Manchester based Primo Drinks saves money with clever integrated dash cam and tracking solution from Crystal Ball, we see how it measures up…

Courier News takes a look into the increasing utilisation of dash cams in commercial vehicles and finds out if they are a must have for a fleet operator in 2021, or just another piece of technology to get your head around. 

Our research led us to focus on the convergence of the now well-trodden path of GPS tracking, often referred to in the fleet world as black box telematics and the emergence of new solutions that combine trackers with a dash cam.

One such product on the market is SmartCam 4G, developed and operated by Crystal Ball Limited, a Manchester based vehicle tracking services company whose background was very much in mobile telephony, but who have now emerged as pioneers within the world of GPS fleet tracking and fleet oriented dash cams. Their primary product offering, SmartCam 4G is a cutting edge fully integrated vehicle tracking and dash cam solution designed to bring together all the features and benefits of such systems but rolled into a single package. SmartCam 4G encompasses just about everything a modern commercial fleet operator requires, be they running cars, trucks, vans or a mix of all three. SmartCam 4G has evolved over the last six years, having originally been launched as a 3G device which has been proven by the thousands of installs nationwide. SmartCam has also won a number of awards for its’ class-leading features, even winning the Fleetworld innovation in telematics award for two successive years.  

SmartCam 4G, as the name suggests operates using the 4G mobile network supported by GPS data which sends the recorded information to its’ own SmartCloud portal where the data can then be accessed by clients for the purposes of safety, asset tracking, fleet utilisation, driver behaviour, accident mitigation and training. The system even provides the driver with an app which is available to both Android and IOS users, enabling the driver to not only carry out and record digitally his/her daily, weekly or monthly vehicle checks, but it will also identify the driver and give them a score for their driving behaviour.

Raj Singh, Managing Director, Crystal Ball Limited told Courier News: “Differentiation is crucial to success and with over 25 years’ experience in the mobile phone market I knew the importance of not only keeping pace with your competitor’s but also in the value of developing products that lead the market and provide clients with solutions to everyday problems. Running a modern day fleet, whether you have two vehicles, or two thousand vehicles comes with a huge responsibility, from the welfare of the driver to the safe and efficient management of the vehicles themselves. When we launched SmartCam 3G back in 2016, we soon knew we had the right formula and now SmartCam 4G builds upon that success to offer vehicle operators the most comprehensive and integrated vehicle tracking and fleet dash cam solution available today.”

Raj explained some of the key features of the SmartCam system;

4G Dash Cam – SmartCam generates event based HD quality video footage, which is sent directly to the Crystal Ball SmartCloud portal, whilst also recording directly to an SD card which can then also be viewed remotely.

GPS Fleet Tracking – At the very heart of our system is our advanced and proven GPS fleet tracker extensively used by SME’s and local government.

Vehicle Checklist – Enables the driver to digitally carry out all important vehicle safety checks via the driver app. The checklist can be tailored easily by the client to become truly bespoke to their specific needs. Indeed the versatility of the checklist tool has enabled many businesses to add COVID specifics requirements for their mobile workforce.

Driver Behaviour System – SmartCam 4G measures five KPI’s including speeding, harsh acceleration, cornering, braking and idling time to calculate a driver score and then generate driver league tables which can be used for monitoring trends and enhanced driver training. The system can be further tailored to suit the client’s exact requirements in determining what constitutes a good driver within their sphere of operation.

Driver App – Downloadable for both Android and IOS, the app provides the driver ID, driver scoring and vehicle check lists in a simple to use format.

Insight – The app can even accept photos in support of the checklists ensuring fleet managers are instantly made aware of defects and damage, thus providing them with a record of the true condition of their vehicles out on the road.

Motivate – Drivers can view their own performance through league tables, motivating them to improve their driving in direct comparison to their peers.

Manage – The app enables the accurate tracking of vehicle movements and will record and report on vehicle use for both private and business mileage, thus reducing onerous fleet administration.

Dual Camera – SmartCam 4G has the ability to operate as forward facing only or both inward and outward facing, offering simultaneous recording and enhanced safety features.

Android Operating System – SmartCam is a future-proofed 4G smart device ensuring our system does not become obsolete.

You can read more about SmartCam 4G by clicking here

Courier News discovered, amongst the varied benefits of such systems, insurance premium reduction, claims handling and FNOL (First Notification of Loss) appear to be key drivers for businesses such as Primo Drinks in their decision to work with Crystal Ball and adopt the SmartCam product.

Primo Drinks have reported that following the install on their 60-plus fleet of cars and vans, Crystal Ball’s integrated telematics and camera solution has offered considerable improvements in efficiency, safety, reduced vehicle wear and tear, coupled with reduced delivery times, a lower fuel bill, alongside an all-important reduction in their insurance premiums and fleet administration costs.

Brian Wright, Primo Drink’s CEO, explains: “Because Crystal Ball has all these interfaces, we can truly integrate it into every part of our business, not only making drivers and the roads they travel on safer, but allowing us to see what’s going on out on the road, speeding up claims, reducing premiums, helping us look after stock better, aiding the payroll department, reducing fuel usage and making us more operationally efficient. I don’t know of any other system that offers such a complete set of tools.”

Brian Wright, Primo Drink’s CEO said: “It’s so precise, and all the driving data and imagery is recorded and verifiable. We’ve been monitoring our fleet since last year, but one incident has paid for fitting it to the entire fleet.

One day a Primo Drinks driver, through no fault of his own was involved in a very severe, near head-on crash with a stolen vehicle wherein the SmartCam recorded the full incident, proving itself to be an invaluable tool. The incident was so serious that the air ambulance was in attendance for the occupants of the stolen car, but fortunately the Primo Drinks driver suffered only minor injuries. Brian Wright, CEO at Primo recalls; “The evidence recorded by SmartCam was required by the Motor Insurers Bureau and they said, ‘That’s easy, it ticks the box’ and subsequently Primo were paid out in less than two months.”

Watch the Primo Drinks CEO tell the full story:

You can watch a snippet of the actual footage recorded by SmartCam 4G here:

Read more about Primo Drinks use of SmartCam 4G here:

Surely with new road safety initiative’s orchestrated from central Government, along with those from the various road safety campaign groups, we will see a rise in the use of smart cameras within commercial vehicles. Reports suggests both the Police and insurers are relying more and more often on the footage generated by in vehicle camera technology, backed up by GPS data therefore this alone is bound to increase the interest from dash cam and GPS tracking companies to converge the two technologies in a race to capture the market.

This year also saw the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) become law on the 1st March 2021, making it unlawful to operate a HGV over 12 tonnes GVW in Greater London without a safety permit, with fines of up to £550 imposed per vehicle per breach. Crystal Ball also offer their own fully compliant DVS solution and their website contains all the information you need to know about the new regulations and how to comply with them.

Click here to find out what you need to know.