When Rockwell joined forces with Michael Jackson to sing the smash hit ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’, his lyrics provided a surprising prediction about the future for van drivers. Tens of thousands of company vans are now fitted with tracking devices which can instantly identify a van’s location and monitor where it has been.
This technology is perfectly suited to van fleets and has transformed the fortunes of LCV operators, despite being a contentious issue for drivers. While employees may attack the systems as ‘spies in the cab’, employers see them as a simple extension of good management.
Although there will inevitably be a reference to tracking technology being an invasion of privacy, it can actually bring benefits to drivers as well as their bosses.
In its most basic form, vehicle tracking can simply reveal a vehicle’s location, but modern systems can do much more.
Fleet managers can log on to a website and see live and historic tracking of their vehicles online. They can also view mileage reports, check whether key clients have been visited, see how long drivers have been on site, check their speeds and even examine incidents of harsh braking or acceleration.
Tracking isn’t a simple solution that will cut accidents and bring costs under control on its own – although it can in the short-term – but used in addition to a strongly-enforced fleet management policy, it can make a real difference.
Organisations ranging from public sector fleets and unions to delivery firms and car fleets have a story to tell about how tracking systems have helped them.
And drivers benefit too, as they can be given more efficient routes and directions, while reduced costs make a company more competitive. This in turn improves job security and frees up more funds to invest in staff benefits.
Compared to the benefits, the costs are small.
For example, vehicle tracking company Quartix, based in Cambridge, charges from 77p per vehicle per day, depending on fleet size, for its internet-based service.
How tracking worked for us
Name: Burgin Maintenance Services
Fleet size: 24
Tracking system: Quartix
Benefits: reduction in staff costs, greater efficiency
Savings: £20,000-plus a year
AROUND two years ago, the firm had GSM-based vehicle tracking units installed in each of its fleet vans. Initially, the company encountered some resistance within the workforce towards adoption of the new technology. However, sensitive management techniques, employed before the installation proceeded, helped to overcome this hurdle.
Name: DJ Hewer & Co Fleet size: 62 Tracking system: Cybit Fleetstar-Online Benefits: lower fuel costs, payroll saving, increase in productivity Savings: £11,909 (in 12 week trial) A SUCCESSFUL trial of Cybit’s Fleetstar-Online telematics solution in six of its vehicles saw DJ Hewer & Co record cost savings in the region of £12,000 in its first three months of use. It is now installed on all 62 of the firm’s vehicles. It has joined the ‘Fleet Telematics’ insurance scheme from Norwich Union, which enables it to fix its premiums for three years and earn a rebate of up to 16% on annual insurance costs.
Name: West One Express
Fleet size: 58
Tracking system: Minorplanet Vehicle Management Information
Benefits: fuel bill and over-claimed hours bill cut significantly
Savings: £45,000 a year
WEST One Express cut its wasted fuel and over-claimed hours bill by £45,000 a year. West One Express has installed the VMI (Vehicle Management Information) system from Minorplanet Systems in its 58 vehicles. Drivers were deterred from visiting barred locations and as a result the firm saved more than £15,000 per year in fuel alone.
NAME: BJ Communications (a leading telecommunications company)
Fleet size: 20
Tracking system: Northgate Vehicle Insight
Benefits: personal useage reduced, fuel consumption lowered, overtime claims cut, productivity increased
Saving: £20,000 on 14 vans
USE of the web-based product means the firm can examine its van fleet use from anywhere with an internet connection. A spokesman for BJ Communications said staff have easily accepted vehicle monitoring and feel it is very useful to them, as well as the company.