January 31, 2023
The Cost of Compliance

Fargo Systems shares why regulatory compliance is a vital element of running a successful transport business, how its TOPS fleet management module supports customers in their compliance efforts, and the realities of being held to account at a Traffic Commissioner’s Public Inquiry.

Vital for the country’s financial success and contributing 10% to the UK non-financial business economy*, the smooth running of the logistics sector has never been so important. And with over 205,000 logistics enterprises across the country, running a compliant fleet is a pre-requisite for maintaining reputation and staying in business.

As the UK’s leading software provider to the intermodal transport industry, Fargo Systems understands the legislative elements of compliance and the cost-saving and efficiency benefits of running a safe and roadworthy fleet.

Fargo Systems’ Project Director, Jim Slade, says: “Having well-maintained vehicles prevents unscheduled downtime, which can be costly and disruptive to service. The information available to evidence that essential checks have been carried out to specific standards creates an auditable trail necessary for fleet compliance regulations.

“Understanding the regulatory requirements has enabled us to develop a fleet management module that offers a full suite of interfaces, systems and prompts to ensure every vehicle ticks all the compliance boxes and is operated at optimum efficiency levels.”

Offering a host of benefits, key USPs of Fargo’s fleet management system include:

  • Fully digitalised fleet management system with secure and robust architecture protecting fleet maintenance schedules.
  • A handheld device allows drivers to submit timesheets, defects, expenses, fuel draws and receive operational instructions digitally, all in one place.
  • Records certifications, licences, expiry dates, hazards, CPC cards, endorsements, and ADR certificates. These can be validated against cargo movements to ensure you use the right resources for the job.

Gaining the seal of approval from all that use the module, ATL Haulage’s fleet director, Jamie Woodward, says of the system: “Quite possibly the biggest advocates of TOPS fleet management system, we use every aspect of the module. It mitigates a host of paperwork and enables us to offer a very slick paper-free service. The benefits that stood out to us and prompted our decision to implement the technology include its appointment management capabilities, the module’s ability to manage defects and how it manages our drivers seamlessly. From licence checks to payroll, holiday allowance, CPC cards and HGV checks.”

Getting the green light from Macintyre Transport’s fleet engineer, Alan Collier, Alan says,  “Digitally managing our purchase order process, TOPS fleet management is fully integrated and allocates every PO directly to an asset. It brings control and compliance to our spend.”

Chloe Goddard, Macintyre’s fleet supervisor, adds: “Removing all admin requirements from our drivers, the technology enables them to concentrate on meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations.”

Ross Mitchell, Transport Operations Director at John Mitchell Haulage and Warehousing, adds: “Increasing our TOPS investment back in 2019 enabled us to go fully electronic with the goal being to achieve Earned Recognition operator status.

“Using TopsTMS® innovative software gives us total visibility of our scheduling and maintenance records and demonstrates our compliance. TOPS automatically reports the fleet maintenance data to the standard the DVSA requires, helping us maintain our Earned Recognition standard.”

For most logistics companies, maintaining compliance is integral to staying in business and being profitable. However, the seriousness of being asked to attend a Public Inquiry in front of the Traffic Commissioner quickly becomes apparent for those who find themselves breaking the law.

Peter Bennett, a transport compliance specialist at VARTAN Consultancy, explains: “Receiving a ‘call to Public Inquiry’ letter is not to be underestimated – and with good reason. Given the genuine risk that regulatory action will be taken against the operator’s licence and transport manager(s), a call to Public Inquiry (or Preliminary Hearing) should be taken seriously.

“It provides you with a chance to demonstrate to the Traffic Commissioner that you have resolved the issues that led to the hearing and that you can be trusted to operate compliantly. When issued with an Operator Licence, the people named on that licence are signing up to abide by 11 undertakings. On numerous occasions, I have seen companies that did not understand those requirements and the consequences of failing to comply.”

The court-like proceedings of a Public Inquiry can be a highly pressurised, stressful, and emotionally draining experience for operators and transport managers.

“As a transport compliance specialist, I have been asked to comment at many Public Inquiries. Considering the Traffic Commissioner’s power to exert potentially career and business-changing consequences, it is a more prudent business decision to operate legally and within the regulatory compliance requirements rather than put your whole livelihood at risk.”

Jim Slade concludes: “Having gained a reputation for keeping Britain moving through the Covid years, and with demands on the movement of goods and warehousing showing no sign of abating, compliance must be considered one of a company’s most important KPIs. Collecting all the required data as a matter of course, the TOPS fleet management module is the logistic industry’s underestimated hero. We would urge customers who have not implemented it or are not using it to its full potential to revisit its capabilities or get in touch to learn more.”