In-vehicle telematics improves efficiency, driver behaviour and fuel monitoring
For any fleet operator, but especially those running service or delivery type fleets, there are a number of benefits from employing the use of in-vehicle telematics and vehicle tracking.
Among them are increased vehicle utilisation, better job allocation and routing, improved timesheet reporting, more accurate fuel monitoring, enhanced maintenance management, and improved monitoring of driver behaviours.
Telematics can facilitate everything from a ‘nearest vehicle’ search using GPS fleet tracking to providing information on the current status of that car or van – and whether it’s being used inappropriately.
This information can then help an organisation take decisions which keep its operations running as smoothly as possible and improve levels of customer service, while ultimately enhancing overall productivity.
Benefits of using telematics
When used correctly, telematics can help an organisation manage its fleet costs and duty of care requirements better and more efficiently.
It also provides an accurate way for companies to capture and record business mileage data, vital information if HMRC decides to audit the company records.
For van fleets with a customer-facing role, such as couriers, breakdown services and engineers, fleet vehicle tracking and monitoring can assess how vehicles are being used.
Office-based managers can then automatically assign jobs to vehicles during the day, based on who is closest to a customer. Drivers can also register their current status, such as being available for their next job.
If the workload is more likely to be established at the start of the day and not change, then the driver’s schedule can be automatically uploaded to a routing system, which can then monitor progress according to the schedule.
This information can identify whether a driver will arrive at a destination at the scheduled time, which in turn can be relayed to the customer, thus improving service levels.
Monitoring driver hours
For vehicles that aren’t necessarily used for a customer-facing role, telematics can still ensure they are being used efficiently by delivering accurate data on elements such as speed, fuel economy and driving style.
If employees claim for working additional hours, telematics can also verify the time spent at specific locations. Many companies already have systems in place to record such features, while others are still trying to get to grips with the necessary requirements.
But GPS fleet tracking could prove invaluable in providing accurate vehicle locations, journey times and mileage records to provide detailed management information.
For vehicles typically carrying expensive or valuable equipment, telematics software can monitor key elements of security, such as position of vehicle, status and details such as rear doors being opened.
Alternatively, vehicles fitted with GPS fleet tracking can be set with an automated alert if they are moved outside a specified location or into one, such as a congestion charging zone. This can attract the attention of managers if a vehicle is being moved to a location it shouldn’t be.
Any unplanned vehicle movements should automatically raise an alarm and pinpoint the vehicle so police can then be directed to its location.
Personal safety can be enhanced for lone workers, too, as telematics can track their location and vehicles can be fitted with panic alarms in case of emergency.
Monitoring driver behaviours
One of the criticisms levelled against telematics is that it represents an invasion of privacy, but many companies have tackled this issue successfully by focusing on the personal benefits, such as identifying driving style changes that bring lower personal fuel bills and improved safety.
Driver behaviour is among the biggest cost management issues that fleet managers regularly have to address and using telematics is one way of tackling this.
Most advanced GPS based fleet management systems provide fleet managers with information on driver behaviour, and using this data, an organisation can reduce fuel consumption, extend vehicle life and reduce carbon emissions as a direct result of ironing out poor driving habits.
It can also help build up a profile in terms of vehicle performance and downtime management to help with predictive servicing, and can ensure all drivers are contacted in good time to arrange servicing and maintenance to suit their workload.
Telematics data can also be used to identify harsh braking and acceleration, speeding and erratic cornering – all information that is extremely powerful in monitoring driver behaviour on an ongoing basis.
All of this provides data valuable in helping meet duty of care obligations, by proving that drivers are properly monitored and, where appropriate training, is provided.
How to get the best from telematics
The most significant benefits from telematics are to be seen when they are integrated across the organisation.
Fleet management should be integrated with routing and navigation, job scheduling, driver scorecards, customer service, fuel card management and the supply chain.
As an example, where telematics is integrated with fuel card management, it can help to better report on fuel transactions and identify and prevent fraud.
The system should be flexible and it should be available on mobile devices, so that field workers can receive their work schedules, record mileages and report back as each job is completed.
As such, it makes the argument for more widespread use of in-vehicle telematics and fleet tracking a little more compelling.
If you have any questions about the use of fleet tracking, then please get in touch.