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 Special Report Fleetmanagement: driving progress

Within the cleaning and FMindustries, greater operational efficiency remains key to sustained growth. Giles Margerison, director UK & Ireland for TomTom Business Solutions, considers how fleet management technology can help tackle the sector’s emerging business challenges.

covered through a dramatic increase in rev- enue or budget cuts elsewhere. A 10%decrease in fuel consumption can

be achieved through better navigation alone but ever greater rewards are available to companies who work to improve the per- formance of their drivers usingmore ad- vanced fleetmanagement technology that monitors driver behaviour. Cleaning spe- cialist Zenith Hygiene Group, for example, saved £222,660 on fuel over the course of a year by implementing an incentivised scheme for the improvement of driver be- haviour, with the average vehiclempg soar- ing from26 to 43. Fleetmanagement technology can also

be used to tap into a vehicle's diagnostics and provide in-depth analysis into each employee's driving style based on key ele- ments of safe and efficient driving, such as speeding, idling, fuel consumption and even harsh steering or braking. Over time, profiles are generated for each

A burgeoning optimismin the cleaning and facilitiesmanagement sectors has helped to loosen the shackles of the economic downturn. Growth remains fragile butmar- ket reports have highlighted opportunities for expansion, particularly for those firms able to offer an increasingly specialised service, adding value through differentia- tion. Such a focus requires an increasingly flexible approach, where elements such as improved planning, scheduling and respon- siveness drive ever greater standards of op- erational efficiency. The required standards are difficult to at-

tain, however, without access to the neces- sary data.Managing amobile workforce can be an unwieldy, complicated affair un- less companies gain proper insight into the activities of the cleaners or engineers they have out on the road. This is where fleet management technology can play a signifi- cant role, providing the requisite tools to in- terpret the wealth of vehicle fleet data available on a daily basis.

A boost to the bottomline

In the first instance, such technology can be used to relieve cost pressures bymiti- gating the effect of petrol prices, which re- main sky high despite the recent freeze in fuel duty. However, fuel is a variable cost so it is

possible to limit its negative impact by tak- ing steps to tackle fuel efficiency across a company fleet. Any savingsmade on fuel bills will represent pure bottom-line profit - money whichmay otherwise need to be re-

All things considered, firms that operate a vehicle fleet - however big or small - simply cannot afford to ignore the new levels of insight available to them through vehicle management technology. Only by scrutinising every aspect of operations to ensure optimum efficiency can businesses truly stand out from the crowd. And with 40% of the global workforce set to be mobile by 2016, business vehicles will become an ever greater part of this.

individual driver, allowing staff to be re- warded for good performance and training time and budget to be allocatedmore pre- cisely. Employees can even be empowered to correct poor driving style on themove, by gaining real-time feedback on driving style via their in-cab navigation devices.

Plotting a smarter route to optimum efficiency

Traffic can be amajor barrier to any com- pany performing efficiently and better rout- ing relies on using intelligence gathered fromthe road. Advanced fleetmanagement technology draws on a vast resource of his- toric road use data and live traffic data to generate accurate timings for every jour- ney, taking into account the best available route, time of day and congestion levels. This way, companies can plan workflow

tominimise the amount of time spent on the road andmaximise productivity. Not only does this positively impact upon fuel consumption but it also has a knock-on in providing higher levels of customer service delivery. Research conducted by TomTomfound

90%of UK tradesmen, engineers and serv- ice staff admitted to arriving late for cus- tomer appointments, with 93%citing traffic as themajor cause. Furthermore, 51%of drivers cited congestion as amajor cause of stress. This is a worrying trend for any business

keen to add value to their brand and propo- sition through differentiation - only by ex- ceeding customer expectations is it possible to stand out fromthe crowd. By making use of up-to-theminute journey time data, it is possible to provide cus- tomers with accurate ETAs and inform theminstantly if there are any changes to schedule. Furthermore, job dispatch can be refined

by ensuring themost appropriate employee is sent to each customer based on who will arrive first rather than simply who is clos- est to the customer. SanctuaryMaintenance is one organisa-

tion which has used technology in this manner, allowing staff at its customer service centre to pinpoint the exact location of engineers at any given time, dispatch the correct operative to each job and substanti- ate exactly when they arrived.

26 l C&M l SEPTEMBER 2013 l Putting 'green' back on the agenda

Looking at the bigger picture, by ensuring employees spend less time on the road - and use less fuel as a result - businesses can help to put green issues back on the agenda. On top of the fuel savings it achieved, Zenith Hygiene Group also re- duced CO2 emissions by 598 tonnes a year. Investment in sustainable products and

waste disposal is only half the issue when it comes to fulfilling green credentials. Cleaning, FMandmaintenance firmsmust consider the overall impact their activities make on the environment andmake a con- certed effort to address this, especially as an increasing number of customers are ac- tively selecting suppliers who demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. A combination of improved routing and

smarter scheduling will drastically reduce the amount ofmileage covered by company vehicles and better driver behaviour will ensure efficiency is optimised during those miles that are travelled. Fleetmanagement technology can then

report back on factors such as CO2 emis- sions to facilitate themonitoring of trends and the setting of KPIs to enforce environ- mental performance.

A question of compliance

Higher standards of driver performance will also result in higher standards of safety on the job. If employees drive in a more considered fashion, the probability of accidents or collisions naturally de- creases. Employers are required by law to exhibit

a ‘duty of care’ to staff and the data gleaned from monitoring driver perform- ance can prove invaluable in this respect, supplying hard proof that efforts to ad- dress risk factors are producing results. Of course, by increasing safety, compa-

nies will also improve their risk profile, un- locking the door to insurance savings. Zenith Hygiene Group slashed its premi- ums by £78,000 in two years by demon- strating a significant reduction in risk to its insurer. Compliance with tax regulations is also

aided simply bymonitoring vehicle use. Worryingly, TomTomresearch discovered 46%of UK drivers have over-estimated theirmileage figures when claiming ex- penses but this no longer becomes a prob- lemwhen everymile is accounted for. Managers and drivers can easily demon-

strate who was driving which vehicle and when, distinguishing between business and private use, to eliminate issues of unautho- rised usage and the risk of penalties re- lated to false claims or inaccurate ‘benefit in kind’ returns. All things considered, firms that operate

a vehicle fleet - however big or small - sim- ply cannot afford to ignore the new levels of insight available to themthrough vehicle management technology. Only by scrutinis- ing every aspect of operations to ensure optimumefficiency can businesses truly stand out fromthe crowd. And with 40%of the global workforce set to bemobile by 2016, business vehicles will become an ever greater part of this.

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