Why Use Fleet Telematics?

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If you’re the manager of a fleet of vehicles, your work is likely stressful and you’ll often feel like you’ve got no free time. Considering adopting new technology that you’re unfamiliar with might seem like something that would be a good idea if you had the time, but not something you could realistically find time to adopt at the moment. However by not adopting telematics you’re only making your life more complicated.

Telematics is one of the truly time saving tech innovations for companies in the recent past. While many innovations such as email only seem to increase your workload, telematics has been proven to be a great time saver.

For instance if you need to know where each driver is, you simply take a look at a map in the dashboard instead of ringing up each driver. Want to know if a driver is doubling the length of their lunch hour costing the company money, just see where their vehicle is rather than sending a manager to spy on them. Wasting too much time working out how many miles have been driven by each driver for compliance statements? Telematics software can automate that.

But it’s not just in time savings that telematics proves itself to be one of the best innovations for companies with fleets. It can also be a real money saver. While a technology that requires a device to be put in each and every vehicle of a fleet is never going to be cheap to implement, the long term savings typically more than pay for the cost of the equipment, software and maintenance.

One of the most costly expenses of any fleet is the fuel. With petrol and diesel prices rocketing in the last decade what once was a secondary expense now has a real impact on the bottom line. Fleets everywhere are training drivers in how to drive more fuel efficiently. Braking and accelerating more steadily have a real impact on the amount of fuel burned and how large your fleet fuel bill becomes. But what do you do about the drivers who simply ignore the advice and continue driving in their old way? How do you even know which drivers have improved and which are wasting the company money? Fleet telematics can help by monitoring the driving performance of each driver. By combining GPS data with data from the pedals and steering wheel, telematics devices can tell if a driver is driving efficiently or not. You can inform drivers that they need to improve their driving efficiency and keep track on their progress afterwards.

Another common way that fleets lose money is when drivers decide to take the ‘scenic’ route rather than the quickest option. If a drivers favourite fast food chain is on the second best route they’ll often choose that over the most efficient route. Not only can you use telematics to see where they are, but you can also use geofencing on the software to ensure they stick to the most efficient route. If they go outside the boundary of the geofence, you’ll receive an alert. Call the driver to see if its due to a road diversion or if they were just trying to take a less efficient route. This isn’t just about fuel savings: time is money, and taking a longer route means a driver gets less deliveries into the working day.

Telematics isn’t just about ensuring that drivers aren’t wasting the companies funds however. It has benefits for them too. No one likes being stuck in traffic, and telematics can be used to alert drivers to bad traffic ahead. While GPS devices already do this, telematics has the advantage that other fleet drivers can give more up to date information for the fleet to use, so if one driver is stuck in traffic ahead others taking a similar route can be informed to take a diversion around the traffic problem.

Working hours limits affect all businesses, but businesses with fleets have more strict guidelines and monitoring to ensure that their drivers aren’t behind the wheel too long. Getting drivers to fill in time sheets can be a chore – as can verifying these and scheduling drivers to deliveries to ensure they don’t go over the legal driving limits. Telematics can help by monitoring exactly how long each driver is behind the wheel giving you instant data to ensure compliance. Other compliance needs can also be assisted using telematics, such as CO2 emissions if your company has environmental obligations either legally or through a voluntary scheme.

There’s other benefits too that while small, taken together add up to big time savings. Rather than manually checking the mileage monitors in each vehicle to see which need to go in for regular servicing you can simply check with the telematics dashboard. If there’s a customer complaint about delivery being at the wrong time you don’t have to just rely on your drivers word – you can check with the software.

There’s many uses for telematics that only apply to specific business needs too. For instance a taxi firm that gets a new booking can see which vehicle is closest to the customer rather than trying to remember where each taxi is and calling the driver.

Many new commercial vehicles are either coming with telematics devices as standard or having them as optional extras. Fleets will increasingly be capable of adopting telematics without any equipment expenses in the coming years, but getting ahead of the competition now could give you the competitive advantage your company deserves.

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Robert Prime launched telematics.com in early 2013 and has over 10 years experience in the financial sector. He specialises in business startups and online marketing with a passion for new technology.