Global Positioning System (GPS) vehicle tracking has rapidly gained popularity among fleet owners as the technology becomes more affordable and easier to access.
In general, GPS vehicle tracking utilizes a space-based global navigation satellite system to track time and location information of fleet vehicles. This information is then transmitted to a remote user who can monitor vehicle location, speed, routing, idle time, engine start up and shut down, and much more.
The data can be used to improve a host of fleet management operations, including the reduction of fuel costs. According to a study by the Aberdeen Groups (a research firm that studies the effects of technology) on business, fleets with GPS tracking installed experience a 13 percent reduction in fuel costs on average.
Here are five proven ways fleet owners can use GPS vehicle tracking to help reduce fuel costs.
Reducing Vehicle Speed
According to the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency (EPA), each 5 mph driven above the posted speed limit has the net effect of costing about 20 cents more per gallon of gas. Multiply that cost across several vehicles and you have a huge source of cost leakage.
Most GPS vehicle tracking solutions provide accurate speed information about each vehicle tracked. But the best GPS solutions also include alerting features that will notify you immediately when a vehicle exceeds a set speed threshold.
Brenner Oil Company of Holland, Mich. uses a fleet of 85 vehicles to deliver oil to residential and commercial customers throughout western Michigan. The company installed FleetMatics GPS vehicle tracking as a way to reduce fuel costs and discovered that the system helped them keep their vehicles at fuel-efficient speeds.
“The speed monitoring feature of GPS has really helped to slow the drivers down and consequently has contributed to our reduced fuel costs,” said Lisa Slade, logistics coordinator at Brenner Oil. “Drivers know I watch their speed, and I even get some calling me up to ask how fast the system says they are going.”
Decreasing Idle Times
According to Ford Motor Co., every hour of idle time is equal to approximately 25 miles of driving. Contrary to popular belief, the EPA states that restarting an engine uses no more fuel than 30 seconds of idling and has very little harmful impact on vehicle components. When drivers use their vehicles as climate control, it costs businesses money.
Quality GPS tracking systems notify you when a vehicle idles for excessive periods of time, wasting fuel and being nonproductive. Prior to implementing a GPS tracking system, Brenner Oil had no way of knowing whether vehicles were idling or not. With GPS installed, Mrs. Slade can run a report in a few seconds that provides a detailed account of idling time for each vehicle.
“The Idling Report is the one report I use the most in our GPS system. I’m looking for anyone idling more than two hours per day,” said Mrs. Slade. “If anyone is violating that, the matter is brought up in the daily meeting.” As a result of paying close attention to the Idling Report, the company has reduced idling times by 45 minutes per vehicle per day.
Improved Routing and Dispatching
Since GPS tracking allows you to know the precise location of every vehicle, dispatchers can more effectively manage routing and dispatching. Dispatchers can ensure vehicles take the most direct route to any job site and can get lost drivers back on track. The best GPS fleet tracking solutions also provide current traffic conditions so you can divert drivers around delays.
Some GPS solutions have the ability to locate the vehicles that are closest to any job site. With this information, managers can ensure jobs are assigned in the most efficient manner possible. In addition, fleet managers will know if drivers use vehicles for unauthorized journeys or purposely take extended routes to job sites.
Once Brenner Oil implemented their GPS solution, Mrs. Slade was shocked to discover that many drivers took scenic routes instead of the highway. This added up to around 20 minutes or more per day per driver wasted on improper routing.
With proper routing management and effective dispatching, vehicles do not spend as much time travelling between jobs. Shorter travel times means less fuel spent on the road.
Proper Vehicle Maintenance
Vehicles that receive regular maintenance run more efficiently and use less fuel than neglected vehicles.
A quality GPS fleet tracking system will also allow you to ensure your vehicles receive proper maintenance. Alerts can be set for each vehicle based on calendar time, engine on-time, or
mileage depending on the type of service needed. When a vehicle is due for maintenance, you are notified via email or in the reporting suite.
A proactive vehicle maintenance program can also reduce the chance of your vehicles malfunctioning on the roadways and causing serious accidents. In addition, properly maintained vehicles help save your assets by keeping vehicles on the road to do more business and costing less money in repairs over time.
Fuel Card Integration
Many fleet managers use fuel cards to help control and manage fuel costs. Integrating fuel card usage with a GPS fleet tracking system will give you complete visibility over your fuel spend.
Reports generated by fuel card companies are notoriously long and complicated. A GPS tracking system that allows you to integrate fuel card usage will present the information in an easy format.
You will get precise fueling information for your overall fleet, as well as individual fuel usage of a specific vehicle. You can easily pinpoint any fuel wasting practices, or outright fuel theft.
Reliable card transaction information allows you to track accurate MPG, pinpoint the direct cause of high fuel consumption, eliminate fuel slippage, enforce fuel-saving driving habits, ensure your vehicles run efficiently and ultimately reduce your overall fuel costs.
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About FleetMatics FleetMatics is a rapidly growing, privately-funded software-as-a-service (SaaS) company focused on live GPS tracking for fleet vehicles. FleetMatics handles all the technology issues so customers focus strictly on their business to realize a rapid and ongoing ROI that includes increased revenue, reduced costs, and ability to grow profitably. For more information, visit www.fleetmatics.com or call