The transport industry has been relatively slow in adopting telematics and other GPS fleet management technology to improve performance when you compare it to the resources sector. This has to change and it will over the next few years. Researchers at Frost & Sullivan estimate Australia's commercial vehicle telematics will grow at a compound annual rate of 25 per cent by 2020. There are four primary drivers for this forecast growth in demand:
The recently introduced Higher Mass Limit (HML) will drive demand for fleet management technology as transport operators look to take advantage of increased load limits. Operators in New South Wales and Queensland must be enrolled in the Intelligent Access Program ? which uses satellite tracking and wireless communication technology to remotely monitor where, when, and how heavy vehicles are being operated ? to be eligible for HML. IAP is also a condition for operating certain types of cranes and special purpose vehicles in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
Growing concern for driver safety
This concern ties closely into regulation because of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, which made it clear that vehicles are a place of work and introduced a chain of responsibility for anybody involved in the operation of a fleet. Companies, executives, fleet managers and anybody else with knowledge or financial interest must do everything reasonably possible to protect their people. Failure to do so can result in heavy fines or even custodial sentences. Courts are aware of technology and will consider whether it was reasonable to expect a business to have made an investment.
Efficient, reliable fleet movement
Over the next couple of years this is the most pressing concern for transport operators. In a bigger and more diversified workforce there are people dedicated to monitoring performance and driving improvement. If you have a large number of vehicles driving the same routes, it's easier to compare driver performance. That can change behaviour over time and make your fleet more efficient. Industry consolidation will create larger fleets, increasing the demand for technology to drive continuous operational improvement.
Fuel efficiency and vehicle maintenance
There's also a lot of concern about how drivers are treating vehicles. A telematics device can track engine data ? monitoring revolutions per minute, braking distances and throttle position to build an accurate picture of driver performance. Drivers have the biggest impact on vehicle performance in the heavy transport industry so they also represent the biggest opportunity to improve efficiency. Just remember that telematics is not a magic bullet that will reduce your fuel costs just by plugging it in. Anything you put on a vehicle is just adding weight unless you use the data to help your drivers.
It can be hard to change habits and get people to adopt new technology but it's really not a large investment, especially when you consider how much you're spending on tyres every year. We've seen some larger customers generate a return on investment four or five months into a three-year term.
The leaders we see embracing GPS fleet management technology are those who are always on the lookout for the next step. They're constantly striving for ways to make better business decisions. Fleet management technology has come a long way during the past decade, and it's no longer about providing a dot on the map, but there's still a long way to go. It's time for the transport industry to take another step and invest in the future.
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