GPS in the service of a fleet manager

Anna Koryczan
18 October 2015
GPS in the service of a fleet manager

Currently, you cannot picture car fleet management without GPS technology. And it’s not only about the ability to locate vehicles, but it is also about much more facilities at work.

 

GPS is usually associated with satellite navigation and solutions allowing tracking down cars. And, by the way, checking whether a driver is where he should be, which usually means to verify his work. But these are not the only possibilities provided by the global positioning system, since many services and technologies are associated with GPS, thanks to which the work of a fleet manager can be easier. Definitely easier.

Navigation as standard. And better and better maps.

Let’s start with the basics. In order to be able to manage anything, you must first invest in a proper fleet of cars. And select the equipment carefully. Usually, the dealers of passenger cars entice with attractive packages of equipment, and also with additives such as satellite navigation factory built in by a car manufacturer. Until recently, the equipment installed by car concerns was regarded as a luxury accessory. Quite rightly, given the salty extra charges expected in showrooms. You could easily find popular fleet models of the middle class, where for a decent factory navigation system one had to pay almost 10 000 zlotys. And sometimes even more. Unfortunately, the price had nothing to do with the quality. There were common complaints about the quality of maps (usually heavily outdated), terms of updating, as well as the limited functionality of the equipment, which was no match even for an inexpensive portable navigation from the supermarket.

Fortunately, these times are over. The equipment for popular cars has clearly got cheaper, its functionality improved, which has a considerable impact on comfort and performance of the work of drivers. Huge progress was also made in the area of digital maps. In this respect, world suppliers such as Here or TomTom ably made up for the distance that used to separate their products from the solutions of Polish companies (Emapa, Geosystems or Imagis). At present, all key road projects appear on maps almost equally quickly. And this is not without impact on the quality of routing and efficient navigation. Because map has to be accurate so that the navigation system runs well.

Costs. It is not as expensive as it used to be.

Of course, very important are the costs of buying a GPS kit. Navigation costs less than a few years ago. Contrary to appearances, it is not difficult to get equipment as part of optional equipment, for which you must pay less than 2000 zlotys. Increasingly, navigation kits also come in the form of standard equipment – and not only in expensive models of middle and upper class but also lower. Moreover, access to the continuously updated data about traffic finally spreads. In other words, navigator is finally beginning to drive so that he can avoid traffic jams, maintenance works and other difficulties. And this means real saving of time and fuel. Although in terms of quality and quantity of data and the frequency of refreshing information factory car navigation is still second to the solutions in smartphones, it is difficult to overlook a huge progress. A driver relying solely on a serial kit is not as helpless as a few years ago.

The same is true for the drivers of goods vehicles and trucks. From one year to another, the offer of devices targeted for a specialized professional group improves. Even if the factory navigation devices installed in a dashboard are not very attractive, it is easy to replace them with universal navigators of the most reputed manufacturers such as, among others, Becker, Garmin or TomTom. The equipment is usually offered by dealers, so you can count on professional installation (to avoid problems with warranty) and better integration of the device with the electrical system of the car. And that’s not all.

Solution for professionals

Equipment designed for heavier fleets and larger cars is specially adapted to the needs of professional drivers. Distinction of the devices with the name „truck” is not any whim or a clever marketing trick, since they set a route including key parameters of a vehicle (number of axis, tonnage, dimensions, transport of dangerous goods) as well as local traffic restrictions (e.g. entrance to the cities after receiving a permit such as C16 in Warsaw). A map must contain data that do not apply to the drivers of passenger cars (restrictions on tonnage, height and width of flyovers, tunnels or bridges). Hence, it is not surprising that experts from companies such as Here or TomTom are doing a tremendous job every day: they measure the height and width of the tunnels, flyovers, bridges and also include data on the permitted tonnage. Thanks to their work, a driver is positive that by driving a specific road he can get (in e.g. a truck) to the designated place without concern.

‘For a truck driver, information on the slope of roads during the winter travel is of great importance, as well as entry bans and restrictions associated with tonnage or height. For a high bus driver, access to information on the possibilities of better opportunities to reach a hotel, and then finding the most conveniently located parking lot is important. For many professional drivers, information on restrictions associated with transporting dangerous loads, the so – called ADR – count’ – says Marek Krygier, Eastern Europe Manager of a Becker navigation brand.

 It should not be then surprising that the equipment designed for the drivers of buses, goods vehicles, trucks or even campers cost more than popular, ‘universal’ models of navigation. According to various estimates, preparation itself of a proper set of information may involve spending even several tens of euros more than in the case of the package of maps for the drivers of passenger cars or motorcycles. Higher purchase costs are also due to preparing completely different routing algorithms (including driving on the basis of data on traffic). Then, it should not be surprising that navigations such as Becker Transit 70 LMU or TomTom PRO 5150 Truck Live are clearly more expensive than ‘regular’ versions for the drivers of passenger cars.

Navigation system adapted to profession

A person responsible for the purchase and selection of accessories for the fleet of cars should also bear in mind specificity of the work of drivers. In the case of navigation, a manner of routes setting and optimizing becomes particularly important. It mostly pertains to such professional groups as couriers, service technicians and sales representatives, who have one day to visit various places. They need a totally different solution than a driver of a long distance truck, which provides cargo only to one particular location – from the proverbial point A to point B.

„Another type of systems used by the companies with their own fleet are also all kinds of GPS navigations with additional features, which not only help you reach the right place, but also do it in a timely manner , among others, bypassing traffic jams. And there are already systems here that plan a multi-point journey not only in terms of the distance between points or situation on the road, but also in terms of a given time, which we plan to spend in a set place and time scale, within which we need to reach the place. An example of this type of solution is the Salesman service, available in the NaviExpert navigation. Such solutions are also appreciated by the companies employing couriers, service technicians, sales representatives, who spend most of the day traveling between customers, as well as drivers, who have to do a few things in the city every day” – explains Adam Bąkowski – CEO of NaviExpert

It’s not only about controlling employees

The problem of proper routing and routes optimizing should also be viewed from a completely different perspective: from the point of view of managing the work of subordinate staff. Companies are increasingly interested in solutions to enable better contact with a worker in the field (comfortable and safe sending of new tasks as well as necessary documents) and also the associated supervision and tools to verify professional duties. Hence, creative projects such as TomTom Bridge, i.e. the combination of navigation with the communication terminal and the open software platform, which allows developers to adapt their applications to the device. Navigation then becomes a center of the driver’s communication with the dispatcher and monitoring solution at the same time. And that opens the field for subsequent applications accounting for the specificity of the operation of a particular company.

„Currently, GPS monitoring is used not only to trace the routes followed by employees. It also helps managing the fleet of vehicles with apps, which, for example, remind managers about ending insurance or technical review. With reports such as, for example, „Maximum speed” we can affect the safety of drivers and change drivers habits. GPS systems give the user a lot of additional options, which are often tailor – made for the customer – says Dominika Włodarczyk from Gannet Guard Systems.

It is of course difficult to overestimate safety issues. Both from the employee’s and the employer’s side . Extremely important is to know that in the event of an accident or breakdown, you can count on better help and faster response time. Thanks to the precise location possibility, chances for more efficient intervention increase. And thus for providing proper medical care and rapid hospitalization after the accident. And in case of failure – for a shorter downtime of the damaged vehicle.

Unfortunately, monitoring systems are not always well perceived by employees, who associate a given set of GPS usually with a lack of confidence, excessive control as well as a kind of ‘electronic muzzle’. Hence, a very important task for every fleet manager is to convince workers to the introduced novelties. A useful tool become solutions in the field of gamification, which serve an excellent motivational role.

‘Without a doubt, fleet managers particularly care about reducing the level of claims in the fleet and reducing unnecessary downtimes. In addition, reduction of fuel and maintenance costs (smoother driving influences the use of consumables) is also very much in demand. And how to achieve it? There are different systems of motivation related to rewarding and punishing. Worthy of note are solutions based on the principles of gamification, which may affect not only the economy but also greater safety of drivers and fleets’ – says Marcin Brysiak, inventor and founder of forDrivers.

Service is important 

Another issue is choosing the right supplier of equipment and service. Not only the costs or functionality should count for a manager. Equally important are technical issues related preliminary to the ease of adaptation of the monitoring solutions in the car. Long car downtimes caused by complicated installations are a real loss for a company. Alike the procedure in case of failure. The longer the waiting time for the arrival of the service and solution of the problem, the greater the risk of losses, and even contractual penalties if within the scope of a fleet, services related to the supplies within strict deadlines are carried out.

„Today in Poland, more than 200 providers of telematics solutions operate. However, not all companies will have a chance to feel the increasing market potential. Consolidation of the biggest M2M players or the increasing users awareness will clarify the best system providers. In the near future we can certainly expect a merger of subsequent telematics companies” – says Mateusz Gniewiek from Rikaline.

Source: //connectedlifemagazine.pl

 

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