How Telematics and Fleet Management Companies are improving fleet productivity

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Fleet Management Companies

ABAX

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There are many benefits for the fleet operator/fleet manager, for example: being able to see the routes that the driver takes when they are using the vehicle. The Fleet Operator can inform the driver of the shortest route to take, and whether there is traffic on a certain route. This will help the reduction on the environmental impact and fuel efficiency.

Find out more benefits here. 

Source : Automotive Fleet - February 2015

Telematics has more than proven its usefulness in making fleets efficient and productive, after it arrived more than a decade ago. Telematics is not a one-size-fits-all solution though. While many fleets use telematics to improve productivity, no two fleets use the technology exactly the same way.

Fleets are using Telematics to become more efficient by:
    • Monitoring safety
    • Gauging maintenance
    • Eliminating idling
    • Keeping track of vehicles
    • Improving routing
Addressing Fleet Safety

Justin McLaren, DOT and compliance manager for Crescent Services LLC believes that the safety focus is critical, because of the number of miles that are being driven. In addition, because many of these miles are produced in rural settings, driving to and from the job site is among the most dangerous parts of a driver employee’s day. Beyond safety, McLaren has implemented a preventive maintenance program based on engine hours.

C&C Group, a family-run construction services company with offices in Kansas and Missouri, realized it had little visibility on what was going on with its vehicle fleet. After the owners’ daughter was in a non-business related accident with one of the company’s vehicles and was saved because she was wearing her seatbelt, company leadership learned about telematics and saw it as a way to help make the fleet safer. Chad Cillessen, Chief Information Officer for the company, explained that safety is top priority at the company, so taking advantage of telematics to improve safety was a good fit.

Keeping Tabs on Assets

Portland, Ore.-headquartered Advanced American Construction, an underwater heavy construction company, faced an almost unique issue with its fleet vehicles and assets — they’re often not readily accessible, since they’re frequently on barges. These assets have been fitted with a telematics system so that they can be tracked on the water and then at the physical job site. Most of what’s being measured are equipment hours.

On land the company has forklifts, which it also monitors when they’re running — which means they’re working properly and are performing billable hours — according to Anthony Valenzuela, asset and resource coordinator for Advanced American Construction. “The biggest thing for us is just knowing where something is," Valenzuela said. The company operates a fleet of Ford F-150, F-250, and F-350 models, and uses the telematics system to monitor their location, where they’re being driven, driver behavior, and what jobs the trucks have been assigned. Billing is one of the biggest benefits of having implemented a telematics system three years ago, according to Valenzuela. “Knowing that the truck was there for a specific time, so we can bill for that, has been a big benefit," he said.

Maintenance is also tied to its telematics system for its trucks and other assets. “We rely on our telematics system 100 percent on the maintenance," Valenzuela said. “It allows us to keep up on our maintenance so we don’t have any breakdowns."

Stopping Theft

For Omaha, Neb.-based ServiceOne, the benefit of using telematics was almost immediate. Shortly after the company implemented its new telematics solution, one of its vans was stolen. Police were able to recover the van within 15 minutes, according to Gary McCollum, Operations Manager for ServiceOne. For its day-to-day operations, he uses the telematics system to monitor the fleet’s maintenance needs.

“In the past, you just kind of guessed when it was time for an oil change and hoped the drivers would call when the mileage matched the sticker in the window," McCollum said. “Now we get reports from the system when it’s time."

Dispatching has also become more efficient. Throughout the day, dispatchers can monitor both location and the number of parts on the service vans. This helps to route technicians who have the materials nearest the job site. McCollum said he is in the process of updating the dispatching system within the telematics systems, which should make the fleet even more efficient, because its routing and job dispatching interfaces will be overlayed.

Eliminating Idling

Singing Hills Landscape, in Aurora, Colo., provides commercial landscaping installation and maintenance in the greater Denver area.

The company’s leadership knew that its vehicles were idling excessively, especially while crews loaded up equipment and materials.

Blake Lehr, Asset Manager, figured if the crews left the vehicles running in the yard, they were most likely leaving them running at job sites, too. They also wanted to find a way to verify/improve efficiency of routes taken to job sites to help decrease miles driven and fuel costs.

Singing Hills compared a few different fleet tracking solutions to see which would fit its needs best. Company leadership determined the company needed an interface that was user friendly. They were also interested in finding a solution that was web-based so managers could access the software from anywhere, anytime.

Using its telematics systems, Singing Hills has been able to improve driver behaviour by reducing speeding incidents by 37%. The company also ensures that its drivers are taking the most efficient routes to job sites.

Singing Hills has been able to solve other business challenges it was unaware of before implementing its telematics system, such as improving crew productivity. After multiple receipts were turned in from the same home-improvement store in one day, Singing Hills set up landmarks around these locations to see just how frequently their crews were picking up supplies.

Trending Data

Being able to integrate its various routing data into its telematics system has been the big win for DISH Network’s fleet.

“The key benefit has been routing efficiencies around GPS. We converted from manual routing in 2009, so now our systems route all of our daily jobs and map all that together. The system even collects over time how efficient the employee is at different jobs and jobs in general," said Abe Stephenson, fleet and administration manager for DISH Network. This allows for better employee productivity.

Stephenson said that he likes being able to bundle various technologies together with the company’s telematics solution, adding that he has seen a lot of synergies from integrating solutions.

“One thing I think fleets should look into is if their fleet management company has a telematics solution if they can integrate the various services together," he said. “For instance, here was the vehicle when the fuel card was used. Was there a disparity between the location and when the card was used? With these systems, you have all these points of interest, and they can be plugged back into the telematics solution to start pairing up the reporting."

“So you can do things like when did the vehicle arrive at the point of interest — the repair shop — and when did it leave, and you can start to measure downtime for repairs or accident repairs," Stephenson said. “There’s some really neat synergies you can do pairing up to other types of reporting that you’ve got for your fleet."

Accurate utilization reporting is another key benefit that DISH has realized from its telematics system. “We can see in the system if there is a strain on vehicle need beyond what our personnel count determines what they need," Stephenson said. “It’s a real-world case scenario beyond just anecdotal accounts. We can back it up."

“It’s all about trends," he said. “It’s not easy to look through all that data. Where do you draw the line on hard acceleration and hard braking for instance? You really have to get intimate with the telematics system."

Jumping Into the Telematics Pond

Ingersoll Rand is among the newest fleets trying telematics. Jonathan Kamanns, Ingersoll Rand’s fleet manager, explained that “for us it’s the next phase of maturity. From an asset-utilization and productivity standpoint, we’ve hit a lot of the low-hanging fruit, and to get to that next level of maturity, we needed a platform to do that," he said.

“We rotate metrics regularly. What we provide out to the business is based on where we need to move needles or where the business needs to improve," he said. For instance, the company has recently made a 35-percent decrease in greenhouse gases a priority, and looks to fleet to determine how this will be done. This is a metric that Kamanns will now actively monitor to help meet the goal. “This is how we can leverage a technology like telematics to let companies know where they’re going," he said. “We’re going to see metrics that we’ve never imagined before. That’s the hope — we’ll pick up a rock and look at it and say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that was happening’ or ‘I didn’t know that could be happening."

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