Recently a prospective customer called looking for help with their fleet management system. The customer, a newly appointed CFO, is paying $55k per year for an expensive system with live AVL tracking that covers on 60% of his fleet. The incumbent supplier was pushing for him to up his investment to 100% coverage and the CFO couldn’t identify $55k worth of value that the system gave his company. Unsurprisingly, the CFO was unwilling to invest more and is looking for ways to get the same features for less cost.
Unfortunately for many CFOs and fleet owners selecting the right fleet management system for their business can be a time-consuming and confusing task. Not only is there an abundance of suppliers you also have to wade through a lot of different technology options too!
Be clear on your business objectives and your budget
Before you start your search you need to be very clear on your business requirements. Are you looking for an easier way to manage fleet maintenance or are you looking for more advanced fleet tracking features like automated vehicle location (AVL) tracking and dispatch management? Do you need driver behavior monitoring? Fuel receipt tracking? Make a list of what you require.
Don’t forget to include your budget limitations as well. Knowing what you’re willing or able to pay will help to winnow out useless features.
Prioritize the fleet management features you need
Once you’ve made your list you can think about prioritizing these requirements. Make sure that you identify the top 3 to 5 features that you need to have to make your investment in a fleet management system successful. Don’t overlook basic but important operational requirements like:
- automated vehicle data collection vs manual odometer entry systems
- vehicle maintenance scheduling
- remote vehicle diagnotics – OBD2 or J1939
- driver behavior monitoring
- fuel management
- exportability of system data to new applications
What are your technology options?
Once you have fleshed out these requirements you can start a review of your fleet maintenance system hardware technology options. The good news is that you’ll have many choices. Unfortunately, the bad news is that you’ll have many choices. Sorting through your choices will be much easier if you’ve made that list. As you evaluate the technology options think creatively about how to solve your particular problems. It may be that there are process improvements that will generate the same improvements without significant investments.
Interview lots of fleet management system suppliers
You can learn alot about what you need through a thorough interview of prospective suppliers. Don’t hestitate to ask for demos of fleet management systems. Look for systems across the entire solutions area so you get a good review of the different ways that supplier’s systems will meet your needs. You might find that smaller fleet management systems meet your budget and feature requirements better than the unwieldy fleet management systems offered by wireless carriers.
Identify hidden costs
When you’ve narrowed down your search you can then identify all the costs for the systems. How much of your monthly fees are hidden hardware costs? Are cellular fees too high? What about installation and support? These hidden fees, as our CFO prospect was quick to point out, start devouring your annual fleet management budgets before the ink is even dried.
Smart driving assistants and OBD2 vehicle monitors are becoming fashionable as consumer automotive accessories with more and more OBD2 vehicle monitors being outfitted with smartphone apps to help you track and manage your car. As a tool these devices can really help consumers with the basics of car maintenance management and decoding engine DTC error codes.
Any tool that helps consumers learn more about how their personal driving habits affect fuel economy, green house gas emissions, their own saftey and the safety of their passengers while they drive is worth using. We’re supportive of any thing that makes our highways safer and greener.
Smart driving assistants for Fleets
If you believe the hype, you’d think that OBD2 smart driving assistants were brand new inventions. The reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. Fleet management systems have been doing this for almost a decade. There is alot of experience in the market to help fleet owners implement a fleet management system that allows easy monitoring of driver behavior to chart the impacts of that behvaior on vehicle fleet performance and costs.
All this goodness is now slowly migrating to the consumer automotive products and individual car owners.
OBD2 driver safety monitoring improves safety performance
Today, easy-install plug-in wireless OBD2 montors are actively involved in managing driver safety in thousands of fleets. These monitors track driver safety performance parameters like speeding, hard braking, rapid accelerations and other parameters that allow a fleet manager to build up a profile on the safety consciousness of their drivers.
Safer drivers are involved in fewer accidents and since 3 million workdays are lost every year . All told these smart driving devices can really help busineses reduce their fleet operating expenses, repair expenses and insurance liability claims by reducing accidents caused by unsafe driving.
OBD2 driver behavior monitoring reduces fuel costs
In addition to driver safety issues, OBD2 fleet vehicle monitors driver behavior tracking features report on other driver behaviors and impacts as well. With fuel costs being the single largest expense in the fleet managers budget adding some measure of control over the way driver behavior affects fuel use is important.
OBD-2 vehicle monitors identify vehicle idling times and show the amount of fuel being wasted during every trip. This data can be used to chart idling times per trip, per day or any time period you want to track. Once you know how much fuel you waste idling your vehicle you’ll start seeking ways to modify that behavior to save cash.
Many companies are moving towards policies that seek to reduce their greehouse gas emissions and driver behavior monitors can help do that by reducing engine idle times and driving at inefficient speeds.
OBD2 engine diagnostics extends vehicle life
Driver monitoring is only one facet of what these devices can do. In fact they were originally designed in the late 1990s to track the performance of a vehicle’s engine and more specifically the vehicle’s emissions systems health. As part of that they were tasked to capture diagnostic trouble code DTCs to make it easier for mechanics to diagnose engine problems.
Today all this information is easily captured, decoded and displayed to fleet owners and consumers so you can tell what is wrong with your vehicle, These devices capture the causes of check engine light errors and decode them,
Not all OBD2 monitors are created equal
How do you decide which OBD2 device and smart driving assistant meets your needs? With so many options to choose from it can be difficult. Amazon.com is full of cheap OBD2 devices and many of them may meet your requirements. Like any tech product the more data you need and the more reliable you need that data to be the more you’re gonna have to pay for it.
Fleet managers need many more options and capabilitites in the OBD2 monitors than regular consumers do. For many consumers all you need is a cheap Bluetooh device and a slick iPhone app. Fleet managers will want integration into a professional fleet management software application or at a minimum a fleet maintenance software program to capture and analyze all the data and keep accurate historical records.
Some fleet management software providers, like Fleet Genius, offer consumers access to their onlne fleet maintenance software for tracking, scheduling and monitoring a couple of vehicles for free or for a low fee.
You’ll have to decide for yourself which smart driving assistant will work best for you. Please let me know what you think!
Nothing is more frightening to vehicle owners than the appearance of the dreaded check engine light. It is especially scary if you’re like many vehicle fleet owners who are less than rigorous about staying up-to-date on vehicle maintenance schedules. The appearance of this simple little light creates panic when its noticed. More frightening is the fact that many fleet vehicle drivers fail to report this light when they come back to the office. So that’s really two problems to contend with: decoding the meaning of the check engine light and getting staff members to report it.
Let’s take on solving these issues one at a time. Decoding the reason behind the red check engine light on your vehicle’s dashboard is pretty straighforward. Your vehicle’s on-board computer, known as the engine control unit (ECU), reports engine diagnostic trouble codes DTCs to any device that hooks up to the vehicle’s diagnostic port and requests it. These devices are called OBD-2 scanners. They use the OBD-2 standard to report these errors and you have a few choices when selecting the appropriate tool to meet your needs.
OBD-2 scanners run the gamut from really basic scan tools to sophiticated computers, owned mostly by experienced mechanics, that can diagnose and sometimes recommend a course of action to repair the problem. Most of these tools are not monitors that stay in the vehicle all the time. Rather they are designed to deal with trouble shooting. On the low end some of them are pretty cheap to purchase. They can really help out when you don’t want to pay to bring your vehicle to the mechanic for a decode.
On the continuum between cheap low-end scanners and big computer diagnostic systems are powerful and affordable monitors. These tools stay in the vehicle all the time and monitor the operations of the vehicle for you. They track the codes that can indicate why your vehicle’s check engine light is shining red. These monitors offer a significant advantage over the scanners because they not only decode the check engine light problems after they occur but often track DTC error codes when they happen.
Some of these only track DTC error codes when the check engine light indicator is on. The best one’s track all DTCs reported by the system regardless of the status if the check engine light. In fact, many times a vehicle’s on-board computer will have a list of DTC error codes and it won’t light the check engine lamp. These silent DTC codes may point to an early problem that may mature into a check engine light malfunction indicator. It is always best to catch these early.
OBD-ii Monitors and Fleet Management
The problem with some OBD-2 monitors is that many of them require someone to go out to the vehicle to collect the data. That’s not so difficult if you have only a few vehicles but when you start climbing to fleet sizes of 10 or more vehicles you’re creating an administrative hassle for someone.
The absolute best of these OBD-2 monitors automate the sending of diagnostic trouble codes to a server either on your site or, even better, somewhere in the cloud. These OBD-ii monitors which connect to fleet maintenancesoftware offer the best method of collecting and notifying fleet owners and fleet managers that there are problems that need to be addressed. Fleet management systems can offer remote access into these error codes making it easier to share information within your organization and with outside service teams. Check out this example of a fleet maintenance software connected monitor.
What is even better about these fleet management supporting monitors is that they also track intermittent DTCs – the ones that flash up for a few seconds and then disappear. You can be sure they won’t disappear for long though, like the Terminator they’ll be back, and capturing these intermittent DTCs could make the difference between catching a problem early and resolving it inexpensively or investing in a new engine for your vehicle which is never an inexpensive proposition.
Solving Non Reporting
By now you’ve already figured out that if you invest in a good quality OBD-2 monitor that connects to a reliable fleet maintenance software application you’ve solved your reporting problem. You’ve removed human error from the chain, streamlined check engine light reporting and protected your valuable investment in fleet vehicles.
If you haven’t settled on the right method to manage your vehicle diagnostic problems its time to spend a little time getting to grips. Each of these methods is better than doing nothing and you might save a bundle on vehicle repairs.
A couple years ago our company had a big decision to make. We had a good and reliable supplier in China who made our OBD2 fleet management hardware used in enterprise fleet management software but managing this supplier was getting pretty complex. Every time we made an adjustment it required lots of communication and because of the time differences between the US east coast and China these communications dragged out far longer than they should have. Mistakes were easy to make and signals got crossed more than once resulting in frustrating delays and expensive errors.
We found it difficult to manage production from so far away. Getting new manufacturing samples seemed to take ages and turning things around added more than a week to our schedules. We had heard rumors of other manufacturers bring production back to North America and so we made the decision to move manufacturing back to the states.
We successfully found a couple of factories that could support our requirements and they didn’t cost any more than our China factory. So factoring in the costs of shipping, travel and midnight conference calls we actually are ahead of the cost curve with our US partners. We were especially fortunate because we were able to locate one manufacturing partner within a 2 hour drive of our offices.
Better control over product quality
The quality of our product improved with the shift to US manufacturing. Today, it is much easier for us to visit the factory and do end-of-line quality testing for our products now than when we were in China. As a result we have much more face-to-face interactions with our manufacturing team. That has resulted in improved quality off the production line and has fostered excellent collaboration which has helped us improve our hardware designs.
More affordable pricing with lower travel costs
We were surprised that we could find comparable pricing at factories so close to home, but the relative parity in COGS didn’t highlight the savings in other areas including shipping, duties and travel. Managing an overseas factory can be very expensive especially when you’re not able to spread these costs over very large orders.
Just in time manufacturing improves cash flow
Another benefit we enjoy from going local is our ability to implement a just-in-time manufacturing strategy. We have tighter control over our manufacturing runs and we’re able to respond more quickly to customer demand with our local factory. This means we have less inventory on hand which improves our cash management.
Local manufacturing makes you stronger
Overall we’re happy with our decision to relocate our electronics production back to US shores. It took a lot of work to find the right manufacturing partners, but now that we have them in place they have really strengthened our business. Our suppliers are more consultative and they have helped us in ways we could never have imagined.
We’re glad that we’ve made the move back to the USA and we’re proud that we are one of the only fleet management system providers who still design, develop and manufacture their own hardware and build their own software right here in North America. We’re part of a small (and shrinking) collection of OBD-2 and telematics fleet management and vehicle maintenance systems suppliers who can say that our products are made in the USA.
Now that we’ve grown and measure our customer base in the thousands and help those customers track their fleets in millions of miles driven being a made in the USA company means more than ever. If you’re interested in learning from our experience we’d be happy to share. Get in touch!
If your business is like many businesses you’ve already made an investment of time and money in a computerized maintenance management software CMMS application to help you manage your fleet vehicles. If it’s a manual entry system you probably also have wondered how you can improve the accuracy of your data. Automating the collection and entry of vehicle mileage and other useful vehicle information improves accuracy immediately and it doesn’t mean that you have to throw out your existing system.
The frustrations with manual entry vehicle maintenance systems can impact its effectiveness as a management tool for your business not to mention the impact it can have on your bottom line if it isn’t helping you avoid vehicle downtime due to unscheduled repairs.
The GIGO rule
The importance of importing accurate data into your vehicle cmms application cannot be overstated. If your drivers are supplying you with inaccurate odometer readings your maintenance system will never operate properly. An odometer reading with a transposed number in the wrong place can knock your maintenance service schedules off by thousands or tens of thousands of miles. This has the knock on effect you’re your maintenance alerts will be off and could eventually result in catastrophic engine failure if not detected. Hence, the garbage in – garbage out GIGO rule.
Save money and time on data entry
How much time do you or your team waste trying to collect updated odometer and mileage information? If you’re like most businesses this thankless task never ends and is a real frustration and fleets ten or more vehicles might spend alot of time on this. On top of that when you’ve finally collected the data you may still only have 50/50 confidence in its accuracy. So you’ve spent time and money and the results aren’t always correct. You have to ask yourself if you could use that time spent chasing down odometer readings for more productive purposes.
Odometer readings alone don’t provide much information
After all that work collecting odometer readings you’re often still left with not enough information to do a great job managing your fleet. Odometer readings tell you how far a vehicle has travelled during your collection period but it doesn’t share information on daily utilization, warnings that the engine sends out about performance or service problems or even how well your drivers treat these business critical assets. All of these can be very useful in the management of your vehicle’s maintenance or providing you with guidance about when to replace a vehicle.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater
In the end you don’t have to replace your existing cmms vehicle maintenance system if all you need to do is automate data collection to improve its accuracy. You can integrate wireless OBD-2 vehicle monitors to do the work for you. High quality enterprise grade OBD 2 software vehicle monitors will collect data on your vehicle’s mileage and export that into your existing software. They’ll also provide additional valuable data you can use for managing maintenance like vehicle running time, average speed, DTCs (diagnostic trouble codes) and other performance related data. Learn more about OBD2 here.
Improve your business bottom line
Improving your vehicle maintenance can absolutely improve your bottom line by reducing or eliminating downtime, performing better preventive maintenance saves by avoiding more expensive failure driven maintenance and a smoothly operating fleet can allow you to serve more customers.
Upgrade your existing tools with automated maintenance management support from OBD-2 vehicle monitors. The upgrade process is plug-and-play and easy to implement. OBD-2 monitors are the most affordable option available and they don’t break business budgets the way that GPS and AVL systems can.
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) companies are implementing cloud hosted fleet management and vehicle maintenance software at an increaing rate. This is happening because the technology has evolved to a point where it provides indispensable business management intelligence on top of keeping the fleet running.
The introduction of OBD-2 diagnostics fleet management and the rapid adoption of cloud hosted fleet management applications has improved the fleet maintenance and work force management solutions available to HVAC businesses far beyond legacy GPS fleet monitoring. It has made these plug-and-play systems easier to implement so customers can start experiencing the benefits of their investments right away. These benefits improve a company’s bottom line through improvements to the way an HVAC business manages its assets and mobile workforce.
OBD-2 Fleet Monitors Help Reduce HVAC Fleet Fuel Costs
One of the top concerns for HVAC business owners and their fleet managers are the unpredictable and increasingly expensive monthly fuel bills. OBD-2 fleet tracking systems can dramatically reduce the cost of an HVAC company’s monthly fuel expenses.
Reduce speeding and vehicle idle time: OBD-2 vehicle trackers monitor fleet vehicles every second that the vehicle is running and record engine information on vehicle speeds. This permits the fleet management software to capture and identify speeding events as they occur and send automated alerts to the system dashboard and daily email alerts to management and drivers. This in turn helps fleet managers identify and address the chronic driver behaviors that reduce a fleet’s fuel efficiency and drive up fuel costs.
Eliminate unauthorized HVAC vehicle usage: It is not uncommon for mobile workers to use company vehicles to run personal errands between jobs or work side jobs during business hours. In fact, it is often seen as a job perk. In businesses where employees are allowed to take their vehicles home at the end of the day off hour usage could add up to a significant expense. OBD-2 vehicle monitors aid in the identification and elimination of unauthorized usage of your vehicles during the day and during the off hours and weekends to help reduce the fuel costs associated with that usage.
Track fuel receipts: Monitoring fuel purchases through monitoring of fuel receipts and fuel card transactions identifies the most fuel efficient vehicles in the fleet so that you can balance the use of the most efficient vehicles against the least efficient vehicles. Inputting fuel purchase records can also help identify instances of fuel fraud through highlighting of purchases that are too frequent for a particular vehicle or don’t match up with vehicle usage dates and times.
OBD-2 Fleet Monitors Improve Vehicle Maintenance
Preventive maintenance scheduling: So many businesses including HVAC companies manage theirvehicle maintenance using a manual processes. This involves chasing drivers for odometer readings or checking them on a regular basis, entering maintenance history and schedules in paper log books or spreadsheets. These manual systems, outside of being extremely labor intensive, are prone to errors. Cloud hosted fleet maintenance software improves the accuracy of manual maintenance management and when combined with OBD-2 fleet monitors in the fleet’s vehicles automates preventive maintenance tracking and scheduling. This migration to an automated maintenance software system also frees up valuable administration time that could be better used prospecting for more sales.
Diagnostics decoding: A critical tool in improving an HVAC fleet’s performance is the ability to track and report on vehicle diagnostic systems. OBD-2 fleet monitors communicate with a vehicle’s engine and capture engine trouble codes (DTC) even if they aren’t indicated on the vehicle dashboard. OBD-2 monitors also indicate when the malfunction indicator lamp (red engine light) is lighted and can capture hard to track intermittent diagnostic errors that get reported as a vehicle starts to experience early performance problems. Catching these problems as they surface is the key to keeping your fleet running and reducing the costs of fleet vehicle repairs.
Diagnostic reporting requires OBD-2 capable tracking systems and when you estimate the costs associated with engine failure it is really true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. After all, vehicle downtime isn’t just measured in repair costs it is also measured in revenue opportunity lost.
Automated maintenance alerts and reminders: Any worthwhile fleet maintenance software system will integrate these preventive maintenance and diagnostic tools into a robust communication system that sends reminders as preventive maintenance servicing is about to come due. It should also send alerts for error conditions which gives the HVAC owner the piece of mind to know that their fleet is alerting busy staff members about issues before they occur. This saves time and money for the HVAC business owner and directly improves the bottom line.
OBD-2 fleet monitors track use and utilization
Fleet utilization management: understanding the usage patterns of an HVAC fleet can help fleet owners and managers better utilization their assets to improve revenues. Without the type of trip tracking performed by OBD-2 fleet monitors it is difficult to capture this information but with OBD-2 trackers fleet managers can view utilization and customer visits easily on the smartphone or desktop. Better use of a business fleet vehicles improves the bottom line by ensuring that every vehicle and driver contributes to deliver the revenue goals of the business.
Increasing numbers of service companies like HVAC companies are upgrading to OBD-2 vehicle tracking systems instead of GPS fleet tracking solutions systems to help manage their mobile workforce and vehicle assets better. These new and innovative OBD-2 fleet management systems are often more valuable vehicle performance information and are cheaper to operate than traditional GPS fleet management and offer monthly subscriptions for as little as $8/month.
In addition, these systems offer significant competitive advantage to an HVAC business by automating management and planning of the service fleet, reducing monthly fleet expenses and helping to keep your fleet on the road generating revenues. Stay competitive with an OBD-2 fleet management system that pays for itself and improves your bottom line!
Extending the life of your fleet vehicles is one of the simplest ways to save on the costs of running your business fleet. While no one would argue with that principle, all too often the day-to-day demands on many businesses means that necessary maintenance gets rescheduled beyond recommended service intervals. This impacts the longevity of fleet vehicles and can even negatively impact vehicle resale value. These five simple steps should help you keep your fleet running longer and let you keep more of our profits!
The bane of every fleet owner is the maintenance and upkeep of the fleet vehicles. Remembering to keep track of when service is due on fleet vehicles can be complicated and the larger the fleet the more complex the task of monitoring their maintenance becomes. Skipping regular maintenance on your vehicles may impact your business due to vehicle downtime but it may also reduce the useful lifetime of those vehicles.
Never skip regular engine oil and filter replacements
This should go without saying but so many organizations push these to the last possible minute. Implement maintenance system software to remind you of upcoming oil changes so that you can schedule your business requirements around these critical service points.
Keep your tires aligned and balanced
Properly aligned wheels and balanced makes tires makes them last longer. It is a good idea to rotate tires every 10,000 miles or so to preserve them. If your vehicles frequently drive at high speeds this should be done even sooner. You can track critical mileage maintenance thresholds with OBD2 vehicle monitors.
Be conscientious about scheduled preventive maintenance
Preventive maintenance is a critical part of keeping your vehicles running for hundred’s of thousands of miles. Pay careful attention to the basics as we’ve already discussed but be sure to observe the service intervals on all the components of your vehicle that the manufacturer recommends. Skipping these, while expedient in the short term, could have the long term effect of a premature retirement for your vehicles. If keeping track of these service intervals is difficult, sign-up for a cloud hosted fleet maintenance management system so that you don’t miss these critical maintenance tasks.
Wash and wax your cars regularly
Prevent rust and damage from ruining your vehicles by maintaining the exteriior as well as you maintain the mechanical parts. Repairing paint chips and dents as soon as they appear. Make sure your vehicles are washed and waxed regularly and having undercoating applied based on driving conditions will also help keep your vehicle looking great. Another benefit is that it may also impress your customers.
Check engine diagnostics
While following your internal and external maintenance routines is important you should also track engine diagnostics so that you can catch problems while they’re still small and manageable. You can run engine diagnostics in your garage using any number of handy OBD-2 scan tools or be more thorough with 24×7 monitoring and reporting of engine diagnostics using wireless OBD-2 vehicle monitors. They’re small investments but they will pay for themselves over time with the money you save avoiding catastrophic engine failure.
In the end there is no foolproof prescription that guarantees to extend fleet vehicle life but certainly avoiding these five easy steps will guarantee that you will be buying new vehicles for your fleet sooner than you have to.
Fleet vehicle driver safety is a critical concern for fleet owners and fleet managers. According to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NEST) the economic cost for businesses due to accidents is $60 billion resulting in the loss of 3 million workdays. Clearly the financial impacts on small and medium business can take its toll. Are you protecting your business from accidental damage and unsafe drivers? Are you anble to track unsafe employee driver behaviors?
How can businesses track employee driver behavior to protect themselves better against accidents, liability and the rising costs of litigation caused by driver errors? While there is no fool-proof method there are affordable measures that fleet managers can take to protect their employees, vehicles and ultimately their businesses.
Create clear policies
Start by creating a clear set of of fleet driver safety policies for your drivers to follow. Describe in detail the benefits of safe driving. Don’t forget to provide clear rewards to benefit good drivers or to describe disciplinary procedures for repeated violations of the policy.
Set boundaries for the use of company vehicles and be sure to cover how permitted personal use of vehicles is conducted. Set rules on speeding and tailgating. Require full stops at stop lights. These common sense rules among others will help you protect your employees and your vehicles. With negligence claims for driver errors against businesses on the rise and with those claims often reaching $1m or more protecting your business against unsafe driving is critical to protect the long term viability of your business.
Monitor driver behavior
Once you have instituted a policy the number one way of protecting your employees and business is to monitor the behaviors of your drivers. Fleet monitoring can be used to identify some of the most common causes for accidents and injuries like:
- hard braking
- rapid acceleration
Monitoring driver safety behavior requires reliable monitoring technology. OBD2 fleet vehicle monitors with data logging provide a comprehensive and affordable tool to help track driver behavior. Because OBD-2 monitors operate during every trip you’ll be able to capture the details of every trip including speeding and other dangerous behaviors. Another benefit is that OBD-2 vehicle monitors and software can be up to 50% less expensive than GPS fleet management systems and offer all the same quality and benefits.
Track utilization by driver
Trip tracking by driver allows you to see when your drivers are using vehicles. In addition to speeding information it can track start and stop times for trips and trip duration so you can see when vehicles have been used by individual drivers. OBD2 fleet vehicle monitor trip trackers also allow you to monitor hours of use as well as total driving times for your drivers. All of this information is crucial to understanding your drivers safety record. These OBD2 fleet monitors can monitor your fleet drivers.
Analyze historical employee driving behavior
Not every hard braking or speeding event is indicative of unsafe driver behavior; that’s why you need to track every employee’s driving history. Over time you’ll notice differences in your driver’s safety profiles. Some will speed more than others, some have many more hard braking events and rapid accelerations. Use this information to take remedial action. Sometimes all it takes is a little driver education to correct unsafe behaviors.
Chances are if an employee is unwilling to moderate their on-the-job driving behaviors you’re already having other problems with them too.
An ounce of prevention ….
With the rising costs of litigation and uncertainty over legal outcomes having the ability to prove that you’ve done everything you could do to manage your fleet, protect your employees and protect your customers is important. Monitoring employee driver behaviors may protect you from unforseen accidents and litigation in the future.
One of the most frustrating and costly problems that vehicle fleet owners face is odometer dyslexia.
Defined as the inability of a driver to correctly record and report their vehicle’s odometer reading – this costly scourge of fleet managers runs rampant across the globe. The good news is that the condition is easy to remedy and doesn’t require any specialist care. Easy-to-install OBD2 vehicle monitors correct the problem within minutes and can save you money on your fleet’s management in the long term.
Installing a system that automatically tracks vehicle mileage has some some obvious benefits. It frees up your staff from the task of chasing drivers to collect odometer readings enabbling them to focus on projects that improve revenue generation. It also improves odometer accuracy and collection frequency so you always have correct information.
Outside of the benefit of assisting your staff members who are tasked with collecting accurate odometer readings and making their jobs easier and improving collection frequency implementing OBD-2 vehicle monitors can mitigate the negative impacts of odometer dyslexia transpositions, These costly negative impacts include:
- Missed preventive maintenance
- Inability to accurately invoice customers for mileage and travel time
- Inaccurate fuel economy calculations
- Undetected fuel theft
- Mileage expense report padding
Implementing smart technology solutions like OBD2 fleet vehicle monitors simplifies the collection of important business data and saves you money too.
Always connected monitoring
OBD-2 fleet monitors are always connected to your vehicle’s computer and record the mileage of your vehicle every second of every trip. These fleet monitors are different than the diagnostic OBD-2 tools designed for periodic troubleshooting. Fleet grade OBD-2 monitors stay plugged in 24×7. These monitors track trips and many other vehicle parameters and record accurate time and date stamps. This information can be tied back to your other systems that use vehicle mileage readings ensuring an accurate accounting of miles driven. Read more about OBD2 fleet vehicle monitors.
Fleet grade OBD-2 devices often permit the export of this valuable trip data to other applications. This means you can update your existing management software with real-time information collected by these OBD-2 vehicle monitors. Implementing an OBD-2 mileage tracking system which supports the ability to share the data with other applications also means you don’t have to replace your existing systems – you can add on these systems easily.
Go wireless by avoid cellular contracts
Not every OBD-2 device comes with wireless update capability. Having to unplug these devices or plug in a USB cable adds a level of complexity to these systems that misses the point of automating this process. The good news is that there are plenty of systems that offer wireless connectivity but if you want to stay cost-effective you’ll want to look at systems that don’t require cellular contracts. Find one that uses local wireless like Bluetooth, WiFi or Zigbee wireless standards.
Works with fuel card systems
It is easy to think you’ve solved the odometer dyslexia problem if you use fuel cards, but experience shows that odometer dyslexia is prevalent in fuel card reporting. Employees routinely transpose digits or deliberately change odometer readings to hide fuel theft or other dishonest activities. OBD-2 mileage tracking supports your fuel card data and makes the information more accurate.
Solving the odometer dyslexia problem is easy and affordable with OBD-2 fleet monitors and if you choose the right system they can be integrated into your existing systems without disruption. These systems will save you time and money helping you to manage your vehicle assets more reliably.
As businesses work to improve their bottom lines they often overlook beneficial programs that are right under their noses. Many businesses can reduce their vehicle fleet insurance premiums by as much as 15% by implementing OBD-2 fleet management telematics systems that track vehicle utilization and driver performance. While not exactly the same as usage based insurance UBI offerings from companies like Progressive Insurance the financial return for any business can be even more impactful than the consumer savings.
Before you even consider implementation you’ll need to check with your insurance company to determine if they offer a premium reduction program for the implementation of a telematics system. If they don’t, you should start shopping for one that does.
Insurance companies will offer these benefits to nearly any business that complies with their program requirements. All businesses potentially qualify including small businesses like HVAC, contractors, landscapers, lawn care and other service companies.
You don’t need an expensive GPS tracking solution to reap these insurance benefits. Many insurance companies are already familiar with OBD-2 telematics systems in their UBI programs. Progressive’s Snapshot is a well-known OBD-2 vehicle monitors product used to develop usage and driver profiles on consumer vehicles.
OBD-2 fleet management monitors are already in use in many enterprises to manage fleet maintenance and driver behavior. It is an easy step to use the same system to claw back savings from your insurance company.
Prove your fleet’s utilization patterns
Absent real management data an insurer makes assumptions about your fleets usage. Sometimes that is helpful and sometimes if is harmful to the premium calculations that they make. The ability to document vehicle use on a daily, monthly and anuual basis helps an insurer develop a better risk profile for your business.
Good OBD-2 vehicle monitors will implement a data logging function that tracks and documents a vehicle’s utilization patterns. It should track individual trips to provide the average working hours of a fleet vehicle. Insurance companies will charge more for fleets that have significant overnight driving hours.
Tamper proof data collection
Make sure the system you select is tamper proof. Your insurance company will require this. While it you can’t permanently install an OBD-2 telematics device in your vehicle it is possible for the system to track tampering events and removals which alert the system to attempts to use a vehicle to avoid detection. Even GPS devices installed under the hood can be tampered with so make sure that you choose one of those that reports any efforts to disable it.
The data that gets collected from the OBD-2 devices must also be secure and tamper proof. This means that your OBD-2 fleet management system must support storage of the primary usage information in a secure location – preferably the cloud where the business and its employees can’t delete or manipulate the data.
Monitor the performance of your drivers
A common qualification requirement is that you implement a company policy on the use and driving rules for your fleet vehicles. Set clear rules and identify the steps that will be taken to test adherence to those rules. Once the rules are in place you may need to implement a management review of vehicle and driver profiles to guarantee adherence. Your insurance company may require that you file this document as part of your program eligibility requirements and may have templates for you to use to build your own.
Some of the issues you’ll need to think about include:
- vehicle and driver operating hours
- speeding rules
- distracted driving rules
- safe driving rules
Remediate any issues
Of course, once you identify any problems you’ll need to document how you solved them. Insurers want to be sure that you are paying attention to the types of behaviors and usage that increase your risks and that you’re actively involved in remediation efforts when they’re required.
OBD-2 fleet management benefits
There are many additional benefits that accrue to businesses that implement OBD-2 telematics. Reducing insurane premiums is a great benefit that can help a company afford to implement a telematics based fleet management system so that they can enjoy the additional benefits that come from better fleet maintenance, driver performance monitoring, fuel use and fuel economy analysis and more.
The good news is that these systems don’t have to cost you a lot for you to start reaping the rewards.