Potential of Telematics lost on majority of fleet managers

We live in an age of technology. Big data and micro management are key phrases in all industry sectors leveraging digital information, both online and inhouse. Whilst telematics are making extracting, reporting and using this data accessible for fleet management, few businesses are ringing the changes to make the most of its insight.

Coventry was the venue for last week’s RHA Compliance Conference. In excess of 400 key stakeholders gathered for the event, marketed as relevant to everyone in the road transport industry. The list of speakers and their backgrounds certainly lived up to the billing.

Speaking of technology…

Of course, you had Microlise. It was they who carried out the survey at the conference to highlight how little fleet managers and business leaders were leveraging technology. As the thirty-year old Nottingham company are one of the lenders of reducing costs through technology, it was perhaps fitting (and a little more than coincidental) that they were on hand to conduct the poll.

But the guest speakers came from a variety of backgrounds. You had several RHA representatives drilling home the need for compliance. They covered everything from employment and regulatory statute to drug-taking drivers and compliance retention across the fleet. Other speakers of note included:

  • the DVSA, outlining the future for enforcement;
  • the One Show’s Dr Sarah Jarvis was on hand to talk about managing driver health;
  • Jeremy Moore OBE, tackling retraining for drivers who’d offended;
  • the UK Border Force, who took on risk-management;
  • and the keynote, delivered by Traffic Commissioner, Richard Turfitt.

Whilst all fleet managers are, by now, conversant with the topics covered during the conference, they are far from comfortable with telematics.

Shock responses from transport decision makers

On their website, you can find a full summary of the poll’s results. But here’s a snapshot of the most stand-out answers. Given the experience of the attendees, they’re quite shocking:

Does your business use tacho data in areas other than driver compliance?

  • Yes: 27%;
  • No: 73%

Are vehicle checks conducted on paper or with a digital device?

  • Digital (Mobile/Handheld): 12%;
  • Paper: 88%

And what about telematic-driven driver incentive schemes?

  • no telematics whatsoever: 25%;
  • no incentive scheme in place: 61%;
  • no telematics and no incentive scheme: 14%.

The weather forecast

Compliance has always been a serious issue with road safety authorities. Their concern has always been having the manpower to conduct thorough spot-checks of the many, many industries who employ fleets.

But make no mistake, those days of having to be on site to conduct such checks are nearing the end. The RHA, DVSA and many others responsible for the safety of vehicles on our roads are leveraging big data. The signs from the conference are that the responsibility to report operational functions digitally is filtering down to fleet managers.

And what many businesses are missing is that telematics are not only about vehicle safety. They present an opportunity, too.

As the Microlise report points out, running a fleet effectively can be costly. It can be even more expensive if you don’t extract relevant information or, more worryingly, understand what is relevant.

The costs of fuel, depreciation, compliance and fleet insurance can all sky-rocket if you don’t keep them under control.

With telematics, deployment of a company’s fleet need no longer be the sole responsibility of the ‘transport department’.

Plug this information into the company’s mainframe and every stakeholder in the business has visibility of the best use of their employer’s fleet. But you must be able to understand it first.

From sales making delivery promises, accounts booking the costs and warehouse staff prioritising picking and packing, technology can help streamline a whole business.

Are you using this technology just as a GPS system to see where your drivers have been? If so, it’s time to step out of the dark ages and embrace the digital dawn.

By now, we’re used to the systematic, hydromatic, automatic machinations of our vans’ mechanics. But it’s time to de-grease those hands and let telematics take centre stage.

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