Upgrading Your Fleet – Tech Can Drive Major ROI
Purchasing and maintaining your company’s fleet of vehicles and other equipment could very well be one of your largest overhead cost categories in a given year, but there are ways that technology can help offset the costs. By upgrading your fleet with the latest technologies, owners can improve their safety programs, gain more information about how their vehicles and equipment are performing, solve problems before they happen, and much more.
Companies are integrating technology into their fleets and saving more than ever before, and it’s time you learned about some of the ways yours can too.
Telematics – A Remote Look Under the Hood
The use of telematics in fleet management is quite literally growing every day. Experts predict that more than 100 million new telematics units will be installed this year around the world and will likely grow to 159 million by 2020 (Berg Insight).
The term telematics refers to the marriage of telecommunications with informatics. It gives company owners a great deal of insight and information about their operations, including existing transportation industry staples like GPS tracking, speed monitoring, and inventory tracking.
Where things get really interesting is when company owners use telematics to dive deeper into their equipment and vehicles. As the old phrase says, knowledge is power. Technology can provide early warning indicators about upcoming necessary maintenance, which can save companies a ton of money and helps owners avoid unpleasant surprises. Options include everything from complete engine diagnostics, fuel consumption tracking, tire pressure sensors, and so much more. It can also help with little day-to-day problems, such as locating a driver or vehicle. Basically, all of this data and reporting gives owners a look under the hoods of their vehicles at once, from anywhere.
“Regardless of the size or type of your equipment, you will see immediate benefits in using telematics,” said Mike Paredes, CEO of Gauge, an Indianapolis-based telematics firm. “It allows you to build a better picture with the data you specifically need to improve the management, use and maintenance of all of your assets and rolling stock. Ultimately, telematics will positively impact your bottom line.”
One of the bigger areas of savings for companies for companies that use telematics is the way monitoring can help reduce the amount of fuel wasted by vehicle idling. Considering that a diesel truck burns about one gallon of fuel an hour (Environmental Defense Fund), this technology can literally keep a company’s money from burning.
“The big savings come from tracking idle time of the vehicles. Many industrial and commercial vehicles idle for a substantial amount of time. That increases engine wear and fuel usage much more than most people realize. With proper maintenance and monitoring, companies will see better mileage,” said Kyle Mohrbach, fleet manager with Matteson, IL-based Sutton Auto Group.
Telematics also brings several different types of quality-of-life improvements for companies in the form of simple conveniences and more efficient maintenance tracking.
“The feedback we’ve gotten from our small business/small fleet customers is the two most useful components are the remote vehicle unlock feature (saving a costly locksmith visit) and the oil life monitoring that is accessible through the vehicle diagnostic scan,” said Steve Doty, commercial manager with Merrillville-based Schepel GMC.
“The oil changes are important to keep vehicle warranties intact, and since the vehicle has an oil life monitor built in, the mobile access allows another set of eyes to make sure that the routine maintenance is done, avoiding costly down time,” he added.
Telematics systems can also save companies money in the form of discounts from their insurance firms. The data enables insurance companies to build risk assessments from both the vehicle diagnostics and driver behavior patterns, and in turn adjust premiums accordingly. This form of tracking is great for supporting employee safety incentive programs, giving owners accurate metrics to evaluate and reward.
Protecting Your Most Valuable Assets
Diving a little deeper into operator and driver monitoring technology, many companies have been expanding their telematics systems with employee behavior tracking. While it might seem a little intrusive at first, the whole point of systems like these are to save lives, jobs, and money.
According to data from Automotive Fleet, a fleet management publication, over 20% of all fleet vehicles in the U.S. are in accidents every year and the majority of these accidents are related to preventable driver behaviors. Driver behavior scorecards that can be reviewed with drivers is a great way to curb dangerous behaviors. For example, drivers can be scored with specific event categories like hard acceleration, hard braking, and speeding occurrences. This provides a very high degree of accountability for employees in addition to trackable performance documentation for management.
“Having this type of data allows you to provide targeted, relevant driver education to your employees,” said Paredes. “You will see a decline in accidents and claims but more importantly, you are protecting your most valuable assets, your employees.”
One of the strategies that companies have been using to get drivers more comfortable with monitoring technology is to make games out of its use as part of their safety rewards programs. Some companies divide their drivers or operators into teams and track which ones have the best performances. The point is, making it fun and interactive makes driver monitoring a lot less invasive. Ultimately, it’s all for safety, which everyone has a stake in.
A Hard-Working Time Clock
Construction companies can experience several unique benefits by using fleet management technology. One of the most obvious is in the areas of loss prevention, which is unfortunately prevalent in the industry. Being able to track the location of equipment can help lead to a faster recovery when things get stolen.
Aside from theft, did you know that fleet management tech can also help contractors deal with contract disputes regarding billable hours? It’s true. When a contractor is able to verify where a piece of equipment is and exactly what it’s doing, they’re also given the ability to integrate these systems with their billing department’s invoicing software. This is great for providing documentation and evidence of work conducted should a dispute ever arise.
Additionally, monitoring devices can also help contractors streamline office workflow, track and predict maintenance schedules, and monitor operator behavior in much the same way owners of transportation firms are able.
Cheaper in the Long Run
Any innovation that can save companies money over the long term is likely a sound investment. Due to the fact that a company’s fleet is often one of its primary annual expense categories, any opportunity to save money should be welcomed by business owners. Not to mention the amount of headaches it can potentially prevent.