- Photo: Getty/Tinpixels

Photo: Getty/Tinpixels

A GPS tracking system enables an organization to quickly realize numerous bottom-line benefits, including increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction, and reduced costs. Whether you’re still considering dipping your toe into the telematics pool or are looking to change providers, telematics technology is becoming an essential tool in the fleet manager’s toolbox. Not having this technology or, more importantly, not having the right telematics features means you may be behind the curve and won’t be able to compete in the long term. 

When evaluating a telematics solution, there are six must-have capabilities that will allow you to reap the full benefits of a GPS tracking system regardless of the provider.  

1. Vehicle Tracking

Vehicle tracking is at the foundation of telematics, and while vehicle tracking has become nearly ubiquitous and is in near-real time, it shouldn’t be taken for granted. 

Awareness of where your drivers, vehicles, and equipment are positioned at any given moment allows you to respond more rapidly to emergencies and make sure you get the right people, vehicles, and tools to the right place at the right time. 

2. Automated Scheduling and Dispatch

Today’s telematics solutions relieve fleet managers of the headache and potential mishaps of scheduling with pencil and paper. 

With automated dispatch, drivers know from the start of their shifts where they are going and when, with jobs arranged in the most cost-effective manner and accompanied by details like customer requests or unique delivery requirements. This feature can streamline communication, increase productivity and help maintain customer satisfaction by improving arrival times and enabling you to connect the right people and equipment to the right job.

3. Route Optimization

Route optimization is a natural outgrowth of vehicle tracking. GPS tracking takes into account traffic patterns, accidents, road work, weather, and other factors that impact routes. As a result, you can improve response time, reduce mileage, fit more jobs into a day, protect your drivers from hazards, and keep customers happy. Working in sync with vehicle tracking and dispatch, route optimization helps fleets run efficiently by enabling you to get drivers safely to the right place in the least amount of time, adapting to last-minute changes as necessary. Real-time data about current conditions gives you the ability to make quick, informed decisions that maintains efficiency and meets customer expectations.

4. Custom Alerts

Custom alerts are among the best of the must-have fleet telematics features. Being alerted in real time about everything from driving behavior to vehicle diagnostics can open opportunities for cutting risk and improving efficiency, which goes right to the bottom line. 

For example,  alerts about fuel being wasted through driving habits (including poor routing and driver behavior), idling, or even at the pump can spot areas of for improvement in real time and either correct the problem through adjustments at the operational level or by coaching drivers individually. The improvements go right to the bottom line.

This is just a single example of the kind of alerts — and their bottom-line benefits — that this must-have capability can bring to fleet operations.  

4. Utilization Measurement

Utilization management is emerging as a crucial measurement of efficiency and total cost of ownership (TCO) for vehicles. 

Knowing which vehicles and how often they are being used — particularly in shared-services operations — is crucial in measuring whether you have the right kind and right number of vehicles for your operation. Telematics is the only way to measure this important metric in real time. Trying to do so retrospectively (e.g., during a planning cycle) with an Excel spreadsheet will still likely lead to perpetuating inefficiencies, which could increase budget outlays for vehicles that don’t (or no longer) meet the fleet’s mission or for vehicles that aren’t used.

5. Vehicle Health Monitoring

A fleet’s vehicles are the lifeblood of its operation, so keeping them up and running will always be a priority. Telematics solutions with vehicle health monitoring capability will allow you to keep tabs on your vehicles, spot emergent maintenance issues, address them immediately, and make sure that preventive maintenance is being scheduled and completed. Remember, downtime is unproductive time for both your vehicles and your drivers, and that means profitability is also taking a hit. 

6. Driver Monitoring

One of the most difficult variables to monitor and control are drivers. Telematics gives visibility on both vehicles and the way they’re being driven. Coupled with alert capabilities, telematics can give near-real-time insights into the way vehicles are driven and hold drivers accountable for their actions.

The result is the ability to coach and correct behavior before an accident happens and reduce driver risk and the expenses related to a collision, including vehicle downtime, injuries, and potential — and often ruinous — liability payments.

While you may not need all six of these must-have features and there are other capabilities and features available on telematics solutions — and new ones being added regularly — the above in whatever combination that are relevant to your fleet’s mission are the essential features that will help you define and improve operations and profitability. 

Without them it will likely become harder to remain competitive and relevant in the increasingly technological and connected world of fleet management. 

To learn more and to get started on the road to a technological future, receive free quotes from top suppliers at businessfleet.com.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet