A joint venture between tech firm epyx and REALtime Communications has launched technology that allows truck and van drivers to book directly into workshop diaries online "in a matter of moments."

The service has been created by integrating epyx’s 1link Service Network platform - which is used by fleets totalling more than four million vehicles to manage their maintenance needs - and dealer software from REALtime Communications (RTC).

Users access epyx’s Driver Booking Module to select their preferred dealer, viewing the slots available, and booking a time and date directly into the diary of participating workshops using RTC’s REALtime Communications API suite.

Tim Meadows, chief commercial officer at epyx, said: “We believe that this is a genuine innovation that reduces the workshop booking process from something that can take hours down to a matter of moments. It’s certainly the first time this kind of direct booking has been accessible for fleet users via 1link Service Network.

“Instead of drivers sending a proposed booking to a workshop online and receiving what is essentially a manual reply from a user of the dealer’s software, they can go directly into the workshop diary and book their own slot. It’s a benefit for everyone involved in the booking.”

epyx introduced the 1link Service Network Driver Booking Module in 2021 and last year added a rules engine that allows fleets to steer company vehicles towards maintenance providers that are most suited to their needs in terms of expertise, convenience and costs.

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Meadows added: “When we announced the module, we took the unusual step of outlining the enhancements that we were aiming to deliver in the medium term and direct booking was one of those we specified. Working with RTC has made this possible.”

Julian Wheway, RTC chief product officer, explained that the partnership would create definite benefits for both workshops and fleets.

“Many of our customers are already listed as suppliers on 1link Service Network, so it made perfect sense to partner on this project, which is a great way to further enhance the booking process.

“When it comes to administrative tasks such as fleet bookings, calling customers to confirm, and updating or changing times, the new integration is vastly more efficient than the previous manual process, allowing the customer to view and select available slots from the live diary. In addition, it also means that bookings can be made 24/7, something our existing online service boking customers make great use of.

“Our business strategy is to partner with other platforms in the automotive space to drive efficiency to make our customers lives easier, and this new partnership with epyx is an excellent example of just that. We are looking forward to making it available.”