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How AI-enabled video tech is improving safety across the supply chain

Philip van der Wilt Profile picture for user Philip van der Wilt Samsara August 29, 2022
Summary:
Philip van der Wilt of Samsara delves into the construction company that uses AI-enabled tech to keep their employees safe.

Inside of car showing driver using a dashcam © Nicole Tarasuk - Unsplash
(© Nicole Tarasuk - Unsplash)

At Iowa-based construction company Rasmussen Group, every morning starts the same. A company-wide ‘Daily Huddle’ focuses on the issues of the day. It’s then followed by core messaging on how safety resides with each individual employee — and not sat in the pages of a health and safety manual gathering dust.

When it comes to the wellbeing of its staff, the construction company makes a point of going the extra mile to ensure a safety culture that is deep-seated across the entire business.

As part of that, this family-friendly company has embraced a toolkit of technologies to ensure that drivers have everything they need to operate safely.

That means lorries and trucks are fitted with the latest connected cameras, GPS tracking, telematics, and AI technology to record events as they happen — both on the road and in the driver’s cab — with data and footage uploaded to the cloud in real time.

Connected tech saves money and helps prevent accidents

Thanks to the introduction of connected cameras, the company saw a 30% reduction in reversing accidents and saved $30,000 in just the first few months after they were installed. 

As Sajid Ordagic, safety manager at Rasmussen Group, says:

We can now…quickly retrieve video footage through the cloud in minutes, and significantly decrease our volume of backup incidents and associated pay-outs.

And they’re not alone. Another company — US-based energy distribution business Superior Plus Propane — explained recently how the implementation of cloud-connected in-vehicle cameras and AI-enabled prompts are helping to coach its drivers on how to improve their motoring behaviour. 

Like Rasmussen, the firm places safety at the heart of its operation, which perhaps goes some way to explain why at just 15%, its driver turnover rate is six times below the industry average in the US.

We use the cameras to help coach the drivers, to really protect and engage with them,” explained Shawn Quagliaroli, Superior Plus Propane’s operations manager. He highlights how “the data that we get helps us have positive conversations about safe driving habits that we want to implement in our company.

Tech can be used to coach drivers and improve safety

All of this has come about because those industries that were once left in the slow lane when it comes to technology are now becoming increasingly tech savvy. 

Unlike so many other transformational IT solutions that cost millions and take months to implement, the connected technology is quick and easy to install and is relatively inexpensive.

But even though it’s widely available, it’s not simply just a case of plugging it in and expecting to see results — the scope of work goes beyond the remit solely of the IT department.

Like any transformational technology, it needs leadership, clear messaging, and employee buy-in to make any implementation project a success.

Indeed, anyone who has been involved in digital transformation projects in whatever business sector will know that there is always an element of expectation management. And any successful introduction of technology has to go hand-in-hand with a clearly thought-out communications plan.

Which is what Antalis — a UK-based specialist provider of paper, packaging and visual communications across Europe — did when it introduced connected dashcams.

Professional drivers deserve professional protection

Right from the outset, senior managers at Antalis explained to staff that they wanted to use dashcams to protect drivers on the road and use footage to defend them in the event of a dispute.

And rather than introduce the technology overnight, senior manages sat down with every driver individually to explain why the cameras were being rolled out and to address any concerns. 

Nicholas Thompson, supply chain director at Antalis, has a clear view on the critical role of the company’s fleet employees and the commitment to their safety:

At Antalis, we believe every driver in our team is a professional driver. We told our drivers that this technology will allow us to prove you are a professional driver. This will protect you.

Initially, there were a few questions around data privacy and how long the footage would be kept. But any concerns quickly evaporated after a couple of colleagues were exonerated by footage captured by the cameras and, as Thompson says, “the drivers are absolutely bought in now”.

Put safety first and more business benefits follow

The knock-on effects can be seen right across the business. Access to cloud-connected dashcams that allows footage to be reviewed within minutes of an accident has transformed Antalis’ incident response and simplified insurance claims. 

What once used to take four hours to process can now be completed in as little as 15 minutes. If there is no case to answer — as is so often the scenario — the matter is dealt with there and then. The footage speaks for itself. 

Thompson says that now the company can “see immediately whether we’re to blame. If we’re not to blame, we can push back on insurers, protecting our drivers and business reputation.”

As a result, Antalis, which operates a distribution network of 14 warehouses and almost 200 vehicles, has cut insurance costs by 75% in a year and strengthened relationships with drivers.

What’s clear is that technology has a significant role in ensuring safety in those industries that rely on vehicles. Telematics, dashcams, and AI all play their part.

Because the most important things for those people who physically move products from A to B is that they return home to their families safe and sound at the end of every shift. The rest is a bonus.

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