Vehicle tracking systems have been available to fleet managers for some time and despite an initially slow uptake in the technology, they have now become very popular amongst those who run commercial fleets. Not only do they give fleet managers peace of mind knowing that they have the exact location of every vehicle in their fleet at any one time – they can also improve fleet efficiency too, an important factor during a time of economic hardship.
A GPS tracker works by using a triangulating algorithm to give the precise location of the vehicle it is fitted to. This information is fed through to a remote-operating centre, which can then chart the location of every vehicle in the fleet. Through this mapping system, fleet managers can prioritise routes or re-allocate a vehicle to a pick-up, minimising the time that the customer waits for their collection and maximising efficiency. The utility services and network companies running fleets of mobile engineers are also finding this system extremely useful, as it allows them to allocate call-outs to the nearest available vehicle. Courier and delivery services have been using vehicle tracking systems for several years and were the first organisations to really appreciate the benefits of such a system.
Vehicle tracking systems do not just relay information on a vehicle's location, though. Good quality systems can also provide fleet management professionals with additional information such as the speed of a vehicle. Speeding is an extremely inefficient operation as increased speed invariably means increased fuel consumption. Major fleets that have used these systems have been able to reduce their annual fuel bills by up to 40% just through the information provided by vehicle tracking systems.
By spending a little company capital at the outset, a GPS vehicle tracking system can help facilitate effective scheduling, which results in a reduction in the amount of time vehicles are standing idle or not being used at optimum efficiency. They can also reduce delivery time delays and improve supply chain management by enabling fleet managers to prioritise routes. This leads to better customer relations as fleet managers are able to give their customers more accurate estimated arrival times.
Another saving comes in a more unexpected area. Fleet insurance policies can be cripplingly expensive, particularly for small and medium sized companies. However, insurers now regard vehicle tracking devices as a major force in the fight against vehicle theft and offer substantial policy discounts for fleets with GPS trackers fitted. Faster recovery times of stolen vehicles, a reduction in the potential damage to stolen vans and cars by thieves and eliminating the need to hire replacement vehicles to cover the shortfall left as a result of a vehicle theft all add up to a considerable annual saving.
Vehicle tracking systems can also tell a fleet manager if vehicles are being used out of hours by drivers for their own, personal use. Technically, this could be regarded as misappropriation of a company vehicle and can cost firms a great deal of money over the course of a year. If a driver knows that their movements are being plotted by a remote GPS tracking device, then he or she will be less inclined to use a company vehicle inappropriately. Again, this all adds up to savings for the company.
In a time of recession, every business is looking for ways to improve productivity, efficiency and cut costs. Although it may seem strange to advocate spending money on a complex vehicle tracking system during these lean times, the long-term savings these systems represent are financially prudent and an essential part of effective fleet management.