Vehicles equipped with telematics provide their operators the tools to improve safety records, enhance customer service and minimise vehicle downtime.
Until now, telematics has been mainly used in the context of safe driving and driver behaviour coaching. Still, large international companies are increasingly using telematics tracking systems to leverage data that allows them to improve the efficiency of both their fleets and their business operations.
The rich information generated by on-board sensors, GPS and the real-time transmission of data from vehicles to fleet management and business management software systems encourages fleet decision makers to identify data sets that could deliver even greater returns on investment, boosting business efficiency, enhancing customer service and increasing vehicle uptime.
Targeting risky behaviour
Companies with a strong safety focus to its telematics policy, like Ecolab, use the system to identify incidents of harsh acceleration, braking and cornering, all of which can indicate higher risk driving behaviours. This data gives fleet supervisors the opportunity to discuss driving performance with employees and to develop training resources to help higher risk drivers to improve.
The company is also looking to take advantage of the real data generated by the tracking technology to negotiate more accurate insurance premiums and enhanced policies, based on actual driving behaviour and risk, rather than a generic risk profile.
The safety benefits of telematics, both in terms of encouraging less aggressive driving styles as well as instantly locating vehicles in the event of a collision, provide a compelling argument for employers to persuade their drivers that telematics devices are not ‘spies in the cab’, but tools to protect drivers and even prove their innocence.
Improving safety and saving fuel
Schindler has introduced telematics systems to about 1,000 vehicles in the UK, Sweden and Turkey, with pilot projects underway in Germany, Spain and the United States. The national fleets are free to select their own telematics provider.
In the UK, the company has installed the Ctrack Online system to track 357 vans, which now have a Driver Behaviour Indicator mounted on the dashboard. This uses a traffic light type display, reinforced by an audible warning, to alert drivers to incidents of harsh driving, speeding or excessive idling. Drivers can clear the lights by driving responsibly. The information is also transmitted to a league table of driver performance, allowing Schindler to offer training to higher risk drivers.
Initial findings from the countries where Schindler has implemented a telematics strategy indicate the fuel savings are lower than those promised in sales pitches, “but we do still have better fuel consumption and less accidents,” the company said.
Author: Jonathan Manning, Fleet Europe