Winter weather; equals enhanced duty of care for fleet operators

Adverse weather and longer periods of darkness make driving more hazardous. Sometimes conditions can be extreme, as we have found out over recent winters, with prolonged periods of heavy snow and floods.

 

Fleet, transport and logistic operators are used to the unexpected – especially where the weather is concerned. Professional drivers rarely have the option to stay at home, especially where important deliveries need to be made, or our motorways and roads need gritting.

 

However, the ‘business as usual’ mantra and providing road critical services, such as gritting or ploughing, demands that targets and delivery rates are still met. It’s important that considerations about productivity do not overtake responsibility and safety.

‘Think!’: ‘if you’re driving, it’s better to have none for the road’

When it comes to winter driving, being alert is everything, and that applies to both those in charge of our roads and to motorists themselves, as we have to make sure we’re sharp and ready for whatever the weather throws at us.

 

This is a vital thread of employer responsibility that must be recognised and acted upon at times such as these.

 

New figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show that 9,040 people were killed or injured on Britain’s roads in 2016 where a driver was over the legal limit for alcohol. The figures show that 230 people died in drink-drive crashes during the year, up from 200 in 2015. It is a 7% increase on the previous year and is the highest level since 2012, and represents one in 20 of all casualties in reported road accidents in 2016.

Breathalyser interlock systems

Research has shown even very small amounts of alcohol dramatically affect safe driving – drivers with levels of alcohol in their blood just half the current legal limit are at least twice more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol at all.

 

Handsfree Group has a range of breathalyser interlock systems to help transport operators manage drink-drive activities effectively across their fleet, backed up with full technical support, installation, calibration and service.

 

The groups Accredited FCS FITAS 1362 Install Engineers are placed to service customers anywhere in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, and already work closely with local authorities and national fleet operators installing these interlock devices.

Alcolock® DS®-10

Handsfree Group is the authorised distributor and installer of the market-leading DS®-10 alcohol breathalyser, which is installed as a direct connection to a vehicles immobiliser. Once fitted and calibrated the vehicle operator has to give a breath sample into the device before the vehicle will start.

 

Alcohol limits are pre-set on installation and can be configured to accommodate any level from zero alcohol present, through to the legal limit, depending on the policy of the company or organisation.

 

In the event of the Alcolock® detecting an excessive alcohol reading and the vehicle being immobilised, the system will reset itself and be ready for a further breath sample to analyse. As soon as the Alcolock® reads a sample under the preset limit the vehicle will start and be able to operate normally.

Installation and support

Handsfree Group Install engineers operate day or night fitting products and solutions at the customers premises, ensuring the least disruption to vehicle schedules.

 

If you are thinking of implementing a breathalyser interlock system and you would like more information on the products and services Handsfree Group can offer, please contact us to arrange a meeting and a full demonstration.

Handsfree Group support parcel delivery giants in their peak season

Specified-day delivery service pressures

Summertime UK E-commerce related parcel delivery volumes increased 15% year-on-year. Next-day delivery services also reached an all-time high, accounting for 36.5% of all online orders.

This meant added pressure for Parcel delivery companies on specified-day services, however, the percentage of successful on-time deliveries remains unchanged at 90%.

Essential vehicle technology for parcel delivery

With the peak holiday season around the corner, the leading UK courier giants will need extra drivers and short-term rental vehicles to ensure they deliver the massive quantities of packages a day. Handsfree Group are ready with a comprehensive range of essential equipment and technology to help support safe and efficient peak on-time deliveries.

Christmas is the peak season for courier companies, and online shoppers will be expecting more than ever in parcel delivery. The CEO of a major UK parcel delivery company confirmed they alone delivered 3.5M UK parcels last year in just the 4 days around black Friday and cyber Monday.

Rugged PDA and Tablet in-vehicle solutions

It’s a given that equipping peak drivers with rugged PDA’s or Tablets such as the Motorola TC75, the Honeywell CT60 or Panasonic FZ-N1 is essential. These need to be used safely, charged and protected; when in the vehicle.

The specialist install project team at Handsfree Group have vast experience helping parcel delivery companies through peak, with a high-quality range of PDA and tablet cradles, docking stations and dedicated mounting solutions.

What types of solution are available?

Whether you need a temporary self-fit removable solution that drivers can install themselves, or a fully assisted specialised installation from our team of FCS accredited FITAS 1362 install engineers, we are ready and able to help you.

Handsfree Groups TECh range of device-specific cradles and docking stations are designed to be heavy duty and durable. All solutions are specified with safe charging and secure device docking.

What high-quality assurances should I look for?

The TECh range of cradles boast LED Power Indicators across the range, so the driver is assured their PDA or tablet is charging, an internal voltage clamp which prevents over-voltage to the device and an internal voltage regulator which ensures consistent output voltages are maintained.

Each cradle and docking station mounting screw fastens into a precision brass bolt, which is fixed during injection moulding for maximum strength. The six locating bolts mount to the supplied backplate which then attaches securely to a steel chassis for a rigid and accurate fit.

A locating ’pin’ ensures the device cannot be inserted incorrectly and multiple security bolts provide added strength. An internal auto-reset switch prevents any risk of a short-circuit across pins and the tamper-proof screws, with anti-vibrate and shake-proof washers, ensure the device remains secure when the vehicle is in motion.

For self-fit cradle solutions, the Mounting Plate is securely fitted to the vehicle using a high-quality suction cup, which attaches to the vehicle’s windscreen.

Contact us

To discuss these products or any other requirements please contact us and speak to our expert team.

Handsfree Group Summer Family BBQ 2018

Summer Heatwave

On the scorching sunny summer afternoon of Saturday 14th July 2018, Handsfree Group held their annual Summer Family BBQ at the Urmston Sports Club in Manchester and what a fantastic day it was! Made all the better by the fantastic weather, this year’s event was great fun and extremely memorable.

 

World Class

Local butcher and UK Sausage Champions PJ Howarth & Son attended and brought along a fantastic spread and it’s fair to say it was out of this world, BBQ’d to perfection by Scott and Matt.

 

Friendly Competition

A fun Sports Day was held which included a sack race, egg and spoon race and sprints.  Medals were given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Well done to all those who firstly participated in the heat of the afternoon and furthermore won a medal.

The one sports event that will be long remembered is Beat the Keeper, where Rocco Johnson broke his wrist saving a penalty! After a trip to the hospital he bravely came back to the BBQ and continued having fun. He may have broken his wrist but he still managed to save the goal!!

 

Sethish Beatz (DJ)

Handsfree Groups very own, Seth Oduro (who is a DJ in his spare time and is known in the music arena as Sethish Beatz) kindly provided his services as DJ and everyone relaxed to lots of R&B and summer tunes making the atmosphere incredible.

 

Dogs and Ferrets

A Dog Contest was held for the family pooches to show off their amazing talents.  It was MC’d and judged by some of the children which made it all the more fun.

 

The categories and winners were:  

  • Most Waggiest Tail; won by Sam Thacker’s dog Monty
  • Most Obedient Dog; won again by Monty
  • Best Trained; won by Matt Johnson’s dog Poppy
  • The dog judges Would Most Like to Take Home; won by Dave Wilson’s dog Oscar  

Understandably, there was fierce competition for all the prizes.

 

James F and his family kindly brought along their two ferrets, Rosie & Rocky.  They were a big hit especially with the children, practically every child present had plenty of cuddles and walks with them.  


Deborah Bourne commented “It was lovely spending time with the team and their families, socialising away from the work environment, with great food, entertainment and sunshine”.

 

Thank you

Huge thanks and appreciation goes to our wonderful social secretary Natalie Sharman, who single handedly organised the whole day, she did an absolutely fantastic job.

 

Thank you to everyone who attended and made the day so much fun.

Connected products for the new Mercedes Benz Sprinter

In one of our previous blogs, (New Mercedes Sprinter Van is coming…and Handsfree Group are ready for it!) we outlined the products that will even further enhance the driving experience of the new Mercedes Sprinter.  We also have a full range of connected products available from Handsfree Group for the new vans.

 

Datalive your new Sprinter vans

Datalive helps fleet managers improve the efficiency, protection and safety of their drivers and vehicles, while significantly improving their fleets green credentials.

We give customers the intelligence needed to optimise their fleet performance, by customising our modular vehicle data solutions to meet their exact requirements. Our experience ranges from designing fully integrated telematics solutions to basic single feature systems.

 

Datalive Telematics

Our versatile Datalive telematics solutions are modular. Our specialist team build custom systems for our customers, that meet a companies exact requirements – so we are fully prepared for the new Mercedes Sprinter fleets.

Datalive Telematics Solutions:

Live Tracking
  • improving customer response and delivery times with better MPG, improved green credentials, increased productivity and more responsible drivers, whilst eliminating unauthorised vehicle usage and reducing insurance premiums.
Geofence
  • Our team of specialists help fleet managers enhance security, improve utilisation, increase efficiency and support compliance, by setting up geofences.
Driver ID
  • Get visibility of exactly who is driving any given vehicle and their precise location. Optimise your resources, while maintaining your duty of care by using Datalive Driver ID.
Reporting
  • Reduce fuel consumption and operating costs by configuring multi-dimensional custom reports on several vehicle and driver performance aspects, through the Datalive Performance & integration reporting suite.
Remote Safety
  • Protect the welfare of vulnerable or lone workers while ensuring goods are being transported safely and correctly. Datalive monitors all driver activity and critical vehicle data. Fleet managers can easily analyse real-time or historical vehicle information.
Communication
  • Deliver timely information to drivers in an efficient, responsible and legally compliant way. Working together, Datalive telematics and in-vehicle onboard diagnostics can report highly accurate information about the performance of your drivers, vehicles and their engines.
Efficiency Reporting
  • Maximise the efficiency of any driver and vehicle over a specified timeframe, by using the Datalive Telematics customisable reporting suite.
Driver behaviour
  • Manage risk, and fulfil your ‘duty of care’ obligations for drivers. The Datalive driver behaviour module scores driving style and identifies those people driving efficiently.
  • Monitor aggressive or defensive driver styles of individuals or group with applied risk scoring.
  • Datalive driver behaviour provides you with the information you need to target training precisely where it is required, as well as reward and encourage safe driving.

Datalive – Fleet Management Tools

Fleet Management Tools from Datalive helps operators diagnose and report any issues that may impact transport efficiency, by checking vehicle compliance and recording critical fleet management information

Comprising of an extensive app and configurable I.T solution, Fleet Management Tools effectively helps fleet managers perform the audits and checks necessary to ensure a safe and optimised operation.

Datalive’s fleet management system includes defect reporting, vehicle check, fleet check and depot audits.

Fleet Management Tools Solutions:

Defect report tool
  • App on Android and IOS to help fleet operators keep on top of vehicle technology and equipment. Defects on vehicles are often overlooked because it can be timely to report a problem or defect. This app makes it simple.
Vehicle check tool app
  • Designed to eliminate paperwork. Now fleet managers can be sure that all vehicles are checked on a daily basis. Safety and damage checks set daily and alerted if not completed. The app will not allow a user to move to another vehicle until a full 360 degree check has been completed.
Vehicle check audit tool
  • Designed for fleet managers, engineers and auditors. The App is similar to the Vehicle Check Tool, however it means any vehicle can be checked across the whole fleet and is specifically used to report on anomalies.
Depot audit tool
  • Vehicle maintenance is integral to an efficient transport operation, it’s important to check regularly that all the tools are in the right place.
  • Within the Vehicle Audit Checking, there is an additional tool for auditing the depot. This tool is an interactive electronic list of check items to inspect within the depot.

Get in touch to demo Datalive today!

Electric Vehicles, We Have Always Been Ready

EV’s

Alongside the tougher MOT rules in the UK for diesel powered vehicles, the electric vehicle market is experiencing record sales. The list of EV manufacturers is growing and the future of the automobile is looking to be one powered purely by electric.


As we are encouraged to start the transition to all electric vehicles, what does this mean for the future of vehicle technology?  The message from Handsfree Group is “we have always been ready”.

 

The Technology

Like with any new vehicle, no matter what is powering and turning the wheels, the technology that helps us to drive, communicate, stay safe and protect our vehicle is a high priority for most when looking to make that all important purchase.

Handsfree Group have a wealth of experience in fitting a wide range of vehicle technology solutions to EV’s that further improve the driving experience.

 

Size Does Matter

When a vehicle is purely electric, its fundamental to ensure all parts are lightweight and low current draw to ensure you get the best battery performance. Handsfree Group have a proven vehicle technology portfolio that takes all these aspects into consideration.

 

Safety

Handsfree Group have a specific range of products for Electric Vehicles, a lot of which are open cab.

For example:

  • Waterproof interior & exterior cameras.
  • Sunlight readable monitors to give better open cab visibility.
  • White noise directional motor alarms

 

Battery Management from Datalive Telematics

Handsfree Group’s Datalive division offers an EV Battery Management suite with the following features:

EV Battery Levels

  • Remotely monitor real time battery charge levels.

EV Charge Times

  • Insight to vehicles that are ready to go, or charge time remaining.

EV Battery Condition

  • View battery conditions and closely monitor units nearing end of life.

EV Battery Performance

  • Visibility of overall battery performance with end of life alerts

 

Security

Vehicle theft and the loss of valuable cargo can be disruptive for any business. It’s common knowledge that EV’s are expensive, therefore being at a high risk of theft. Handsfree Group can install a range of products that effectively deters criminals, whatever their intentions.

 

Datalive Tracking solutions for EV’s:

 

SVR (Stolen Vehicle Recovery)

  • Datalive telematics tracks a vehicle’s whereabouts so it can be recovered quickly.

Protect EV Battery theft

  • Datalive telematics can be integrated into the vehicle battery. Sudden power loss is instantly detected and alerted.

Ghost Immobiliser

  • Anti-Hijack protection so the vehicle can only be driven for a certain short distance without the driver’s key.

 

If you already own, or are thinking of purchasing a fleet of, Electric Vehicles and you would like more information on the products and services Handsfree Group can offer to improve communication, safety and security for you and your fleet, please contact us to arrange a meeting and full demonstration.

New Additional Handsfree Group Warehouse & Distribution Centre

Expansion

In 2016, Handsfree Group successfully opened Installhub, their state-of-the-art 10,000 sq ft specialist vehicle conversion and installation centre in York.  Only two years later, they have had to further expand, with the addition of the Group’s new Warehouse and Distribution Centre, perfectly located in Trafford Park near Media City.

Handsfree Group HQ, in Cobra Court – Trafford Park, is home to highly skilled project management, work scheduling, development teams, sales and operations.

An expert ‘on-site’ team of Handsfree Group engineers, who are all trained to FCS1362 and FITAS industry standards operate from InstallHub. InstallHub’s primary role is providing specialist conversion and installation services to Handsfree Group’s impressive portfolio of transport, logistics and emergency service clients.

 

Success

It became necessary that in order to continue providing a top class service and remain committed to delivering projects nationwide within the transport, logistics and emergency services sectors, Handsfree Group needed to expand their warehouse and logistics operation. This expansion also needed to provide a dedicated production solution, where the groups customised vehicle solutions could be assembled for their customers.

The search has been a total success and subsequently the group have now moved into, and opened their new cutting edge 4000 sq ft warehousing and distribution centre in Kestral Road, Trafford Park, Manchester.

 

Investment

Matthew Johnson, Managing Director commented: “We are thrilled to be opening our new warehouse and distribution centre in Trafford Park. This is a big investment for Handsfree Group that builds on a decade and a half of our proud history. Our continued partnership with our software providers will encourage innovation and experimentation in our new UK logistics operations and help future-proof our business. We will be able to be even more responsive for our customers across all of our divisions, which include some of the most recognisable companies in the world.”

 

Streamlined

The opening of the new warehouse will further improve the exceptional level of service and value Handsfree Group pride themselves on, by streamlining logistics and increasing delivery efficiency with shorter lead times. The Group can also now hold more stock and easily receive larger consignments, which will better support their ever-expanding product ranges.

Handsfree Group attend NAPFM 2018 – The Emergency Fleet Exhibition

The Exhibition

NAPFM, the Emergency Fleet Exhibition and the National Association of Police Fleet Managers Conference, is one of the largest emergency service fleet events in Europe and is now in it’s 45th year.

Exhibitions are great platforms for businesses to showcase new products and reach out to new clientele. They provide an amazing opportunity for businesses within the industry to converse and learn from each other, as well as enabling a place for marketing and promotion.

Handsfree Group are always excited about industry changes and eager to learn from exhibition opportunities and exhibitors, which is why they had to visit this year’s NAPFM exhibition.

 

Handsfree Group’s Alert Division

Visiting this exhibition was paramount for Handsfree Group due to their involvement with the Emergency Services through their specialist Alert Division.  

Alert help the UK Police, Fire and Ambulance services with the installation of critical communications and safety equipment into emergency response vehicles and mobile command centres.

Vehicle Installations

Alert’s expert and dedicated team works with UK Police Forces, Ambulance Trusts and Fire Services.  Handsfree Group are a Federation of Communications Services (FCS) Gold Patron installer member that supports customers with full UK wide vehicle installation coverage through a specialist team of FCS FITAS accredited engineers.

Vehicle Technology

Alert successfully support emergency service clients in the supply of critical communications, safety equipment and Fixed Vehicle Device (FVD) technology solutions. Alert’s FVD critical communications line up includes the robust PT5 communication solutions.  PT5 devices are equipped, as standard, with WiFi, phone calls, 2 way comms and Push To Talk, whilst being fixed in situ with remote SIM cards.

Vehicle Conversion

Alert are a total solution provider customising vehicle communication and safety solutions for ESN / ESMCP.  Handsfree Group’s 10,000 sq ft vehicle conversion centre further supports clients in specialist emergency vehicle conversions, custom installation of critical FVD communications and ESN / ESMCP safety equipment

 

Meeting and Greeting Galore

At NAPFM 2018, Handsfree Group were delighted to meet up with many of the industry contributors and made some valuable connections and also saw lots of familiar faces.  It was a great exhibition which provided insights into the future of the Emergency Services Fleets.

If you would like more information on the Handsfree Group Alert Division, or indeed any other information, please contact us to arrange a meeting to discuss your requirements.

Handsfree Group Sponsors Ocado Driver of the Month

Rewarding Excellence

Ocado, the British online supermarket, has now been trading for 18 years. Their success is largely due to their ability to deliver groceries correctly and on time, in a safe and friendly manner.  

Their HGV and delivery drivers play a huge role in this success story, so Ocado realised the importance of incentivising and rewarding their dedicated delivery team Nationwide.

 

The Competition

The idea of setting up a monthly competition for their drivers with an annual overall Driver of the Year event was born.

Drivers are monitored within their region and scored on several aspects of their daily work, the main areas being their ability to drive safely, stay in control of their vehicle, follow instructions and deliver great customer service to the door.  

A winner for each region is announced every month and receives a fantastic prize.  Ocado then hold the annual Ocado Driver of the Year Event (#OcadoDOTY) where their safest drivers from around the country for that year are invited to attend a VIP track day.

They each drive a variety of cars and LGVs and are scored on their driving technique and safety skills and the highest scoring driver gets crowned Driver of the Year.

 

The Prize

Handsfree Group recognise the extent to which Ocado pride themselves on their high standards, particularly when it comes to the level of priority they place on safety.  

Handsfree Group provide expert advice on Fleet Operation Recognition Scheme (FORS) compliance, and work closely with Ocado in this area, so it was only natural for Handsfree Group to sponsor the Driver of the Month by offering a JustDRIVE Car DAB Digital Radio Kit including installation as a prize.

Every month, the top driver of a region will win the JustDRIVE kit to have installed into their own personal vehicle, that’s certainly something to “drive” towards.

The monthly competition and annual event have been running since 2009 and they continue to be a great incentive and reward for Ocado’s dedicated team members.

Quote:

“At Ocado, we work hard to be the best at what we do, and pride ourselves not only on delivering the finest groceries, but also on our award-winning service.

At the heart of this drive for great service is our dedicated team of HGV and delivery drivers. We call the latter Customer Service Team Members (CSTMs for short) because, quite simply, they do so much more than just deliver groceries. They’re the most visible part of our business – our ambassadors, even – and, with such a demanding role to play, we take their safety incredibly seriously.

To encourage a culture of road safety within our driving team, we regularly run training courses and safety awareness initiatives.”

New Mercedes Sprinter Van is coming…and Handsfree Group are ready for it!

Sprinter and eSprinter

If you haven’t already heard, the all-new Mercedes Sprinter van is due to be launched, with the all-electric eSprinter following in 2019.

 

TECh enhancements

Mercedes has concentrated on Comfort, Safety and Convenience improvements with their new, broader model line up.  

Here at Handsfree Group, we have studied the many options the new Sprinter has to offer. We are ready with the products that will even further enhance the driving experience and the safety of the driver, van, cargo and other road users.

 

Communication

Giving your team the tools to communicate effectively delivers positive results for your business. Here are some examples of the communication systems and accessories Handsfree Group can offer to improve communication when driving the new Mercedes Sprinter:

TECh PT range

Our range of PT fixed vehicle devices increase driver safety, improve fleet communication, reduce insurance premiums and offer; multi handset option; configurable operating modes; intercom capability; remote fleet management; panic alerts; and GPS Tracking.

Cradles

When you have invested in a mobile data terminal, such as a rugged PDA or Tablet, it is important to keep it fully secure, powered and connected. Handsfree Group supply and install a range of charging and non-charging cradle designs.

Docking Stations

Keep laptops, tablets and mobile data terminals powered and connected whilst on the move in the new Sprinter van. Our range of Docking stations is extensive and includes models from the likes of Havis and Gamber Johnson, providing products with wide-ranging components that mix and match to your specific needs. Our technical team can even design and engineer bespoke docking stations for your new Sprinter fleet.

Antennas

Our TECh store has a wide range of tried and tested antennas available, produced for PMR and public safety.  Our antennas are used throughout the world by hundreds of public safety departments. Our antenna solutions will work on the Sprinter, whether you need an integrated or body mounted antenna solution we have the expertise and range to meet your exact requirements.

 

Safety

Technology is available to make your new Mercedes’ and drivers safer. Here are some examples of products and accessories we offer to further enhance the safety of your Sprinter fleet:

Camera Solutions and Monitors

Whether you are looking for just the rear view from your vehicle or want all 4 sides on show, TECh have a solution to cover your needs.  The TECh store offers a wide range of popular packages that suit a number of needs right off the shelf, from OE integrated solutions like our brake light camera through to 360 degree birds eye view recording system.

Recording and Dashcams

If you require a forward facing recording camera to monitor passengers or exterior to monitor the vehicle and its surroundings, our TECh store has a vast selection of cameras suitable for your needs.

Sensor & Radar Systems

When the world gets a little too close for comfort, we have a comprehensive range of high quality sensor systems keep you aware of all things in your proximity.  

 

Security

Vehicle theft and the loss of valuable cargo can be troublesome for any business. Thankfully Handsfree Group can install a range of approved security products into your fleet that effectively deters criminals, whatever their intentions.  

Electronic Cargo Lock

Linking in to the factory fitted door locking system, the electrolock ensures that the load area door locks automatically on closing, and remain locked until the correctly coded i-button is applied to the access control reader.

Door Plates Kits

Our secure anti-drill plates prevent anyone gaining access to those key points on the vehicle, ensuring the contents remain secure. The visible portion is constructed of a stylish anti-drill metal with an enduring finish, with an internally mounted heavy duty protection plate for added security.

 

Click through and check out our TECh store today.