A short trial with telematics systems has resulted in tangible benefits for a van fleet which will lead to improved utilisation in future.
Field service engineers working for household appliance manufacturer Indesit, have been tracked in their Ford Transit TDCi 260 vans over three months.
All three supply companies believe the information gained from the trial offers valuable lessons for other firms considering telematics systems to help in their fleet operation.
Fifteen vehicles in total were fitted with tracking systems for three months: five in Peterborough used Quartix equipment; five in Northampton used Road Angel systems; five operating from Leicester used Tracker tele-matics kit.
Stephen Doran, managing director of Tracker, said: “The trial with Indesit certainly demonstrates why a company needs to be open-minded about fleet tracking and how it can be instrumental in optimising a fleet utilisation strategy.
“Companies like Indesit may have a perception of how long their engineers are on the road.
"However, it is through the use of fleet tracking systems and the information it provides which really allows fleet managers to truly understand their fleet activity.”
Initial findings from the first few weeks of data showed that engineers were spending far longer than expected on the road, because routing software the company had used to predict journey times had predicted higher average speeds than were able to be achieved realistically.
The telematics systems gave unequivocal evidence that vehicles were slower and spending up to an extra 45 minutes a day on the road than the time that had been built into the day for travel time.
This will be taken into account when a new planning system is put in place across the company in 2011.
The new system will allow a set time per job for engineers and set journey times based on the company’s own experiences.
But Indesit’s planning manager, Dave Evison said without the telematics systems the company would have been forced to use guesswork when planning the new call handling system.
Graham Mackie, managing director of Road Angel, said changes in behaviour or problems being highlighted at an early stage are unsurprising.
He said: “It’s good to see that Indesit has already started to see some benefits from the deployment of telematics within its van fleet.
“In other customers of similar size and in similar, service-based industries, we tend to see a mixture of short- term and medium-term benefits as a result of deploying the Road Angel Fleet solution.
“The short-term benefits often come as a result of immediate behavioural changes from drivers that are aware they are being monitored more closely.
This may include improved product-ivity during work hours, fuel savings through less idling time, a reduction in speeding offences and a drop off in unauthorised vehicle usage ‘out of hours’.