5 Ways to Use Telematics to Green Your Fleets

January 2014, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Sean Lyden - Also by this author

Utilizing telematics in fleet operations can help reduce the number of miles driven, incidents of vehicle idling, and overall fuel costs and wear-and-tear on a vehicle.
Utilizing telematics in fleet operations can help reduce the number of miles driven, incidents of vehicle idling, and overall fuel costs and wear-and-tear on a vehicle.

Telematics with onboard GPS that captures and transmits vehicle and driver information equips fleet and operations managers with the insight they need to uncover opportunities to reduce fuel consumption, as well as the fleet’s carbon footprint.

“Companies are leveraging real-time and historic vehicle data to monitor and manage driver behaviors and activities that can undermine sustainability goals, with real-time alerts for speeding, idling, after-hours use, and maintenance reminders,” said Matt Schaefer, enterprise sales executive at SageQuest, a provider of GPS fleet tracking and management technology. SageQuest’s solution includes a Carbon Footprint Report, which uses fuel consumption data to show the size of a vehicle’s carbon footprint for a given time period.

Rich Pearlman, director of product management, fleet services for Spireon, said that savvy fleet managers use telematics as a real-time business intelligence tool to help them make better-informed, timelier decisions with their vehicle operations.

“Fleet managers will know when their workers come and go, and can monitor the use of their vehicles, trailers, powered equipment, and assets — even if it’s after hours. And, as fuel prices fluctuate, fleet managers will, at least, be able to get a handle on their fuel and maintenance, which ultimately enables them to reduce harmful emissions,” he said.

How can fleet managers leverage telematics to improve fuel efficiency and make significant reductions in fleet-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?

Here are five ideas:

No. 1 Increasing Route Optimization

By eliminating unnecessary miles through optimal routing, fleets are able to not only reduce their environmental impact, but reduce their fuel costs as well, according to Nick Ehrhart, telematics VP of business development for Donlen, a full-service fleet management company headquartered in Northbrook, Ill., and a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hertz Corporation.

For example, when a customer requests a service call, it is crucial to determine which technician is available and closest to the customer. Telematics can give the dispatch department real-time vehicle location information to determine who would be the best technician to send to that job — and suggest the quickest route to get there.

Also, at the end of each shift, fleet managers can examine historical route data to determine whether certain routes could be consolidated, decreasing the number of vehicles and, consequently, miles driven to perform those jobs, without sacrificing quality of service to customers.

“Using telematics helps fleet managers reduce the number of miles driven, especially out-of-route miles,” Pearlman said. “By getting a handle on the miles driven, fleet managers can determine whether their drivers are being routed in the most efficient way, see if they are deviating from their routes, or have the ability to dispatch the closest vehicle.”

What’s the potential financial impact? Chris Ransom, director of sales engineering for Verizon Networkfleet, mentioned one customer, a municipal fleet, as an example.

“Within the first six months, employees drove about 165,000 fewer miles, and fuel costs declined by about $79,000 compared to the previous year’s data for the same period. The organization ended the first year by reducing total miles driven by 350,000 miles,” he said.

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