FIAG declares telematics “essential” for fleets

If there was any question of whether telematics can help a fleet based business, then FIAG has decided to answer it by declaring at a recent workshop that the technology was essential for all fleet managers. This is the second workshop hosted by the FIAG this year, which also saw many companies that have so far benefitted greatly from the introduction of telematics speaking to those in attendance.

Taking an almost philosophical stance, Martin Carter, operations director at Stannah Management Services, said that telematics was about more than just tracking the location of vehicles or improving security, but was about “managing change.” Change, he said, in behaviour and in the way the business operates. When telematics is applied correctly, managers no longer need to ring around drivers or advise clients of lengthy wait times as they can send the best (read: closest) person for the job.

“Having used telematics for four years I would never want to run a fleet now without telematics,” he said (via FleetNews).

Others like Graham Bellman, director of fleet services at Travis Perkins spoke about more practical matters however, like cost saving. He discussed how after fitting his 3,300 fleet of trucks with telematics, he was able to cut operating costs significantly, saving the company several million pounds over the years.

Be careful not to overdo the tracking hardware...

Be careful not to overdo the tracking hardware…

He did however urge caution, suggesting that not everyone may see such savings. It wasn’t just a case of installing the system and letting it all do the work for you. Explaining that the technology merely gave fleet managers actionable data, he pointed out that telematics is only as effective as the fleet manager who uses the information it provides to improve the business.

For example, if it is discovered that several drivers tend to drive recklessly, speeding, accelerating and braking sharply, telematics allows the fleet manager to take action on this, either providing on the spot feedback and encouragement, or training that could improve their driving habits. In another scenario, vehicle location indicators could allow a fleet manager to optimise routes that drivers take or perhaps switch drivers around so that they operate more efficiently.

But again, it’s down the fleet manager to do so.

“Fleet managers must identify exactly what they want to know from the data and isolate that information so they don’t become too swamped,” said Mark Edwards, director of risk management at Automotional. “Each fleet is unique and so are the drivers of the vehicles and it can be too easy to lose sight of that when grabbing data from many different channels. Ultimately that can make the fleet harder to manage.”

He also went on to say that there was a risk with telematics of alienating drivers and that fleet managers should take this into consideration when installing it and with its ongoing usage. Drivers could feel under extra pressure that they are being tracked, or even that the company has become a big-brother organisation, not granting them trust and freedoms.

That is something that each manager will have to address when they set up a telematics system, but ultimately, if they can get it right, their workers and the business as a whole stands to benefit greatly.

Image sources: MBWA PR, Police Mad Liam

    Jon Martindale

    Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.

    All author posts