Putting Telematics Into Practice
Photo illustration by Armie Bautista.
Just a short time ago, fleet management could aptly be described as more art than science, but, thanks to telematics, the pendulum is swinging more to the science side.
As the following case studies illustrate, telematics is giving fleets powerful tools to effectively solve some seemingly insurmountable problems.
Safety is at the forefront of most fleet policies today and telematics is one of the tools fleet managers can use to increase the safety of their fleet.
One such fleet was Tolt Solutions, a South Carolina-based IT Services company, which operates a fleet of more than 450 light-duty service vans.
The company was looking for a solution that would help it lower its accident rate. To do this, it chose a telematics solution that would allow it to monitor trending data on driver behavior, including down to the exact day and time an individual driver was speeding or engaging in other unsafe activities.
By having this telematics tool, the company reported that it was able to reduce its accident rate by 21% within the first year, with the rate trending downward.
After depreciation, fuel is the biggest cost for fleets. With the advent of telematics, fleet managers got a better picture of just how much strain idling was putting on their fleets’ bottom lines.
For example, Crown Uniform service, which operates a fleet of Freightliner Step Vans, knew that it had to take steps to cut idling.
The problem: Each fleet vehicle made 30 to 40 stops per day, and, when factoring in unnecessary idling, the fuel costs were adding up. Many of the drivers left their engines running out of habit, and were idling as much as 70 minutes per day. One hour of idling, on average, wastes about a gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel. Using this equation, each driver was wasting, on average about six gallons of fuel per week due to unnecessary idling.
The company used its telematics solution to set an idling baseline, which was communicated to location managers — many of whom had no idea that the drivers were idling their vehicles so much — and then filtered the message down to the drivers.
The company set an acceptable baseline idling goal of 10 minutes per day, and monitored the drivers daily. If a driver idled more than the baseline 10 minutes per day, a report was generated and sent to the location manager who would speak to the driver and correct the actions immediately.
Within a few months Crown’s drivers reduced their idling from 70 minutes per day to 7 minutes, saving the company between $1,500 and $2,000 per month in fuel costs.
Routing is another way fleets may waste fuel, and that was something that Parks & Sons, a family-owned waste and recycling hauler in Sun City, Ariz., wanted to correct.
Prior to implementing telematics, the company relied on a voice/CB radio system to route vehicles, which wasn’t efficient. The company also experienced a period of growth that caused additional inefficiencies to be created due to the addition of new, overlapping routes that was difficult to reroute using its manual system.
The company wanted to improve route efficiency and take a deeper dive into data relating to the fleet’s maintenance profile — identifying wear and tear — and keeping the fleet up and running.
Parks & Sons solved the problem by adding a telematics solution with routing capabilities. This eliminated route inefficiencies, saving the company $150,000 in fuel costs in the first year, on top of improving driver and vehicle productivity.
The company also invested in a custom-built Parks & Sons application specifically aimed at monitoring fleet maintenance.
Cleveland, Ohio-based Vans Express has realized overall improved efficiency for its mixed fleet of light-duty cargo vans and medium-duty vehicles.
The company has been using its current telematics system for the past three years and has shown the fleet where it can find additional efficiencies.
"The solution has shown us different areas within our business where we can operate more efficiently, effectively and securely – in particular, how drivers are running routes, and vehicle idling times, fuel usage, and miles per gallon,” said Craig Altern, operations and fleet manager for Vans Express Inc. “The technology pays for itself over and over again because we’ve lowered our operating, maintenance and insurance costs."
The business is operating at peak efficiency now because of its telematics solution, according to Alten.
"And most importantly, it’s creating safe, professional drivers and vehicles on the road,” he said.