Australian heavy industry is finally being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century with the announcement this morning that the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator has finally approved the first Electronic Work Diaries for heavy vehicle drivers.

Drivers and fleets will now have a choice in how they record their work and rest hours, with EWD, which are electronic recording systems to record work and rest times, as a voluntary alternative to the Written Work Diary.

Deputy PM and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack made the announcement  today and said the rollout of EWDs from 1st  December would mean drivers can now “put down the pen, paper and ruler when recording work and rest hours”.

“Congratulations to local Australian companies Step Global and Teletrac Navman which have met the strict requirements to provide an alternative to a Written Work Diary,” Mr McCormack said.

“The work diary has been a requirement for fatigue-related heavy vehicles* for more than half a century, and today more than 200,000 Written Work Diaries are used by heavy vehicle drivers each year.

“This announcement will cut this red tape enabling drivers to record their work and rest hours by simply pressing a button, rather than spending time ruling lines and counting multiple time periods on multiple pieces of paper.”

The EWD Policy Framework and Standards were developed in association with technology providers, transport operators, police and transport authorities in 2018 and were subject to comprehensive review and consultation.

As far as T&B News can tell after speaking with representatives of both Teletrac Navman and Step Global the two approved systems are quite different in terms of hardware and sectors of the market they may appeal to.

The Teletrac Navman system is tied into that company’s telematics system and the EWD component has to be used with its own tablets and fleet based telematics offering.

Step Global’s system is a tablet or smart phone based app system  that  appears to have a lot of appeal for owner drivers, contract drivers or small fleets  as well as for larger fleets. Currently it is only available for Android based  devices, however  it is expected to be available as an Apple iOS app for iPhones and iPads in the next few months.

Stop Global, told T&B News that he believe the Step Global Smart eDriver system is actually the only system fully tested and certified for the full NHVR EWD standards and will go live on the 1st December. He disputes the ability for the Teletrac Navman to be fully compliant by  the introduction date  and says the company is discussing this with the NHVR.

“We can tell you our platform is fully compliant with all NHVR standard and Basic Fatigue Management rules right now and has the ability to integrate Advanced Fatigue Management solutions on request,” Stop Global told us.

Stop Global says Smart eDriver users can download the mobile application onto any compliant Android device from the Google Play store, sign up with one of Step Global’s distributors and get started.

Integrated training is available on the app and the company says that driver can be ready to start using the electronic work diary in less than 30 minutes. For the operator, there is free access to the Smart eDriver portal and reports.

Drivers will be able to download the app after 23 November and complete training ready for the 1 December launch.

Teletrac Navman told T&B News that it pioneered EWDs and fatigue management solutions in Australia as far back 12 years ago, with its Sentinel system  oming to market in 2008.

The company says its customers have adopted Sentinel to check the accuracy of their written work diaries and gain a greater level of back office visibility into driver hours.

It says it has developed a deep understanding of fatigue risks and challenges,  and continually updated the solution based on customer feedback.

It added that it has given created a comprehensive EWD solution that meets real day-to-day needs of transport operators, administrators and drivers.

Teletrac Navman says its Sentinel is already being used by more than 40,000 drivers across Australia, and these customers will be able to move to the new NHVR-approved solution at no additional cost from 1st December 2020.

The new solution is also available now for all new clients of Teletrac Navman’s telemetry systems from this date.

A group of early adopters will be the first to install the technology in December, including prominent organisations such as Lindsay Australia and Aldi.

Teletrac Navman’s chief product officer, Andrew Rossington says that its EWDs will streamline and simplify the whole process of logging driver hours, both from a safety and operational standpoint.

“EWDs empower drivers to manage their own compliance, give managers peace of mind that their drivers are safe, and make it easy for everyone to stay compliant and keep records of driver work and rest times,” Rossington said.

“Digitising processes will also help the industry tackle growing demand and a shrinking pool of drivers. This kind of technology is set to assist a new generation of drivers, ones who will be more familiar with a device than they are with pen and paper,” he added.

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said both companies are technology partners with a number of heavy vehicle operators, which should see a broad rollout across industry.

“This approval gives the providers the green light to work with their partners to use their products as an approved fatigue management system,” Mr Buchholz said.

“We know both technology companies have a number of transport and logistics operators ready and eager to adopt the technology and we should see a good uptake across the industry.

NHVR Chair Duncan Gay said a company’s investment in EWDs is an investment in industry safety and productivity.

“Right now, industry is managing 60 million pages of work diary paper per year – this equates to 14 B-Double loads of red tape,” Mr Gay said.

“Today’s announcement will enable companies and drivers to more effectively focus on managing their fatigue, rather than managing the book – which is an important step forward in delivering improved fatigue safety outcomes.

“As well as reducing time checking written work records on the side of the road, it also delivers huge cost and time savings for heavy vehicle businesses with many operators spending multiple days every week reconciling the written work book with internal systems.

“I look forward to welcoming other technology providers also submitting systems for approval.”

Drivers and operators interested in the benefits of using an EWD should contact an approved provider to arrange their access.

There is currently no application fee to apply for approval of an EWD and all approved EWDs will be listed on the NHVR website at www.nhvr.gov.au/ewd

Authorised officers and police will still be able to check an EWD, including recent records, at the roadside to ensure drivers aren’t exceeding their legal driving limits.

Approval for these companies to provide an EWD was based on comprehensive technical assessments and expert advice and while many operators and the NHVR were keen to see the first EWDs rolled out, it is also important to ensure that approved systems are fit for purpose for Australian laws.