The Role of Digital Transformation in Chain of Responsibility (COR)
Chain of Responsibility (COR) is a hot topic in the WA logistics market despite legislation first being passed in May 2012.
In short the Chain of Responsibility laws means that anyone in the Chain who has influence over the driver or the load can be held responsible in the event of a road law breach or incident.
National COR Laws
The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is one set of laws for heavy vehicles (over 4.5 tonnes) that cover, among other things, vehicle accreditation, load restraints, driver fatigue management and speed limit management.
The HVNL and regulations commenced in the ACT, NSW, Qld, SA, TAS and VIC on 10 February 2014. The Northern Territory and Western Australia did not adopt the HVNL.
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has recently announced that amendments to the COR laws are coming in mid 2018, attempting to achieve better alignment with workplace health and safety laws, which is encouraging to see.
COR Laws in WA
In WA the legislation specifies two categories of vehicles;
Heavy vehicle = GVM of 4.5 tonne or over
Light vehicles = GVM of less than 4.5 tonne
In WA COR laws apply to all vehicle types, i.e. both those over 4.5 tonnes as well as light vehicles (under 4.5 tonnes), however it only extends to vehicle mass, dimension and load restraint (MDLR) breaches. It does not cover fatigue, speeding, drugs/alcohol and health.
Current Position in WA
Fast forward five years from the introduction of the 2012 legislation and some businesses have made a good crack at improving systems whilst others have struggled, remain oblivious or simply don’t care.
After 13 years in positions where it was one of my core responsibilities to manage drivers, contractors and 3rd party suppliers I think the foundations are strong but far from perfect. If you think there is a secret formula to how drivers/contractors are managed by carriers across Australia, there isn’t. At the coal face, the process plays out as follows:
- Contractor application pack filled out
- Insurances, credentials and licences provided
- Conversation about their fleet, drivers and experience
- Information entered in to a spreadsheet or system (the larger organisations typically have their own in-house system)
- Induction process commenced
- Contractor ready to work
As you can see, this process is pretty basic, however its simplicity provides the perfect opportunity for significant process improvement with the benefits of these improvements directly translating to safer roads and drivers. Imagine you have a new customer that needs 40 trucks a week. Can you possibly sit with all of the drivers? Can you possibly check 40 licences every morning to make sure they are valid? Can you confidently say that those drivers have been vetted by your business?
Scenarios like this have necessitated an evolution of the logistics business model, for the better with various controls being put in place, , however I will say that the “we vet our drivers/contractors” probably doesn’t mean exactly what you think itdoes under current practices.
Technology to the Rescue
Enter technology, providing businesses with the ability to access real time information, allowing them to desktop audit their 3rd party network, with a lock out system to instantly pause risks to our road network, simultaneously making that supplier directly accountable for their actions i.e. no compliance, no work = no $$). This affords businesses greater control over their activity and for some, further tightens their existing processes by digitally transforming data, which previously had to be entered manually.
It is concerning to consider just how many businesses are operating on our road network “invisible” to regulators. That somehow, if you are under 4.5t you don’t fall under the same regulations as other freight operators. Who’s helping these businesses remain compliant? With growing volumes and more business using alternative distribution models to meet demand, we need to ensure that all operators are visible and accountable.
Instead of looking at what cloud based or crowd sourced transport solutions don’t do, we should instead be considering what is it they can do to help.
As an old mentor once said, if you can’t see it you can’t fix it.