples Vegetables has been acknowledged as the first truck operator to join the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Earned Recognition scheme, with the help of IT provider Truckfile.
Truckfile Operations Director Paul Whittingham, centre, with Dave Baker, left, and Mike Wallaard, of Staples Vegetables
The Agency's flagship Earned Recognition scheme has now been launched, following a year-long pilot. More than 60 truck and bus operators signed up during those 12 months but Staples was the first haulier to come on board.
The company's pioneering stance was saluted by DVSA Chief Executive Gareth Llewellyn, who presented a pair of special framed certificates to Transport Manager Dave Baker and Compliance Consultant Mike Wallaard. Both, in turn, paid tribute to supplier Truckfile for its support in making their Earned Recognition experience such a success.
"Our journey towards gaining Earned Recognition status began a couple of years ago now," recalls Dave Baker. "We were approached by the DVSA about the idea, and it sounded like a good one. Along with several other operators we attended a series of meetings, to discuss the terms of the pilot scheme, and we decided very early on that it was in our interest to take part."
Mike Wallaard joined Staples with a specific brief to help manage compliance issues in general, so has been heavily involved in the company's participation in the pilot scheme.
"We take compliance very seriously and will always avail ourselves of any opportunity to demonstrate that we operate responsibly," he affirms. "Reducing the number of roadside checks on our trucks is welcome but our main motivation was to stay abreast of what we saw as an important new development."
Staples' aim was to reap the benefits of Earned Recognition without adding onerous extra layers of administration to its business. With help from the Truckfile team, the operator was able to make the necessary transition to electronic record-keeping smoothly and efficiently.
Staples' fleet of Actros tractor units were supplied by Mercedes-Benz dealer Intercounty Truck & Van, and are maintained in its Boston workshop. Intercounty, like all the German manufacturer's dealers, was already using Truckfile to create, update and store all maintenance records – so setting up a software system to send the relevant information to the DVSA was a simple and painless process. Inspectors are given regular, comprehensive updates showing only what they need, and because the information is all stored electronically, rather than on paper, they can view these remotely.
"We've received tremendous support from the team at Truckfile," says Mike Wallaard. "We now use the system to maintain service records of our trailers and our extensive line-up of vans, forklifts and plant too – in total that's around 600 pieces of equipment. Compared to the headache of compiling and storing paper records, it's been a revelation in terms of both ease and efficiency."
The Earned Recognition schemes aims to reward firms who are most focused on ensuring that their lorry, bus and coach fleets – and the people who drive them – are safe at all times.
More than 60 HGV and PSV operators, between them running more than 43,000 vehicles, took part in the pilot scheme which began last April.
These operators regularly share performance information with DVSA. In return their vehicles are much less likely to be stopped for inspections, freeing up the agency's examiners to target the most dangerous lorry, bus and coach operators and drivers.
DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn, says: "DVSA's priority is to protect the public from unsafe drivers and vehicles. Earned Recognition allows the best operators to go about their business unhindered, so we can target our activity at those most likely to be a danger to all road users.
"Even during the pilot, participating operators were already seeing the benefits. We heard reports of improved relationships with drivers, better processes and recognition from customers. If you're an operator and you take compliance and safety seriously, we hope that Earned Recognition is something you'll aspire to."