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Hi-Tech Solutions Hassle Free Fleet Management




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Good fleet management practices help landscaping and snow and ice management companies save time, money, and improve customer service. With the use of GPS technology, electronic logging devices (ELDs) and custom software, management can create routes and schedules, track vehicle locations, identify drivers, receive job details from the field, send job and schedule changes to workers, automate invoicing, check engine status, plan vehicle maintenance, find stolen assets, be alerted to excess idling, dangerous driving, scheduling variances such as late starts and inactivity, and more.


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Modeco Systems bills their solution as a time and production tracking system for mobile staff. In addition to knowing each employee's location and time spent on jobs, the consumption of materials, such as fertilizer or salt, can be automatically tracked by having workers capture, with their phones, the barcodes on the materials' packaging as they purchase and use them. This lets companies know in real time how much is purchased, where it is purchased from, when and where it is used, how much material is left in the field and where those materials are located.


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Fleetmatics has developed an algorithm that finds optimal routes based on information it draws from GPS and information that is inputted by the user, such as vehicle specs, driver abilities, locations of stops, and when those stops need to be made.


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To keep vehicles in commission longer, and drivers safer by reducing unexpected breakdowns, engine diagnostics are constantly being read by ELDs, which helps companies stay better aware of their fleets' health. Automatic service notifications can be set up based on the collected information.


Fleet management technology has been making good use of GPS technology for a long time now. Tracking where your vehicles are, where they go and when is valuable information and it has helped many companies to improve their management abilities. New technology is building on top of these advantages by automating as much as possible.

Automation
Managers can now get automatic notifications of any detail of their choosing. You can know in real time if a driver is speeding over posted speed limits, strays from their route, or abuses gas fill ups. Geofencing technology allows managers to set customized areas for their drivers to stay within, stay out of, or reach at certain times. A case study from Verizon's Networkfleet service demonstrates the practicality of geofencing in terms of billing and accountability. S&S Landscaping of Fargo, North Dakota, found the feature saved them time while making billing more accurate. According to Jill Huber, retail manager for S&S Landscaping, "By comparing geofence reports to driver timecards, we can accurately track driver hours, automate customer billing, [and] reconcile driver/customer disagreements using reliable information documentation." Diagnostic data is also generated and compiled automatically. Engine data will be able to be read in real time, and standard services can be scheduled for individual vehicles. Automatic service notifications can even be created based on miles driven or engine use. Some services even allow you to keep records of services and their costs, so that cost analysis is much easier to perform.

Particularly convenient is that some services automatically compile analytic reports for all kinds of things, making decision making faster and easier. Drawing from data collected from Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) installed in vehicles, reports on fuel usage, driver behavior, and traffic patterns will all be put at your fingertips, allowing you to easily spot areas of improvement and cut needless costs. Everything is saved in a central location, and most new services are accessible through the web, eliminating the need for mountains of paperwork. This also frees up the manager from being glued to his desk. Native apps for cellphones bring these powerful tools to your pocket and allow for quick updates on the go. Seamless integration between your desktop and mobile devices makes workflow much more smooth and satisfying.


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Various analytics are compiled and the information can then be presented in automatically generated reports. Most services offer the ability to build reports from a wide variety of analytics, such as fuel costs, driver behavior, or even traffic patterns. Information is organized and saved in one searchable place to improve record keeping and workflow.


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Geofencing technology allows users to create virtual boundaries on maps for a wide variety of uses such as getting real time alerts if drivers leave an area they are not supposed to or go into an area they were to stay out of. Jobsites can be marked with arrival and departure times to help keep drivers on schedule and inform managers to any delays.


One of the most intriguing of the automatic features is an algorithm that has been developed by Fleetmatics. After inputting data such as the amount of drivers and vehicles available, their particular skills and abilities, and the stops that need to be made, the algorithm will automatically calculate the most efficient routes for you. It will also take into account traffic patterns through integration with Google Maps. This can improve fuel efficiency by avoiding congested roads, reduce commute times for drivers, and free up your time by eliminating long planning periods.

The Carrot or the Stick?
With all of this new technology have come worries from drivers. Some may feel like their employers are spying on them, or feel uncomfortable with or nervous about being constantly monitored and examined by their bosses. These are legitimate objections, but managers can take steps to assuage these concerns.

One way is to focus not on the ability to punish drivers for failures, but rather to reward drivers for their successes. Offering your employees benefits for safe driving records or consistent good work ethic will encourage them to embrace new changes instead of fear them. Time off, gift cards, bonuses, or free lunches are all good ideas. In fact, a study conducted in 2015 in the UK found that incentivizing duties greatly increased productivity, workplace environment, and company profits by upwards of $123,600 a week!

Azuga is a fleet management service provider that offers to "gamify" the process by integrating good driver competitions into their product. Through the creation of driver profiles, the service will automatically score drivers based on their driving habits. Managers can easily select rewards to send their best drivers, while having data to help identify and improve problems with those who are underperforming.

Another benefit to drivers is less tangible, but important nonetheless. Having a clear and reliable record of where they have been and how they are driving adds a layer of protection for them and your company against false accusations. In a case study conducted by Fleetmatics, a construction company called Plote Construction reported that one of their drivers was involved in a traffic accident. The driver was accused of driving recklessly by speeding and tailgating the vehicle in front of them. Using GPS records kept by their ELD, Plote Construction was able to prove their driver was completely innocent.

Verizon to Acquire Fleetmatics
Internet and telephone company Verizon has been diversifying its services as of late. Although the company already boasts a developed fleet management platform called Networkfleet, it recently signed a deal with established industry leader Fleetmatics to acquire the company for $2.4 billion. The merger will position the two companies to become one of the largest fleet management services in the world. Fleetmatics was unavailable for comment at this time, but hopefully the deal will couple Fleetmatics' innovation with Verizon's resources to create a powerful tool for businesses. The acquisition reflects the strength of the industry, which should only continue to grow. As technology advances, expect to see more and more automation and cloud supported services. Keeping up with changes in technology is important, and will lead to more time and energy to devote to other projects.


As seen in LC/DBM magazine, September 2016.








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May 19, 2019, 8:22 am PDT

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