15 Sep 20

How tracking data is transforming fleet safety and efficiency

Mining the rich sources of information from vehicles with telematics devices is giving fleet operators the tools to improve safety records, enhance customer service and maximise vehicle uptime.

Major international companies are using data from telematics tracking systems in ingenious ways to improve the efficiency of both their fleets and their business operations.

Telematics has traditionally been promoted as a way to enhance driver and vehicle safety by enabling employers to intervene with train- ing when they identify higher risk behaviours.

Tool and plant hire company Brandon Hire Station, for example, combines footage from in-vehicle cameras with telematics data to generate 12-second video clips of risky events. These videos then provide the basis for personalised conversations between managers and drivers. The result has been a dramatic decline over a 12-month period in higher risk events, such as a 77% reduction in incidents of tailgating (drivers following the vehicle in front with a gap of less than one second) and a 46% reduction in collisions.

The rich information generated by on-board sensors, GPS and the real-time transmission of data from vehicles to fleet management and business management software systems is also delivering benefits in a number of other areas. This is encouraging fleet decision makers to identify data sets that could deliver even greater returns on investment, boosting business efficiency, enhancing customer service and increasing vehicle uptime.

Targeting risky behaviour

Ecolab, the water, hygiene and energy technology service provider, has a strong safety focus to its telematics policy, using the system to identify incidents of harsh acceleration, braking and cornering, all of which can indicate higher risk driving behaviours. This data gives fleet supervisors the opportunity to discuss driving performance with employees and to develop training resources to help higher risk drivers to improve.

The company is also looking to take advantage of the real data generated by the tracking technology to negotiate more accurate insurance premiums and enhanced policies, based on actual driving behaviour and risk, rather than a generic risk profile, said Almy Magalhaes, Senior Procurement Manager, Europe.

The safety benefits of telematics, both in terms of encouraging less aggressive driving styles as well as instantly locating vehicles in the event of a collision, provide a compelling argument for employers to persuade their drivers that telematics devices are not ‘spies in the cab’, but tools to protect and even defend drivers. Tracking data has been used to prove fleet drivers are the innocent parties in crashes.

Improving safety and saving fuel

Schindler, which provides lifts, escalators, and moving walkways, has introduced telematics systems to about 1,000 vehicles in the UK, Sweden and Turkey, and has pilot projects under- way in Germany, Spain and the United States. The national fleets are free to select their own telematics provider, while the company focuses on its corporate objective to improve safety and save fuel.

In the UK, the company has installed the Ctrack Online system to track 357 vans, which now have a Driver Behaviour Indicator mounted on the dashboard. This uses a traffic light type display, reinforced by an audible warning, to alert drivers to incidents of harsh driving, speeding or excessive idling (leaving the engine running when the vehicle is not in use). Drivers can clear the lights by driving responsibly. The information is also transmitted to a league table of driver performance, allowing Schindler to offer training to higher risk drivers.

“We don’t discipline them, but try to educate them to change their behaviours,” said Guillaume de Subercasaux, Global Category Manager Indirect Spend, Schindler. He added that the company is updating its group travel policy and while not mandating the fitment of telematics systems will ‘strongly recommend’ it for both passenger cars and vans across its 22,000 strong international fleet. Initial findings from the countries where Schindler has implemented a telematics strategy indicate the fuel savings are lower than those promised in sales pitches, “but we do still have better fuel consumption and less accidents,” said Mr de Subercasaux.

Interestingly, Schindler does not use GPS tracking for its vehicles, in deference to driver concerns over privacy, but can activate it in the event of a vehicle being stolen.

Read the full article in Fleet Europe Magazine 115 (page 10)

Read all articles about the Electric & Connected Supertheme

Image copyright: Shutterstock

Authored by: Jonathan Manning