Telematics For UK Fleets & Vehicles
What are Vehicle Telematics
Telematics can be used to refer to a number of in-vehicle technologies, but the term is generally used to refer to systems which are used for tracking. Tracking systems do not simply track the location of any vehicle. They can also monitor speed, driving habits, unauthorised journeys and environmental conditions.
Telematic systems can be set up using GPS technology or they can be based on radio waves. These are known as RFID systems. Both these systems offer passive or active trackers, depending on whether you require a tracker that constantly transmits the information, or one that records the information to be downloaded at a later date. Which telematic system is best for your business will depend on your particular business needs and budget.
Benefits of Telematics
There are numerous benefits to having these tracking devices installed within the fleet vehicles which enable companies to not only keep track of their vehicles but to also monitor both driver and cargo safety. This is especially crucial if the fleet vehicles are transporting valuable cargo or hazardous cargo such as fuel or explosives or if the vehicles are travelling through remote areas.
The systems can even include a driver identification feature which enables the system's user to know exactly which driver is operating which fleet vehicle.
The use of telematic devices allow companies to give their customers accurate delivery or arrival times as well as being able to locate the vehicles closest to the customer for issues such as vehicle breakdown, gas leaks or emergencies.
The telematic services user will automatically receive alerts if there are signs of unusual behaviour within the fleet vehicles. This may occur if the driver exceeds the speed limit, is driving carelessly or has made an unauthorised stop.
There are two main reasons why firms invest in vehicles telematics; cost reduction and increased security.
Increasingly, for businesses these days, fuel makes up a large proportion of overall running costs. By using a vehicle telematic system for effective route planning, businesses can often cut their fuel costs by up to a third. Additionally, the more sophisticated systems can monitor driving techniques so you can see if people are speeding or driving aggressively. This will again allow you to identify these areas where fuel is wasted and to take appropriate action to cut costs.
The second benefit is the increased security these systems provide. Not only do they allow you to see where a vehicle is at all times, but they can alert you by text or email if a vehicle is moved at an unauthorised time, or out of an unspecified area.
Telematic systems can also help you meet your legal responsibilities as an employer, such as your duty of care, by checking that drivers do not exceed their maximum number of driving hours.
A vehicle tracking solution for a personal car costs about 40p a day to run. For a company fleet, the price per vehicle will be slightly more expensive. The average cost of running an entry level system is around 50p per day for each car in the fleet. This can go up to about 60p if the system features advanced functionality.
With a mid-range product, the price rises to approximately 70p a day. Again, for a system with any extra functionality, add another 10p or so to this estimate. When it comes to the most sophisticated solutions, companies can expect to pay up to £1.20 per car per day.
With the majority of telematics systems, the user can view the vehicle tracking data on the internet. Alternatively, he or she can download and install tracking software to use on their local computer network.
Usually, digital maps and reports may be viewed either live or historically. Entry level solutions tend to feature basic forms of report such as time sheets and journey duration. A mid-range system will provide a wider array of reporting options, including live traffic reports. High-end solutions harness the very best in telematics technology to provide the customer with the ability to edit, schedule and even assign reports to selected users.
As is to be expected, the more sophisticated a vehicle telematics system, the more features it will have. Most entry level products nowadays will have features such as automatic data updates at 1-2 minute intervals, route displays and geofence alerts.
In addition to these basic functions, mid-range systems typically feature the provision of more detailed data such as information on braking and fuel efficiency. Intervals between real time data updates will be shorter than those of entry level solutions. A high-end telematics system will not only offer everything that a cheaper product does but may well also feature the option of two way communication and provide carbon emissions data.
As vehicle telematic systems record data about the journeys people make, then the data must be stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act. This states that data should be only be kept if it is relevant and should only be kept for a reasonable length of time. Also, the data must be kept securely and only appropriate persons should have access to it. Full details of the requirements of the act can be found by logging on to the website of the Information Commissioner.
Additionally, if you allow your employees to use company vehicles for private journeys, then it is recommended that you install a system with a privacy button to ensure these journeys are not monitored or you could risk being in breach of the Human Rights Act.
Find the Most Suitable Option
Despite the additional benefits and options a more advanced system will have to offer, it's important to remember that the best product for a particular individual or business is not necessarily the most high-end or expensive one.
By thoroughly researching and comparing different solutions in each price range, a driver or fleet operator stands a better chance of choosing a vehicle telematics system that meets their particular set of needs and preferences.