It is easy for businesses to write off car telematics and vehicle tracking systems as an unaffordable or unnecessary expense. Smaller businesses are especially prone to this, with many small business owners believing that car telematics is just another unaffordable piece of technology that is more suitable for bigger businesses with large commercial fleets operating nationally or internationally—while that was once true, it certainly is no longer.
The price of modern car telematics and fleet tracking systems has fallen dramatically as the technology has become more advanced and accessible. This has opened the door to smaller businesses, providing them with the opportunity to take advantage of powerful car telematics technology.
Today, many small businesses use car telematics to make their fleets more efficient, save on operational costs, and benefit from 24-hour tracking, improved safety, and more.
Telematics is a method of monitoring a vehicle. When car telematics are used in commercial fleets, we use terms like “fleet management system” to describe the hardware and software components that work together as a single product.
By combining a GPS system with on-board hardware diagnostics tools and clever software, it is possible to record and map exactly where your fleet vehicles are at any given time.
That’s not all, though. Car telematics can be used measure, gather, and record all sorts of useful information. This often includes your vehicles’ current and average speeds, any instances where your drivers have exceeded the speed limit, how many miles your vehicles have travelled, when a service is due, time since last service, driver activities (such as harsh acceleration and braking, gear changes, engine idling), and more.
With all this data and over time, car telematics build up a clear top-down view of your fleet vehicles. As we will explore shortly, this enables you to identify and remedy bad driving habits, inefficiency, poor routes, and a whole range of other things.
Any business that relies on a fleet of vehicles as part of its day-to-day should be using some form of car telematics system to keep tabs on everything.
It does not matter how big or small a fleet is or what industry a business operates in–from public services like the police to supermarket delivery, logistics, and more, any company that uses a vehicle to deliver a product or service can benefit from car telematics systems and fleet tracking solutions in general.
If you are still wondering, “Why would a small business like mine bother with that?”, here are eight ways a robust car telematics system can benefit it.
Above all else should come the safety of your drivers, and car telematics drastically improves this. The ability for car telematics to record driver behaviour, as well as track their location and speed, has given businesses both large and small an unprecedented overview into the habits of their drivers. This insight enables fleet managers to stamp out bad driving habits before they manifest into problems on the road.
For businesses that are able to identify and resolve bad habits and dangerous driving, there are significant benefits such as reduced insurance premiums. By mitigating the risk of your company’s vehicles being involved in a serious road accident, car telematics and fleet tracking systems help to bring these down.
Road traffic accidents cost businesses like yours millions each year, and although reducing the risk of an accident does not present a clear ROI, car telematics can bring significant savings over time in this regard.
Fuel is often the biggest ongoing expense for commercial fleet managers. And as well as helping you stamp out bad driving habits before they lead to accidents, monitoring your drivers’ behaviour via car telematics allows you to improve fuel efficiency across your fleet.
Over time, bad driving habits like overrevving the engine, unnecessary engine idling, sharp braking, and aggressive acceleration waste fuel, and this directly translates to wasted money. Although car telematics will not instantly lead to a noticeable saving, you will certainly see a decreasing fuel spend over time.
Car telematics and fleet management systems often come with clever mapping tools. These can be used to plan out the most efficient routes for your drivers ahead of time. In many cases, these tools will analyse the best routes available based on the average time it takes to get from A to B, something Google Maps simply cannot do for you!
Furthermore, mapping can often be used in real-time. This means that you and your drivers can see obstructions, traffic congestion, and more in real time, enabling the making of swift and painless diversions that keep your vehicles on track and your route times down.
Vehicles that are driven in a more sensible and careful manner last longer—it’s as simple as that. If your drivers know that a car telematics system is monitoring them, they will drive in a more efficient manner. This not only makes them safer on the road but prolongs the lives of your fleet vehicles, too.
Additionally, your vehicles will spend far longer on the road rather than being tied up in maintenance garages for worn out tires and busted gearboxes, problems that are symptomatic of careless driving—vehicles that aren’t on the road can’t make your business any money, after all.
With real-time, insightful information, communication between your fleet and fleet managers becomes completely transparent. This improves both efficiency and response times because your drivers will only be spending time on the road when they need to—this leads to fewer unnecessary journeys and wasted miles.
When your vehicles are on the road, real-time mapping provides your drivers with all the information they need to avoid congestion, find the next best route, and get to the closest petrol station. This prevents drivers from wasting time, fuel, and money by going from pillar-to-post as they attempt to do the above on their own, occasionally in futility.
Since the 1980s, tachographs have been compulsory throughout Europe. Although these were traditionally deployed as wax discs that simply recorded mileage and speed, they have come a long way since then and are now almost always integrated into car telematics and fleet management systems.
If you are a brand-new business that needs a fleet of vehicles to operate, you are legally obliged to ensure that your vehicles have some sort of digital tachograph fitted. You also must be able to show the driving and resting times of all your drivers.
Although you can buy simple digital tachographs that record the bare minimum required for compliance, it makes far more sense to invest that money into a car telematics system that monitors this and a whole lot more. In fact, modern car telematics systems can produce tachograph reports according to legal standards in just a few mouse clicks—this is far better than downloading and manually processing the information from bog-standard, no-frills tachographs, plus you get all the other benefits too.
As well as making your drivers safer and more efficient, car telematics make your office and administrative staff more efficient. What sounds better? Your admin staff trawling through reams and reams of fleet-related data and paperwork, or a software system doing this automatically for them? The latter, of course.
Although a data-heavy car telematics system may seem somewhat daunting at first, there is no reason to be apprehensive. Car telematics simplify even the most basic of procedures, freeing up your admin staff for more important work. Alerts for MOT checks, arranging fleet servicing, and processing fuel invoices and expenses can also be set up, giving your admin staff fewer responsibilities to juggle.
If there are conditions attached to your drivers or to your fleet vehicles, such as not driving in a certain place between certain times of the day, car telematics can help you enforce these through something known as “geofencing”—the use of GPS to create a virtual geographic boundaries that enables software to trigger a response when a vehicle enters or leaves a particular area.
Once you have set up geofencing boundaries, you will receive alerts and reports according to your own rules and customisations when one is broken. This has many potential uses, one of the most useful being the prevention of your vehicles being abused for personal use or gain by your drivers.
The above eight benefits represent only a snapshot of what the right car telematics can do for your fleet, and there are many different car telematics providers out there with their own systems that come with many different features.
iCompario is managed by fleet industry experts and offers a free comparison service for all businesses across the car telematics industry and more. Many of iCompario’s experts have over three decades’ worth of experience in the fleet industry and work hard to unlock major cost savings for their customers by matching them with the right fleet products.
If you would like to explore some of what’s available to businesses like yours, head on over to the iCompario telematics comparison tool to take a look for yourself.