Technology

Lessons in smart fleet management

This article first appeared in Contractor February 2017.

Cutting costs was the original reason that Nelson-based Taylors Contracting looked for a GPS fleet management system. But it soon discovered wide-ranging health and safety benefits.

TAYLORS CONTRACTING is a civil contracting company that has specialised in earthmoving, civil construction, forestry infrastructure and quarrying services from Nelson since 1971 when it was set up by the late Bob Taylor and his wife Marlene.

Taylors Contracting is still very much a family affair with Bob and Marlene’s sons Charlie and Matt Taylor now managing the business.

Today the company employs more than 125 staff and runs a vast fleet of earthmoving equipment as well as a combined fleet of 125 trucks and utility vehicles. It’s a company with an eye on the future and a clear understanding of the benefits technology can provide.

Since adopting Teletrac Navman, the team at Taylors Contracting are seeing the wide-ranging benefits of the system, from keeping track of their workers in challenging environments and using it to improve health and safety systems, to saving money on RUCs.

Better business using GPS tech

Claiming back Road User Charges (RUC) was the initial reason for Taylors installing GPS fleet management system from Teletrac Navman early last year.

The forestry division alone of Taylors Contracting does around 12 percent of all travel off road, but hadn’t previously been able to claim back the RUC.

“Since installing the GPS vehicle tracking system, we’ve been able to claim back over $8500 in RUC,” says Ben Burbidge, assistant accountant at Taylors Contracting.

“That’s a significant sum of money in a relatively short space of time, so we’re pretty happy about that.”

Ben says that Teletrac Navman is also used to audit staff time-sheets.

“The time-sheets can be cross checked against the vehicle records in the system. Some guys take their vehicles home and they don’t always remember to record when they start and finish work, so the system can supply that information. It makes our time-sheeting much more accurate.”

Keeping remote workers safe

Denise Kay, Taylors’ health, safety, quality and environment manager, says that keeping an eye on staff working alone has been an immediate benefit of the system’s real-time GPS tracking technology.

“We can look up each vehicle on the system and see exactly where it is,” she says. “Tracking gives us the ability to know who’s working where.”

While many of the company’s workers rely on RTs to communicate, if they are out of range in a remote location, Denise can check on them using the GPS tracking software.

“We have guys who work alone. They call in over the RT at least three times a day, but if they don’t we can check to see where they are and make sure they’re okay.”

As part of the company’s health and safety work Denise has to carry out regular audits, observe the firm’s staff who work alone and also undertake investigations when required.

“On these occasions I need to be able to find them. So now I can use the system to locate them, then drive straight there. It can save a lot of time.”

Peak speed and staff driving

The real-time GPS fleet tracking reveals speeding, abrupt braking and time spent idling, all factors which increase fuel usage. Records of such behaviour can be used as training tools to help staff improve their driving standards.

“We had a false assumption that our vehicles were always being driven safely and at the speed limit because we’d received a very low number of speeding tickets,” Denise says.

“However, once we installed the GPS tracking system, we could see quite a number of situations where staff had exceeded the speed limit.”

She says that if someone has been speeding the system records it straight away.

“I get the speed information in real time, which assists us to be more proactive in managing staff. Previously we might get the information days late, or even two to three months down the track.

“With the real-time information, staff that may have been driving a bit fast can be encouraged to modify their behaviour. Teletrac Navman has become a management tool for us.”

Denise receives daily reports that provide her with an overview of what is happening, and she can then use the software Dashboard to help her spot trends and patterns across the company’s departments. She has also used the data from the system to report to the company’s board.

“I had enough data to show a trend in driver behaviour. I could also show the board that the proactive communication and education around safe speeds has had an impact on driver behaviour. We’ve seen a downward trend in speeding events this year as a result of the system.”

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