One of the most important parts of running any business is assessing the risks and finding ways to manage said risks. When it comes to managing an entire fleet this can become even more difficult. Many cities have begun to utilize GPS fleet management systems in a variety of ways to aid in tracking certain aspects of their fleets. These systems are a great asset to risk management because they help save both time and money. They also promote safe driving habits and driver awareness as well as aids fleet managers in operating their municipal fleets in the most successful way possible.
Verizon published an e-book on why using a GPS fleet management system not only aids in managing fleets but also helps to reduce risks associated with operating them. In the e-book it explains how the use of a GPS fleet management system can greatly improve safety by measuring the speed and location of every fleet vehicle at all times. A GPS management system can help limit the amount of unnecessary driving since fewer miles means a fleet is exposed to fewer risks.
The ability of the fleet monitoring system to track locations can also help protect any fleet vehicles against theft and aid in retrieving the stolen vehicles. One of the most effective ways the system can assist fleet managers is by reducing vehicle breakdowns since it is both easier and more cost effective for municipalities to keep fleets well maintained. These management tracking systems also protect the driver of a fleet vehicle against false claims by utilizing a variety of features available.
Ron Crowden, fleet manager, stated that Augusta has integrated GPS tracking into its fleet management practices as a safety initiative. The municipality’s primary purpose in using these systems is to monitor speeds on service vehicles in order to reduce driving accidents. According to Crowden, “This system will send speed alerts to various supervisor and management personnel within the appropriate departments.”
Additionally, the city uses these tracking systems to monitor the locations of fleet vehicles as both a loss prevention effort as well as to deter the unofficial use of government vehicles. The tracking system can also generate reports that support both drivers and civilians. As stated in Verizon’s e-book, the system can provide evidence from various applications if a complaint is made. However, the system can also aid in supporting civilian claims against government vehicles.
One of Norfolk’s fleet managers, Facundo Tassara, stated the municipality is currently using the FASTER Web 6.2 fleet management system, and is “very pleased with its real-time dashboard capabilities, which provided key KPIs (key performance indicators).” The system includes several reports that allow fleet managers to better manage their operations, particularly with such a diverse fleet.
The fleet management system monitors everything from regular sedans to complex off road construction equipment. The city maintains a monthly report generated by the system and reviews 20 specific key performance indicators, including “expenses at vendors, miles driven, fuel consumed, equipment downtime, scheduled versus unscheduled maintenance, department preventative maintenance compliance and more.”
For Kelly Reagan, fleet administrator with Columbus, the fleet plays an integral role in risk management for the city. The Columbus fleet uses AssetWorks and Networkfleet as its GPS provider for its fleet managing system and is also looking into collision avoidance hardware and software in the hopes of mitigating future accidents. The GPS monitoring has a direct interface with the fleet management information system, which helps prevent more expensive repairs by alerting managers if a vehicle is “throwing a code” or has service requests. Fleet managers use this monitoring system on the majority of their local government vehicles, including those in construction management and facilities management as well as in parking violations, public service, code, development, public health and construction and design departments.
Reagan believes this level of monitoring is “critical for all units as we (the city) ensure that all city workers have the necessary tools to complete their daily missions. So, email alerts for all data coming from the vehicles that may be problematic and/or behavioral get sent to their supervisor as well as the division of fleet for a response.”
The use of this management system has changed the way fleet managers work. For Reagan, “this has meant a lot more data coming at (the fleet managers) more quickly. The big questions for (the fleet managers) are how do we harness all this data, manage it all then use it to make sound business decisions for our businesses?”
When it comes to using GPS systems to monitor municipal vehicles, Reagan said, “The bottom line is that it saves money by reducing unnecessary repairs for vehicles, keeps the general public informed of our activities like snowplowing and trash pickup, reduces overall fuel consumption and makes our operations much more accountable in all that we do on a daily basis.”
One of the largest money-saving opportunities available to municipalities by using GPS fleet tracking is helping to reduce fuel costs. Jenny Malcolm, content marketing specialist with GPS Insight, listed a few ways GPS fleet tracking can help by limiting speeding and wasteful idling, detecting rapid acceleration, optimizing routes, eliminating unauthorized usage, reducing run time and verifying fuel card expenses. It can also assist in a government fleet’s focus on sustainability by helping to reduce GHG emissions by decreasing the number of miles driven and staying up to date on maintenance.
Malcolm states that “when government fleets are using a GPS fleet tracking system for fuel management, increased accountability among employees, sustainability and improved safety, using tracking for non-emergency vehicles, is a highly beneficial practice.” The primary objective seems to be consistency within the fleet, as Malcolm added, “Having consistent visibility over all vehicle types is recommended to receive the most value.”