How STEER Tech Can Save Time and Money

Guest Post submitted by Joshua Tohn, STEER Tech, LLC

Return on Investment – Automate Repetitive Tasks

Return on investment begins with innovation. What are humans good at? Problem solving, communicating complex issues, critical analysis, and creativity. We hire people to do hard work efficiently. The better job they do, the greater the impact on the business. So why do personnel spend so much time doing mundane and repetitive tasks? Sure they can do them, but that’s not where employees are the most valuable.

Fleet management is always looking to optimize fleet operations without compromising the safety of the team or the equipment. Tasks like juggling vehicles in a parking lot or getting them refueled are important to any fleet, but are a waste of human talent. With that in mind, it raises the biggest question of them all: If it’s a waste to have humans do these mundane tasks, then who (or what) should do them?

Introducing STEER Tech

Whether we like it or not, automation is becoming a core aspect of our world, fleet operations. Factories are installing more and more robots if they aren’t already mostly automated. Companies are on a sprint to automate as many different tasks as possible. Often little consideration is given the humans that are diminished by the new equipment. As this wave of automation sweeps over the world, we need to ask ourselves, what is our relationship to robots? Are they an attempt to replace us? Better yet, can we design autonomous equipment to be an extension of human talent? Ideally, automation should increase the return on investment in our human resources.

STEER Tech has found and leveraged the middle ground between the use of automation and the retention of valuable employees. Robots shouldn’t be designed to replace humans, but support them. Many relatively simple tasks like cleaning, parking, and transporting vehicles are necessary to the operation of fleets. At the same time, they are a waste of human talent. With the input of autonomous vehicles, fleet operators can focus on the critical work actually tied to the job.

Autonomous Parking

STEER Tech creates autonomous parking kits that are retrofitted onto existing fleet vehicles. The science is innovative, but the result is simple. When a vehicle using a STEER Kit arrives at a parking lot, the driver just gets out and goes right to work. The vehicle safely navigates to an available spot and parks itself. The kit doesn’t impact the vehicle’s usability at all, it is just a couple of low profile sensors and a small computer that can be installed in less than a day.

Autonomous parking is useful for consumers, but the use cases expand dramatically when applied to fleet operations. A single operator can remotely move self-driving vehicles around a parking lot, send them to garages, have the vehicles meet drivers at the door, and report back a variety of diagnostics information, such as fuel levels and vehicle health.

The STEER Kit is an extension of the employees, saving them the wasted time walking around parking lots, finding the right car with the right keys, reducing the risk of collisions and damage to the vehicles, and most importantly, turning every vehicle in a parking lot into the most vigilant and alert driver. With over 50,000 crashes in U.S. parking lots per year, having the safety net of an autonomous car will provide return on investment simply by avoiding accidental damage.

The Dollar Value of Efficiency

In the same way your GPS tracking system pays off big by helping you to reduce idle events and aggressive driving habits, savings are found when the cost of brief but frequent wasteful events add up over time. It only takes a couple of minutes to park a car, right? How much does that really cost?

First, assume approximately 260 workdays in a year. If one employee spends ten minutes retrieving the vehicle, and ten minutes parking the vehicle every day, you end up with 86 hours a year spent just parking and retrieving vehicles. Next, assume an 8-hour shift, that would add up to over 10 working days lost a year. That could easily cost the company over $1,500 per employee per year depending on salary and benefits. How many more job sites could someone visit in 10 days? How many more deliveries can be made? That is where we find substantial return on investment.

Finally take those 86 hours (or 10 working days) and multiply them by how many employees are parking and retrieving those fleet vehicles. 10 people = 860 hours. It’s easy to overlook how expensive the time spent parking cars is. Ultimately spending what could be productive hours on parking is just money thrown away. Parking a car does nothing to generate the company revenue. Certainly it doesn’t save money. On the other hand, autonomous vehicles, applied in the right way, recoup the loss without putting employment opportunities in jeopardy.

STEER Tech vehicle

The Future of Fleet Management

The world is headed toward a future of near-universal automation. We need to ask ourselves: What will our relationship with automation be? With technology like the STEER Kit, the answer is a harmonious future. Tools like this are not a far-off Jetson’s style future and they are available now. Integrating them as powerful extensions of the employee contributes to making a company more successful. Employees have more time to focus their skills and knowledge on the real work, supporting the team with every step.

The future of fleet management is one of automation. Imagine a team member steps out of the office and the vehicle they need for the day is there waiting for them. One operator can summon and send the right vehicles to the right places when they are needed. Done safely, done right, and with no hassle or delay.

To learn more about this innovative technology, email Steer tech.

Driver Feedback to Create Positive Change

Using Feedback to Create Positive Change is Nothing New

From our perspective, that is what fleet tracking is for. Using feedback to create positive change in fleets and drivers is what we are all about. Feedback from devices changes driving habits. It has evolved from simple beeping when exceptions are triggered, to spoken coaching prompts using hardware, artificial intelligence, and integrated apps. In the same way, using feedback from employees is a great way to create positive change in your organization.

Using Feedback to Create Positive Change

Feedback is Critical to Improving Performance

You can’t fix it if you don’t know what’s broken. Just as your GPS tracking system tells you where the fleet needs attention, constructive driver feedback points out what areas in your business need attention. In the old days, a suggestion box was enough. In today’s environment that is just not enough. With so many complex procedures and processes in place, employee feedback is critical.

Management that listens to what employees are saying continually improves how business gets done. As an example, we recently looked at our own order processing. We noticed a checklist that we created for every order duplicated information that was already in our new order notification emails. We did it just because that it how order processing had always been done. Certainly the notification email in place of the checklist to initiate order processing will streamline the process and save us all time.

Encouraging Constructive Feedback

Ultimately, drivers need to feel that their feedback is wanted and welcomed. Encouraging employee feedback based on specific goals is one way to get them to open up. Another good way to start is to ask for suggestions. Simple surveys or a form for employees to respond after a review can begin to create a culture where drivers feel their views and suggestions are valued. Similarly incentives for the best suggestions often encourage a dialogue.

Once the feedback begins, don’t take criticism personally. Without a doubt you need to know what things look like from the employee perspective to be an effective manager. For that reason you must be willing to receive criticism with an open mind. As an example, employees may say they are being faulted for speeding events they can’t avoid and feel management is too hard on them for it. They could be right. You can’t legitimately fault an employee for speeding or for not completing all of his stops on a route that cannot be reasonably completed at the posted speed limit.

It may be time for your organization to consider a routing and scheduling application to better plan and optimize your routes. With route optimization you can also save on fuel and maintenance while providing improved customer service. Ask us about our free assessment tool that can analyze your current routes and project your return on investment.

Giving and Receiving Effective Feedback

Certainly we are not the experts on this subject, but there is a lot of good information to be found on the web. We have shared a few of them below.

“Receiving Constructive Feedback From Your Employees”

Recently published on Impraise blog. It has a lot of good suggestions on how to encourage employees to open up and respond in a way that keeps the feedback coming.

“Feedback is Critical to Improving Performance”

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) serves as the chief human resources agency and personnel policy manager for the Federal Government. They have also posted on the subject.

Roadrunner Freight Featured on American Trucker

Most interesting to our readers are probably the results achieved by Roadrunner Freight. Roadrunner intentionally solicited and is making changes based on driver feedback in an effort to eliminate turnover and increase driver retention. This prompted what they call a major cultural overhaul. You can read all about it here on American Trucker.

Measuring Fleet Productivity & Idle Waste

Measuring fleet productivity and controlling idle waste are two easy ways to save money in difficult times.

Contributed by Sherri Mills

In this blog, we discuss two top cost-control strategies using Geotab GO device data to help boost productivity and vehicle uptime. In the business we often refer to this as the “low hanging fruit”.

What is fleet productivity?

Tracking fleet productivity is a top concern for many businesses, especially when labor is one of their most significant costs. Improving productivity will help you provide optimal service to your customers, which is important now more than ever. Telematics technology gives fleet managers accurate and detailed visibility over their vehicles, helping businesses allocate assets where they are needed most.

Maintaining 100% visibility over vehicle utilization and work assignments helps make sure that Hours Paid = Hours Worked as much as possible. Gaining just one hour of driver productivity per day, or even per week, adds up quickly.

Keeping Score

Fleet productivity is the basic measure of employee work output. Creating a productivity score provides a way to objectively measure performance so you can identify successes and pinpoint where improvement is needed.

Keep in mind, it is not ideal to expect 100% productivity, especially when employees lack control over their own output, for example when they are dependent upon customer availability, or when they are impacted by adverse weather and traffic.

Productivity score formula

(Total Hours Worked) / (Shift Hours less Lunch, Breaks or Meetings, Downtime like traffic) = Productivity Score

For example:
(Drive time = 5 hours + Office time = 1 hour) / (8 hour shift – 1 hour lunch and breaks)

(5+1) / (8-1) = 86% Productivity score

You can adjust this formula as needed depending on the structure of your business.

Managing Idling

If you’re looking at ways to improve productivity, idling is another area to look at. While not all idling is avoidable, for example in heavy traffic, there are many instances where it can and should be minimized.

Excessive idling not only wastes fuel, but also time idling vehicles are not making deliveries or driving to their next work location. Idling can also put extra load and engine hours on your fleet, increasing the number of oil changes and other maintenance tasks required.

While the GO device automatically monitors idling within each trip (no setup required), customizable reports and rules make tracking idling easy.

Here are the most effective reports for identifying and curbing idling:

1. Highest Idling Duration

See the percentages of engine time spent idling versus driving, per driver, per day. The results of this report can be used to determine which drivers need further training.

2. Daily Idling Cost Trend

The Daily Idling Cost Trend report provides a rolling, seven-day view of your fleet’s total cost of idling, which can be refreshed daily. You can use this report to spot trends during certain days of the week, which may correlate to specific work assignments or job sites, allowing you to make adjustments for the following week.

3. Last 3 Months Idling Trends Report

This report displays the total fuel spent while idling across the entire fleet. You can use this report to assess whether or not your efforts to reduce idling have been successful. Trend reporting tools can also be used in areas like asset utilization.

You can download the Last 3 Months Idling Trend from the Geotab Marketplace. View report.

 

4. Idle Cost (previous 30 days)

The Idle Cost report provides a 30-day rolling view of the fleet’s total cost of Idling. While managing productivity is key, seeing the whole cost of idling over 30 days is impactful as well.

Conclusion

Telematics systems can be used to measure and understand the productivity of fleets. With Fleetistics and the Geotab telematics platform, you and your customers are assured exceptional data producing real ROI results.

We look forward to partnering with you and demonstrating real success for your customers’ fleets in 2020. The best is yet to come.

 

Balancing Safety and Service for a Brighter Fleet Outlook

Contributed by Sherri Mills

Safety and Service – Creating a Balanced Approach

With personal safety and the safety of others at the forefront of our minds, safety will remain in focus as we re-start our engines, and re-open our doors. As fleet management resumes a more robust pace in the days ahead, the scope of business reality and total cost of ownership (TCO) for fleets will include a balance of both safety and service.

First, as demand increases and productivity resumes, so does the efficiency required to perform at optimum levels. The essential vehicles of your fleet, and the employees that drive those vehicles, will still be your most valuable assets. Protecting them and ensuring their safety is critical.

Back to Basics

National Safety CouncilGet back to basics with measuring and monitoring the safety of your fleet. Pay close attention to harsh driving behaviors, seat belt usage, and speeding. Utilizing actionable telematics and accelerometer data, will ensure compliance, accountability. It will help your team to rally to a stronger position of recovery. Setting driver alerts for speeding will recoup lost dollars and provide peace of mind in safe driving measures.

Reducing Fuel Spend

Next, but equally important is Fuel economy. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. For every 5 mph driven, over 50 mph, it is costing roughly an additional $0.18 per mile for gas. With monitoring and coaching, you can easily slow drivers down and capture that savings. In addition, speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to vehicle collisions. It impacts the total cost of risk, predominantly in workers compensation claims. A report by OSHA, NHTSA, and NETS estimated that one work-related accident involving a fatality could cost an employer $500,000. Telematics’ accelerometer data provides the insights for targeted coaching to ensure the safety of your fleet and your drivers by reducing collisions.

Optimize and Right Size

Finally, consider the service component. To maintain balance within your fleet, the other side of the scale is ensuring safety on the road with proper servicing and maintenance. Time is money; not only in recovery mode, but also in building and preserving your fleet going forward. As you rebuild your fleet focus on rebuilding more efficiently than before. Understanding asset utilization, average miles driven per day, rolling cost per mile by route and improved maintenance can make your fleet leaner and more efficient without a loss of revenue. You can rehire your best field service technicians and implement new standard for training and service. During this slow period you can review all aspects of your business and prepare a new way of doing things when our country gets past the Covid-19 challenge.

Most Costly Assets

Use the Tools to Balance Safety and Service

Telematics data provides the details you need to proactively schedule and plan for routine maintenance. Engine data alerts you to ongoing service issues and reduces down time. Planned maintenance is a standard part of vehicle ownership, but unplanned repairs due to aggressive driving and vehicle misuse are an unnecessary cost. The cost savings resulting from fewer scheduled maintenance appointments is a given. In contrast, a non-scheduled maintenance interruption can result in lost profits of between $400 to $700 per incident for a standard vehicle and thousands for a truckload of frozen seafood.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that telematics technology can help a company reduce these scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and repair incidents by as much as 14%. Managing your fleet with specific diagnostics information and daily reporting of service needs will provide better control, overall planning, and build longevity for the next phase of your operations.

return-on-investmentProactively managing with balanced attention to safety and service gives you a competitive edge. Stay safe on the roads with telematics technology from Fleetisitics, and build toward a better, stronger tomorrow.

 

Integrations that Drive ROI

There are two primary ways to integrate GPS Tracking data to drive ongoing return on investment. The first, and most often used is analytical integration. Second, and often overlooked is visual integration. Let’s take a look at both.

Analytical Integrations

Application programming interfaces (APIs), allow you to compile data from multiple sources. An API is provided by many GPS vendors. Some vendors add additional fees for their API service and others do not. Likewise, some providers place limits on what data you may access and how frequently you can make requests. In contrast, others make all collected data available and allow more frequent API calls.

Using the API you can integrate data from your GPS tracking system with data from other applications you use. Combining data and directing it into custom reports brings the information you need to the surface. Additionally, you can format and display the data the way you want to see it. We have one client that developed a custom interface to view his tracking data using the API. He does not use the user interface provided with his system at all.

Integrated exceptions graph

Another great example of analytical integration is the Device Status Table in MyFleetistics. It is integrated with our internal support ticketing. This allows our clients to quickly identify vehicles that have not reported. Additional data indicates if the device is powered. It only takes one click to open a support ticket, and it is all viewed on a single screen.

Device Status Integration

The Value Proposition

The API allows you to use the data collected by your tracking system in other applications. Location, speed, and duration details add additional value when combined with data from other sources. Some common examples are listed below.

  • Planned vs actual routes
  • Identifying customers that have not been visited recently
  • Isolate stops that were too short or too long based on an associated work order
  • Understanding on-time vs early or late stops to improve customer service.

Engine status data and faults directed to your vehicle maintenance software ensures all faults are reported. Unsafe driving events reported directly to the applications used by your Safety and HR Departments saves time over entering events manually. More importantly, it ensures safety records are complete and up to date.

You can also use the API to automate tasks. For instance, when a new customer or vendor order is entered, a custom developed application can automate the dispatch by sending a text message through the integrated application. Other examples are syncing customer locations with the closest vehicle when dispatching and assigning training to a driver that has too many unsafe driving events.

Visual Integrations

Visual integrations allow us to consume more information faster. A quick look at a “heat map” of customer stops speaks volumes. It will quickly reveal a territory that needs another driver assigned as well as an area that has too much staff already committed. Put that side by side with a “heat map” of profit dollars generated and you get a deeper understanding of where it is most valuable for drivers to be.

GIS overlays allow you to see infrastructure in relation to the location of your assets. For a Fire Department, the location of fire hydrants in relation to trucks on the map is very helpful information. Likewise, for an oil well service company, well locations on the tracking map allow dispatch to easily see available assets relative to service locations.

Visual Integration Improved Using a Shapefile Import Tool

For Geotab users, the GIS Shapefile Import Tool allows you to import zones from GIS shapefiles. This creates a zone with the exact perimeter you see in a GIS map overlay. As a functioning zone in Geotab, you can create exception rules for events related to the zone. Examples are entering, exiting, driving too fast inside the zone, stopping too long or not long enough in the zone, and much more.

Visual integration using shapefile import tool

Both analytical and visual integrations are beneficial in a variety of ways. The key is understanding what pieces of information you have that when combined reveal something more. Think about all of the times you have asked a question and your manager or supervisor responds “I don’t know.” You may want to start keeping a list of those questions because if you are asking, there must be some value in knowing. Starting with a clear question, the sources of information that can be integrated to reveal the answers are easily identified.