Tools for Operating Fleets During COVID-19

March 27, 2020

As the world braces for the continued impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the fallout is already causing enormous strain to our global supply chain and economy. Here at Samsara we have been staying closely connected to our customers and looking for ways to help. 

The following tips on how to leverage your Samsara technology as you adapt your business to the outbreak come from conversations with hundreds of customers on the front lines.

Whether you’re operating critical infrastructure or simply trying to keep your team safe while you prepare for the recovery, read on.

Enable remote work

If your administrative staff—dispatchers, safety and compliance managers—have not yet begun working remotely, now may be the right time to test out remote operations. Hosting a “dry run” day at your company can help employees feel prepared to access all essential systems in the event that your community receives a shelter-in-place order. 

Our customers working from home can still access the Samsara dashboard from any internet-connected computer. We recommend the Chrome web browser for best results, so if they’re using a personal computer, check to make sure they have Chrome installed.

Many day-to-day tasks can also be completed on a mobile device with the Samsara Fleet App, such as checking vehicle locations, sharing ETAs with your customers, and reviewing safety events. 

Apply the emergency HOS exemption to your fleet

On March 13, 2020, the FMCSA released an unprecedented emergency declaration that suspends Hours of Service (HOS) rules for carriers and drivers who are providing direct assistance in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

To help our impacted customers, we published an FAQ about the suspension and are keeping it updated as new amendments are announced. Find out if the HOS suspension applies to your drivers.

If you’re using a Samsara ELD and the suspension does apply, we recommend that drivers select Personal Conveyance and include a remark indicating they are driving under the exemption. This will prevent violations from appearing and will not impact the driver’s cycle time.

Whether you choose to have your drivers utilize the Personal Conveyance status or simply annotate their ELD record, it’s important to continue to maintain clean logs. Our Compliance Dashboard is a helpful tool that gives you visibility into HOS violations across your entire fleet. As with any Samsara report, you can apply tag-based filters to quickly drill down into information for a specific group of drivers. This makes it easier to determine which drivers or vehicles are missing remarks and work with them to maintain clean logs.

Tag drivers assisting with COVID-19 relief

If you are involved with relief efforts, identify and tag the vehicles and drivers who are directly assisting.

You can share the location of tagged vehicles, monitor their route performance, and enable dispatchers to keep a closer eye on ETA and keep track of drivers who are applying the HOS exemption.

Maintain “social distancing” with digital workflows

With the Samsara Driver App, drivers can access information for their daily check-in without an in-person interaction. Instead of physical time cards, some fleets are “clocking in” drivers using a message from the app and assigning routes to drivers through the app.

If you are still using paper-based DVIRs, proof of delivery, fuel receipts, and other forms, now may be the time to switch to digital documents. Most standard documents are available out-of-the-box in the Driver App, and you can create custom documents—complete with electronic signatures and photos—in a few minutes.

Digital documents through the Driver App reduce the risk of transmitting germs through shared paperwork and face-to-face exchanges. And they’re usually faster and easier to manage, too.

If you’re using Samsara for Hours of Service, your drivers are already using the app. But if not, then simply create a driver login for them in your dashboard, and have them download the app on any Android or iOS device.

Adapt to fast-changing demand with real-time routing and dispatch

With some routes cancelled and others surging, real-time tracking of both vehicles and trailers helps fleets route drivers efficiently to meet demand.

While some businesses are closed, many warehouses and receiving docks are experiencing unprecedented increases in demand, resulting in longer-than-usual detention times. Samsara provides visibility into these wait times with our detention report, so that drivers and dispatchers can make adjustments to plan as necessary. 

Help customers manage surging with live ETAs

If you’re providing goods or services to grocery or healthcare providers, they are likely overwhelmed with customers or patients. With Live Sharing, your customer can track your incoming vehicle in real time, and get an alert when you are about to arrive so they’re prepared to receive you. This way they don’t waste precious time waiting, and your driver is less likely to be held up waiting for them.

Keep overworked drivers safe

If your drivers are operating under the HOS suspension and are on the road for longer periods, they are more likely to be fatigued. With these extenuating circumstances, it’s more important than ever to prevent accidents by proactively assisting drivers.

Dual-facing AI dash cams help you keep an eye on drivers’ safety and ensure that they aren’t fatigued or distracted. Dash cams have built-in speakers for in-cab alerts for speeding, harsh events, and unbuckled seat belts.

Set up an alert for safety events (like harsh braking and speeding) for the drivers operating under HOS suspension and have them delivered right to the Samsara Fleet App.

Ensure sanitization between shifts

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, sanitizing shared equipment has become a frequent part of our customers’ safety routine.

To ensure new sanitization practices are being followed, you can customize your electronic DVIRs so that pre- and post-trip inspections (for vehicles and trailers alike) now incorporate specific cleaning procedures.

Completed DVIRs are uploaded instantly to the Samsara dashboard, giving maintenance personnel instant visibility into issues that require their attention. To help our customers adjust to new sanitization guidelines, we have released a new defect filter to the DVIR dashboard, so that you can identify vehicles in need of sanitization at a glance.

Fleet managers are able to configure alerts to notify staff when DVIRs are submitted that require additional attention; in this case, shop personnel and fleet managers would be able to immediately take action to sanitize a vehicle and make it safe for future drivers.

Identify possible virus exposure

Quickly and accurately identifying people who may have been exposed to the virus is critical to stop its spread. People who may have been exposed should take recommended action to find care, self-quarantine if needed, and communicate possible risk of further transmission. 

If a member of your team or someone your team interacts with has tested positive, you can use the Samsara platform to help identify others who may have been exposed. 

Customers can use Proximity Search to see which vehicles visited the exposure site within a certain timeframe. The Time on Site report shows how long drivers have been in an area. 

Maximize vehicle uptime when every mile counts

For the fleets fortunate enough to have surging demand, it’s more important than ever to avoid unplanned vehicle downtime. As our long-time customer Cash-Wa Distributing, a Nebraska-based foodservice distributor said, “Keeping our trucks running at top quality means we can prevent delivery delays.” 

Use the maintenance features in Samsara to ensure you don’t fall behind on preventative maintenance when under heavy utilization, and enable real-time alerting for engine faults to address issues before they cause a breakdown.

Supporting you during the pandemic

With some businesses temporarily shuttered and others pushed to the limit maintaining supply chains and critical infrastructure, responding to this crisis has involved tremendous sacrifice. We celebrate everything that our customers are doing to protect the community, keep store shelves stocked, and maintain critical infrastructure and services during this unprecedented time.

We will continue to support our customers by closely monitoring public health guidance and regulations, receiving valuable feedback from our users, and communicating relevant and helpful information.

If you have feedback for us or tips you’d like to share with others, please reach out to your Samsara customer success representative—we are here to help.

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