Fleet News

Fleet funding: Inspectors’ gadgets new ways to deal with damage

CONTRACT hire and leasing companies are getting much better at assessing end-of-contract vehicle damage. New technology means it takes only a couple of minutes to assess a car and produce a repair bill for the customer.

Damage data can be recorded accurately, leaving no room for error or argument when repair bills eventually land on fleet desks.

It is up to the fleet manager to ensure the damage does not happen in the first place and if it does happen, it is essential to understand the latest technology being used in the industry to know why nothing will be missed.

One group has been piloting a new mobile data recording system which is set to go live later this month.

It provides new and used vehicle preparation and refurbishment, vehicle inspection services, storage, transportation and vehicle fulfilment services to the automotive sector.

The Autograph Inspect and Collect system from Inchcape Automotive is not a new concept but a revamped version of the product. It is expected to speed up the vehicle checking process.

Graham Howes, sales and marketing director at Inchcape Automotive, said: ‘The technology gives us a product that will deliver all the benefits of our old Autograph service with a number of new advances, including the ability for each customer to customise certain key parts of their inspection process.

‘The technology improvements enable vehicle manufacturers, contract hire and leasing companies and rental organisations to significantly speed up their defleet process.’

Each vehicle inspector is equipped with a hand-held terminal, which has a built-in digital camera and mobile phone. A drop-down menu on the terminal enables the inspector to follow prompts and record all details on the vehicle, including damage, once the contract with the fleet has terminated. Prompts can be tailored to requirements and once the inspection is complete, fleet drivers put their signature onto the screen to confirm the report. It enables a single inspection to be completed in less than 20 minutes.

Similar technology is used at auction centres to assess damage prior to remarketing and is also being introduced by daily rental companies. Using set values for different types of damage, the computer automatically calculates the value of any damage recharge.

As it becomes more widespread, fleet decision makers must ensure that drivers are meticulous with their company cars, keeping damage to a minimum.

Howes said: ‘The actual damage to vehicles depends on the ethos of the driver.

However, there are things fleet managers can do to minimise damage.

‘Carrying out mid-life inspections on vehicles means mid-life repairs can be carried out before they get too bad. Driver training definitely has benefits and ensures drivers take general care and attention around kerbs. Alloy wheel damage is easy to incur but can be very expensive to repair.’

Damage repair costs can vary but, as an example, minor alloy wheel refurbishment on one wheel would cost £38 excluding VAT, according to Howes. Other costs include £19 labour rate per hour for body or paint repairs, £34 labour rate per hour for mechanical or electrical work, £28 glass repair per window and £100 for an air-conditioning recharge, all ex-VAT.

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