Over the past decade, fleet tracking solutions have been helping fleet managers with many operational aspects of their business. As the demand has grown for GPS-based fleet tracking solutions, so has the number of businesses supplying them. The need to have a clear process for evaluation and selection for your fleet is imperative. There are hundreds of similar vendors. Asking the right questions and looking for the characteristics that match your specific needs are crucial to making the selection that will pay off. To help you along this process, we have created this list of nine critical questions that you should be asking every fleet tracking vendor, along with key solution characteristics that can help you to select one that makes your fleet more efficient, competitive and profitable.
Most fleet tracking solution vendors do not manufacture their own devices. It is important to understand how devices perform in terms of interaction with vehicle systems and battery drain. Device manufacturers range in features and benefits as well. Asking about product updates can give you insight to the innovation of the company and how it will grow and your needs change.
You also want to know if the vendor does a bench-test on each device before they ship it to a customer. Should a device fail, what does the vendor do? Do they make sure that returns and replacements are easy and fast for the customer?
If the hardware is to be plugged into the OBDII port, you can install it yourself. It is plug-and-play. OBDII solutions can be used in vehicles made in 1996 or later. If your fleet has vehicles older than 1996, or large trucks that lack an OBDII port, an installed solution is usually required. A trained professional is needed to install hardware for some vendors. In such cases, you also need to consider the operational impact of taking portions of your fleet out of service for device installation. Most installs can be completed in roughly an hour. Depending on the size of your fleet, completing installation on all vehicles may take just a day, or could require a complex project plan over weeks or months. OBDII hardware solutions are much simpler to install—you simply locate the port in each vehicle and insert the device yourself, which powers on and activates automatically. Since this takes just a few minutes per vehicle, there’s little or no disruption to operations. The best OBDII hardware solutions also provide adapters and harnesses that let you wire an OBDII device to the vehicle battery, or connect through the JBUS. Adapters can also alleviate issues with the device being removed by drivers.
As you are calculating the total cost of your fleet tracking solution, make sure to include the following:
There are a lot of vehicle tracking products on the market, and many of them focus only on track and trace and related functions like geo fencing and location-driven alerts. For some organizations, this insight is enough. T oday’s latest fleet tracking solutions go much further, helping you find much more in the way of savings, operational efficiencies, risk reduction and worker safety and satisfaction. Here are just some of the other capabilities that you can look for:
Improved fleet performance can lead to recognition and rewards for the fleet drivers. The way the tracking solution is implemented can offer scope for drivers to modify their driving behavior and improve driver score . Drivers need to understand the short-term and long-term gains they can achieve so they do not form the impression that it is purely a fault detection system or mainly for control and punishment. At Azuga, our approach is more about ‘Good job!’ rather than ‘Gotcha’.
With the introduction of dual-facing safety cameras you can capture road events as well as driver behavior. It shows you a clear picture of what is happening on the road when it matters most. While you can use it in road-facing mode only, the dual- facing camera gives you an in-cab view in addition to the 155 degree road view in 1080 HD. It records over fifty hours in HD and much longer at lower resolutions. Ideally, the dashcam will record video to an on-board SD card, and upload a clip to the server only when triggered by a risky driving event.
A fleet manager can view an event within seconds to gain a proper understanding of why the driver braked hard or accelerated suddenly. Coaching can be given to the driver that will improve their safety score, reduce business risk, and potentially lower insurance premiums.
The best deployments of fleet tracking solutions are those where owners and managers are transparent about how the data from the solution will be used. It can be used to encourage and recognize workers “doing it right” as well as identifying workers needing coaching.
The fleet management suite can include learner-friendly courseware that helps your fleet drivers achieve advanced skills for vehicle control, improve visual competencies related to hazard perception, and reduce risk-taking through objective self-assessment. Azuga Coach offers brief learning modules that can provide practical solutions for a variety of types of behaviors . The training content is targeted based on the driver’s safety score and what areas need the most improvement.
Once you understand the capabilities of the fleet tracking solution and ask for copies of reports that show you this.
Some vendors have a few sets of reports, some have dozens. Some are easy to read, some are incomprehensible. Some put all of the data you want in several reports rather than one.
When you look at a vendor’s reports, ask yourself if you will l feel comfortable handing them over to your boss to review as is, or whether you will be spending hours in Excel recreating them.
The better vendors have a variety of smart reports and make it easy for you to get a custom report that displays the data you want the way you want it. Look for these capabilities:
In the past few years, starting up a vehicle tracking business has become easier with widely available mapping data, web development tools, hosted web services and GPS tracking hardware. If you’re going to be depending on your fleet tracking system for operational efficiencies, cost savings and risk reduction, then reliability matters. Look for these characteristics in any vendor:
The data coming from any fleet tracking solution you select should belong to you (not the vendor). If you are like most, the security of the data should be very important. Here are a few things to look for:
Check if the fleet tracking vendors you are considering have been upgrading their offering, and have an integrated approach where the data from the vehicle is to be applied for a number of contexts – getting you deals on vehicle parts, maintenance alerts, road usage, and insurance. Actual customer successes and improvements in fleet safety score can demonstrate that the solution’s characteristics have driver acceptance and boost the fleet’s productivity.
Better fleet tracking solutions on the market make it easy for owners and managers to get workers engaged and interested in making improvements through social tools, gamification and rewards.The tracking solutions today can deliver gains in safety, cost reductions, and improved customer satisfaction. When you are ready to have the conversation, do not hesitate to ask the tough questions and keep your expectations high. A long term solution is one that can grow with needs of your business and demand of the industry.