All Systems Go

Step Global has developed a complete Electronic Work Diary (EWD) app in-house at its Melbourne facility. The project was started in February 2019 and completed in September 2020, well in time for the official EWD introduction in early December 2020.

Step Global was established 12 years ago as a specialist GPS and telematics technology provider for systems integrators. Some years back a number of these systems integrators came to the company and asked it to build an EWD.

According to Ian Johnson, Step Global Product Manager, the company has an engineering team that assists the system integrators with difficult tasks.

“We had about five or six partners asking us to build an EWD, so the result was that we came up with the product and named it Smart eDriver,” he says.

Ian says while the company fully developed and engineered the product, it uses a distributor model to market it with a view to being an industry leader in the EWD space.

“Our top competitors in telematics are now coming on board with us to sell the Smart eDriver and we want to make it the industry standard,” he says.

Ian notes the company is also consulting with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) in a bid to gain app only approval.

“Our EWD app is designed to work on any Android device that meets a minimum standard and is available from Google Play,” he says – adding there’s no need to buy hardware as long as the operator has a suitable device.

“All that’s required is to pay the subscription, install the app and you’re good to go,” Ian says.

One of the current criticisms of the EWD is that at this stage it can only be used on Android devices. According to Ian, Step Global is preparing to address this issue.

“We’re building an iOS (Apple) app that should be out by mid this year, pending approval by the NHVR,” he says.

Regarding cost, Ian says Step Global’s EWD subscription is $23.00 per month per driver, and there is also a vehicle option for businesses that have multiple drivers using the same truck.

“We have the different options because there are different needs within the industry and we’re also preparing to introduce a part-time EWD which costs about $5.00 per month for access to the system and $2.00 per day when it’s used,” he says. “This can also be used by solo drivers or businesses although when solo drivers change employment, they can take the EWD with them to use in their future employment.”

He adds that if the driver’s new employer also uses Smart eDriver, his or her past history can be linked into the employer’s system and that every month of subscription entitles a user to a subsequent three years of Cloud-based data storage.

An early adopter of the EWD is Trevor Warner, long distance truck driver and Queensland Delegate of the National Road Freighters Association.

According to Trevor, the EWD is a lot easier to use than the conventional work diary and he says he has also found additional benefits given that EWD work and rest times are calculated in one-minute increments rather than 15-minute blocks.

“Because of the way it counts time its giving me more work time during the day and over 28 days you can potentially, and legally, end up with an extra day of work,” Trevor says.

“Not that I want to work any harder but because I live in a regional area, getting home to the family before I run out of work hours can be a bit tricky.

Trevor says his boss is keenly awaiting the development of the Smart eDriver Dashboard which will enable him to see how much work Trevor has done, how many work hours he has left and when he’s due for a 24-hour break.

“That way he will be able to allocate me the correct amount of work rather than taking a stab in the dark and then all of a sudden I’m halfway through a journey and out of hours,” Trevor says.

Having previously worked in Operations at a transport company, Trevor says the biggest problem is a lack of communication.

“Even though we had GPS, when a truck is parked at the markets or at Coles you didn’t know whether that driver was working or resting. You’d basically rely on them to ring you so you could make a note of it on the runboard,” Trevor says. “The Dashboard will enable employers to pinpoint exactly how many driving hours their drivers will have two weeks ahead. I think this is going to be absolutely revolutionary.”

The Smart eDriver EWD requires the driver to manually enter work and rest time and also incorporates a pre-start check for the driver to complete and sign-on-glass before commencing work.

All up, the Step Global EWD has the potential to revolutionise the compulsory work diarising that every long-distance driver must complete daily.

Another plus and no less important, is that it will potentially enable Operations Managers to balance business needs with greater accuracy while maximising the capabilities, in terms of available working hours, of its drivers.