Thinking Outside the Silo and Harnessing the Power of Telematics

Aug 21 • Features, Fleet Technology, Management • 880 Views • No Comments on Thinking Outside the Silo and Harnessing the Power of Telematics

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As we continue our new series we are delighted to bring you a selection of articles taken from the recently released and highly informative, limited edition of Mobile Resource Management for Dummies, which is presented by Verizon Connect.

fieldservicenews.com subscribers have already been given access to this excellent resource but don’t worry if your a field service professional you can still access the eBook by applying for a complimentary industry subscription on the link below and we will send you access to the resource as thanks for your application.

Apply for a complimentary industry subscription to fieldservicenews.com now!

Note: Please do take the time to our T&Cs (available in plain English at fieldservicenews.com/subscribe) and note that this content is sponsored by Verizon Connect)

What Is Mobile Resource Management?

The traditional approach to handling business growth is to focus on meeting increased demand – more workers, more vehicles and more warehouses. This can also mean an increase in administrative and management staff and higher overheads.

This linear strategy is fine while the work is there, but in a market filled with increased competition and fluctuating customer demand, committing to fixed expenses can leave a company exposed if business stops booming.

Clearly, saying no to new business is not an option. Fortunately, there is another solution.

Mobile resource management (MRM), or enterprise fleet management technology, helps mobile workforces and the people who manage them to get smarter about how they use their assets.

Mobile resource management (MRM), or enterprise fleet management technology, helps mobile workforces and the people who manage them to get smarter about how they use their assets.

This allows them to improve productivity while saving money by avoiding the financial risk of prematurely acquiring additional employees, vehicles or equipment.

MRM refers to a broad suite of hardware and software technology solutions that are used to monitor, track and optimise mobile assets, from tools and heavy machinery to vehicle fleets, employees and more. MRM is focused on making the best use of a business’s existing assets – vehicles, equipment and employees – to maximise its capacity; connecting the vehicle, the people and the work.

Most businesses have untapped potential that could be converted into a revenue-generating activity, but they don’t know it exists, or how to leverage it. You want to find your underutilised or inefficient assets and/or staff, and this can only be highlighted by monitoring them.

That’s where MRM technology comes in. It monitors each of your assets and allows an owner or appropriate stakeholder to see what, where and when resources are being used.

Using the data supplied by location-based technologies fitted to the vehicle or equipment (including phones and tablets), an MRM solution can easily show a range of productivity metrics.

Information that can be reported includes:

  • When vehicles arrive at and/or leave a worksite or customer location.
  • If the vehicle is anywhere other than where it should be.
  • When equipment is being used (engine on).
  • Which vehicles or assets have been sitting idle.
  • Vehicle travel time (to determine time spent between jobs).
  • Whether drivers are taking the quickest and most efficient routes.

Modern MRM solutions increasingly leverage the ubiquitous connectivity, unlimited scale and low-cost advantages of the cloud (discussed in the previous article here).

Some examples of technologies, applications and uses that might be found in a complete MRM solution include:

  • Telematics
  • Route optimisation
  • Mobile technologies
  • Data connectivity
  • Work order management

Let’s explore the first of these, i.e. telematics in closer detail…

Telematics

Telematics integrates vehicular technologies, road transportation and safety information, sensors, instrumentation, wireless communications and more. Telematics is sometimes referred to as ‘GPS (Global Positioning System) vehicle tracking’. However, that doesn’t begin to cover the breadth of capabilities under the telematics umbrella.

Aside from simply tracking vehicle location, a robust web-based telematics solution offers customisable reports, near real-time vehicle and driver alerts, vehicle health, dashboards, custom map overlays, geo-fences and other tools to help companies manage and optimise fleet operations.

Aside from simply tracking vehicle location, a robust web-based telematics solution offers customisable reports, near real-time vehicle and driver alerts, vehicle health, dashboards, custom map overlays, geo-fences and other tools to help companies manage and optimise fleet operations.

A comprehensive telematics solution empowers businesses to monitor and understand a broad range of operational factors, including:

Fuel consumption.

Fuel is one of the largest fleet operating expenses. Finding new ways to reduce fuel use provides immediate benefit to any company’s bottom line. With a telematics solution, fleet managers gain detailed insight and visibility into several key areas that have a big impact on fuel use, such as:

  • Speeding – According to Commercial Fleet, a van driving at 80 mph uses 20 per cent more fuel than one driven at 70. That adds up quickly when you multiply that by any size fleet over the course of the year.
  •  Idling – Unproductive idling is another fuel drain. For example, Figure 2-1 shows that the average yearly idling cost for a fleet of just 15 Transit vans is more than £11,000.
  • Vehicle maintenance – It may not be as obvious as speeding and idling when it comes to wasting fuel, but proper vehicle maintenance plays a big role in fuel efficiency. Proper maintenance, including proactively addressing diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) and maintenance alerts, as well as maintaining proper fleet operational levels, help to reduce costly downtime.
  • Tyre pressure – According to the UK’s Department for Transport, underinflated tyres lower fuel. For example, four tyres that are just 25 per cent underinflated increase fuel consumption by about 0.2 per cent. Additionally, properly inflated tyres are safer and last longer.
  • Unauthorised use – Unauthorised vehicle use equals unauthorised fuel use. Corporate fuel cards can be tied to specific vehicles via telematics to identify if a fuel card has been used without an accompanying work vehicle. Also note the fuel capacity of your vehicles, in case an employee purchases 45 litres of fuel for a company vehicle that only has a 40-litre capacity tank!
  • Route optimisation – Are drivers taking the most efficient routes throughout the day? Added miles burn fuel and put unnecessary wear and tear on the vehicle itself.
  • Utilisation – Understanding how much of a vehicle’s time is engaged in productive work can provide valuable insight that may allow some companies to perform the same work in the same amount of time with fewer vehicles on the road – which means less fuel use.

FIGURE 2-1: Average idling costs for Transit van and HGV fleets (source: Fleetmatics).

Safety

Any company that has a fleet of mobile workers considers the safety of their drivers and the public to be a top priority. Fleet vehicle accidents are costly on multiple levels – injury claims, repairs, employee morale, loss of productivity, company reputation and government interference, just to name a few.

According to the UK’s Department of Transport, an accident claim can cost an employer over £23,000 in medical care, legal expenses, lost productivity and property damage. That cost can exceed £216,000 when someone is injured, or £1.8 million when a fatality occurs.

Two big contributors to accidents are maintenance issues and driving behaviour. A telematics solution can provide near real-time alerts on both vehicle maintenance issues as well as driving behaviour.

Two big contributors to accidents are maintenance issues and driving behaviour. A telematics solution can provide near real-time alerts on both vehicle maintenance issues as well as driving behaviour. These alerts help to ensure that a vehicle is safe and roadworthy. And they provide business owners and fleet managers with solid data on driver performance that helps them better coach that driver to be safer on the road.

According to a National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA) study in the US, speeding is a factor in nearly 23 per cent of all at-fault large truck crashes. The same agency also reports that a tyre 25 per cent below its recommended pressure is three times more likely to be involved in a crash.

Telematics is also a natural companion for driver compliance factors – such as Hours of Service (HOS) – and can automate tracking processes, and help ensure that drivers are fresh and operating on proper/approved rest.

Simply knowing the location of a vehicle can also improve employee safety. If a truck and its driver don’t return when expected, their location can be determined, and, if needed, assistance can be provided.

Productivity.

Almost everything a telematics solution accomplishes leads back to productivity. One of the first things a supervisor will understand is the percentage of an employee’s day that is productive – are there inefficient in their day that can be improved upon? Better routing? If the vehicle spends a lot of time parked or idling, why is that? Telematics identifies symptoms that can be used to diagnose and correct a problem.

Dispatchers can easily identify the nearest possible respondent to a call by vehicle type, driver capabilities, and tools and parts available on board, ensuring that the response is swift and efficient.

The automation and incorporation of paperwork into mobile devices now allows records to be filed immediately during and upon completion of a job, eliminating countless hours of labour, filing and organising.

Finally, the age of compliance is upon us – HOS, tachographs, and Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR) are a fact of life for commercial fleet managers. The same mobile devices that allow communication and form automation can also be used to streamline compliance reporting, ensure expedient interaction with DOT authorities, and eliminate paperwork almost entirely from the process – all driving productivity.

If a company has a large, decentralised mobile operation that is service- and/or delivery-based, a telematics solution can also take the entire fleet and plot out optimised routes that cut down on miles driven, wear and tear on a vehicle, fuel use and, most importantly, time. All working together to allow a fleet manager to accomplish more – for less.

Maintenance.

The two kinds of maintenance are: planned (scheduled/preventive) and unplanned (failure). The first can be managed. The second becomes a downtime event that sinks productivity, adds unexpected costs (repair and replacement) and stunts profitability because that asset and its driver are unable to work. It also has a downstream effect on everything from customer satisfaction to other vehicle/employee schedules. Luckily, the first can largely prevent the second.

Telematics automates the tracking of vehicle maintenance schedules and eliminates many of the old labour-intensive tracking processes

Telematics automates the tracking of vehicle maintenance schedules and eliminates many of the old labour-intensive tracking processes. Alerts can be scheduled when it’s time to perform regular maintenance activities, as well as to warn a fleet manager if a vehicle is operating out of usual parameters, or if an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) solution triggers a diagnostic trouble code (DTC), indicating the potential for a failure and allowing maintenance staff to address it before it becomes a downtime event 

This also allows fleet managers to schedule planned maintenance activities at a time with the least impact on productive work.

These systems can generally track any and all factors that have a direct impact on uptime and performance. From oil temperatures and fluid levels to tyre pressure and the presence of AdBlue in diesel, a telematics solution can help to diagnose a maintenance issue before it becomes a more expensive problem.

Want to know more? fieldservicenews.com subscribers have already been given access to this excellent resource but don’t worry if your a field service professional you can still access the eBook by applying for a complimentary industry subscription on the link below and we will send you access to the resource as thanks for your application.

Apply for a complimentary industry subscription to fieldservicenews.com now!

Note: Please do take the time to our T&Cs (available in plain English at fieldservicenews.com/subscribe) and note that this content is sponsored by Verizon Connect)

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