Return on Investment Series: Article 1

Telematics & GPS Return on Investment

return-on-investment

Return on investment (ROI) is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment, or to compare different investments. ROI measures the amount of return on an investment relative to the investment. To calculate ROI, the benefit (or return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment, and the result is expressed as a percentage.

The telematics industry has come a long way since the days of downloading data when a vehicle returns to home base and providing dots on a map. Today, telematics can provide fleet managers instant reports on location, vehicle driving behavior, maintenance alerts and so much more, thus providing a significant ROI.

 

 

5 Pillars of Fleet Management for Return on Investment

 

Safety – Speeding, harsh driving behavior, reverse, seatbelt, accident reduction
Productivity – Stop duration, dispatch, route efficiency, sales/service calls, timely service
Optimization – Proactive maintenance, odometer readings, vehicle health, fuel consumption
Compliance – Company policies, State/Federal laws, HOS
Expandability – Integrate with 3rd party software, power of the IOX, marketplace

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Sherp ATV vs Argo Hydratrek

Search and Rescue – Sherp ATV and Argo Hydratrek

 

This is a comparison between the Sherp ATV and the Argo Hydratrek. There is more to a rescue than just getting there. Getting there in a timely manner, keeping rescue workers from being fatigued in route, having the room to carry the needed equipment and protecting the patient in transport are all important factors. Fleetistics believes there is little benefit to the Argo platform other than price for search and rescue operations.

 

1. Neither vehicle has suspension but the trailer low tire pressure in the Sherp can be lowered which makes the ride smoother.

2. The Argo uses tracks and propellers. Propellers are very limited in real operations other than a clean lake. They are subject to water debris and almost never used in the demo videos. The paddle wheels on the Sherp never get clogged by water debris.

3. Hydratrek has a Max payload of 2500 lbs, the Sherp 2,000. The Sherp has an amphibious trailer which can transport more hear and supplies.

4. The Hydratrek has 6-8 tires to maintain plus tracks, the Sherp has 4.

5. The Hydratrek max speed is 14/5 mph on land/water vs Sherp at 27/4 mph.

6. The Argo has an open cockpit and no hardcover to provide protection. The Sherp has a hard top and the top can be removed on the pickup version for unique situations. Protection is important for patient care and responder fatigue.

7. The Argo product line cannot be adapted in the field to the conditions or terrain. The Sherp can inflate or deflate the ultra low-pressure tires to match the traction and driving surface needs.

8. The Argo track system is more expensive to maintain than the Sherp’s 4 large tires.

9. Any track system is less reliable, there are simply more moving parts and points of failure. If a track breaks in the field, fixing it may be impossible. Tires can be patched to get you home.

10. The seating in the Hydratrek and all Argos is limited. The videos clearly depict the few seats available and the lack of patient space. In an emergency the Sherp can transport 11 people! 2 in front, 3 either side in the area and thee on the rear floor.

11. The Argos angle of attack uphill is about half that of the Sherp at 3′. The lower angle of attack makes is more likely to get stuck exiting a river, over a frozen lake, crossing a log or traversing rocks. View the Argo on ice

12. The track system is as tough or tougher on the environment for a zero turn. Even traveling straight the large footprint is comparable to the Sherp low-pressure tire.

13. The Hydratrek cost about half that of the Sherp starting at $119,00.

14. Patient care conditions overall are far better in the Sherp. The enclosed back provides seating for rescue workers with a stretcher between them. The shelter keeps the sun, wind, rain, tree limbs and bugs off patients and responders. At -30F getting an IV started in an Argo will be almost impossible since exposed to the elements.

15. The ground clearance of the Argo is much lower than the Sherps 23″. This and 63″ tires prevent the Sherp from getting hung up in deep ruts.

Flex Solar Asset Tracker for Geotab

Flex Solar Asset Tracker

 

The Flex asset tracker represents a new evolution in the asset tracking space for the Geotab fleet management and GPS tracking lineup. Geotab has utilized the wired GO Rugged system for many years on heavy equipment. The GO Rugged reports telematics and engine fault code data on many types of equipment such as Caterpillar making it a great tool for equipment maintenance. However, this level of detail and the embedded features of the GO Rugged are not always needed.

 

Solar Asset GPS Tracker

 

The Flex asset tracker is a device ideal for asset inventory. Knowing the location of all trailers every morning from the once a day heartbeat can significantly improve asset utilization and the right sizing of your asset inventory. By selling off a single underutilized asset, you can fund a GPS tracking and telematics platform for most fleets for a lifetime.

When an asset is in motion the Flex devices recognizes the movement through an accelerometer and switches from inventory tracking to active tracking. When actively tracking, the Flex asset tracking will plot and transmit the trailer at a rate of once per minute. This optimized tracking provides fleet managers with the right data for the situation which keeps data costs as low as practical.

The Flex asset tracker brings many great features to the Geotab modular platform. The solar panel enables the device to provide more detail and last longer than devices that do not have a recharging capability to either internal or replaceable batteries. The solar panel gives the Flex asset tracker virtually an indefinite field life until the batteries wear out or the plastic gets brittle after many years of exposure. The Flex is IP-67 rated so it is designed to withstand mother nature and provide reliable long-term GPS tracking. Devices using replaceable batteries require someone to locate, travel to and replace the batteries which adds labor cost to managing the GPS trackers in the field.

 

Asset Tracker Installation – Easy!

 

Installing the Flex solar asset tracker is extremely easy. The Flex should be installed vertically to easily allow snow and dirt to fall or rinse off. The solar cell generally charges from zero power to full power in 4-5 days of direct summer sunlight. On cloudy days the solar cell will charge at a rate of about 40%. When fully charged the battery can go 3-4 months with no sunlight (which never happens) and continue to report once per day.

If you are looking for an asset tracker or a complete GPS tracking and telematics solution, Fleetistics offers many great options. A Fleetistics advisor will work with you to find the right fleet management solutions to meet your needs for the lowest investment.

 

 

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Selecting An Asset Tracker

Selecting an asset tracker is an important decision. Therefore taking the time to define your requirements is critical to getting it right the first time. Once an asset tracker is deployed it is difficult and expensive to service or replace when unforeseen issues arise. Clearly defining your top priorities prevents costly mistakes. In contrast many cool features are tempting to pursue, but sticking to the core functionality you require results in better decision making.

Available Networks for Asset Trackers

First of all, choose the appropriate communications network.  Satellite communication is more expensive but works in remote areas. Cellular communication allows for more data and is less expensive, but may not work in remote areas. This one variable cuts the number of available devices and solutions to consider in half. Where cell service is not available, satellite tracking is the only reliable way to go.

Power Options for Asset Trackers

Next, determine how you will power the asset tracker. There are three primary choices but some systems offer a combination. You can connect to the asset’s power source, use battery powered devices, or solar powered devices that are recharging whenever exposed to light.  Battery powered devices are available in rechargeable or replaceable battery models.  The best power option is determined by many variables.  Here are a few good questions to consider.

  • Do the assets often sit idle and unpowered?
  • How frequently are they moved?
  • Are the assets difficult to get to?

Solar devices are excellent choices when long life and low maintenance are concerns.  Rechargeable devices work well for assets that are tended and moved frequently.  In contrast, hard-wired devices are an excellent choice for yellow steel.

Purpose – What Data is Needed?

Finally, consider the amount and type of data needed to meet your asset tracking goals. Ultimately your return on investment depends upon getting the right data.

While construction equipment often warrants a GPS device that updates more often when in motion than when idle, trailers scattered across the country can be managed with a single daily location update. Understanding how the asset tracker reports is key to meeting your goals.

There are a few other decisions to make, but these will become more obvious as you narrow down the choices for asset trackers. Weather resistance, ease of installation, availabilty of replacement batteries, and PTO monitoring capability are factors to consider.  Creating a spreadsheet to document the variables for each asset tracer you are considering is very helpful.  Follow the process, and in the end the decision will be clear.

Risk Management Recommendations from University of Arizona

The Project

Some time back, Fleetistics worked closely with researchers from the University of Arizona on a risk management project.  Our role was assisting in the selection and deployment of GPS/telematics devices. The project team installed the devices in a variety of emergency service vehicles. The project goal was to address the leading cause of death in the US fire service.  For that reason, the project lead was an Epidemiologist.

Everyone can imagine the obvious dangers firefighters face on the job.  In contrast, it is surprising to learn that the leading cause of workplace death has nothing to do with fighting fires.  Considered an epidemic among firefighters are emergency service vehicle crashes.  For Fleetistics, it was a little different than working with Fleet Managers and Dispatchers, but the same principles apply.

Risk Management Study Published

Risk Management ProcessThe published results of the study are now available online.  Certainly, this information represents great value to fleets of all types and sizes.  The telematics devices provided insight into driving behaviors, speed, G-forces, seatbelt usage, use of lights and sirens, and various other metrics.

Implementing formal risk management procedures to reduce workplace injury is feasible and beneficial in any fleet. This study offers insight on the process of evaluating and managing risk.  Even more, any fleet can apply these methods scaled to fit their company needs.

Using Proactive Risk Management

In order to factor different driving situations, the project team selected 3 fire departments to represent urban, suburban, and rural operations.  Then, using a proactive risk management process, key concerns were identified.  As a result, new policies and procedures were implemented, and enhanced training was introduced.  The end goal was to lower risk to the emergency responders.  Finally, each department tailored its policies and training based on their individual findings.

Within Your Reach

The process used is similar to the steps taken in our Solution Evaluation Process.  While the purpose of the SEP is much different, and the time frame much shorter, the same risk management principals are in play.

Geotab is a leading provider of telematics.   The system delivers risk management data that is simple to understand.  Reports include graphs for quick assimilation of information. Risk factors are exposed using custom exception rules that are easily created. Presenting big data in a highly consumable format is one of the things the Geotab solution does best. With accurate, actionable telematics data, the application of Risk Management best practices is within the reach of any size fleet.

Leveraging GPS Data Pays Off!

GPS Data can be mined just like precious gemstones…

In my time at Fleetistics I have noticed the clients we speak with generally fall into one of 3 persuasions.

  1. Those who remain unconvinced of the value of GPS data, undecided, and plan to deploy the technology someday.
  2. Clients who understand the value, deploy and then underuse their GPS data.
  3. Intentional users who deploy, immerse themselves in the value of the information at their fingertips and become POWER users.

If you are still just thinking about telematics for your fleet, every day you delay is costing you cold hard cash.

For those who have already deployed, are you using your system to its fullest potential?

And to our POWER users, I say CONGRATULATIONS!

You are leveraging GPS data to save your organization money, providing every department with valuable operational data to do their jobs better, encouraging safe driving, and quite possibly saving lives.

So what do the POWER users do differently with their GPS data?

First of all, they never forget that they have valuable GPS, telematics and diagnostic data to leverage. Frankly, I learn new methods to dig for data from the POWER users all the time. It usually starts with a question. “How can I find out (you fill in the blank)?”

We look at what GPS data is available to answer the question. Then we create new rules or zones if needed, and set alerts if appropriate.  In most cases, we can customize a report to sift to the data that answers the question. If we cannot solve a problem with the GPS platform, we look to develop something custom or find a partner whose technology solves the problem.

Dashboard reports

Finally, we schedule the distribution of the report to the departments that it provides value to. The departments can take appropriate action based on the data they receive.  With this flow of information, departments can evaluate ongoing improvement effortlessly.

5 Proven Ways to Lower Fleet Costs using GPS data that you may have never considered.

1. Wage war on distracted driving.

A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study concluded that drivers that text while driving are 23 times more likely to have a collision or a near miss. Other VTTI studies have shown that taking your eyes off the road just prior to the occurrence of an unexpected event is responsible for up to 90% of collision and near-miss events.

A simple camera system can monitor for distractions like phone use, texting, and smoking.  There are also clues in the GPS data. Frequent hard braking and hard turning events, especially when they occur in pairs, are a strong indicator that drivers are not paying attention.

Once you identify drivers that are at risk you can institute a driver training program, incorporate cell phone supression technology in vehicle, or start a program that recognizes and rewards drivers for improvement and safe driving scores.

2. Slow down your speeders

Speeding is dangerous and wastes fuel.  As a result, if you can slow drivers down a little you lower risk and save money.

Wage war on speeding in the same manner as distracted driving above, but also look at why your drivers feel the need to speed. Review routes for efficiency, number of stops and factor the time each stop may take. It may be time to look at route optimization software to streamline routes and understand where you can and can’t fit another stop in.

Last question… Are your expectations of what a driver can complete in a workday reasonable? Really think about that considering speed limits, traffic patterns, and areas that get congested at certain times of day. If not, consider this.

average cost of a collision

What comes out of pocket depends on your insurace, but I expect it would cost your company less to hire another driver and spread out the workload.

3. Weather Factoring

For a ridiculously low investment, MyFleetview weather overlays can be added to your GPS system. When the weather is an issue in your area, you can see what vehicles may be affected and easily reschedule jobs or reshuffle deliveries to keep drivers away from unsafe conditions.

This is especially critical when doing outdoor work like roofing or landscaping. You are already conscious of the weather.  Being able to see where a storm is headed in relation to your jobs and vehicles on the map makes those last-minute decisions faster and easier to make.

MyFleetview Weather Overlay

4. Develop and retain safe drivers

Sometimes we overlook the GPS data that shows us there is not a problem. We all know that onboarding a new employee and getting them up to speed is costly and time consuming. Keeping the experienced drivers you have is just good business, and it seems like really good employees are getting harder to find.

You can use the GPS data and score card reports to stay up to date on who your safest drivers are. Make that a point to cover in performance reviews and again, recognize and reward employees that are saving you money by reducing company risk exposure. Employees that feel appreciated stay longer.

5. Hire a GPS Administrator... no, really!

I know what you are thinking… add another salaried employee to save money??? Well, yes! First of all, your Managers have time to log in and see where their people are, but not the time to dig in and analyze all of the GPS data being collected.

If you hire someone whose primary job is to find ways to save money and streamline operations the payoff can be huge.  They will have time to optimize the GPS system and use the GPS data to find ways to save you money, and their bonus incentive can be tied to those proven savings.  Now you might just get everything you want out of your GPS data and more.

For a fleet of 20 vehicles, saving just $5 per vehicle per day, which can be achieved by controlling idle time alone, gives you $26,000 toward an Administrator’s salary package.

Fleet Administrator

Sales Tax on Internet Sales

Online Retailers to Collect Sales Tax

 

Internet sales tax has been a hot topic lately because sales tax and other mandated taxes will soon be collected by online retailers.  Providers that reach the minimum and new economic Nexus limits will be required to collect sales tax as a result of the recent Supreme Court ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair.  In the past, a physical presence in the state was needed to establish physical Nexus. Now that has all changed.

Fleetistics’ plan of action.

An advance letter was sent to all customers and prospective customers on October 8, 2019, explaining the coming changes.

  1. Until Fleetistics begins to collect sales tax, customers should continue to pay all taxes related to products and service purchased from Fleetistics to their sales tax authority.
  2. If you have not paid applicable taxes on the products and services purchased from Fleetistics (formerly GPS Fleet Solutions), you need to do so quickly, per your purchase agreement and standard accounting practices.
  3. It has been our experience that failing to pay taxes for any and all online purchases may “flag” your company with your state Department of Revenue (DOR) leading to an audit. Audits are time consuming, expensive and can lead to interest and penalties, and even the cost to defend Fleetistics.
  4. If taxes have not been paid, paying the taxes before 2020 may be a way to reduce your current year tax liability.

Your sales tax responsibility.

Current and former customers are responsible for reporting and paying all taxes until such a time that Fleetistics collects sales tax on behalf of customers. Paying sales tax for online purchases is a standard accounting practice and well known to accounting professionals. This is likely already being handled by your accounting department but confirming prior to an audit is a prudent step. The responsibility to pay tax for online purchases for all products, and possibly services, may go back seven years or longer. Fleetistics is working to establish a tax collection process per the Supreme Court ruling to remit sales tax on behalf of customers across all 50 states and has a target date of 1 January, 2020 to begin.

What to do if you owe sales tax.

Fleetistics is not a licensed authority on taxes and the content herein is solely Fleetistics’ opinion, so be sure to consult your accounting and tax professionals for advice.  It seem logical that if you voluntarily pay any sales tax owed before being audited, you are more likely to avoid interest and penalties. This may be done to encourage companies to come forward and pay back taxes.  Local government would avoid the cost of audits and legal proceedings to fine and collect back due taxes. If taxes have not been paid, your company is at risk.

We are communicating this to you because it represents a major shift in how business is done online and with Fleetistics. It is an opportunity to review your standard accounting practices to ensure the proper handling of all online purchases. Any company selling you goods and services should be transitioning to collecting and paying sales taxes.  If they are not, they are doing your company a disservice and are unlikely to remain in business. It is Fleetistics’ belief that there will be so many companies failing to implement this important process.  State tax collection agencies may be busy for years prosecuting cases.  Those “doing it right” will avoid the hassle and may continue doing business with less DOR scrutiny.

Fleetistics sincerely appreciates your business and the strong working relationship built over the years.  We believe this change is a good one even with a significant increase in cost and effort to implement this program nationwide.

Out of State Ticket – Avoid Losing Your License

Dealing With An Out of State Ticket

Getting a ticket in another state can be a challenge to deal with. The thought of returning to Massachusetts to go to driving school, traffic court or pay a fine can be overwhelming. The good news is that Tampa based Fleetistics offers the National Safety Council Defensive Driving Course which is often sufficient to address an out of state ticket if okayed by the court. Of course, this must go through the proper process.

 

Talk to the Judge or Traffic Court

NSC-Out-of-State-Ticket-DDC-Training-2

Call the court of jurisdiction to discuss the possibility of taking the NSC certified Fleetistics DDC course as a way to resolve the ticket without returning. Send them this URL https://www.fleetistics.com/resources/nsc/ and ask if taking this course will suffice. Be sure to take notes on who you spoke to and when. Get everything in writing and hold onto it for 5 years. If there is an error you do not want a warrant for your arrest. Once you provide the DDC certificate of completion ask for a letter for your files indicating you have satisfied the court.

 

 

NSC-Out-of-State-Ticket-DDC-Training-3

Defensive Driving Course

 

Fleetistics is the only active certified NSC DDC trainer in Florida. We offer a friendly atmosphere, comfortable conditions, and a friendly instructor. The day is long but we make it as painless as possible. If you enter with an open mind you will actually appreciate the safety refresher, especially if you have children you are working to protect.

The DDC course is a combination of instructor lead conversation and videos provided by the National Safety Council. You are required to complete the workbook and be in attendance for the entire course in order to receive your certificate. For more on registering for the course click this URL. https://www.fleetistics.com/resources/nsc/

 

Commercial Driver Training

Commercial fleet operators can utilize the NSC DDC training as part of a progressive discipline and training program for at-risk drivers. Employers can pay for the training or require the drivers to pay depending on the safety and training program offered. This step shows the driver you are serious but that you care enough to offer remedial training and a final opportunity to exhibit the driving habits required to avoid costly accidents and litigation. Employers have more to add to their defense if subjected to a wrongful termination lawsuit by a driver. Insurance companies may offer discounts if the training is provided 1-2 times annually to keep safety on everyone’s mind.

 

5K Honor Run Benefit Race Sponsored by PHSC

5k Honor Run Tampa FLFleetistics Supports 5K Honor Run

Sunday was the first inagural 5k Honor Run hosted by North Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Pasco Hernando State College (PHSC) in Wesly Chapel, FL. The atmosphere was fun and energentic for 7:00 am on a Sunday. This benefit race was to raise money to help a wounded Marine living in the area. Certainly the Fleetistics Sherp ATV, named “Persistence”, represents the ongoing challenges faced by wounded veterans.

Fleetistics is a Veteran owned business that believes strongly in giving back to our community so we look forward with anticipation to the 2nd annual running.  If your organization would like to schedule Persistence for an upcoming event, click here for more information.  Likewise, if your organization or agency requires vehicles with flexibility for search & rescue or recovery, demos can be arranged.  Contact us at 877-467-0326 to schedule.

 

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