Ask any fleet manager about the initial benefits they enjoy from telematics and their answers reveal a wide-range of attractions.
Among the responses are: increased vehicle utilisation and business capacity, job allocation and routing, timesheet reporting, accurate fuel monitoring, maintenance management, driver behaviour and idling. Ultimately, it’s about increasing bottom line profits for the business.
Telematics can facilitate everything from a ‘nearest vehicle’ search to information on the current status of that car or van – and whether it’s being used inappropriately.
This information can then help an organisation take decisions which keeps its operations running as smoothly as possible and improve levels of customer service while ultimately enhancing overall productivity.
Over the past few years, more advanced telematics systems have increasingly provided fleet managers with information on driver behaviour.
Using this data, an organisation can reduce fuel consumption, extend equipment life and reduce carbon emissions as a direct result of ironing out poor driving habits.
And that’s before the duty of care obligations are also taken into account.
John Lewis, chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, says: “When used correctly, telematics can help an organisation manage its fleet costs and duty of care requirements.
“It also provides an accurate way for companies to capture and record business mileage data, which is very useful if HMRC decides it wants to audit your records.”
This view was echoed by Roddy Graham, chairman of the Institute of Car Fleet Management, who said: “There’s no doubt that telematics can enhance fleet and asset management.
"Driver behaviour is among the biggest cost management issues that fleet managers regularly have to address and using telematics is one way of addressing this.”
But what benefits can telematics bring to fleet managers after they’ve has enjoyed those initial fillips and how can they be maintained?
Rhys Harrhy is a development consultant working for telematics provider ProFleet2, which is part of ALD Automotive.
He says: “Inevitably, there comes a point where the fleet will reach a ‘plateau’ in terms of safety and cost management, and telematics becomes the watchdog software to manage and measure drivers, only highlighting the exceptions which can be acted upon if needed.
"In the long-term, the key part is ensuring that you chose the right system from the outset.
Intuitive to operate, it must be feature rich and offer ‘in-life’ upgrades that don’t require a complete upgrade of the hardware later and therefore added expenditure and flexible contract terms.