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Q&A: Dispelling The Biggest Myths Around Fleet Technology

Data Blocks
Data Blocks

While technologies such as electronic work diaries (EWDs), vehicle tracking and GPS fleet software are fast becoming the norm within the transport, construction and mining industries, there are many who view the technology with caution. Half the battle is getting your staff, drivers and operators on board. So, we asked Enterprise BDM & Construction Specialist Shane Suliman, how he educates businesses on the capabilities and benefits of fleet management solutions and telematics. From fears of Big Brother to handling anti-tech heads, Shane’s heard a lot in his seven-plus years with Teletrac Navman. 

Q: What are some of the most common questions and concerns you hear from drivers about GPS Tracking and Telematics?

“Am I being watched?”

This is by far the number one question I get, and the answer is: absolutely not. There are no hidden cameras or microphones hanging around your truck or equipment. It’s important for managers to communicate with their staff about why the technology has been implemented and what it does. It’s also helpful to reinforce that you’re not fussed about what drivers get up to on their lunch break and that the system is there to ensure their safety. The technology tells someone where drivers are, how the vehicle is going and provides an easy and effective communication channel between drivers and the main office.

“Can anyone view my location on platforms like Google Maps?”

Again, absolutely not. This data is not freely available to anyone, just those in your business with the right permissions, like management and back office admin. That goes for any of the data you generate – driver behaviour, engine analytics or past events. Everything is secure and there’s no way for anyone on the outside to get in and have a look around.

“Do we really need these?”

Changes in legislation, particularly Chain of Responsibility, require businesses to know where their staff are and give proof that they’ve taken every possible measure to keep everyone safe. While telematics isn’t mandatory, it does make it far easier to achieve this. When I hear reasons against installing telematics, whether they believe it will cause distrust between drivers and management, that it’s too complicated to learn or they think their current system works fine, the pros always outweigh the cons. In this day and age, it’s simply the most effective and accurate way to manage and operate your fleet as it provides the raw data to make the right decisions. Ultimately it removes the grey area by handing you hard evidence on your day-to-day operations.

Q: Just how essential are these technologies for today’s fleets?

The great thing about telematics and fleet tracking systems is that the technology is only limited by our imagination and how best you can use the information it provides. It can be adapted to cater for any business and its individual needs. If there’s a particular outcome that you need, we can work together and develop a solution that will tick those boxes for you. Some of the biggest benefits of telematics are:

Better customer service

Say a customer calls and asks when a delivery is due. You can look up the runsheet, see what driver is currently completing it and get an accurate ETA on the job. Or if someone calls up to make a complaint about a driver speeding on the road, you can look up that exact day, time and location to determine the accuracy of that statement and take appropriate action. GPS vehicle tracking gives you the ability to gather instant insight without having to make a number of phone calls to check progress.

Driver behaviour

You are able to identify poor on-road driver behaviour, such as harsh acceleration, cornering or braking. Drivers are scored green, amber or red based on these kinds of metrics which allow you to work with each individual driver on where they need improving, giving you the ability to personalise coaching and training. Even just the presence of a tracking system makes drivers more conscious and safer on the road.

Cost cutting

Fleet vehicle tracking can continue to determine areas where you can save on business expenses and improve efficiencies such as identifying excessive engine idling to help you save on fuel costs. Seeing your equipment is being underutilised means you don’t need to buy another unit after all. In-vehicle job allocation and messaging can mean getting more jobs done in less time and sending run sheets and invoices electronically ensures accuracy so you don’t get undercharged by customers. 

Improved Maintenance

A fleet management system keeps an eye on KMs travelled, fuel and oil levels and tyre rotations, and will alert you when a service is due. By giving you the data in real-time you can schedule your maintenance effectively and not get stuck with an underserviced fleet or schedule jobs while a vehicle is due for a service. You no longer have to rely on old paperwork or guesswork.

Legislation requirements

When you know your fleet inside out you can send them out with confidence that everything is safe and up to standard. If you do get an unexpected audit or fine, you have the evidence to back up your claim that your fleet is compliant and that you’ve taken the appropriate measures to keep it that way.

Q: What do you find is the most effective approach to busting these myths and educating businesses?

Ultimately, drivers just want to be informed. Having an open and honest process and involving everyone from the start is something I always recommend. Installing a bunch of sensors on the weekend without anyone knowing only builds hostility and distrust in the business. The best and most effective way to educate drivers and get them on board is to explain what’s happening from day one.

Sometimes we’ll host a Q and A with only the staff, no managers allowed, and let them have a free for all. Allow them to ask the questions they are too afraid to ask and be completely honest, with no secrecy whatsoever. Another thing we do is show the drivers exactly what management can see on their screens while they’re out on the job. This will establish that nobody is hiding anything from them.  

By telling everyone what the technology is, what is does and why it’s important, and allowing them to openly give feedback, you create a more open and honest workplace.

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