Want to Ensure a Successful Fleet Tracking Rollout? Follow These 8 Steps

As telematics usage becomes the norm for the majority of fleets, there are certain steps companies should take in order to successfully integrate the technology without any missteps, employee pushback, or loss of service. The following steps will help make your transition as smooth as possible

Performance1. Plan Accordingly

Investing in a telematics system can be expensive and does need some time investment in first learning the system and in implementation. Define your goals, set expectations, and research how the software will help you. Don’t invest until you plan out a time and financial budget to make it happen.

2. Know What Kind of Information You Want to Track

Telematics can provide virtually endless data, which can be a drawback if you don’t know what information you want. It’s important to know your goals, whether it’s fuel savings or safety, so you don’t purchase a telematics system giving you reports you won’t use.

3. Research Third-Party Vendors

Compare systems. Check out which program matches your company’s needs and is the most cost-effective for your budget. Trying to rework your fleet to fit the telematics system you purchased is much harder than finding a system that most closely fits your needs.

4. Educate Your Teamdistributor

Educating and training employees will help garner support and prevent potential issues. A top-down training method, beginning with your management, is a surefire way to ensure employee confidence.

5. Test Your System

Pilot testing your system is a great way to make sure both that it’s working within your fleet and that your employees are learning how to properly use the software. Before you rollout completely, do a pilot test to make sure everything runs smoothly.

6. Employee Buy-Invehicles

Often, employees can feel uneasy about telematics, when in actuality the systems are designed to help them and to make the roads safer by making them more diligent drivers. Basic education and approaching this culture change with transparency will result in more buy-in.

7. Strategic Location Rollout

If your company is in several locations, consider implementing the telematics technology location-by-location rather than having one or two vehicles at each facility. That way, you’ll have every vehicle in the vicinity properly equipped and you’ll be able to gauge your data against those locations without the system.

8. Look for Ways to Improve

Once your rollout is complete, don’t get complacent. Be on the lookout for ways to make your system and your practices better and continue to take advantage of all the features, one piece at a time. Encouraging staff feedback is a good option as well.

Lower Fleet Cost Forecast in 2016

Save FuelFuel is the largest component of total fleet operating costs. The stability of fuel pricing over the past 24 months has been the No. 1 factor contributing to keeping fleet operating costs flat. Not only that, but lower fuel prices have helped decrease overall fleet expenses.

“Lower fuel prices have led to a significant reduction in fleet spend over the past 12 months,” said John Bauer, manager, fleet analytics at Wheels Inc.

There has been a double-digit percentage decline in nationwide average pump prices for both diesel and gasoline.

“From January 2015 to September 2015, versus the year prior, the average cost of diesel fuel decreased approximately 19.8 percent and gasoline prices have also decreased 23.2 percent,” said Dale Jewell, director, North American maintenance operations for EMKAY.

As with most commodities, fuel prices fluctuate, driven by seasonal driving demand and weather conditions.

“Fuel prices have helped fleets reduce cost on a year-over-year basis. To date, the average price for regular unleaded has declined 83 cents from the 2015 average of $3.36. This represents a 25-percent savings; however, during 2015, prices have followed a familiar seasonality curve and are currently 14-percent higher than the beginning of the year, on average,” said Steve Jastrow, strategic consulting manager for Element Financial Corp.

However, plummeting prices at the pump have been a double-edged sword for many fleet customers over the past 12-18 months.

“On the one hand, lower retail prices for both gasoline and diesel have been a welcome relief for fleets that, in some cases, have seen their costs reduced by 25-30 percent. On the other hand, industries directly or indirectly attached to the price of oil (upstream to downstream) have experienced a real squeeze in revenue and cash flow,” said Steve Durdin, manager, garage management systems (GMS) & fuel programs at ARI.

Truck Fleets Benefit the Most

The largest beneficiaries of reduced fuel prices have been diesel-powered fleets, resulting from the significant narrowing in the gasoline versus diesel price gap. “The difference in price between diesel and gasoline is nearly indiscernible in some markets,” said Durdin of ARI. “While this pricing gap may widen as temperatures fall, diesel buyers have enjoyed an even greater price break over much of the year.”

 

Total Consumption vs. Price

One welcome relief to this multi-year period of fuel price stability has been the minimization of unpredictable pricing volatility that resulted in unanticipated price spikes that ravaged fleet budgets in past years.

“With domestic production at high levels and the need to import trending downward, outside factors are less likely to have an impact on fuel prices than we’ve seen in a long time. For that reason, it is likely that fuel costs will have a negligible impact in how companies select the vehicles for their fleet,” said Singer of Merchants Fleet Management.

 

Fuel-Spend Reduction Strategies

There continues to be the normal seasonal cyclicity in fuel prices in the fall and spring, but the key factor is that this pricing cyclicity does not have an upward trajectory and prices are behaving very similar to those in 2014. However, one factor with a growing impact on moderating fuel spend is the overall increases in vehicle fuel economy. A variety of acquisition decisions are contributing to increased average fleet fuel economy and reduction in overall fuel consumption.

“Fleets are right-sizing their vehicle selectors to take advantage of fuel-efficient technologies, weight-reduction measures, higher-speed transmissions, and appropriate drivetrains to meet their business necessity,” said Jewell of EMKAY. “Furthermore, the importance of driver behavior is essential. According to the EPA, a driver can impact fuel efficiency as much as 33 percent. The implementation of driver behavior trainings to reduce speeds, idling, accident avoidance, rapid deceleration, etc., continue to gain momentum within the industry. When paired with technological GPS solutions, route optimization can reduce miles driven, scheduling, speeds, and personal use,” added Jewell.

 

Fuel-Spend Reduction Strategies

There continues to be the normal seasonal cyclicity in fuel prices in the fall and spring, but the key factor is that this pricing cyclicity does not have an upward trajectory and prices are behaving very similar to those in 2014. However, one factor with a growing impact on moderating fuel spend is the overall increases in vehicle fuel economy. A variety of acquisition decisions are contributing to increased average fleet fuel economy and reduction in overall fuel consumption.

“Fleets are right-sizing their vehicle selectors to take advantage of fuel-efficient technologies, weight-reduction measures, higher-speed transmissions, and appropriate drivetrains to meet their business necessity,” said Jewell of EMKAY. “Furthermore, the importance of driver behavior is essential. According to the EPA, a driver can impact fuel efficiency as much as 33 percent. The implementation of driver behavior trainings to reduce speeds, idling, accident avoidance, rapid deceleration, etc., continue to gain momentum within the industry. When paired with technological GPS solutions, route optimization can reduce miles driven, scheduling, speeds, and personal use,” added Jewell.

 

 

Forecast of Fuel Prices in 2016

All fleet management companies base their fuel price forecasts on those projected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

“The EIA currently projects that U.S. pump prices will decrease slightly in 2016 as compared to 2015,” said Lucien of Element Financial Corp. “Their October Short-Term Energy Outlook includes forecasts for gasoline and diesel of $2.42 and $2.72 per gallon, respectively, for 2015. ‘Lower economic growth in emerging markets, expectations of higher oil exports from Iran, and continuing growth in global inventories’ are cited as the main reason behind the projections. The EIA gasoline pump price outlook in 2016 is 4 cents per gallon below the 2015 projections. The cost of diesel is expected to increase by 5 cents to $2.77 per gallon.”

Read the Entire Article Here…

6 Trends in Telematics

TrendsTelematics is an ever-evolving industry that incorporates the instant transfer of data by way of telecommunications with the “Big Data” potential of informatics. So far telematics has made managing fleets much simpler by integrating routing, geo-fencing, navigation, two-way communications, vehicle diagnostics, and many other invaluable features that provide critical data about vehicles and drivers. Trends in the telematics industry point toward change at an exponential rate.

As the fleet industry’s understanding and use of telematics grows, so too will its application to vehicles in general, including the ability to trend out data and come up with predictive as well as responsive analytics models. These solutions will provide more ways to reduce time spent and labor costs, increase operational efficiencies, further emphasize safety and make more automated decisions.

Trends in the telematics industry will not only impact fleets, but also the general public as more consumer-facing programs hit the market from insurance providers and OEMs. Fleets may be expected to implement basic features that increase the safety of the communities they work in as the public becomes more familiar with telematics as well.

In a 2015 survey of more than 1,000 commercial and government fleets, just over 52% of respondents currently use telematics within their operations. That means there are still millions of fleet vehicles running without this beneficial technology. As the ROI becomes clear to the rest of the industry and as the technology improves by making it easier to implement and manage the data, the adoption rate will continue to increase.

Faster Networks & Hotspots

With the fall of AT&T’s 2G network coming by Jan. 1, 2017, any technology using this network will need to upgrade to 3G and 4G networks. While telematics providers are already making this move to ensure devices are up to date and compatible with 3G or 4G networks, for fleets it means that you’ll benefit from greater bandwidth and faster data transfer rates. In the past, many customers have only utilized GPS tracking alone; however, with an upgrade to a faster network, they can expect new benefits such as real-time driver safety coaching, improved transparency over vehicle maintenance, video functions, and other productivity tools.

To put this upgrade into perspective, the difference between 2G and 4G technology is the difference between barely being able to send a text message and being able to stream full-length movies on your mobile device.

This move also addresses a newer but increasingly common fleet request, which is to turn vehicles into a Wi-Fi hotspot. The telematics device serves as the hotspot, using its 3G or 4G connection so that a driver or field worker, for example, can use mobile devices and ensure online connectivity when at a job site or going out on a service call.

Integration and APIs

Perhaps one of the strongest benefits of telematics comes from integrating with other systems, allowing it to automatically push out data to other software. As more software companies in general use open platforms and offer an Application Programming Interface (API), it’s making it easier to integrate information across each program. The ability to integrate programs and share data across these once disparate systems allows fleet management software to team up with telematics, for example, creating transparency between systems and alleviating manual reports or data entry.

GPS data and vehicle diagnostics from telematics combined with a company’s dispatching software can allow businesses to automatically dispatch the right vehicle for the job, time and time again, without hesitation or mistakes. Integration helps to streamline data and gain a more complete picture of operations. For example, integrating with a CRM or HR program can help make sure the information gets to the right place faster and more accurately.

Demand for direct integration between a company’s fleet solution and other software systems continues to grow. Once reserved for the largest, enterprise fleets, now mid-size and even small fleets can start to take advantage of this ability. While still in its infancy, expect to see more and more integration possibilities with other software.

Mobile Technology

The genesis of the tablet revolution began in 2010 with the public release of Apple’s iPad. What was first thought of as a fad has quickly evolved into a business staple that allows managers and employees to do their job on the go. Telematics companies picked up the next logical course of action, integrating the two modern technological titans with each other. Because the majority of people have smartphones already, many providers now offer an app that allows fleet managers to monitor and control their fleet from a tablet or smartphone on the go.

Although still a novelty, eventually you may even see integration with wearables.

The Role of OEMs

As telematics devices have become a necessity in fleet management, some OEMs have responded to the change in market by offering vehicles with them already installed.

The downside of this is data standardization across a mixed OEM fleet and overall depth of information received, which varies from each OEM-provided solution. Plus, OEM telematics aren’t available in every vehicle so at this point is not likely a viable option in terms of fully replacing a fleet’s aftermarket solution. For a fleet to get the most out of an OEM solution, a third-party provider would need to consolidate and standardize the data. This will be an area to continue to watch as the OEM-provided solutions grow.

In-Cab Video and Alerts

Through in-cab video recording devices, fleets are using this video as an additional method to coach drivers on poor driving behavior. The benefit coming from these types of coaching methods is the ability to put this footage right in front of the driver, allowing them to watch their own behaviors versus being told about a behavior.

Another benefit coming from video integration with telematics is driver exoneration. Through in-cab video, fleets have potential evidence to clarify any faulty claims against their drivers and helps speed up the accident investigation process. Video integration allows managers to pinpoint the exact incident to get a better understanding of what happened.

Outside of video, other in-cab telematics features are also helping fleets with driver coaching, such as audible feedback after a harsh braking event.

User Experience

The overall improvements to usability really surround automation and how easy it is to identify the data you need. Improved and customizable dashboards, event notifications and reports via email are all examples of how fleets are getting a more user-friendly experience. Telematics companies are continuously trying to make technology easier for the end-user by making systems more autonomous.

While dashboards are becoming more visual than ever providing powerful mapping and graphs, analytics and benchmarking are also becoming a larger part of the package. Telematics companies are providing more analysis and industry benchmarks for fleet customers, taking some of the load off the fleet and giving them a better idea of key performance indicators both within their own fleet as well as compared to other operators.

Telematics providers are also trying to cut back on the time a driver spends navigating on their interface by keeping the clicks to a minimal. Voice recognition options are also becoming more commonplace as well.

In the social aspect of telematics through the likes of gamification, incentives and rewards programs, it’s important that fleets can extrapolate what they need from the data and move on. Some telematics providers have even integrated multiple gamification techniques into dashboards and reports so that fleets don’t have to gather this information.

With an initial setup, a telematics solution today can run on its own whether it is sending out alerts or scheduling reports or pushing data to another software system — the current evolution in fleet telematics.