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Ensuring that your fleet is as productive and efficient as possible should be the cornerstone of any business engaged in fleet management. The more productive your drivers are, the more potential benefits can be passed onto both your business and customer base.
Fleet efficiency can, in turn, enable productivity and make the job of fleet management easier. Ensuring that your drivers are aware of the numerous factors that can influence their performance can help towards the utopian aim of an efficient and safe fleet.
But if, for a variety of reasons, your fleet is already susceptible to a lack of productivity, safety and inefficiency, what techniques can you introduce to help improve the situation? How can you attempt to tick all the above boxes?
For many businesses, fleet maintenance is commonly associated with a scheduled service as determined by the vehicle manufacturer. This is typically easy to manage for a few vehicles, but how do you cope when you’re dealing with many different vehicles and manufacturers?
Telematics can provide managers and drivers alike with automatic service reminders, easing the administrative burden and ensuring there are no nasty surprises due to missed servicing and vehicles performing poorly. Servicing will help keep your engines properly tuned and help guard you against vehicle breakdowns, for example a dirty filter can prevent airflow to the engine so oxygen can't mix with the fuel, the fuel then becomes too “rich”, increasing fuel consumption and putting unnecessary stress on the engine.
Drivers can also do their bit too by ensuring tyres are inflated to manufacturer spec. A poorly inflated tyre can increase fuel consumption by up to 15% and this can lead to a significant saving over an entire fleet. Combine this will small changes such as removing unnecessary weight from the vehicle and the improvements to the businesses bottom line may be felt.
In 2017 a study on fuel inefficiency was conducted by Direct Line, which examined 319,000 journeys made by over 2,000 drivers. It was discovered that the best drivers spend an average of £837 on fuel, while the worst drivers spend a massive £1,399. That’s a difference of almost 40% and spread across an entire fleet, that can have profound implications on a company’s profitability.
An integrated telematics system can provide drivers with crucial feedback on their driving style, which in turn has a significant effect on fuel usage. For example, TomTom Telematics OptiDrive 360 reports on speeding, driving events, idling, coasting, late gear shifting and more. Businesses can also use telematics to plan more fuel-efficient routes with the aim of constant speed to achieve a so called ‘green speed’.
Finally, telematics allows a business to assign drivers who are closest to their customers, while taking into consideration factors outside of the businesses’ control. For example, congestion can have a negative influence on journey times and lead to unnecessary idling and cost (an extra £0.03 a minute).
At times when a company’s employees think of being ‘coached’ or ‘trained’, especially if they have a certain level of experience, it can be controversial. The notion that an individual’s performance can be improved can often lead to tension, and particularly in an industry as reliant on individual talent as fleet management, raising the spectre of ‘training’ needs to be handled delicately.
Nevertheless, introducing a training programme can reap real benefits and there are many areas where drivers can be taught to improve. An integrated telematics solution will help identify those drivers where there is room for improvement. Benchmarks can then be set, allowing drivers to know exactly what the standard they are expected to achieve. Plans can be shared with senior management and the drivers themselves, before a handful of ‘champion drivers’ can be identified and used to promote the programme.
By introducing incentives and league tables drivers will have positive targets to work towards. Regular progress reviews and feedback sessions will help a business and its drivers achieve its goals. The success of your company, after all, is reliant on your frontline workers, and including them in any fleet optimisation process is important for morale.
Before the availability of telematics and satellite navigation, route planning for businesses was a rudimentary task, involving paper maps, dispatch notes and spreadsheets. Now, using telematics technology, fleets can keep an open eye on all the variables that feed into good route planning. Specialist route planning providers such as Maxoptra can even integrate with suppliers like TomTom Telematics and manage this task on behalf of the fleet.
Did you know that 1 in 6 road casualties are fatigue related? Making sure that your drivers manage their travel with regular breaks is crucial to preventing this. Mandated break periods, GPS technology and cutting down on the amount of unnecessary face-to-face meetings for your drivers is not only beneficial to driver safety but can also improve your staff’s concentration, which is crucial for jobs where the work continues outside of the vehicle.
5. CONSIDER ALTERNATIVELY FUELLED VEHICLES
With the UK's road to zero plan, the government has set the ambition to see that at least half of new cars registered by 2030 will be ultra-low emission. To support this strategy, they will take steps to enable widespread roll-out of the required infrastructure to support the electric vehicle revolution.
Thanks to the advances in EV and Hybrid vehicle technology the total cost of ownership may be more effective than many businesses realise. Up to one third of a fleet’s costs comes from fuel consumption, so investing early in vehicles which can utilise alternative fuel sources, can go a long way to improving efficiency for your company. And with the backing of the UK government's road to zero plan, fleets could benefit from both the cost savings of switching to AFV’s and being well positioned for fleets of the future.
An integrated telematics platform can help each of the previously mentioned productivity improvement tips, simply by providing a data log which can be accessed and shared across departments. Knowing which vehicles require maintenance, managing the different variables of fuel consumption, and overseeing different aspects of driver behaviour; all these data sets are available to access in an integrated telematics system.
Telematics provides an auditable record, encourages safety, helps provide legal security, and can save your company money. Not to mention the benefits to be realised by your customers. So have a look at our fleet management system today and take the first steps toward the diverse rewards a streamlined business can provide.
To discover more on how a connected telematics solution can benefit your business departments please visit telematics islands.
Please note: The information in this blog post is meant for reference only. TomTom Telematics does not warrant or imply that the use of this text or its products or services can in itself guarantee compliance with your tax or legal obligations. To ensure compliance with these obligations you must always seek individual advice from a legal counsel or a qualified tax compliance specialist