January 31, 2019

Fleet Telematics

Fleet Telematics Help Fleets Manage More Precisely

Used correctly, fleet telematics can help fleet operators run their vehicles in a more precise, carefully targeted way that brings a range of benefits.
These include:

  • reduced carbon footprint
  • improved fuel consumption
  • more efficient route planning
  • fewer accidents.

Add to that impressive list other features such as predictive servicing, enhanced maintenance management and faster error reporting and it’s little wonder that telematics has grown so dramatically in recent years, especially with fleets of light commercial vehicles (LCVs).

What is fleet telematics?

Telematics technology monitors a wide range of data relating to an individual vehicle or an entire fleet. Telematics systems gather information including vehicle location, driver behaviour, engine diagnostics and vehicle activity, and present this data on software  which assists fleet operators to manage their resources.

Growth in fleet telematics

The UK led the European market for commercial vehicle telematics in 2017, and is expected to have grown a further 25% in 2018, according to market research published by analysts Technavio.

Technavio said it expected the commercial vehicle telematics market in Europe, especially the UK, France and Germany, to grow at a compound annual growth rate of close to 14% . It predicted that the biggest growth would be in the LCV sector.

The report said that the LCV segment held the largest market share in 2017, and accounted for nearly 83% of the market. This was expected to increase nearly 3% by 2022 and would dominate the market throughout the forecast period.

Benefits for LCV fleets

For any fleet operator there are a number of benefits from employing the use of in-vehicle telematics. This is especially  so for those running service or delivery fleets with large numbers of LCVs,

Among them are:

  • increased vehicle utilisation
  • better job allocation and routing
  • improved reporting
  • more accurate fuel monitoring
  • enhanced maintenance management
  • improved monitoring of driver behaviours.

Fleet telematics can facilitate everything from a ‘nearest vehicle’ search using GPS fleet tracking to providing information on the current status of the vehicle. It can also report on whether the vehicle is being used inappropriately.

This information can then help an organisation take decisions which keep its operations running as smoothly as possible. The aim would be to improve levels of customer service, while ultimately enhancing overall productivity.

Monitoring driver behaviours

One of the criticisms levelled against telematics is that it represents an invasion of privacy. However, many companies have tackled this issue successfully by focusing on the personal benefits. These include 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 systems provide information on driver behaviour. 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. This can ensures that 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. This is 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. It provides proof that drivers are properly monitored and, where appropriate, that training is provided.

Costs and mileage records

When used correctly, telematics can also help a business manage its fleet costs and run its operations more efficiently. It provides an accurate way for companies to capture and record business mileage data, which is vital information for mileage returns and a clear record if HMRC decides to audit the company books.

For LCV fleets with a customer-facing role, such as couriers, breakdown services and engineers, fleet vehicle tracking and monitoring can assess how and where vehicles are being used.

Managers can then automatically assign jobs to vehicles, based on which is closest to a customer. Drivers can also use the system to register their current status, such as being available for their next job.

The driver’s schedule can also 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. Delivering accurate data on elements such as speed, fuel economy and driving style helps with this.

If employees claim for working additional hours, telematics can also verify the time spent at specific locations. This is especially relevant in the light of the 2015 EU working directive ruling covering journeys to work for some employees.

The ruling by the European Court of Justice concluded that, for workers with no permanent office, travel to and from their first and last appointments was classified as ‘work’. This adjudication reinforced the need for employees to keep accurate records of the amount of time worked per job, journey times to and from appointments and mileages travelled.

Many companies already have systems in place to record such features, while others are still trying to get to grips with the necessary requirements. However, GPS-based fleet telematics can prove invaluable in providing accurate vehicle locations, journey times and mileage records to ensure that the EU ruling is adhered to.

Vehicle security

For vehicles carrying expensive or valuable equipment, telematics software can monitor key elements of security. These include the position of the 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.

If you have any questions about the use of fleet telematics, then please get in touch with our team of experts at CLM