Fleet News

Operator profile: Using technology to save cash

Questions such as ‘where is driver X?’ and ‘why isn’t he answering his phone?’ presented daily dilemmas to the administrators allocating jobs from the company’s Gloucester headquarters. Equally, distributing emergency call-outs without overwhelming any one engineer with too many tasks in a day needed careful management.

These operational issues also had a knock-on effect on costs and customer service, including extra telephone calls to verify driver locations and variations in productivity. Extra costs were also incurred through untraceable overtime claims and out-of-hours van use, which upped fuel bills.

To tackle the problems, the company decided to launch a 12-week trial of Cybit telematics technology, alongside Norwich Union’s Fleet Telematics insurance scheme.

Installing six vehicles with Cybit’s Fleetstar-Online system allowed the firm to track its mobile workers in real time over the internet and produce in-depth reports on vehicle use.

After working with the technology for 12 weeks, the company reckoned it had saved £12,000 from reduced operating costs and increased productivity.

The system enabled the company to verify driver location without the need for a telephone call, so cutting communications costs. The ability of administrators to monitor road problems meant that drivers could avoid traffic jams and ensure customers received goods on time.

Management information allowed DJ Hewer to verify overtime amounts and keep an eye on unauthorised journeys, therefore reducing overall mileage and fuel expenditure.

Specific savings levels included £872 on fuel and £5,907 on overtime claims while productivity was increased, equating to nearly £5,850 in sales. As a result the company has now installed telematics in 62 of its vehicles. Service and maintenance manager, Robert Willmott, said: ‘Prior to the implementation of telematics, an administrator was faced with the same operational efficiency problems every day. Now we have been able to remove those issues.

‘And with emergency call-outs they can now confidently and fairly allocate a job without having to ask the engineer if he can take on another call.’

When it came to persuading staff about the system’s value, there was some initial resistance. Willmott said: ‘We had a mixed reaction, with some staff feeling that it showed a lack of trust. However, we explained that it was important to know where they were for a variety of reasons, including operations, duty of care, minimising health and safety risks and allocating jobs fairly.

‘After sitting down with them and demonstrating the benefits of adopting the system, it has improved the performance of our engineers across the board. In time, we believe that telematics will be accepted as part of our employment package and that engineers will simply forget it’s installed in the vans.’

By installing the telematics technology DJ Hewer has also been able to adopt Norwich Union’s Fleet Telematics insurance cover. By implementing sound driving practices and key guidelines highlighted by the telematics system, it enables the company to earn a rebate of up to 16% on its annual insurance premiums. For DJ Hewer, this amounts to a maximum annual saving of £11,200.

Norwich Union undertook a fleet risk survey to understand the risk features of DJ Hewer’s business and provided specific risk management support and guidance.

Every six months, a risk management report is produced – combining claims experience and telematics data in order to make bespoke fleet management recommendations that will help the company to earn the 16% risk recognition rebate.

Mark Keavney, Norwich Union’s commercial motor product manager, said: ‘Well-managed businesses don’t have to do a great deal extra to qualify for a risk recognition rebate, though we are able to help them to refine their risk management procedures.’

John Wisdom, director of sales and marketing at Cybit, commented: ‘The savings made by DJ Hewer during their trial of Fleetstar-Online illustrate the undoubted advantages that Cybit solutions can bring to organisations in all manner of different sectors that have a fleet operation.

‘The combination of Cybit telematics and Norwich Union’s innovative ‘Fleet Telematics’ insurance offering will provide DJ Hewer with a real competitive advantage and a means of keeping insurance expenditure to a minimum by following good practices.’

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