Nottingham City Transport (NCT) is deploying the latest mobile technology across its engineering operation as part of the rollout of a new package from Freeway Fleet Systems.

Engineering staff at NCT are being equipped with rugged tablets that synchronise in real time with a central Freeway system for managing the maintenance of NCT’s fleet of over 300 buses.

The operator required a system to transform what was largely a paper-based operation, says Engineer Director Gary Mason. In addition to mobile paperless working, the operator also specified a cloud-based system. With Freeway, Nottingham City Transport has a secure and fully managed cloud solution, minimising demands on its IT resources.

Says Gary: “For us, the move from paper to digital working is expected to provide improved compliance and audit trail capabilities, as well as significant gains in profitability.

“Real time visibility of defects will improve vehicle turnaround times. And beyond those efficiencies, the project has also identified significant cost reductions. Printing alone has been costing use £25,000 annually.”

NCT is undertaking a phased rollout of Freeway. The first part is now complete with the introduction of workshop management software and live connected tablets. The next phase involves the integration of drivers’ pre-service inspection reports using a Tranzaura app.

Tablets will be used to replace virtually all paperwork. They will be utilised by everyone from technicians to electrical specialists and cleaners. Running Freeway apps, the devices provide quick, easy entry of data to replace job sheets, inspection reports, timesheets, 24-hour sheets and others.

At NCT, vehicles are allocated by the engineering department and not operations. For the latter, that removes one important variable and it simplifies scheduling as availability is assured. However, it increases the responsibility on engineering to maintain the fleet and minimise downtime.

Says Chief Engineer Liam O’Brien (pictured, left): “Our primary responsibility is to protect the company’s O-Licence. Freeway will help here, but the real benefits come from the fact that it is a tool that will allow us to work more effectively.

“With everything digital and the information we need always immediately visible, we’ll be able to manage things in a way that was impossible before.”

Fellow East Midlands operator Trentbarton, along with other Wellglade subsidiaries, adopted Freeway Fleet Systems earlier in 2020.