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How drills can strengthen the inspection process

By Gino Fontana

Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange

We’ve all heard that old adage, “inspect what you expect.” Of course, that means if you have goals for your team, you need to have ways to measure the achievement of those goals, and you need to review the data to see what it is telling you.

Sometimes when we repeatedly do a routine task, we can get a little sloppy. If we are tasked with inspecting something and we never find a problem, we may grow complacent and stop being diligent about giving the inspection our full attention.

Have you ever stopped to wonder how many pre-trip inspections a seasoned driver has completed? I am not sure I could even hazard a guess but, in some cases, I would not be surprised if some drivers had done thousands of pre-trip inspections.

We all know these inspections are extremely important. Not only do they find problems that could result in a fine or out-of-service citation from law enforcement, but they help fleets ensure they are sending their drivers out in safe vehicles that are operating properly.

A big trend in employee motivation is gamification—the process of adding game-like elements to encourage participation. We’ve taken that approach here at Transervice when it comes to vehicle inspections, with good results.

We call these efforts inspection drills. As a part of these drills, we will go through a vehicle and purposely add faults to it. It could be something like cutting power to a smart-drive system, deflating one steer, unhooking the safety latch for the fire extinguisher, tire, and pulling out the bulb over the license plate on the trailer. You get the idea.

Or we may do something like put a note in an area of the truck that should be getting attention during the pre-trip like the oil dipstick. The note will tell the driver that he or she has won a gift card to Subway for finding the note. When the driver finds the note, he or she turns it into the office to receive their gift card.

This same idea can be used with technicians; it is similar to what you find in a technician skills competition. Faults are placed on the truck, and the technician is given a limited amount of time to find out the things that are wrong with the truck.

The intent of these inspection drills should be educational, not punitive. You are trying to remind drivers and technicians that they need to give each and every inspection their full attention. Adding a gaming element to the process is a good way to get them involved and focused on paying close attention to everything on the inspection checklist.

 

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