Workshop equipment and safety management

The complicated task of managing a fleet of vehicles and a workshop is made safer and easier by the right equipment. Our suppliers are here to help

Every operation across the coach and bus industry is backed by a network of suppliers providing the equipment and technology necessary to make the transportation of passengers safe.

Those suppliers make sure that workshops are equipped with the right tools to make vehicles compliant before they leave for the road. Kismet Garage Equipment, based on the Wirral Peninsula, is one such supplier.

The company was founded by Phil Stockford in 1970, and recently carried out the installation of two complete authorised testing facility (ATF) bays for operator The Traveller’s Choice, in what Phil describes as the supplier’s flagship installation.

Besides that work, the primary product supplied by Kismet is brake testers, manufactured by VTEQ. As well as being able to supply brandnew brake testers, Kismet is able to service, recalibrate and repair them. It specialises in the supply and reconditioning of brake testing products, as well as trading in used products. The company even takes back part exchanges, something Phil says many competitors might not otherwise be involved with.

“We will take brake testers in part exchange, and give a fair price for them,” he explains. “That has always been the key to our success – our versatility.”

Kismet favours the VTEQ product thanks to its long history with the manufacturer and was even the sole UK concessionaire until the business was downsized. “It’s a very well-known and well-tried product,” adds Phil. “I believe it is now the biggest manufacturer in Europe selling into some 80 different countries – it is a product we are very comfortable with. Of course, if an operator wants something different, we can try and supply it.”

CheckedSafe founder Gary Hawthorne

Compliance is key

Brake testers and ATF bays are all part of compliance, and it’s not just physical equipment that is important in that regard – technology also has its role. One company developed with the purpose of supplying simple compliance solutions is CheckedSafe.

CheckedSafe provides digital templates for clients, tailored specially to their needs. The templates can be used as standalone apps, or be part of an entire digital compliance package. A one-stop-shop, CheckedSafe’s solution extends to both fleet management, and to the workshop as a whole.

“Checkedsafe not only supplies operators with a fleet management solution but also a workshop option, which has been very well adopted and bespoked by East Yorkshire, with Andrew Benstead leading the way,” explains CheckedSafe co-founder Gary Hawthorne. “We have supplied and designed specific checks for the garage equipment in line with the health and safety guidance on checks.

“It’s great, as it’s all managed on the same platform and is all about safety – and by using CheckedSafe, it cannot be challenged, as the platform is digital and cannot be tampered with – whereas paper checks and templates are much more difficult to manage.”

Jemma James, Managing Director TruTac
Jemma James, Managing Director TruTac

Digital leads the way

CheckedSafe is not the only company to extol the benefits of embracing digital. Leading tachograph and compliance software provider TruTac has long espoused the benefits of embracing digital compliance solutions and has a broad suite available.

Managing Director Jemma James brings attention to the supplier’s new driver app, released earlier this month, which replaces the previous TruChecks product – formerly the supplier’s daily walkround check app.

The new app has been Christened TruTac. “The reason for that is that the app has a lot more enhanced functionality compared to the previous app,” Jemma explains. “It’s also underwritten with the very latest technology.”

Different elements within the app can be switched on or off. Operators with tachograph analysis – TruAnalysis – will see drivers’ hours information and local traffic information, with the ability to sign off infringement debriefs and other documents. Operators with the TruChecks licence turned on can access walk-round check elements and templates within. It is modular and is available on Android and iPhone. The app is free for operators with a TruControl, TruAnalysis or TruChecks subscription.

Alongside the new app, TruTac has also launched TruDocuments Premium, an enhanced online storage facility. It gives operators new features and benefits, such as the ability to push out documents on a regular scheduled basis to drivers; the ability for drivers to sign and return documents through the app for a full audit trail; and the ability for drivers to upload documents – beneficial if driving licences or training course documents must be stored securely in the system. “It’s about taking away a lot of the paper-based administration and hassle around documentation and managing drivers,” adds Jemma.

Jemma reiterates how important the shift to digital working is, from both a security and environmental perspective, and how COVID-19 has in many ways expedited the shift to a safer, digital way of working, with removal of face-to-face contact a benefit during the height of the pandemic. “And in the green world that we are hopefully moving towards, it is important we do everything we can to move away from the bundles of paper seen in transport offices.

“We’ve designed the TruControl web-based platform to remove a lot of the traditional paper requirements. We have the ability for drivers to be debriefed and signed off via the app, with infringements signed through the app and locked down into the system so that they cannot be edited – from an auditing perspective, it is a verified document.

“We also have the ability to do walk-round checks digitally – that has a number of advantages. If an advisory or failure is found, that notification is sent instantly to multiple people such as the workshop or Transport Manager, so that within minutes the relevant maintenance can be scheduled and the parts ordered – that is very different to getting carbon-copied paper to the right department.”

The vehicle checking product also feeds into TruFleet, TruTac’s fleet maintenance product, which replaces traditional paper-based wall planners. By using the digital vehicle walk-round checks, advisories and failures are fed into the maintenance system.

“It is much more than just a web-based equivalent of the wall planner – it actually pre-plans inspections when they are due, gives alerts, and anything that needs a regular inspection can be put in there,” adds Jemma. “It’s about having a single pane of glass for everything to do with vehicles and drivers in relation to compliance and maintenance. Anything that is important is safe within the system, and ready for auditors.”