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Fleets Informed

Q&A from ALD Automotive

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Making the case for telematics

Why it's about more than protecting the bottom line

What is the principal information a fleet can derive from telematics?

Telematics is now prolific among businesses operating fleets of cars and vans, enabling them to garner extensive data about their vehicles and identify opportunities to reduce risk, manage cost and drive efficiency.

The ability to accurately capture business and personal mileage is a major draw of modern telemetry systems, with some providers automatically recording all journey logs.

For drivers this means less time spent on the admin that comes with running a company car, such as calculating and submitting driving expenses. Meanwhile, employers can rest assured that their annual fuel spend is based on accurate business mileage, rather than estimated or over-inflated calculations. With HMRC issuing hefty fines to businesses that are found to have submitted inaccurate mileage claims – the record fine reportedly being £4.1 million – this is where telematics can provide extra peace of mind.

With systems like ProFleet, another benefit comes from the ability to track the precise location of fleet vehicles via GPS tracking. This provides a clear advantage to businesses needing to respond to customer call-outs by being able to pinpoint drivers in the vicinity. It can also prove instrumental in the recovery of stolen vehicles – ProFleet has assisted the police in the prompt recovery of nearly £1m-worth of stolen vehicles over the past two years alone, saving valuable time and cost for employers.

Fuel consumption can have a major impact on the bottom line, so the ability to accurately monitor fuel efficiency across individual vehicles is a major attraction for many employers.

How can telematics be used to create a safer fleet?

With the appropriate driver consent, some telematics systems will alert fleet managers to potentially dangerous or hazardous driving, such as harsh acceleration, excessive speeds, heavy braking or excessive revving.  Through ProFleet, employers can generate reports that highlight these “exception events”, so timely corrective action can be taken. This may include measures such as the implementation of incentive schemes to encourage positive changes in behaviour and additional driver training, helping businesses to fulfil their responsibility of providing a duty of care to their drivers.

ProFleet has also been designed to alert drivers when their vehicle is due to be serviced, warning employers when a service is overdue or missed.

This function ensures all vehicles are kept up to date with vital vehicle health checks, reducing the threat of any potentially hazardous and costly mechanical faults or breakdowns.

What extra arguments can a fleet manager use to build a business case for investing in telematics. And what is a reasonable return on investment (ROI) period?

Naturally, a business case will address the potential cost savings that a telemetry system can help a business to achieve.

But the scope of the benefits go beyond simply protecting the bottom line. Employers should consider the positive impact telematics can have on other areas that are key to achieving the business’s unique objectives.

This may include highlighting the benefits to risk management that telematics offers through the opportunity to create a more positive driving culture which can ultimately lead to safer driving.

Alternatively, this may involve emphasising the contribution telematics can have on a company’s CSR agenda, with telematics devices now proving to be an invaluable tool for accurately recording a fleet’s carbon emissions and vehicle usage.

ROI varies dependent on the success of the telematics implementation and the cost of the system. ProFleet can cost as little as £5 a month and, with a 10% reduction in business miles (based on 12,000 business miles per annum), in many cases it can pay for itself within as little as six months. Other savings are longer term and may take a year or more, such as a reduction in accidents and insurance claims. For example, one of our customers operating a fleet of 130 vehicles saw a reduction of £135 in insurance premiums per vehicle, or £17.5k per annum, plus a contribution from their insurer of £5,000 towards the cost of the telemetry system.

What criteria should a fleet apply when selecting the vehicles to be fitted with telematics?

One of the first considerations about deploying a telematics solution is to set clear goals and objectives, e.g. controlling costs, reducing risk, improving efficiency and so on. 

It is also extremely important to gain driver buy-in. Therefore clear communication about why the system is being installed, what information will be recorded and how it will benefit the driver and company needs to be shared from the outset.

Get support of the board by involving its members in a free trial of the system, so any issues or questions can be ironed out before installing the wider fleet. Staff members are also pivotal to its success, so involve them in the trial, too. 

Finally, shortlist providers that suit your needs the best – if you don’t need all ‘the bells and whistles’ why pay for them?

How can a business reassure its drivers that telematics is not just ‘Big Brother’ watching their every move?

Fortunately, the former misconception that telematics is simply used by companies to track and monitor the whereabouts of their staff is now on the decline.

With ProFleet, drivers can be put in control of the information they share, with the ability to switch the data their employer can see about their vehicle on and off. If a journey is private it should remain so, businesses can rarely justify monitoring when drivers are not at work – a good system will include functionality that allows drivers to choose what information they share.

ProFleet is as much a tool for drivers as it is for their employer. They can make information about personal and business journeys available at the click of a button, taking the pain out of recording and submitting journey expenses.

This also ensures they won’t lose out on any miscalculated or under-estimated business mileage.

If a fleet inherits more than one telematics system through business acquisition, how can it harmonise the data?

With the amount of telemetry systems now available, it’s not surprising that employers can feel overwhelmed at the amount of data at their fingertips. 

And with data streams flowing in from numerous different providers in a variety of different formats, it can be a challenge to say on top of an ever-growing source of information.

ProFleet is unique in that it consolidates incoming data from multiple different telemetry systems around the world, including manufacturer-fitted devices. Customers can choose to link up their own telemetry systems or use our in-house solution.

The online portal provides a single, intuitive dashboard with the ability to produce accurate real-time reporting and auditable management records.

This means employers can gather insight about their fleet and spot trends more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Email ukinfo@aldautomotive.com, call 0370 00 111 81 or visit www.aldautomotive.co.uk