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3 Ways In-Vehicle Monitoring Will Improve Your Fleet Management

Data Blocks
Data Blocks
In-vehicle monitoring systems are also known as on-board computers or data loggers. In some organisations, where the benefits of IVMS have not been effectively communicated to drivers, they're sometimes still thought of as Big Brother. Whatever you choose to call them, IVMS tracks a vehicle's location in real time so a fleet manager knows exactly where it is, where it's been and what route the driver has taken.

They also provide valuable information about how a driver is performing. You can set parameters in your fleet management software to trigger events if a driver accelerates too quickly, brakes harshly or exceeds a maximum speed limit, building behaviour profiles of individual drivers. These can be used to develop driver scorecards where they are graded into red, amber and green (RAG) bands. Red-band drivers can be sent for training while those rated green are identified as potential mentors and rewarded for their performance. For this to be effective, it can't just be about the drivers. Line managers must also be accountable, with their key performance indicators tied into the RAG scorecards.

Inadequate driver education is an area where many organisations fall over when it comes to getting the most value out of IVMS. Some try to hide the fact that these systems have been fitted, or don't clearly communicate what they'll be used to record. The key message should be that they are there primarily to improve driver safety. If there's a collision, an IVMS unit can reconstruct crash data to prove fault, which is useful protection against errant third-party claims. It can also be used for educational purposes to highlight where a driver's behaviours did contribute to a collision.

Professional drivers presume they're good drivers because they do it for a living. They're even more likely to rate themselves highly if they've never had a collision or had a ticket. Yet the reality is that we're all good drivers sometimes but are prone to making poor decisions, often due to the circumstances we find ourselves in ? sitting in traffic jams for extended periods of time, wet weather conditions and working long hours all increase risk.

Any business with a fleet of vehicles, whether they're scooters or road trains, should be using in-vehicle monitoring systems. There are major benefits in terms of operational efficiency, which translate into reduced costs. Compliance is another major factor, especially since the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 came into force. Yet the primary motivation, which flows from both of these considerations, is ensuring the safety of your mobile workforce. Here are three reasons why you should be using IVMS to improve the operation of your fleet:

Remote contact

First and foremost you need to know where your people are from a safety perspective. If an IVMS is fitted with a satellite modem it can identify where a vehicle is in remote locations when mobile phone coverage is not available. A SIM card similar to that in your mobile phone sends data packets with information about where a vehicle is and how it's being driven back to base. Even if it doesn't have a satellite modem, the system will continue to record how the vehicle is being driven when location details are lost. Data packets are more expensive via satellite so units send less detailed and less frequent information when they drop off the cellular network.

Compliance requirements

These will explode during the next few years because employers have a duty of care to ensure a safe place of work. The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 made it quite clear that this extended to vehicles for companies that operate a mobile fleet. You need to know where your vehicles are at all times, who is behind the wheel and how they're driving. If a driver flips a vehicle while outside of mobile phone coverage, have you complied with your duty of care to provide a safe place of work? Company owners, transport supervisors, dispatchers and drivers are all links in the chain of responsibility. People can't hide behind the company banner and penalties include prison sentences as well as hefty fines.

Route optimisation

A driver might travel from A to B then find destination C is halfway between the two. Using IVMS you can get them to all three locations and back to base in the most efficient manner. This saves time, fuel and maintenance costs while reducing unnecessary exposure to risk. The larger the fleet, and the more journeys those vehicles make, the easier it is to generate financial benefits. We have one client with an average monthly fuel bill of $80,000 so finding efficiencies of 1-2 per cent has a significant impact on the bottom line. Yet even within a smaller fleet, productivity benefits and cost savings soon add up.

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