Increasing profitability with GPS tracking
By Ben VanAvery
For any company with a fleet of light- or medium-duty vehicles, from service contractors to vendors and those in the transportation industry, increasing profitability often comes down to fostering an environment of greater employee accountability.
The concept of accountability is defined as “the obligation of an individual to account for his/her activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.” Implied in this definition is the ability to verify tasks are completed as expected, on time, efficiently, and per company policy. For fleet managers, this can only be accomplished through real-time GPS tracking devices on all vehicles.
But accountability is not about discovering what a driver is doing “wrong,” it is actually more about what the driver is doing right. Even well-intentioned drivers may discover that there are areas of improvement and efficiencies that could make them more productive.
So, with a host of benefits for the employee, fleet managers that have avoided the “leap” to GPS tracking are missing out on a win-win scenario. After all, more accountable drivers lead to greater efficiency overall, which means increased profits. It’s an argument that is hard to deny, particularly as GPS tracking continues to improve while the cost of entry plummets.
A HIGHER STANDARD
Although GPS trackers have been around for some time, advances in the technology allows for more real-time tracking and simplified reporting. This allows dispatchers to assign the closest vehicle to a job, which expedites the service work or delivery and saves gas, labor, and vehicle wear-and-tear. It also allows historical routing analysis, which enables even greater routing efficiencies to be determined on an individual or fleet-wide basis.
However, the greatest improvements in fleet management occur when GPS tracking devices are used to hold drivers to a clear, unbiased standard to encourage better performance for the company and themselves.
As an example, when Reilly Construction & Development implemented its first GPS tracking system last year, the Vero Beach, Florida–based residential and commercial construction company benefited from significant productivity gains and operational efficiencies.
Compared with typical GPS tracking devices that may only update every few minutes, the new device provides real-time location updates every 10 seconds, as well as location, speed, and idle time alerts, if something is amiss. This data is transmitted via satellite and cellular networks to a smartphone or PC on a 24/7 basis.
“Now we know exactly where our vehicles and drivers are in real time,” says Sharon Arnold, office and assistant project manager at Reilly Construction & Development. “We can spot check our drivers to make sure they are where they are supposed to be and not at unauthorized places because some people will take advantage. That has saved us a few thousand dollars in salary alone. The system more than pays for itself in enhanced productivity.”
On the plus side for employees, the use of such GPS tracking systems helps verify on-time arrival at customer sites. And, automated reporting, such as that provided by the new system, can virtually eliminate the reporting burden for employee and employer in regard to driving logs. Automated exception reporting can also flag potential issues that need to be corrected, such as excess vehicle mileage or idling.
Once drivers and the work crew know they are accountable for their actions, it is amazing how much more they will accomplish. Using such an approach with advanced GPS tracking commonly improves productivity 10-20 percent while reducing fuel costs 10-15 percent, as drivers start to pay attention to their driving and work habits throughout the day.
About the author
Ben VanAvery is director of sales and marketing, a 12-year professional at Advanced Tracking Technologies, a Houston, Texas-based designer and manufacturer of GPS tracking products, including the Shadow Tracker Vision III. For more, visit www.advantrack.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, December 2019
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