Five reasons to invest in Fleet Tracking
1. You don’t need a tracking system!
OK let me qualify that, a system on its own is useless although there are plenty of suppliers’ ready to sign you up, stick a box in your vehicles and see you again in three years’ time.
Whenever we speak to companies that tell us they want vehicle tracking, we always probe a little deeper and ask questions like “Do you want to reduce vehicle maintenance costs, or cut down your rate of accidents or improve vehicle utilisation?” The answers unsurprisingly are always yes. More worryingly, we sometimes hear the same from companies who do have tracking in place but have not been able to realise the promised benefits.
A word of caution here, a vehicle tracking system (the technology) is unlikely to bring improvements on its own. The sheer volume of data captured by such systems has to be interpreted and presented back at the right level to become useful information. It must also relate directly to the KPIs of the fleet managers, enabling them to take appropriate action.
The best industry ROIs from telematics are achieved by the companies that understand technology alone can only go so far. They involve their people and look at their processes too. Very importantly, they engage fully with the drivers, taking them on the same journey. Then the magic really does start to happen.
2. You can’t manage what you can’t measure
A well-known quote attributed to management guru Peter Drucker and so true for vehicle fleets. If you don’t have the information to know where you are today, it’s going to be difficult to take action and measure your success tomorrow. Do you know who your most and least ‘efficient’ drivers are? (define ‘efficient’ however you like here). Knowing exactly how you’re performing today is the starting point for driving up fleet performance metrics tomorrow.
If you already have vehicle tracking technology in place, you’ll likely know your key numbers. Where the costs are going, your most and least efficient vehicles and drivers, how under or over utilised the fleet is and so on.
If not, you’re missing out on some very powerful information that can help you make real gains. A good telematics provider will want to understand your objectives and work with you to establish baseline values, set targets and help quantify the benefits. Ideally, they’ll also become a long-term business partner and travel the journey with you. If not, then find another supplier who will.
3. It’s your duty of care
All UK businesses owe a duty of care to their staff and that includes those who drive as part of their job. This is fundamental legislation for every business to comply with. Failure to take all reasonable steps can lead to heavy fines by HSE, loss of an operator’s licence and in the most serious cases, imprisonment.
It’s vital to carry out regular risk assessments and take preventative actions. For drivers, look at their daily procedures and work practices. Supplement this with technology in the form of a vehicle tracking system to manage the on-road risk that otherwise goes unseen.
Make regular checks on driver licences and their continued entitlement to drive. These can be scheduled and provided routinely through some vehicle tracking systems.
Once drivers are out on the road, the only way to know how safely they drive is by using telematics. Most good systems analyse driving style and identify those drivers at greatest risk. While it’s not an exact science or about single events, trends and patterns will emerge over time and this enables you to take early preventative steps.
A video telematics system goes one stage further, providing all the same tracking data but supplemented by video clips of real driving events. This makes managing feedback and coaching drivers a much easier conversation as all the evidence is to hand.
4. Managing driver performance really is a ‘Win Win’
When we use the term ‘driver performance’, we mean a measure of a driver’s actual driving record as recorded by a telematics device. It considers Compliance, Safety and Performance. Compliance with the rules of the road like speed limits. Safety by driving within the capabilities of the vehicle and taking into account the location and prevailing conditions. Performance means how harshly, smoothly and efficiently they handle the vehicle.
Drivers consistently rated as ‘high risk’ are more likely to have an accident and will be costing more in terms of vehicle maintenance and fuel use. Identifying these and making appropriate interventions like further training and/or sanctions is vital. Again, it illustrates how technology, people and process must all go together to achieve the best results.
When driver behaviour management is introduced for the first time, it’s important to present it the right way. Involve drivers from an early stage, bring in their representatives or trade union, explain the benefits. Be open and honest at all times about your motives.
Drivers will usually see the benefit of greater care from the employer and welcome further coaching or training as it enhances their skills. More importantly, it is reducing the risks they face and the chances of being seriously injured or even killed while driving for work.
In larger organisations, driver performance may already be part of a the wider ‘safety first’ culture and taken for granted. In others, it may be a harder ‘sell’ initially but the benefits should be very clear.
Incentives can work with regular rewards for the best and most improved drivers. Many vehicle tracking systems aggregate underlying data to provide drivers with a simple score or league table position. This can encourage competitive instincts as drivers seek to improve their relative scores and by definition, their driving improves.
One High Street retailer we know simply publishes and updates driver data in a table on their intranet. No directives or guidance on driver scores were ever set, yet over a 12-month period, evidence showed a significant improvement across the whole fleet. Cost reductions were achieved as a result of increasing safety, a clear ‘win win’.
5. Be a better business
“Data is the new oil. It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc. to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so data must be broken down and analysed for it to have value.” The words of Clive Humby, the brains behind the hugely successful Tesco Clubcard.
And so it is with fleet data. If you’re not already doing so, it’s time to exploit the wealth of information now available to support fleet decision makers from a good vehicle tracking system. The benefits can be measured and quantified right across the business. The impact will be seen in Customer Services, Health and Safety, Financial, Operations and of course the Fleet itself.
Compliance schemes like FORS with video telematics requirements can also open up new business opportunities.
With more and more automation being factory fitted and autonomous vehicles already appearing on our roads, the amount of data will only continue to multiply. Wherever your business sits on this timeline, already a sophisticated consumer of telematics ‘big data’ or just considering joining the club, it’s vital to keep in mind your objectives in business terms. Know where you are now, where you want to get to and then measure and track improvements as you go.