The current recession has been particularly hard on businesses running vehicle fleets. In addition to lower revenues, fleet owners have had to deal with volatile fuel costs, rising vehicle costs and the need to streamline resources. GPS fleet tracking has helped many businesses around the world meet their immediate need to decrease fuel consumption, increase their profit margins and maximise resources.
While GPS vehicle tracking has been around for a few years, its potential to deliver business benefits beyond pure logistical efficiency has not yet been fully explored. With powerful data gathering, analysis and reporting tools available from today’s systems – combined with simple user interfaces – GPS tracking can provide a welcome boost to the bottom line of businesses today.
GPS tracking does this by allowing more jobs to be completed a day with the same resources, or by enabling the same number of jobs to be completed using fewer resources, so cutting unnecessary overtime, for example – or a combination of the two.
A study by industry analyst, Aberdeen Group, found that businesses with GPS tracking installed in their vehicles enjoy a 23 per cent increase in the number of jobs completed per day. The study also found that the average time per job was reduced by nearly 15 per cent, while overtime was cut by 10 per cent on average.
With GPS tracking, dispatchers know the exact location of every vehicle in a fleet. This helps them direct the closest vehicle to any job. Some solutions go a step further by providing a feature that automatically locates the vehicles nearest to any address.
In addition, dispatchers can ensure drivers take the most direct route to any job site and quickly re-route them if they get lost. You can also get real-time traffic reporting, so dispatchers can warn drivers of delays and provide re-routing. Mapping functions are also a crucial element of a GPS solution. While some offer inaccurate or incomplete mapping, powerful mapping like Google Maps API can help with routing accuracy.
Reducing fuel consumption and wear and tear on vehicles through efficient routing is an obvious benefit – but less time spent on the road also means more time spent completing jobs during the day. Another reason productivity increases with GPS is based on simple human nature. When employees know their vehicles are being monitored, they tend to drive and work more efficiently. In essence, GPS gives fleet owners the ability to ‘ride along’ with their workforce.
With functionality that monitors vehicle idle times and engine status, business owners can use this information to ensure drivers are not wasting time idling in one location or spending an excessive amount of time at a particular job. Combined with an alert function, they can see if a vehicle has idled or remained inoperative after a certain amount of time and quickly determine the cause. Knowing the location of every vehicle, businesses can also determine if a driver deviates from a direct route to a job site, eliminating the practice of employees using work hours to complete personal business.
Businesses can even incorporate hard data gathered through GPS tracking into employee appraisals and bonus/reward schemes. Bonuses based on tangible performance metrics can encourage productivity and boost morale. Many GPS systems track the time when a vehicle starts for the first time during the day, and when a vehicle shuts down for the day. This provides accurate, automated recording of how long an employee worked. In addition, shutoff and start-up times during the day can be used to record accurate time spent for breaks.
Solutions often include extensive reporting functionality that compiles this information in an easy format that can be used as an electronic timesheet. Integrating this information into back-office applications increases business efficiencies and reduces overhead administrative costs. GPS vehicle tracking can give business owners the ability to ensure employees use vehicles only for authorised purposes and during specific times.
High-quality GPS programmes help by alerting business owners when their vehicles enter areas considered off limits. For example, drivers may congregate during business hours at a specific location, wasting valuable company time. In addition, some GPS tracking solutions can notify business owners when their vehicles are used during unauthorised hours. These alerts are essential in notifying business owners of vehicle theft in progress and can help with quick recovery of a stolen vehicle.