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Telematics and Small Fleets

How many vehicles classifies as small fleet? The small fleet label has been applied to fleets with up to 10, 20, 50 or even 100 vehicles. In general, we think of a small fleet as having 50 vehicles or less. So how can a small fleet benefit from using telematics?

 

First let’s better define exactly what telematics is:

TELEMATICS is a method of monitoring an asset (car, truck, heavy equipment, or even ship) by using GPS and onboard diagnostics to record movements on a computerized map.

Benefits of a telematics system:

  • Gain visibility into fleet operations and trends 

  • Manage fuel efficiency and reduce waste or fraud

  • Optimize routes and vehicle use

  • Reduce idling time

  • Decrease Maintenance Costs

  • Increase driver safety

  • Insurance discounts and savings

 

Small fleets are not always overseen by dedicated fleet managers. Instead, the task might fall to the office manager, someone in accounting, operations or many times the owner themselves due to the company’s size. For these individuals, fleet management is an extra responsibility on top of their normal priorities. Telematics, in turn, can help make these responsibilities easier to handle through integrated fleet management features.

A lot of smaller fleets are afraid that 1) telematics systems are expensive 2) it will take away from their current duties 3) Employees will feel big brother is watching them 4) A lack of trust will be lost among current employees

Let’s address some of the concerns mentioned above.

Telematics systems are expensive

“Telematics will cost me thousands of dollars to implement,” is something we hear often from smaller businesses. Depending on fleet size, your needs, and the vendor you select, telematics can be as expensive as $1,000 per month for an enterprise-sized corporation or as affordable as $15–$20 a month for a small business. When looking at a telematics solution, there are lot of factors to consider such as equipment costs, ease of install, monthly fees and even contract terms.

At Argos we try to make all these factors as simple as possible.  The Geotab GO9 device is a true plug and play solution so installing is fast, simple and inexpensive. We also offer extremely competitive monthly rates and can even customize packages specific to your fleet. Lastly, we hate long term contracts and want you to feel comfortable with our solution. Our philosophy is simple…. if the solution is working, you will want to stay with us because you want to, not because you are locked into a contract and can’t leave without hefty penalties.

 

Secondly, a telematics device should be thought of as an investment, not an expense, and the ROI should be considered, such as how you’re recouping the cost of the service by using the software to tackle goals such as reducing fuel use and lowering maintenance costs.

In other words, if you could put $1 into telematics and it returned $2 or $3, would you care how much it costs? Before purchasing a solution, run a cost-benefit analysis. Estimate the amount of money a device could save you or make you and compare that to the costs. Another factor to be considered are the discounts and savings from Insurance companies. As telematics has become more relevant, many insurance companies offer additional discounts when utilizing a telematics system.

Managing a Telematics system will cause more work

From installing devices to managing the data, it’s understandable why there’s a misconception that it can be time consuming to manage a telematics system. The truth is that a telematics solution can be as time intensive as you want it to be.

Starting with installation, it can sound like a complicated or technical process needing an expert. With some telematics solutions this can be true and require a lengthy installation process requiring multiple tools and wires to be hardwired. There are also solutions like our solution, the Geotab GO9 that are the exact opposite. Not only are the latest GO products small and compact, but they are designed to make installation quick and easy. You just locate the OBD-II port in your vehicle, insert the device into the port and voila! And if you do not feel comfortable installing the devices, we offer professional installation services.

For data collected and looked at, the more time you spend on it, the more likely you are to see a positive ROI, but many functions can be automated. For example, you can create alerts that are sent to your phone or inbox when a driver arrives at a certain location or if a driver is breaking certain rules such as speeding, idling, braking, cornering or if the vehicle has been in an accident. In addition, this same data can be summarized within MyGeotab on a customizable dashboard that we help you create, or you can have it sent to your inbox daily, weekly, monthly or whatever time interval you would want. Geotab is extremely customizable to each fleet’s needs.

Big Brother is watching

This is probably the most common objection we hear from fleet owners. The fear that rolling out a system will cause an uproar with their employees and drivers. Telematics tracks information about a vehicle and how you use it. It’s important to not get vehicle telematics mixed up with some of the cell phone GPS tracking systems out there, where drivers must download an app onto their phone. Those types of systems mean the driver’s cell phone is what is getting tracked, not the vehicle. While these systems provide “dots on a map,” they don’t tell the whole story, and your drivers would probably agree.

If there’s a behavior that can mean lowering the risk of an accident, and therefore lowering the risk of losing a job, drivers are likely to be open to the feedback. In some cases, the information can even exonerate drivers when frivolous complaints come in. That means it’s important upon telematics rollout, executives and managers emphasize the role the technology will have in the safety of all drivers.

Besides, most fleet managers aren’t interested in and don’t have time to watch each driver minute by minute. This is especially true for large fleets that might have hundreds or thousands of drivers. They are more concerned with using telematics data to help meet company goals such as reducing fuel costs, minimizing the number of accidents, ensuring overall fleet safety and increasing productivity within the operations.

In fact, we recommend using our Safety Scorecard to reward drivers for exhibiting the right behaviors. Fleet managers can use the information from telematics to create quantifiable goals that come with incentives for drivers. Having a bonus program based on safe driving behavior, productivity or efficiency can be easily accomplished because of this objective method to measure
driver performance.

I trust my employees, I do not need to track them

You trust your employees and hire only the best.  This is a common myth that can get owners and fleet managers into trouble. Not that employees aren’t trustworthy, but we all make mistakes. And for an employee, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to try to hide a mistake or cover it up.

To make our business better, we must see the individual employees’ activity holistically through telematics. Only then will the opportunities like adding more drivers, removing drivers, changing routing or altering time of day for drivers, present themselves.

Telematics devices do not have to be used to only monitor
driving behavior. Some customers utilize the devices for a more basic use, such as security. If a vehicle (or expensive piece of equipment) is ever stolen, with the help of real-time GPS tracking, your chances of recovering these assets increase exponentially.

Additionally, since telematics devices can communicate with the vehicle’s engine control module, it is possible to pick up on potential vehicle problems via diagnostic trouble code alerts and perform preventive maintenance before these issues become bigger problems. The cost savings from staying in front of maintenance issues can more than pay for a telematics solution tenfold.

Small fleets are saving more than ever by implementing the Geotab solution into their daily business operations. 

Before you make any additional assumptions about telematics, consider how much the industry has grown in recent years. If you first heard about telematics 10 years ago, then it’s likely a lot of your ideas about telematics have since changed through technology improvements. Geotab is on the forefront of technology, constantly updating and improving software, hardware, integration and adding new partners via our Marketplace.

For more information on these and other myths related to telematics, contact us for more information.

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Argos Connected Solutions, LLC

Indianapolis, IN

info@argosconnected.com

www.argosconnected.com

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