Top fleet telematics providers in the UK Part 1

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As Telematic based fleet management becomes more common in the UK, it’s becoming harder and harder to pin-point just which are the best ones out there, especially when you factor in all the lingo from the international telematics firms muddying the waters. So enough with the Usage Based Insurance (UBI) packages, here’s the top fleet management firms in the UK right now, with a little breakdown of what telematics products they have on offer and what separates them from the competition.

 

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Tom Tom

Tom Tom NV, better known as simply Tom Tom, is most well known for its navigation systems, having provided sat-nav tools to companies and end-users since it launched its first system back in 2002. However in recent years, Tom Tom has expanded, branching out into new business like Telematics.

Through its new TomTom telematics division, Tom Tom quickly expanded to become one of the world’s most popular telematics providers. In mid 2014, it announced that it had begun tracking its 400,000th vehicle, putting it well ahead of most competition in terms of raw vehicle numbers. Of course numbers aren’t everything and there are arguably better telematics providers in specific aspects of the technology, but TomTom is certainly one of the most popular.

TomTom’s flagship product is WEBFLEET, a cloud based telematics platform that’s accessibly anywhere, on any device and provides fleet managers with a variety of interesting information on not only the vehicle itself, but driver behaviour. Designed to work with small fleets of single digit vehicles, all the way up to companies with thousands of them, it provides a comprehensive suite of data that can be used to improve a number of aspects of a business:

  • Fuel economy
  • Vehicle wear and tear
  • Driver safety
  • Business efficiency and time management
  • Environmental responsibility
  • Overall management reporting

On top of these rather typical features for a telematics system, the TomTom WEBFLEET platform can also provide industry grade navigation using Tom Tom’s pedigree for getting you from A to B in a reasonable time. This is combined with traffic avoidance and automated journey efficiency tweaks in real-time, making it no wonder that Tom Tom’s platform is so popular.

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MiX Telematics

MiX Telematics isn’t quite as popular in the UK as it’s contemporary above, Tom Tom, but it does have a very strong international presence. If you factor in other types of vehicles, like buses and trucks, Mix Telematics provides asset management solutions for upwards of 450,000 vehicles around the world, covering territories like South Africa, the Middle East, Australia and the United States.

Founded all the way back in 1996, today Mix Telematics is one of the leading asset management solutions in the world, employing over 1,000 people across the globe. Its packages are, compared to other telematics providers, a little more dispersed and therefore more customisable. It generally provides the same sort of features as most, offering fuel efficiency and MPG tracking, oversight for driver safety or driving habits, out of hours vehicle usage tracking and more. It even offers vehicle diagnostics that can give you a warning should a part be about to fail.

Beyond that though, it also takes a proactive role in improving some of the tracked statistics, instead of just focusing on data output. With that in mind, MiX makes available to fleet managers a driver consultancy service, which breaks down driver behaviour into categories so you can look into specific training assignments to send them on. It also offers one to one counselling sessions between a MiX representative and the driver. There’s even the option for real time encouragement for certain actions by the Mix hardware/software system.

Of course you could take on that role yourself, as each MiX asset management package comes complete with an FM Wireless Kit, which allows you to have two way communication with the driver. This is an important feature, even in today’s connected world, as it rids you of the need for mobile phone communications, something that can of course be dangerous whilst on the road. Drivers can also download data sent to them from the fleet management offices, letting them get hold of work related plans or updated navigation data.

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The Floow

Compared to a lot of other telematics firms on this list, The Floow is a relatively recent one. However that hasn’t stopped it becoming a telematics powerhouse in the UK, picking up big clients left and right and most recently securing a large investment from insurer Direct Line. This led it to expand its staff at the Sheffield HQ, taking on board some of the most respective developers in the industry, giving it a firm grounding to springboard off of in 2015.

While many other telematics providers would cite their aims with the technology as being rather broad, The Floow has a simple philosophy when it comes to its systems: it just wants to tackle four key points, A, B, C and D.

  • A: To deliver fairer priced premiums to responsible drivers. The reason that insurance premiums are so high across the board, is because younger and more dangerous drivers raise the overall risk factor of any particular age group, meaning that even those that drive safely can still end up spending several hundred pounds on their car insurance. With The Floow’s large-scale geo-data collection and analytics, it’s able to give a much fairer risk index for any individual driver, making it a real field leveller. On top of that, it means younger drivers can afford insurance, which means they’re less likely to drive without it.
  • B: Improving driver safety through feedback and education. With cars safer than ever before, it’s reached a stage where 90 per cent of the time, if an accident happens, it’s the driver’s fault. While we may never make human-driven cars entirely safe, one of the best ways to continue making them more so is to give drivers feedback. That means calling them out when they drive too fast, or brake too sharply. It also means offering carrot like incentives by giving them bonuses or money off when they drive safely. It works too: young drivers using The Floow telematics were 20 per cent less likely to get in an accident than those with a standard policy.
  • C: Reducing response time to accidents and mitigating consequences. In the unfortunate event of an accident, one of the best ways to ensure no injuries caused are permanent, is to get emergency personnel on the scene as soon as possible. While it might take a few minutes for someone involved in the accident, or a bystander to call in an emergency, using telematics from the likes of The Floow, means that responders can be sent out as soon as the car’s sensor’s detect an accident. Some packages can even offer ongoing information to responders after the initial contact has been made.
  • D: Data analysis of accidents to improve prevention. One of the most overlooked aspects of telematics is its ability to gather data. While of course it provides on the go, real-time information, the real benefit will come years down the line when we have the information of thousands and millions of drivers. The Floow is taking a real lead in this sort of data analytics, extrapolating meaning from it and hopefully leading to better insights into why we crash and what we can do to avoid it.

While The Floow doesn’t deal with consumers, or indeed have a particularly large client base, it in turn has a lot of customers that make use of its products. Direct Line, being a major investor of course offers telematics packages to its insurance customers. The Floow also with the likes of the American International Group, which itself conducts business in some 130 countries around the world and employs some 63,000 people.

Tracker is also an important client for The Floow, as it is the most dominant telematics tracking company in South Africa, where it has helped recover over 300,00 stolen vehicles over the past 15 years.

fleetmatics

Fleetmatics

Fleetmatics is a company that tailors itself to one and all, offering comprehensive smartphone delivered data, alongside full suites of hardware and software for enterprises to make use of. As one of the more long standing, telematics focused businesses, Fleetmatics has expanded heavily in recent years, by offering a modern, tech savy approach that appeals to the app and smartphone users out there.

Its documentation and website are all easy to read and understand, with easy to reach free demos of software packages and available options. In many ways, it wants its products to speak for themselves and makes it as easy as possible for new potential clients to give them a try. It claims that in the last few years of operation, it’s been able to save customers as much as 573 million gallons of fuel, more than £1.25 billion in maintenance, fuel and service charges and over £20 billion in payroll expenses, all through better management of staff and systems.

Like other telematics focused businesses, Fleetmatics has several key areas which it believes it can improve your business and fleet management in. They include: fuel economy and cutting back on out of hours vehicle usage and fuel card misuse, fleet efficiency through sending the nearest man to the job and vehicle tracking that can allow stolen assets to be recovered in minutes. It also helps your business become greener through improved fuel economy and reduced vehicle wear over time.

Most recently the Dublin based company announced strong third quarter profits and its stock price rose by over 20 per cent in turn, marking a significant increase in company value. It might not be quite as popular as some of the other names on this list, but its products speak for themselves and it’s going to be one of the big players in years to come.

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Fleet-Track Phantom Insight

Initially a two-way radio communication firm, over the least near decade, Fleet-Track has been focused on providing customers with an industry standard asset management solution, giving fleet managers the chance to monitor their employees and their vehicles whilst on the go.

While some companies emphasise the more mechanical monitoring side of their telematics systems, Fleet-Track knows it’s audience and markets itself almost exclusively to fleet managers. Its systems are designed to streamline that particular job, by offering text and email alerts, a robust backend for real time and historical monitoring and even a geo-fencing system that will let you know if a worker (or your vehicle) has left a particular area. This can help drivers too though, as you can ring-fence some places they shouldn’t go, like the London congestion zone.

Fleet-Track also promises to aid in vehicle recovery and curb out of hours usage, by giving you a notification if a vehicle fitted with Fleet-Track hardware moves outside of the usual hours. This can even be used to contact the police immediately if you so choose, enabling for a speedy recovery of your vehicle.

One big selling point of Fleet-Track’s Phantom telematics system, is that it’s Thatcham Certified with the TQA award, which guarantees that it’s of high quality and has passed a rigorous testing procedure to make sure it meets all industry standards.

Fleet-Track almost markets itself as a great solution for those with potential accounting issues. The British government requires all vehicular based companies cover mileage and drivers with accurate reporting. This means that you need to make sure no one is noting down extra miles they aren’t doing, or paying for transport jobs that never existed. With a telematics system like Fleet-Tracks, you can avoid those costly tax mistakes.

Image Source:  MBWA PR

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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.