Andy Allen, head of BP Fuel Cards, considers how smart data integration can hold the key to more effective fuel management.
It can be all too easy for companies to take their eye off the ball when it comes to the proactive management of business costs.
We are all so busy trying to do our day jobs that the use of vital business intelligence to improve business performance can often get overlooked. Such an oversight, however, can prove to be a silent business killer.
For fleet businesses, the close scrutiny and management of all key areas of spend can have a significant impact on the bottom line – and no fleet cost offers a better illustration of this than fuel.
Fuel is one of the biggest single overheads for fleet operators – and the UK Chancellor has now added to the burden for those running diesel cars with a hike in the diesel car supplement from three to four per cent.
Furthermore, it’s volatile, which makes business planning and budgeting a significant challenge.
Following a short period of relatively stability, prices at the pump, at the time of writing, had surged upwards. This has largely been a response to increases in the trading cost of a barrel of oil, from $50 to $65. Such sudden spikes in fuel costs can, of course, have a substantial impact on business profitability.
And adding to this uncertainty, consumption per driver, per vehicle, will also fluctuate, depending upon vehicle type, mileage and driving style behind the wheel.
The flip side of the coin
As fuel expenditure is not a fixed business overhead however, companies can take a number of steps to reduce consumption or mitigate cost volatility, from improved vehicle maintenance to fuel hedging.
The two principal options involve reviewing fleet composition and influencing the input of the driver.
Purchasing or leasing more fuel-efficient vehicles on renewal can offer a longer-term option. In the short term, however, this can prove financially prohibitive.
Effecting changes in driving behaviour, by promoting a more fuel-efficient performance behind the wheel, can help realise a more immediate return.
Enter stage left – telematics and fuel card data.
Data convergence: the fleet insights Holy Grail
The emergence of big data has presented businesses with a significant challenge – making sense of the fire hose of information that is now available to them. Industry suppliers are developing ever more intuitive solutions to simplify this process, collating and presenting back the key nuggets of information they require.
The integration of telematics and fuel card data can hold the key to transparent and simplified fuel management information – helping achieve better control over expenditure and business cashflow.
Fuel card data combined with odometer readings can provide an indicative vehicle mpg. In isolation however, it cannot provide insights into why this mpg might be lower than expected, or lower than that of a comparable vehicle, driven by a different employee.
When fuel card transactions are considered alongside telematics data that detail where and how drivers are driving, fleet managers have much greater visibility.
A low mpg might be attributable to journeys in residential areas or built-up locations, such as central London for example, or it might be caused by harsh, inefficient, driving behaviour.
Solutions, such as BP FleetMove and FleetMove Pro, can now deliver this combined information to fleet managers via a single software interface.
Furthermore, these solutions can help companies identify unauthorised fuel purchases or incidents of fraud. Fleet managers, for example, can be immediately alerted should the location of a card transaction and vehicle fail to correspond.
With the UK growth outlook for the next five years revised downwards by the OBR to an average of 1.4 per cent, combining data streams in this way for more effective fuel management may prove more vital than ever in unlocking the door to improved profitability.
A concrete company has seen its productivity boosted by more than 25 per cent after switching to a paperless system for ordering and job scheduling, underpinned by telematics.
Wright Mix, a leading supplier of concrete screed and ready-mix concrete, has been able to complete up to two extra jobs per vehicle each day and reduce administration with help from an integration between the WEBFLEET fleet management solution from TomTom Telematics and routing and scheduling software AGGSMART.
This digital system replaced Wright Mix’s previous manual booking and scheduling system, which relied on paper-based records and communication via phone, and enables dynamic job dispatch and workflow, automatic billing, customer ETAs and digital signature capture.
Customers place an order and following preauthorisation of payment, the job can be assigned to the most appropriate driver and timeslot within the dynamic scheduling system. Job details are sent to drivers’ TomTom PRO 8 driver terminals and navigation is automatically provided, giving the driver, office and customer an accurate ETA.
WEBFLEET ‘talks’ to AGGSMART throughout whole process. This means that, when arriving onsite with the customer, the driver is able to check the preauthorised payment before dropping the concrete or screed and asks the customer to sign for the delivery on the screen.
The exact volume of product delivered to the customer is then recorded in the AGGSMART app, which enables Wright Mix’s accounting system to automatically bill the customer accurately – all without the use of paper or making a phone call.
As well as seeing a 25 per cent increase in productivity and removing paperwork processes, the new system has helped streamlined processes, condense administration hours, and reduce ‘bad debt’.
Peter Harris, operations manager at Wright Mix, said: ‘Before we had WEBFLEET and AGGSMART, I was constantly on the phone to customers and our drivers – the days were so frantic. So much so that I would miss lots of calls during the day. Now, the office is very calm and I never miss a call.’
Phil Wright, owner of Wright Mix, added: ‘AGGSMART has been a significant addition to our volumetric ready-mix business, creating flexibility, traceability and efficiency in our day-to-day shipping and ordering process. With a detailed and easy-to-use quotation system integrated to our credit card payment provider, booking jobs has become a seamless process.’
The system was implemented by TomTom Telematics partner, FMC FleetTrack.
More than half of UK businesses (56 per cent) have invested in technology over the past five years that has been underused, research1 by TomTom Telematics has revealed.
A lack of guidance and support from suppliers was found to be the number one reason for this, highlighted by 47 per cent of businesses2. Forty-five per cent also said they lacked a dedicated resource to make use of the technology while more than a third (37 per cent) said the technology was incompatible with existing systems and processes.
‘Investment in technology is crucial in helping businesses to stay nimble, adapt to changes in the market and to turn operational data into genuine business intelligence,’said Beverley Wise, Director UK & Ireland at TomTom Telematics. ‘But investment alone is not enough and many organisations do not get the results they anticipate because they fail to plan beyond the implementation phase.’
‘This means potential suppliers should be scrutinised to check they offer ongoing consultancy and support services, continuously invest in research and development, and create solutions that are adaptable enough to integrate with other software or hardware. Long-term success can also be aided by a clear organisational policy that assigns ownership to the appropriate employees, outlines training requirements and establishes practical processes for data management and analysis.’
The study among senior managers at 400 UK businesses also found the average annual spend on new technology among those businesses was £20,036. But despite this investment, more than one in 10 (11 per cent) never, or rarely, use data from business technology to inform decision-making. A further 28 per cent say they only do so occasionally.
1 The study was conducted among senior managers in 400 companies with five employees or more.
2 Businesses surveyed could select multiple options from a finite list of reason for their technology being underused.
More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of UK businesses are worried their employees are using mobile phones to text or access the internet while driving for work, research1 by TomTom Telematics has revealed.
The study also found 33 per cent of organisations still have not taken steps to prevent employees from using mobile phones while driving, whether through specific policies, training or education.
This is despite the introduction of harsher penalties for people caught using their mobile phone while driving, which came into force on March 1 this year. The standard fine doubled from £100 to £200 and drivers can now be given a penalty of six points on their licence.
‘The World Health Organisation has called mobile phone use a “serious and growing threat to road safety”2and these results further highlight the extent of the problem faced by businesses,’ said Beverley Wise, Director UK & Ireland at TomTom Telematics. ‘It’s a problem employers must tackle, however, if they are to demonstrate a genuine commitment to the wellbeing of their staff.
A clear policy on the use of mobile phones should form part of a best practice approach to road safety, but cultural change is also vital. Ingrained habits are hard to break but continuous training, education and communication can help to change employees’ mindsets and encourage a greater focus on safe driving.’
The research also revealed that 68 per cent of organisations still allow hands-free use of mobile phones by employees driving for business purposes. However, studies have shown that talking on a hands-free phone can be as distracting as talking on a hand-held mobile.3
Wise added: ‘There is evidence to suggest hands-free use of mobile phones can be highly distracting so businesses should consider this when deciding how far policies extend. Technology such as telematics can also play an important role in helping to identify when employees are driving distracted by continuously monitoring performance. Incidences of harsh steering or braking, for example, might be indicative of greater problems that require attention.’
TomTom Telematics has been recognised as the largest provider of fleet management solutions in Europe for the third successive year by market analyst firm Berg Insight.
The declaration was made in the recently published 12th edition of the Berg Insight Fleet Management in Europe report.
‘The European fleet management market has continued its rapid growth in 2017, driven by an increasing understanding of the business benefits the connected vehicle can bring to organizations,’ said Johan Fagerberg, CEO at Berg Insight.
‘TomTom Telematics has been very successful at capitalizing on this and has experienced solid revenue growth year-on-year, outpacing its competition. The company’s innovative telematics solutions have been instrumental in helping grow its subscriber base over the past few years and it now has twice as many subscribers as the closest competitor.’
Thomas Schmidt, Managing Director at TomTom Telematics, added: ‘TomTom Telematics continues to build on its enviable reputation as a trusted fleet management partner with specialist solutions to help businesses of all sizes, across all industry sectors, reduce costs and optimise their operations.’
‘This achievement is testament to the power of WEBFLEET and our secure, ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified, telematics service platform. As we continue to raise the bar in market-leading, innovative technology, our commitment to the very highest standards of service and customer support remains unwavering.’
London, 27 June 2017
Berendsen cuts fleet CO2 emissions by more than 2,000 tonnes and reinforced its commitment to driver safety with an integrated telematics and fleet camera solution.
The textile, hygiene and safety solutions specialist has introduced a fleet and driver efficiency programme underpinned by OptiDrive 360, a key feature of the TomTom Telematics WEBFLEET fleet management system. OptiDrive 360 scores and provides feedback to drivers on a range of performance indicators, including fuel consumption, speeding, harsh braking and steering.
In addition, integrated on-board cameras from ICanProve. IT provide full 360° visibility, via WEBFLEET, across its 680-strong mixed fleet. It also helps provide an audit trail and heightened levels of driver support and vehicle security.
‘Environmental performance, road risk management and health and safety compliance are paramount for Berendsen and this system has helped ens
ure our fleet processes are best in class,’ said Robert Hitchcock, Berendsen’s Procurement Category Manager – Mobility.
‘The results to date have been staggering. By having the tools to monitor and coach our employees to optimise their driving, we have seen significant improvements in their performance behind the wheel. This has translated to a substantial reduction in our carbon footprint with fuel efficiency soaring by nine per cent.’
Berendsen has outsourced the administration of WEBFLEET to TDS (Telematics Data Services Limited). WEBFLEET data is used by TDS to implement employee communication initiatives to help influence driver behaviour and reduce fleet running costs.
Where driving incidents occur, the combined OptiDrive performance data and camera video footage is used to debrief employees and support them with targeted driver training.
The integrated WEBFLEET solution underpins Berendsen’s fleet operation across its four UK business lines – hospitality, healthcare, workwear, and clinical services. The company is now looking to roll the system out across its wider European operations.
TomTom Telematics and OBS Logistics launch paperless vehicle safety checking solution
App will help hauliers to move from BRONZE to SILVER FORS membership
London, 18 May 2017
TomTom Telematics and transport management software specialist OBS Logistics have joined forces to create a new vehicle checking solution for haulage and logistics operators, helping to capture accurate information for Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) compliance records.
The CALIDUS VEhub mobile app helps drivers to check blind spot indicators, cameras, tyres and fuel quickly and efficiently on TomTom PRO 8275 TRUCK driver terminals. It was developed using the TomTom Telematics .connect API and works in tandem with the WEBFLEET fleet management system.
The combined solution can be easily configured to help meet a wide range of needs, including signature capture, paperless delivery notes, automatic allocations and route templates, while also helping to reduce costly empty running.
Designed to help fleet operators to move from BRONZE to SILVER membership of FORS, the app is currently available on a three-month delayed payment1 basis for FORS members.
‘Ensuring companies can improve compliance and effectively manage their fleets is at the heart of what we do and we are pleased to be supporting FORS and its members to help them do this better,’ said Matthew Turner, Head of Extended Transport Solutions at OBS Logistics. ‘With our software, FORS members can better plan, execute and monitor their transport operations to help make them even more efficient, and, crucially, safety compliant.’
FORS promotes operational best practice through a focus on safety, efficiency and environmental protection. OBS Logistics, together with 85 further FORS Associates, provide members with discounted products and services, alongside a raft of further benefits that come with FORS accreditation.
Paul Wilkes, FORS Business Services Manager commented: ‘It is important for FORS members to understand how to manage their logistics in the most efficient way to help them save time as well as money. The app offers fleets a simple and effective solution to help them improve operational efficiency and safety.’
‘Creating a paperless audit trail for vehicle safety is a key priority for haulage and logistics operators looking to protect both their drivers and their reputation and that’s exactly what this app offers,’ added Beverley Wise, Director UK and Ireland at TomTom Telematics.
1 Customers signing up to a 39 month contract will receive the first three months of the service free and will only have to start paying in month four.
New event throws a spotlight on the future of LCV fleet management
London, 11 May 2017
Experts and visionaries will uncover the trends and upcoming challenges facing van fleets at a new event – Let’s Explore: LCV Fleet 2017 – aimed at helping businesses better prepare for the future.
The event, to be held in Birmingham on July 4, will include industry insights and advice from futurologist Dr James Bellini, automotive financing expert professor Colin Tourick and Freight Transport Association’s Head of Vans Mark Cartwright.
‘The LCV sector is set for wide ranging changes over the next five years and beyond, from Brexit implications and new regulations to disruptive technologies and emerging risks,’ said Beverley Wise, Director UK and Ireland at event organizer, TomTom Telematics.
‘Fleet operators need to plan ahead and future-proof their strategies to ensure they remain competitive in this new business landscape.’
Speakers at the event will also include representatives from BP, HDI Gerling, LeasePlan and TomTom Telematics. Topics to explore will range from the future of vehicle financing, leasing and compliance to connected vehicle technology, managing fuel and insurance.
The Technology Village exhibitor area will offer delegates an opportunity to network and discover how technology and data will play an increasingly important role in helping them manage their mobile workforce in the future.
Businesses interested in attending the event at the Vox Conference Centre, Resorts World, should register in advance. Places are limited to 200.
TomTom Telematics serving 45,000 customers and 650,000 vehicles using WEBFLEET online fleet management software. Fleet Management Solution. This represents a 38% year-on-year growth and reaffirms its position as the market leader in Europe.
TomTom WEBFLEET platform provides real time vehicle tracking, driving information and reports about operational performance to fleet managers.
“The growth of WEBFLEET is founded upon its success in helping businesses operate more efficiently by turning large vehicle data volumes into actionable insights,” said Thomas Schmidt, Managing Director, TomTom Telematics. “As the largest and fastest growing fleet management provider in Europe, we have a lot of experience in helping customers to use this data to manage and improve their overall vehicle operations.”
In a single day, these 650,000 managed vehicles make 1.75 million business and private trips and drive more than 60 million km, the equivalent of 1,500 times around the world. The data centers, provided with the highest security and performance standard (ISO27001), process over 425 million messages and GPS positions per day or 25 billion new data points every quarter. At any moment, this data is immediately available to business customers in clear dashboards, live vehicle information or via detailed reports in order to decrease fuel, maintenance and insurance costs of the fleet of vehicles.
TomTom Telematics has been announced as the 2016 European Fleet Telematics Company of the Year in the latest Frost & Sullivan Awards.
The Frost & Sullivan panel commended the company for its successful implementation of industry best practices to innovate and meet changing customer needs. Its open telematics service platform, WEBFLEET, is enabling partners in different verticals to create applications suited to their individual sectors, which are available to TomTom Telematics customers through the .connect portal.
This allows fleet owners to incorporate a range of software applications that are specific to their industry, enabling them to make smarter decisions to achieve their business goals. Moreover, OptiDrive 360 fulfils the green requirements of customers, helping them reduce idling times, speeding and vehicle maintenance. The technology provides a complete approach to assist drivers in adopting a responsible driving style.
Commenting on the award, Sathya Kabirdas, Research Manager at Frost & Sullivan, said: “TomTom Telematics has strongly positioned itself in the European fleet telematics market on the strength of its expertise in developing diversified solutions that can help ensure optimum driver efficiency and contribute to operational cost savings for clients.”
Thomas Schmidt, Managing Director at TomTom Telematics, added: “It’s an honour to receive the Company of the Year Award as it is the most prestigious award that Frost & Sullivan bestows on any company. It has been an amazing year for TomTom Telematics and we look forward to driving ahead with our business in 2016, and helping our customers achieve even more.”
The past 12 months has also seen TomTom Telematics recognised as Europe’s largest and fastest-growing provider of fleet management solutions by Berg Insight, as well as being voted 2015 Best Commercial Vehicle Systems Integrator by TU-Automotive.