Fleet management and tracking

Kings of the Road

Nov. 16, 2018
Fleet management and tracking are instrumental in keeping vehicles within the company’s “bird’s eye” view.

CALGARY, ALBERTA, WATERTOWN, MASS. — Talk to any contractor and they’ll tell you that they consider their vehicles as one of their most expensive tools, and a high-level investment. So it’s no wonder that larger companies—with multiple or dozens of trucks—rely on fleet management systems to “monitor” their trucks on the road. Okay, the term monitor can be seen as a bit Orwellian (with the boss as Big Brother), but making sure the fleet is in order is paramount.

“Sometimes techs that think we are ‘spying’ on them, but we have found that most honest techs are not worried about it,” says Rex Oranchuk, president and co-owner, Alberta General Plumbing, operating as a division of JR Mechanical Ltd., Calgary, Alberta, a full-service plumbing, heating and hydronics company with nine full time employees—and eight trucks on the road—servicing the Calgary area. As a result, the techs, says Oranchuk, are aware that the vans are tracked so this cuts down on idle time, personal usage, unnecessary travel and hour padding on projects.

Fleet managers are responsible for maintaining order between operational realities and requirements of the work that needs to be accomplished, says Christopher Lyon, director of fleet relations, NTEA, the association of the work truck industry. Fleet departments, he continues, are often viewed as red marks in organization budgets. Without understanding the importance and unsung accomplishments of fleet operations, it is easy to see them as expenses and operational necessities rather than assets that can increase productivity and lower the bottom line.

“Controlling costs and saving a few cents on every dollar spent can compound in the long run. Regulating expenditures within your control contributes to the success and solvency of an organization,” says Lyon.

For Oranchuk, the biggest advantages of fleet management are time and fuel savings. For example, when an emergency call comes in, says Oranchuck, the dispatcher can see the closest vehicle and, based on the current schedule, make an accurate decision on whom to send. “In fact, we have been able to show clients that have complained that we didn’t show up for an appointment that, in fact, our truck was at the address at the scheduled time. Also, if they wish to dispute time/charges, we can give them a realistic picture of the time/dates,” says Oranchuk.

Alberta General Plumbing relies on Verizon Fleetmatics, “We were using a different geomatics company, but Fleetmatics is much more user friendly and has the capability of being expanded into other invoicing programs,” says Oranchuk.

Over at J.C. Cannistraro, Watertown, Mass., using a leasing company to manage the fleet gives Bill Brady, fleet manager, time to concentrate on other aspects of the fleet. “The overall procurement and monitoring of vehicles is time consuming and leasing makes thing a lot easier,” says Brady. “I wouldn’t be able to do this by myself in a productive manor if it wasn’t with the fleet leasing company’s assistance.”

For vehicle tracking, Cannistraro uses use Geotab, a leader in telematics, providing open platform fleet management solutions to businesses of all sizes. Geotab’s intuitive, full-featured solutions help businesses better manage their drivers and vehicles by extracting accurate and actionable intelligence from real-time and historical trips data.

Brady also relies on Fleet Response for motor vehicle records (MVRs) and safety lessons. Fleet Response Safety Programs automate processes and integrate with your organization’s policies and practices to relieve administrative burdens, identify risks and mitigate potential liability concerns.

This ties into yet another advantage using fleet management systems. “Our insurance recognizes that the fleet is monitored and builds in discounts,” says Oranchuk.

With the Verizon Fleetmatics system, Oranchuk is able to monitor high-value assets and take swift action to recover stolen assets or manage unauthorized use of vehicles. Driver ID technology helps your team take responsibility for company assets and the whereabouts of people on your teams. Insurance claims and asset recovery are easy with a simple history look-up to show exactly what happened where.

In addition to ensuring that team members are arriving at job sites and on-time, vehicle tracking also improves customer service with lower response times, increases fuel savings, and ensures route optimization.

In the end, controlling costs and saving a few cents on every dollar spent can compound in the long run, says Lyon. Regulating expenditures within your control contributes to the success and solvency of an organization.

Fleet tracking

Understanding the important role dispatching plays in customer satisfaction, field service software provider FieldPulse recently partnered with GPS Insight to provide in-depth fleet tracking and fleet management features for its platform. Through this integration, FieldPulse users will be able to track their company vehicle locations directly from the FieldPulse dashboard.

FieldPulse serves as a digital hub for contractors allowing them to manage their entire business through a single web and mobile application. FieldPulse’s core value centers around helping contractors go digital by combining customer management (CRM), estimates and invoicing, digital signatures and payments, scheduling and dispatching, GPS tracking, timesheets, and more.

The advanced GPS integration also adds value to existing in-app functionality within FieldPulse. For instance, users can now utilize FieldPulse’s native dispatching feature but with GPS tracking enabled. Similarly, the data used in monitoring GPS tracking can be used to enhance other FieldPulse features such as timesheets, estimates, and billing.

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