TELEMATICS IS TOOLKIT ESSENTIAL FOR OPERATING AN EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT FLEET, FIAG WORKSHOP TOLD

PRESS RELEASE 14th NOVEMBER 2014

  • Technology delivers multi-million pound savings to Travis Perkins
  • Telematics changes driver behaviour at Stannah
  • Obey the law and in-vehicle technology is “no invasion of privacy”
  • Fleet managers ‘in a vehicle’s passenger seat’ thanks to telematics

Telematics is an essential part of the toolkit for operating an effective and efficient fleet, but use of the technology comes with advisory warnings to employers.

That was the message from fleet managers already seeing the benefits of telematics and a range of other experts at the second workshop hosted by the Fleet Industry Advisory Group (FIAG).

Martin Carter, operations director of Stannah Management Services, who introduced telematics across the 600-strong company car and light commercial vehicle operation at world-leading stairlift manufacturer, told delegates: “Telematics is all about change management and changing behaviour. It is an essential part of the toolkit for running a fleet.

“Having used telematics for four years I would never want to run a fleet now without telematics.”

 

TELEMATICS IS TOOLKIT ESSENTIAL FOR OPERATING AN EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT FLEET, FIAG WORKSHOP TOLD

Graham Bellman, director of fleet services at Travis Perkins, the UK’s largest supplier to the building and construction market, has seen fleet operating cost savings running into millions of pounds after fitting the technology across the organisation’s 3,300-strong fleet of light commercial vehicles and trucks.

However, he told delegates at the Telematics Workshop staged at the Arnold Clark Group’s GTG Training Academy in Wolverhampton, that it was business critical to analyse the data and make it work to the advantage of their organisation.

“Telematics gathers information. It is not technology that will solve your problems,” said Mr Bellman. “Fleets can spend a fortune on telematics systems and the technology will work brilliantly. But if fleet managers do nothing with the data then they might as well throw the money in the bin.

“Many fleets spend a vast amount of money on ‘track and trace’ technology, but don’t use the data provided. Operating challenges do exist and telematics can help deliver improvements.”

Meanwhile, Mark Edwards, director of risk management specialist Automotional, explained that telematics had become increasingly accepted by drivers and businesses in the last three years.

However, he warned: “Driving is an incredibly personal activity and there is a danger of fleet managers relying too much on telematics data. Interpretation of the information available is key.

“Fleet managers must identify exactly what they want to know from the data and isolate that information so they don’t become too swamped. Each fleet is unique and so are the drivers of the vehicles and it can be too easy to lose sight of that when grabbing data from many different channels. Ultimately that can make the fleet harder to manage.

 

TELEMATICS IS TOOLKIT ESSENTIAL FOR OPERATING AN EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT FLEET, FIAG WORKSHOP TOLD

Telematics delivers multi-million pound savings to Travis Perkins

Travis Perkins employs a team of data analysts to study the information sent from the black boxes that are linked to each commercial vehicle’s engine control unit. They then compile reports for branch managers and regional directors as well as the transport department.

Millions of pounds worth of savings to the business have been delivered as a result of real-time information generated by the technology resulting in:

  • Almost 400 vehicles cut from the commercial vehicle fleet – virtually all trucks – as a consequence of improved vehicle utilisation delivering operating cost savings of more than £50,000 per year per HGV removed
  • A 70% daily reduction in vehicle idling – the average vehicle spent more than 100 minutes per day idling ‘wasting’ up to three litres of diesel
  • A 12.6% reduction in vehicle accident costs as a consequence of managing vehicle speed and drivers aware their behind the wheel behaviour is being monitored
  • Major fuel savings – and therefore emission savings – as a result of improved journey route planning and scheduling and employees’ adopting a smoother driving style
  • Significantly faster vehicle loading and unloading turnaround time – Travis Perkins’ commercial fleet is now running at 93% utilisation per day up from 60%.

There have also been a range of other “added value” benefits including daily defect reporting, axle weighing, a crackdown on fuel and product theft, a near 50% reduction in speeding offences as well as improvements in productivity.

Mr Bellman, a FIAG founding member, said: “The cost of the system was paid for by the fuel savings we have made. Everything else has been a bonus.

 

TELEMATICS IS TOOLKIT ESSENTIAL FOR OPERATING AN EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT FLEET, FIAG WORKSHOP TOLD

 

Telematics changes driver behaviour at Stannah

 

Employees at Stannah have online access to their own telematics records and self-manage their driving behaviour within parameters set by the company.

Mr Carter, a FIAG founding member, said: Stannah was not “targeting drivers” but focussing on improving “driver behaviour”.

“Our use of telemetry is not about the technology. We are focused on psychology and the culture of driving and that is what we are changing. Drivers sit in their own little bubble when on the road with no feedback. We have changed that and are giving them that feedback,” he told delegates.

“Drivers can see their own data and compare how they are driving relative to everyone else. We want world class performance from self management.”

Mr Carter calculates that approximately 3% of drivers each month were outside of the “acceptable band” making them the subject of a training action plan to improve their behind the wheel performance.

Out of all the data gathered by the in-vehicle black boxes, Mr Carter believes harsh braking is the key metric as it highlighted a lack of concentration by employees when driving.

“Eliminate harsh braking and many other key metrics follow automatically – fewer accidents, lower maintenance costs and improved fuel economy,” he said.

Telemetry data is married up with information on any motoring offences committed by Stannah employees to give the company “a rich picture” as to the driving behaviour of staff.

 

TELEMATICS IS TOOLKIT ESSENTIAL FOR OPERATING AN EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT FLEET, FIAG WORKSHOP TOLD

“It is difficult to isolate savings in specific areas of the fleet as a result of introducing telemetry, but every single fleet metric is moving in the right direction,” said Mr Carter. “Fuel, accident and vehicle maintenance costs are all down and telemetry is a contributory factor in improving fleet performance and efficiency.”

Obey the rules and telematics is “no invasion of privacy”, says lawyer

Organisations must ensure their drivers are aware they are being monitored and the standards they must adhere to amid concerns in some quarters that fitting telematics to vehicles is an invasion of privacy.

How telematics data was going to be used and whether the data gathered was secure, were two key issues that fleets had to tackle in protecting drivers’ privacy amid a minefield of legislation including the Human Rights Act, Data Protection Act and employment rights, according to Michael Appleby, partner in London law firm Bivonas.

“Data gathered from telematics must be used for legitimate reasons for managing vehicle assets – fuel management, recording mileage and managing work-related road risk are all legitimate reasons,” he told the workshop.

Historically businesses have faced accusations of “Big Brother” and “spy in the cab” when introducing telematics, but Mr Appleby said: “I believe drivers today are far more engaged with technology and concern about privacy will diminish.”

But, he warned: “Data must be used positively and employers must set out their policies and procedures for collecting the information; the benefits to the business and employees; and how the data will be used in supporting a driver’s guilt or innocence.”

He concluded: “It is hard to argue that using telematics data is not a reasonable course of action when managing vehicle assets. But, implementation must be clear and transparent.

TELEMATICS IS TOOLKIT ESSENTIAL FOR OPERATING AN EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT FLEET, FIAG WORKSHOP TOLD

As telematics becomes more widespread in vehicle fleets, Mr Appleby said in the future legislation enforcing bodies including the police, Health and Safety Executive and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency could ask fleets that turned their back on the technology why it was not being used.

He concluded: “Not introducing telematics because it will upset workers will not hold water.”

Telematics puts fleet managers in a vehicle’s passenger seat

Telematics puts fleet managers in the passenger seat of the vehicle an employee is driving, according to Ian Brooks, a former Metropolitan Police chief inspector and director of Oscar Strategic Consulting.

The technology was not a silver bullet, he said, but was a tool that could be deployed to gather data to ensure businesses were compliant in meeting their health and safety and road safety obligations.

However, in using the information to better manage driver attitudes and behaviour, Mr Brooks reminded fleet managers of four key words: targeted, proportionate, transparent and fair.

“Telematics provides fleets with data but they must target the results, demonstrate proportionality and show that they are using it fairly and transparently,” Mr Brooks said.

“Telematics provides an opportunity to challenge and intervene and influence the thinking of drivers.

 

TELEMATICS IS TOOLKIT ESSENTIAL FOR OPERATING AN EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT FLEET, FIAG WORKSHOP TOLD

But, he concluded: “If fleet managers collect data and don’t do anything with it then they put a noose around their neck if a vehicle is involved in an incident.”

  • To coincide with the workshop a white paper called “Telematics Explained” is available as a free download to FIAG members at www.fiag.co.uk. To join FIAG and for further information go to www.fiag.co.uk, email enquiries@fiag.co.uk or telephone 05603 686869.

EDITOR’S NOTES

The Fleet Industry Advisory Group (FIAG) is a not-for-profit organisation created to develop and share best practice in the fleet industry.

Through the considerable knowledge of its founding members, FIAG will provide fleet advice, consultancy, mentoring and support. FIAG will also assist with benchmarking and analysis of industry developments through the publication of white papers and the organisation of workshops.

FIAG is also dedicated to supporting Hope for Tomorrow, a national charity which raises funds to support the introduction of mobile chemotherapy units nationwide.

Further information on FIAG is available at www.fiag.co.uk and on Hope for Tomorrow at www.hopefortomorrow.org.uk

For further information contact: FIAG founder and chairman Geoffrey Bray on 05603 686869.