Exclusive: Providing the key to success

October 25, 2021

KeyWatcher Fleet from Morse Watchmans, Inc. ensures the thorough safeguarding of vehicle keys and optimises fleet utilisation.

Anyone who has ever been in the driver’s seat to a car that suddenly breaks down knows what a time consuming nightmare and expensive headache it is getting help and repairing the vehicle for use straight away. While that’s just one personal vehicle, many commercial, business and government departments need to schedule and maintain dozens of vehicles used for distribution and passenger transport.

Unexpected vehicle breakdowns have a domino effect that cause expensive scheduling difficulties and passenger delays.

Preventing vehicles from being stolen is yet another challenge. According to a report in April 2021 from LeicestershireLive, a Ford Transit van and mini dumper truck went missing from a building site in Market Harborough. Within an hour, the van was recovered by police in Nottinghamshire with the dumper truck inside and a trailer in tow, which was also believed to have been stolen from the building site. An arrest was made by police, but could this incident at the building site have been prevented?

Although the news report did not state whether the thief was an employee of the building company or a random culprit sneaking around the building site after hours, an extra measure of security and accountability may have prevented either the dishonest employee or the outsider from stealing the vehicles. Sometimes keys are accidently or purposely left right inside the vehicle ignition or left on the driver’s seat when not being used; this provides a golden opportunity for a thief.

Any organisation running a fleet of vehicles needs not only to safeguard vehicle keys but also to optimise utilisation of the fleet. The Morse Watchmans KeyWatcher Fleet can do both and is a practical and ideal security product for any small to medium-sized fleet.

Improved accountability and security for fleets

The KeyWatcher Fleet’s electronic key control capability ensures that every facility and fleet key is securely managed. All keys are tracked to all users, creating a system that provides accountability with an audit trail – this prevents them from being misplaced, lost, stolen or misused. The system also ensures that keys are only assigned to authorised users, which can also be specific keys for specific vehicles. Users access the KeyWatcher Fleet system with individual PIN codes. An optional card or fingerprint reader or facial recognition can also be added for greater security.

Fleet managers will always know when keys are taken out, where they are going and when they are returned with the key control system. The key cabinets are equipped with an alarm feature that sends alerts when keys are overdue being returned or if unauthorised individuals are trying to breach the cabinet.

When key control is added to the master security plan, the benefits are a significantly reduced risk of vehicles or keys being stolen and reduced incidents of liability. Employee accountability is immediately shown to fleet managers with a reporting function that provides instant or scheduled audits as needed. Every transaction involving a key and a vehicle is transparent; this promotes honesty and trust in the workplace. Drivers also benefit with a streamlined workflow when keys are no longer misplaced or go missing so they can get on the road in a timely manner to keep up with busy logistics schedules.

Robust software optimises fleet utilisation

The KeyWatcher Fleet makes it easy to right-size and maximise the life of the fleet. The KeyWatcher Fleet’s smart software ensures that maintenance schedules are in place and followed. The system has plenty of reminders for the scheduling of a variety of services such as regular oil changes, tire rotations, state inspections and manufacturer maintenance programmes. Total mileage, recurring mileage, fuel and service issue tracking and time usage of every vehicle can also be tracked.

This helps fleet managers determine the order that vehicles are issued so utilisation of every fleet vehicle is maximised. Every fleet vehicle is an investment and needs to be managed and protected from overuse and misuse.

When vehicles are not properly maintained, the life span of the vehicle is shorter and fleet managers run the risk of vehicle maintenance issues which also results in safety concerns, reduced productivity and lost wages. In addition, the KeyWatcher Fleet’s “notes” feature allows drivers to share service or safety issues and any other concerns when the key to that vehicle is returned. This allows fleet managers to stay informed and to stay compliant prior to mandatory vehicle inspections.

The KeyWatcher Fleet system performs a variety of vehicle rotation capabilities including: lowest mileage – vehicles with the lowest mileage are issued first to balance usage; first in, first out – vehicles are issued in the order of which they were returned so each vehicle gets used the same number of times and ensures that newer vehicles are not being overused; most fuel/charge – vehicles are issued based on the amount of fuel or charge they have; priority – vehicles are issued based on purpose, need and priority criteria determined by fleet administrators.

Lengthening the lifespan of every fleet vehicle leads to better resale and the purchase of new vehicles as needed, rather than prematurely, as a result of poorly managed fleet operation. The KeyWatcher Fleet is a tool that will help with revenue and profit as well as safety and liability.

Ways to extend the life of your fleet

1. Set service triggers – use the KeyWatcher Fleet to set service triggers for routine maintenance items such as oil changes, tire rotations, brake inspections and other service and safety issues rather than rely on the drivers to keep track of and report these issues. Triggers are configurable within the system software based on total mileage, recurring mileage, usage time or regular time intervals.

2. Take vehicles offline for service – sometimes incidents outside routine service occur such as a punctured tire or cracked windshield. When this happens, drivers can use the “notes” feature on the KeyWatcher Fleet to report the problem. The system allows vehicles to be taken offline for repair at any time and then be added back into the rotation line-up when the service issue is resolved by a technician.

3. Use vehicle pools – eliminate over or under-utilisation of every vehicle by splitting vehicles into “pools”. Pool types allow vehicles to be assigned through rotation according to lowest mileage, first-in, first-out, most fuel/charge and priority.

Balancing the usage among fleet vehicles extends the life of each one. Under-utilisation represents lost value and revenue while over-utilisation represents wearing out vehicles too quickly. Either way, under or over-utilisation adversely affects profitability and makes it difficult to “right-size” the fleet.

Improperly maintained fleet vehicles are a major cause of accidents and unfortunately innocent people lose their lives every year because of negligence due to ignoring service and repair issues to fleets. Neglecting service and repairs to fleet vehicles leads to compliance issues and violations when inspections reveal multiple vehicle maintenance problems.

According to an Associated Press article in 2016, a small bus company based in the US state of Texas was twice ordered by inspectors to offline one of its buses to fix brake and emergency-exit problems in 2015. Then in 2016, a fatal rollover involving one of the company’s buses killed eight people and injured 44 others. Whilst trying to determine the cause of the rollover crash, investigators discovered that the bus company had 15 total violations since 2014, ranging from over the limit hours-of-service logs for drivers and vehicle maintenance problems involving brake connections with leaks, issues with the automatic brake adjustment system and a discoloured windshield.

Routine fleet maintenance saves lives. Not one business or organisation can afford to overlook the financial considerations and liability and life-changing ramifications if the fleet is in disrepair and neglected. Morse Watchmans’ KeyWatcher Fleet controls the keys and controls the fleet in a simplified and secure way to ensure that vehicles are being properly maintained, protected from being stolen and are always safe and always ready for the road.

Morse Watchmans, Inc. is the original developer and global leader of electronic key control with authorised distributors around the world. All products are made in the USA. To find out more information, visit: www.morsewatchmans.com

This article was originally published in the October edition of Security Journal UK. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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