Many executives of food and beverage distribution and logistics companies are aware of the need for oversight of employees, vehicles and other assets. It has become a necessary task that businesses in the field face on a daily basis. Fleet and asset tracking are becoming more common than ever as executives and fleet managers look to ensure the efficient and effective use of their fleets, assets and employees.
At the basic level, telematics refers to the use of telecommunications and informatics to provide many practical applications for the food and beverage distribution industry. For example, in the supply industry, accurate delivery times are crucial to ensure the rest of the day’s tasks stay on time.
Another term for telematics is global positioning system (GPS) fleet tracking, however, that terminology does not fully encompass what a GPS fleet tracking solution can do for a food and beverage logistics business. These solutions have many more capabilities than simple track-and-trace options, allowing fleet managers to do more than locate vehicles or assets on a map. A comprehensive GPS fleet tracking solution should be an essential business tool for any food and beverage companies with a fleet, no matter how small. Even with the most basic usage, GPS technology allows for increased fuel efficiency and employee productivity, showing a reduction in overall operating expenses.
Companies must be able to track and manage their investments without compromising security or efficiency. GPS fleet technology, paired with an easy-to-implement solution, effectively monitors fleets, ensuring efficient use of the company’s fuel and time. Whether your business has three vehicles or 300, this technology plays a vital role in maximizing revenue, increasing operational efficiencies and achieving a return on investment (ROI).
Vehicle Tracking to Save on Fuel
GPS fleet tracking solutions offer benefits that go beyond simply knowing where vehicles are. The functions of a GPS fleet tracking solution save companies money, even when the features don’t directly target an issue, such as excessive fuel spend. The routing feature of a GPS fleet tracking solution not only ensures your drivers can get to their next delivery, site or warehouse on time, but also ensures that drivers have the most direct route to a location, thus reducing excessive fuel use.
Some GPS fleet tracking solutions integrate with intuitive and popular GPS systems, such as Garmin. Many companies choose these solutions for their fleets because of the appeal of the consumer-facing GPS systems that they are accustomed to using in their personal lives. However, a GPS fleet tracking solution that integrates with such a GPS system can have more benefits than a minimal learning curve. One supply chain and goods transportation company, SEKO, cut down on surplus driving in its fleet and reduced fuel costs with the voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. By using the fleet tracking solution’s routing functionality, the company’s fleet manager made his drivers more productive, and cut down on fuel costs, and vehicle wear and tear.
Hard Data to Cut Back on Costs
A look into operations makes it clear what’s working and what’s not. GPS fleet tracking solutions provide a variety of reports and information on a number of driving factors, including how many times a truck starts and stops, how long it idles, and if any dangerous driving behavior occurs. These reports are not used to target or scold drivers, but to simply identify driving habits that can be altered to save money for the company.
The reporting capability provides a wealth of information and valuable insight at a moment’s notice. Perhaps most importantly, the collected data can be presented in a graphically rich dashboard and is actionable, which means the data can be used to improve processes. Dashboards also give fleet managers the ability to set user-defined goals that allow for benchmarking operations.
A study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that trucks left idling for long periods of time waste approximately 960 million gallons of diesel fuel each year. Real-time data collection allows for the monitoring of variable costs associated with fleets. A large number of companies now track their fleets so they may report on key metrics, including idling time, fuel consumption, driving speeds, vehicle location and employee hours.
The same supply chain and goods transportation company cut vehicle idle time by 85 percent-from almost 23 to three hours per month in less than one year-after implementing a GPS fleet tracking solution. The fleet manager attributed the decrease to fleet tracking, and the visibility into the fleet’s daily operations from idle reports. Reports on idling also allow for the reduction of harmful emissions and fuel expenses.
Another food and beverage supply company, Accardi Foods, reduced overtime costs by 50 percent, saving the company $80,000 per year on overtime alone. By using a GPS fleet tracking solution, the company director not only identified drivers that were padding their hours, but more importantly, addressed the situation without directly offending any employees.
The company also noted that the fleet tracking solution acts as a virtual time card, enabling the fleet manager to verify hours worked to ensure accurate payments to drivers.
Maintenance reports allow fleet managers to automate maintenance schedules for vehicles and alerts headquarters when preventive maintenance, such as an oil change, needs to be conducted. Automating maintenance procedures can save money and keep vehicles on the road.
Determining the Right Partner
Transparency between headquarters and individual vehicles is necessary to run an efficient fleet. By empowering fleet operations with a GPS fleet tracking solution, the line of communication between operators and drivers is simplified, which directly impacts efficiency and functionality.
While fleet and asset tracking functionality gives businesses transparency and ease of use, choosing the right provider is just as important as the solution. Accessing the location of a vehicle or asset within seconds maximizes benefits to a business, but means nothing if the provider’s application experiences downtime. Be sure to choose an established provider that can guarantee 99.9 percent uptime, a comprehensive fuel management system, satellite-based asset tracking and comprehensive reporting.
A provider that manufactures its own devices is just as important because it can control its hardware quality and pledge reliability. The provider should service companies large and small, and provide the resources to properly train staff while still offering 24/7 customer service.
Additionally, tangible information from reports gives data that is not only informative, but also actionable. A GPS fleet tracking solution can maximize operations overall, streamline procedures, and put money and time back on your side.
Ashley Jones is the marketing director at NexTraq. The NexTraq Fleet Tracking solution and its applications—Fleet Dispatch, Fleet Metrics and NexTraq Connect—deliver real-time data needed to optimize fleet operations.