Worker safety and welfare is of paramount importance in every insustry. But the logistics and transport sector is one in which there is real risk - and opportunity for improvement.
Every year, there are 1.35 million road deaths globally, with 1,804 of those in the UK alone . With around 89% of land transported goods moved directly by roads, this is clearly a risk for the logistics sector as humans are responsible for their distribution and management. Between 2010 and 2018, workplace injuries in the UK alone cost the industry £444 million ; creating not just a moral responsibility, but a financial incentive to invest in policies, processes and techniques that improve worker safety. Furthermore, with humans playing a vital role across at each stage, it is easy to see how a reduction of incidents can have positive effects on overall supply chain resilience.
Investments in technology have already begun to trickle into the sector, with dashcams being installed in many HGVs and trucks. For businesses looking to improve the transparency of their operations, video evidence is a highly effective means of reducing company and driver liability for accidents. However, there are limits to this mindset and approach: whilst post incident information is useful, measures that prevent and avoid incidence occurrence all together should be the ultimate goal of investments in safety across all industries, not just logistics and transport.
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to revolutionise on-road safety, for drivers and other road users. Hearing this many will expect the narrative of self-driving cars, reducing crashes at the cost of taking the wheel out of human hands resulting in devestating job losses. However, the reality is that such systems are a long way from perfection and mass adoption. Instead of replacing your fleet and workforce, AI augmentation presents a far more short term opportunity to improve safety in logistics.
For example, a recognition system that monitors driver actions to detect and highlight risky signals or behaviours. Alerting transport operators of the signs of tiredness or distraction allows them to take action to mitigate them. The AI’s focus does not need to be exclusively on inside the cab. By surveying road conditions and behaviours of other motorists in real time these systems can use prescriptive analytics to offer drivers insights and recommendations on how to maximise the safety of their journey. These systems have already been implemented across India, Thailand and Vietnam, with companies reporting massive improvements to safety .
It is important to note that the purpose of this kind of AI solution is to empower drivers, not replace them. Recognition systems like this do not act to control the driver’s behaviours or take over the vehicle. Rather it offers insights that a person may not have been conscious of but are more than capable of acting upon. This keeps your fleet and supply chain in the hands of trusted employees, whilst also supporting them with a true commitment to their safety and wellbeing.
AI insights are only useful if they are relevant to your drivers. A system that is not tailored or sensitive to the operator’s risks badgering them with an overload of pointless information rather than supporting a safe journey. This is where Brainpool can help. We specialise in the creation of bespoke Artificial Intelligence solutions. We develop technologies that gives insights that are useful to your drivers. AI tools built specifically for your company can gather the kind of insights your employees respond well to, consistently learning from your drivers for a solution unique to them. What is more, these data and insights can be captured and incorporated into your business entire wisdom and knowledge of its operations, allowing for more informed decisions across other areas of your business.
Investments in these technologies are becoming essential to support the safety of drivers and all road users. Moral responsibility aside, reducing incidents could see massive time, efficiency and financial benefits for your company.
Written by Dominic Richmond
 World Health Orginisation 'Global Status Report on Road Safety' (2018)
 FTA 'Logistics Report (2019)
 Microsoft 'Microsoft researchers use visual AI to make India’s roads safer' (2017)
 Microsoft 'Artificial Intelligence and road safety: A new eye on the highway'