No matter which industry it operates in, if your business relies on a fleet of vehicles to function, installing and using vehicle tracking devices is one of the smartest commercial decisions you can make. Not only can they save your business lots of money and make it more efficient, but they can drastically improve the safety and security of your vehicles and fleet drivers at the same time.
A vehicle tracking device, sometimes referred to as “GPS” or “telematics”, is a hardware system that is installed inside a vehicle. It works in tandem with a piece of software and communicates with a digital hub, such as a fleet management platform, where you can monitor your fleet and view useful data and information.
The hardware system is typically hardwired into the vehicle and its various components, however, simpler tracking-only systems can be plugged into a power source such as a cigarette lighter. The software and hub elements are usually cloud-based, and these can be accessed around the clock on any internet-enabled device.
As well as tracking where your fleet vehicles are in real-time and allowing you to view this information on a map, fleet tracking devices collect all kinds of useful data and cross-reference it with where the vehicle was at the time. Engine activations, harsh acceleration, gear changes, speed (and speed limit breaches), overrevving, and more can all be recorded.
This data can then be viewed from a fleet management platform or dashboard in various formats such as charts and graphs. You can choose to view data over a certain time period, from a specific vehicle or driver, on a certain day, between certain times, and more, allowing you a transparent top-down view of your fleet and the performance of your drives.
Vehicle tracking devices have absolutely zero control over your vehicles and they do not affect your drivers or physically control them in any way — they simply monitor and report.
There are many benefits to using vehicle tracking devices in your fleet. Here is a list of 10 reasons we think are the most noteworthy.
When you install vehicle tracking devices, you will be able to see their location on a map at all times whether you are in or out of the office. In addition to this, you will be able to see how long a vehicle stays at a location and where else it has been on its journey, and how long has been spent at each place. Many vehicle tracking devices and platforms allow you to use additional features such as geofencing to alert you whenever a driver goes someplace where they shouldn’t be or where you do not expect them to go, or if the driver deviates far from a pre-planned route.
Being able to see your fleet vehicles at all times around the clock does not just add an extra element of safety but it also discourages drivers from engaging in personal errands or engaging in driving activity that wastes your resources and reduces productivity.
It goes without saying that vehicle theft is very expensive for businesses. In many cases, it is not just the vehicle that is lost but also any stock, inventory, or cargo that the vehicle was carrying; this is the reason why many commercial vehicle thefts occur in the first place. Therefore, business owners should be doing everything they can to mitigate the cost of vehicle theft and a vehicle tracking device can do this.
If the unfortunate does occur and one of your vehicles is stolen, losses are mitigated by using the tracking device to locate and recover it. If the theft is immediately discovered and reported, its real-time GPS location can be used to guide authorities to it, greatly increasing the chances of recovering everything that was taken. Even if you do lose the cargo that the vehicle was transporting, you will still recover the vehicle and save any costs associated with replacing it.
Fleet insurance is not cheap, and the bigger your fleet the more you fork out. However, many insurance providers will give discounts to companies that install vehicle tracking devices in their fleet vehicles. This is because fleet tracking devices make vehicles less of a target to theft (some features, such as employee keyfob ignition make them harder to steal, too) and encourage safer driving because everything is monitored and traceable.
Depending on how much you pay for insurance, the discount you receive could actually pay for the initial cost incurred when installing your vehicle tracking devices! This is just one of several ways that a fleet tracking system can save a business money.
As a business owner or fleet manager, the safety of your drivers should be at the top of your agenda. Through vehicle tracking, you significantly improve this because vehicle tracking devices allow you to locate your vehicles and therefore their drivers when communication is lost. If a driver was ever to find their self in an emergency situation, this could make the difference between getting help to their location as soon as possible and delaying it.
Vehicle tracking devices also improve driver safety by promoting safer habits and driving standards. When drivers are aware that their actions are being recorded and are traceable, they are far more likely to use vehicles in a safe and controlled manner. This naturally lowers the chances of a road accident occurring.
Vehicle tracking systems allow you to monitor and reduce the amount of fuel that your vehicles burn through. This is primarily achieved through the way these systems promote safer and more responsible driving. Drivers that are using the right gears, aren’t idling the engine for too long, don’t speed, and don’t accelerate harshly use less fuel.
Vehicle tracking devices and the platforms that power them can also be integrated with fuel cards and fuel card technology for additional fuel-related functionality.
This is another point that ties in with the safer and more responsible driving one. Vehicles that are treated well and are driven sensibly last longer. This is because the engine and components such as the gearbox will last a lot longer when your vehicles are looked after by your drivers, and the vehicle itself will require maintenance less frequently, saving you money on these costs.
Vehicles that are driven responsibly are also far less likely to be involved in an accident because drivers have more reaction time and are not driving in a manner that could increase the chances of an accident.
The GPS tracking system found in vehicle tracking devices automatically records data on your vehicle’s location and its arrival and departure times from specific locations.
This information is then sent to your fleet management dashboard where it can be viewed immediately. With this information available, you spend far less time chasing drivers up and enquiring where they are and what their estimated departure and arrival times are, for example. This reduces administrative expenses and wastes less employee time on unnecessary tasks which, in real terms, cost you money.
You might not want to hear this, but just because you have designed a route does not mean it is the best and most efficient one. You could easily be sending your drivers on a route that could be cut down by 25% or more and not even know about it.
Fortunately, the GPS technology that is used by vehicle tracking devices enables you to plan the most time and fuel-efficient routes possible. This can be done both in advance and in real-time, so if a driver was on a planned route and came across an accident, diversion, or some other form of disruption, you could easily plan a workaround right from within your fleet management dashboard and send this information across to them.
This wastes less time, fuel, and ultimately money by guaranteeing that drivers are always on the most efficient routes, and should you need to, you can accurately re-route them quickly and eliminate the need for them to go in search for another way to go.
For large fleets, administrative expenses — both in terms of time and money — can be substantial. Fleet vehicle tracking systems take record-keeping to a whole new level, however. All data that is relevant to your fleet is recorded and stored in the cloud for you to access, organise, and use as and when you need it in the way that you want to.
Examples of some of the things that fleet managers can do with fleet data includes the scheduling and verification of maintenance and equipment, track service locations, maintain electronic records, verify employee hours, check vehicle mileage and more. Information like this is invaluable when it comes to planning and it can prevent a lot of stress should an external audit take place.
Without vehicle tracking devices, all of this and more would need to be handled via other possibly non-automated means, dramatically increasing the workload and cost.
Speeding, unnecessary idling, and harsh acceleration are all examples of driving habits that waste fuel and add to your fleet’s carbon footprint. Idling alone can cause an average-sized fleet to waste thousands in fuel per year. With vehicle tracking devices installed, these issues can be easily identified and rectified, putting a firm stop to inefficient habits and behaviour.
Every unnecessary mile that is eliminated from your fleet’s journeys, every driver that makes a conscious effort to drive more responsibly, and every engine that is turned off instead of idling helps to reduce your fleet’s carbon footprint. This helps the environment, makes your fleet more productive, and makes you more socially responsible — a must for modern firms.
If you would like to find out more about vehicle tracking devices and how they could make your fleet more efficient and cost-effective, contact iCompario’s fleet management experts today.
Their advice, alongside iCompario’s online fleet management comparison tool, will help you find the perfect vehicle tracking devices for your type of fleet. Thousands of businesses have relied on iCompario to be matched with the right fleet solutions — will yours be next?