Since timing and sticking to a schedule are critical to any fleet’s ability to maximize profit, many fleets are turning to software solutions to ensure increased operator accountability, including using GPS tracking devices. in real time.
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We discussed the benefits of implementing such devices in a fleet in this Q&A with Benjamin Van Avery, Director of Sales and Marketing at Advanced Tracking Technologies, Inc. (ATTI), a designer and manufacturer of GPS tracking products based in Houston.
EF: How can GPS tracking devices help fleet managers, owners and their drivers?
Van Avery: Drivers who are held to a clear and unbiased standard work better for the business and for themselves. With GPS tracking, drivers can take more ownership of their work, have greater clarity of tasks and results, can self-correct and improve, and do not need to be micromanaged. Even well-meaning drivers can discover that there are areas for improvement that could make them more productive.
On the bright side for drivers and employees, the use of such GPS tracking systems helps verify on-time arrival at customer sites. Automated reports such as those provided by the ATTI system can virtually eliminate the reporting burden for both the employee and the employer when it comes to driving logs. Also, with greater responsibility,
top performing employees are more likely to be recognized and rewarded based on verifiable performance.
There are also indirect benefits. When drivers are monitored, those underweight are more easily identified so productive employees don’t have to take over with additional deliveries or service visits.
More responsible drivers lead to greater overall efficiency, which means increased profits. It’s a hard argument to deny, especially as GPS tracking continues to improve as the cost of entry plummets.
EF: How Can GPS Trackers Help Fleet Managers Keep Drivers Up?
Van Avery: Advances in GPS technology allow more real-time tracking and simplified reporting. Fleet managers don’t want to spend all day on their computers sifting through complex data. They want streamlined, easy-to-read reports that summarize what they need to know. Fortunately, such systems exist today and at rates below $ 20 per vehicle.
Advanced units allow real-time and historical monitoring of each vehicle in a fleet. This allows dispatchers to assign the nearest vehicle to a job, which speeds up service work or delivery and saves fuel, labor and vehicle wear and tear. It also enables analysis of historical routes, allowing even greater routing efficiencies to be determined on an individual or fleet-wide basis.
Automated exception reports can also flag potential issues that need to be corrected, such as excessive vehicle mileage or idling.
However, the greatest improvements in fleet management occur when GPS tracking devices are used to keep drivers at a clear and unbiased standard in order to encourage better performance for the business and for themselves.
EF: How often do GPS tracking devices need to be updated to achieve the best results in terms of driver liability for the fleet?
Van Avery: Typical GPS trackers can update themselves every few minutes or so, which doesn’t really provide real-time accountability because drivers know they have a certain delay between updates. In contrast, some advanced trackers today provide real-time location updates every 10 seconds, as well as location, speed, and downtime alerts if something goes wrong. This data is transmitted via satellite and cellular networks to a smartphone or a PC 24/7.
With such responsibility for how every minute of every day is spent, employees know they’re always “on the clock.” This helps eliminate frivolous or unnecessary downtime during the working day and decreases wasted time during a downtime.
A fleet manager at a residential and commercial construction company put it this way: “Now we know exactly where our vehicles and drivers are in real time. We can control our drivers to make sure they are where they are supposed to be and not in unauthorized places as some people will take advantage. This saved us a few thousand dollars in salary alone. The system more than pays for itself in terms of increased productivity.
EF: To what extent can GPS tracking increase fleet productivity if implemented successfully?
Van Avery: Once the drivers and the work team know they are responsible for their actions, it is amazing how much they will accomplish. Using such an approach with advanced GPS tracking typically improves productivity by 10-20% while reducing fuel costs by 10-15% as drivers begin to pay attention to their driving and work habits. All day long.
Busy fleet managers who need to maximize productivity can especially benefit from the ability of advanced GPS systems to automate reports, so reports can be delivered without anyone having to open the software. In addition to real-time views of current activity, reports for the next day can be emailed, documenting everything that happened the day before. Reports can be customized, for example, to show how many drivers have idled for more than 30 minutes or how many kilometers have been driven on a vehicle.
Check out the rest of the June digital edition of Fleet Equipment here.