Fleet telematics: The business case for tech investment

Fleet telematics: The business case for tech investment

Trimble recently carried out an independent study amongst directors and senior managers operating large field-based work forces in the UK and found that only 18 per cent possess fully automated scheduling, dispatch and mobility tools. The majority are operating partly manual, partly automated systems, integrating a diverse mix of often incompatible legacy systems.

This is preventing many organisations from realising the full potential of technology to increase workforce efficiency, a crucial factor in achieving field service excellence.

Fleet management tools

Fleet management and telematics have emerged as being powerful management tools and provide new levels of field service and vehicle fleet performance. The information provided typically includes the vehicle location, speed and time, but also may include work order information, driver behaviour and vehicle diagnostics data such as mpg, fuel use or vehicle faults, all determined by the in-vehicle telematics.

As a result of the insight delivered, businesses can start to reduce direct expenses such as fuel costs by optimising route planning, improving operational efficiencies and driving revenue generation through top quality customer service and maximum flexibility.

According to independent research by Trimble, this value is already being recognised with organisations running field-based workforces seeing one of the top priorities for future technology investment and upgrades to be within the area of fleet management.

A 360-degree view

Fleet Management and telematics solutions can service all aspects of fleet operations to provide a 360-degree view of their utilisation and performance. Particularly when deployed in conjunction with other field service management tools for managing the work and the mobile worker, these solutions are key elements to achieving efficiency, productivity and cost saving goals.

The capabilities and benefits that can be achieved include:

·      Optimising and automating mobile work schedules

·      Communicating to laptop or smartphone to view work details, provide current work status and receive work assignments without returning to the office

·      Monitoring arrival times, distances travelled, stops made and overtime usage

·      Comparing planned vs. actual work done per day/shift

·      Adjusting schedules and reassigning work

The above capabilities evidently lead directly to increased customer satisfaction due to such outcomes as increased on-time service delivery performance and reduced customer complaints for late technicians or missed appointments. Once you start comparing the information taken from your field operations regularly, it is easy to see where improvements can be made or where patterns exist that you can plan for in advance to minimise the impact.

Health and safety

Health and safety is understandably a high priority for organisations with field-based workers, especially those doing a significant amount of driving out in the field. These individuals not only face greater risks than office-based employees, but can also expose members of the public to danger through aggressive and unsafe driving, with disastrous consequences for the company’s reputation as well as the legal risks involved.

As telematics has evolved, both the amount and type of data gathered has increased significantly. Driver behaviour and vehicle diagnostics information are now available that can identify how a vehicle is being driven and any faults that may affect performance. Taking steps to mitigate poor driving or proactively servicing underperforming vehicles not only significantly reduces on the road risk but also minimises vehicle breakdowns or unscheduled downtime.

Trimble’s research discovered that 51 per cent surveyed agree that the technology they are using to manage safety of their employees is in need of updating, with 44 per cent stating that their risk assessment software is in need of the most improvement.

Driver safety solutions enable managers to monitor driving behaviour and complete back office analysis of aggressive manoeuvres, such as hard acceleration, braking, turns and speed. With this data at hand, recommendations on training can be made for individual drivers, resulting in lower accidents and liability, therefore helping to manage the risks and costs associated with work-related driving.

Going green and cutting costs

Introduced and incoming legislation has placed mounting pressure on businesses to improve their sustainability and accelerate the move to meet green targets. For field-based organisations especially, monitoring fuel consumption through telematics is a quickly achievable method of reaching environmentally-friendly targets.

Fuel prices have seen a consistent increase over the years and business owners have become very conscious of managing these costs. Reducing fuel usage through data interpretation can result in significant cost savings and will additionally lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions.

Trimble’s recent research shows that nearly two thirds of respondents believe that sustainability plays a key role in their business plan, and a further 64 per cent feel sustainability will have a significant effect on their business moving forward. Forward-thinking businesses are moving towards sustainability as a way of promoting their organisation and ultimately to attract and retain new customers.

Mark Forrest is general manager of Trimble’s Field Service Management Division, which provides visibility into field and fleet operations so businesses can streamline efficiency and increase productivity.

For more on fleets, see Special report: Fleet telematics.

For the latest on fleets, visit Telematics for Fleet Management USA 2012 in November in Atlanta.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Telematics Japan 2012 in October in Tokyo, Telematics Munich 2012 on October 29-30, and Content and Apps for Automotive USA 2012 on Dec. 4-5 in San Diego.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: In-Vehicle Smartphone Integration Report, Human Machine Interface Technologies and Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics.

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