DriverNet navigates path to February Merseyside Innovation Award


An app which helps delivery drivers optimise the exchange process - from navigation, communications and coordination to fast tracking the inbound process – has claimed February’s Merseyside Innovation Award.

MIA Feb Winner Image - Drivernet Large

Pictured L-R: Sue Roberts, MIA sponsor Village
Software and Ant Chisnall, DriverNet

DriverNet was founded in St Helens by former logistics professional Ant Chisnall. Having spent 15 years working across the sector in operational and senior management roles within small fleet and multinational hauliers, he identified a weak point in the logistics process.

“Many people will be familiar with the problem of large vehicles being sent down narrow streets by conventional sat navs,” he said. “But that is only part of the problem. As it stands many delivery drivers, whatever the size of their vehicle, receive only a postcode or business name and addresses on the paperwork. They punch the details into the sat nav and off they go.

“With more and more deliveries coming into city centres, there are issues around unloading areas and delivery windows and restrictions. A lack of coordination, guidance and information in the final 500m of a delivery can result in improvisation, which leads to unnecessary waste, risk and stress or congestion.

“As part of our market research during the development stage, we looked into how drivers source this knowledge and the answers consistently came back – word of mouth or trial and error.

“Whether these businesses we are talking about are multi-national logistics providers or small local fleet operators – when a driver gets in the cab its every man for themselves and what follows is a series of isolated experiences and unnecessary delays.

“Consumer trends have resulted in logistics becoming increasingly fast paced and unpredictable and what tends to be convenient for the consumer is normally the opposite for the carrier. City centres are becoming busier, yet drivers continue to be deployed without being equipped with the right tools for the job. DriverNet changes that.”

The system pulls all the information and tools a driver needs into one place – the DriverNet app.

Here they can run through a pre-journey safety checklist to ensure their vehicle is ready to go, route details and safety information.

Its Smart Nav feature provides precision navigation to their destinations, via a route tailored to the size of their vehicle, and also reroutes drivers to avoid congestion or roadworks, whilst factoring in delivery restrictions.

“There is growing pressure to outlaw drivers in large commercial vehicles from using conventional sat navs after an increasing incidences of HGVs being sent up narrow or one way streets or striking bridges,” said Ant. “While sat nav solutions for HGV drivers exist, they’re very expensive.

DriverNet also provides channels for drivers to report on delays and hazards to improve user experiences and customer service, as well as provide a support network of worker safety and emergency assistance features.

DriverNet can also be used by waste management firms or site contractors who need to navigate their vehicles through tight spaces in busy sites and urban environments.

“We have created an integrated smartphone solution for cross sector fleet operators of articulated vehicles or small vans which will make their logistics operations significantly more efficient and safe.”

Sue Roberts, Commercial Director of MIA sponsor Village Software, presented Ant with his award and said: “DriverNet is another one of those innovations that it is hard to believe doesn’t already exist because it offers such a simple, common sense solution.

“But the best innovations always do, it just takes someone to see the direct route and put the pieces together. The potential of DriverNet is enormous at a time when both commercially and personally we are becoming ever more reliant on logistics to get items from the vendor to the consumer.”

Each year the awards select monthly winners between January and May before choosing the three best to go through to the final, where they go head-to-head in front of a panel of expert judges to compete for a first prize of £10,000 to spend on their business.

The runners-up get £2,000 of professional support from the MIA sponsor group, where they can select one sponsor or a number of sponsors to provide consultancy support.

2017 will also be the second year that the MIA presents its Prestige Award. This is open to businesses with a turnover of £1m to £25m who are continuing to innovate on Merseyside, creating jobs and investment on a larger scale.

To enter the 2017 Merseyside Innovation Awards visit www.merseysideinnovationawards.co.uk.

This story originally appeared in Insider North West and can be read here.

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