Integrated Fleet Management Systems: 5 Risks to Avoid When Using Telematics
The Internet of Things (IoT) has allowed fleet managers to remotely monitor and track a whole host of data such as driver behavior, vehicle location, and mechanical performance. But what is the cost of not integrating fleet management systems into your fleet?
There are five key areas of concern when fleet telematics is ignored: when a fleet manager ignores asset tracking and fleet-related data, vehicle theft, employees taking advantage of unmonitored activities, damage to vehicles and equipment caused by bad driving habits, and a general decrease in productivity.
The Federal government’s General Services Administration uses telematics for its vast vehicle fleet of vehicles, equipment, desks and the other stuff it needs to run things efficiently. It says, “The data generated from telematics can assist fleet managers to best manage their fleets. This, in turn, can provide cost savings areas such as maintenance, driver behavior, reporting, fuel use and idling, as well as inventory optimization.”
According to Caterpillar, some 80% of heavy equipment produced for the American market since 2009 comes equipped with telematics. Former fleet director Leslie Smart says, “If you ask me today, back when I ran fleets to the tune of 5,000 vehicles which ended in 2015 they weren’t that common. Today they are, and that’s to protect the company that owns the tractor-trailer, but also the driver.”
Fleet telematics devices and software can help a fleet manager:
- Mitigate additional contracting expenses
- Save time on conducting market research
- Reduce risky driving behaviors
- Meet asset-level data (ALD) and Federal Automotive Statistical Tool (FAST) reporting requirements
The benefits of telematics to your fleet are that it makes your fleet more efficient, helps with government rules compliance, productivity, and safety. Most systems have expandability which future-proofs your investment.
Risk #1: Vehicle And Construction Equipment Theft
Theft of fleet and construction vehicles, both owned and leased, is increasing in the United States. The National Equipment Register (NER)(www.ner.net) and National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) joint 2016 Annual Theft Report says that the top 5 most stolen pieces of construction equipment in the United States are riding mowers, tractors, loaders (skid steers/backhoes/wheel loaders), excavators, and forklifts.
The five most stolen equipment brands are John Deere, Kubota, Bobcat, Caterpillar, and Toro. Among the top states for vehicle and equipment theft are Texas, North Carolina, Florida, California, and Georgia.
Value and mobility are factors that drive theft. A large Caterpillar excavator is valuable but isn’t as easily put onto a trailer and stolen as a Bobcat’s or generators are. Wheeled vehicles are most commonly stolen, such as trucks, wheel loaders, backhoes, and skid steers.
Taking simple preventative steps to enable a quick recovery is key according to the experts. GPS tracking via telematics of equipment tops the list of the best methods to do this. GPS Trackit (www.gpstrackit.com) is a leading telematics solution provider. They report that “GPS Trackit customers have reported valuable stolen vehicles were recovered in a matter of minutes.”
Not only are GPS-equipped vehicles and equipment quickly recovered after a theft, but accident rates are lowered by 30% and insurance cost is dramatically reduced.
Risk #2: Employees Taking Advantage of Unmonitored Activities
When fleet managers are not able to monitor drivers and operators, there are some sobering statistics:
71% of large truck crashes are caused by distracted drivers.
Speeding too fast for conditions caused 23% of truck accidents.
The passenger vehicle is at fault in 80% of truck accidents.
Liability of behavior
The obvious way to combat these problems is video telematics. They allow a fleet manager to not only see the location of the vehicle or equipment but how it is being used at any given moment. Geofencing can restrict where vehicles can go and trigger an alarm seen by the fleet manager. For example, bars or adult entertainment clubs can be restricted in this way, as well as setting distance limits from the planned route or construction site.
An example of a product that monitors driver and employee behavior is the GPS Trackit Vidfleet “Smart Video Solution”. As with similar products, Vidfleet uses video AI (Artificial Intelligence) to predict and prevent accidents. A fleet manager can instantly contact a driver if a threat is alerted.
Telematics with AI protects both your drivers your fleet from liability & false claims by video recording all traffic around a truck, for example, which helps when an accident claim is made. Knowing that they are being monitored, drivers and operators drive more safely and are more productive by paying attention to the job at hand.
“The activated cameras are great because most of the companies that use them activate them remotely, so you can see what’s going on in the cab you know maybe it’s sitting there and it’s empty, maybe it’s not. You can get a shot of who’s behind the wheel, say your driver or if it’s somebody else”, says Leslie Smart, a fleet management consultant with Smart Fleet Management LLC in Bixby, Oklahoma.
Another benefit of telematics is as an aid in training OTR drivers and equipment operators. With telematics data and dash cams, a fleet manager has the data she needs to know if a driver needs further training in order to be safer or more efficient. That data can also be used as a reward to operators. Some companies give their drivers cash gift cards or extra time off for doing the right things.
Risk #3: Damage to Vehicles Caused by Bad Driving Habits
A driver or vehicle operator who takes risks and shortcuts is a liability to your company. Fleet telematics can alert a fleet manager when they occur so that bad behavior can be dealt with or more training is scheduled. In some cases, the manager can talk directly to the driver and train him or her on the spot. Telematics generates data that is helpful in the day-to-day operation of a fleet such as when drivers repeatedly brake too hard, accelerate too quickly, speed, or make hard turns. This reduces fleet risks in several ways.
Knowing a driver’s actions while on the road lets the fleet manager know whether the driver is driving dangerously, endangering company vehicles and equipment, or even himself. Slamming the brakes or accelerating too fast can damage company vehicles by wearing down vehicle parts too soon. Bad driving habits can consume too much fuel.
One caveat to using all of this valuable data is to not micromanage your workers. They can feel overwhelmed by the flood of telematics data and feel overly scrutinized because of it. It is best to digest the data to see general trends in your fleet rather than single out individual workers.
Risk #4: General Decrease in Productivity
Not knowing what is happening out there on the road or at the job site can decrease productivity, cost you money and let your competitors get ahead. Data is knowledge. It is valuable, and when organized and synthesized, it will add to your profits.
Fleet management systems are crucial for determining the most productive and efficient way of performing even everyday tasks. For example, some systems enable you to assess the routes your drivers take every day and determine whether any of these overlap. That way, you can see how you can rearrange your drivers’ routes to improve efficiency.
Many companies find this to be a necessity in the modern age, especially those in the emergency services and those responsible for larger fleets that need to cover as much ground as possible in a given day.
Risk #5: Decrease in Market Competitiveness
Your competitors are using GPS, telematics and fleet management solutions right now. So why aren’t you? Is it the cost? Statistics show that asset tracking adds to the bottom line. ROI (Return On Investment) increases after implementation of integrated fleet management systems. Across the telematics industry fleet managers are finding that on average their companies achieve ROI between 3 to 6 months of installing the technology.
With the overwhelming majority of fleet managers integrating telematics systems into their fleet, those who have not soon realize that they are losing their competitive edge in markets where other companies are are successfully implementing telematics.
In an economy where everyone is looking to boost their productivity in order to get ahead, it is vital for you to invest in smart fleet management solutions. Using these will enable you to lower costs on fuel, cut back on unnecessary repairs, and eliminate inefficient driver routes. As the saying goes, it’s a no brainer.
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