The right telematics system for your business can reduce overheads, increase profitability, improve vehicle security and staff productivity. But with systems offering so many different functions each providing different data, it’s difficult to choose telematics for your business. We’ve got a nifty guide to make your selection easier.
Put your needs first
Determining your needs, or at least your priorities, is a good place to start. It sounds obvious, but with so many factors to consider, including budget, it’s easy to lose touch with what matters. You could choose from a system that delivers regular updates ranging from 60 seconds to 15 minutes, or you might need a set-up with real time information.
It really depends on whether you need a general overview of your vehicles journey history, or if you need to make business critical decisions based on real-time data.
An updating system – or ‘passive’ – will give you a general overview of where your vehicles have been.
More expensive ‘active’ systems are based on real-time data and give instant information to decide which is the nearest and most suitable vehicle for the job.
Consider how often you need to access data reports – whether it is daily, monthly, weekly or longer. It’s worth being honest with yourself as to whether you have time in your schedule to compile the reports yourself or if you need your telematics system to do that for you as an automated function.
Again, it all comes down to your business needs and what you need your reporting to solve. Telematics data gives you insight in to speeding, how long a vehicle idles, driving styles, including speeding infringements, or any out-of-hours use.
Staff clocking on and off times can also be tracked with payroll reports, taking into account lunchtimes and breaks as well as any genuine overtime.
This means fewer office hours are needed to sign off, collate and input timesheets. It will also reduce payroll queries and overcharging.
It’s worth evaluating if detailed telematics is right for your business needs – perhaps these systems will provide you with simply too much information.
Your data requirements may also have changed since you last reviewed your telematics system so make sure you do some rigorous decision making before automatically choosing the same technology again.
If your current telematics set-up is on just one computer with special software installed, it may be worth reviewing whether you need to access it from various locations and from different devices.
Perhaps you have to be in the office to access it, where the data can take up precious computer or server memory. Internet browser based systems are available. These don’t rely on software and can be accessed from anywhere at any time with a personalised login.
When logged-in, many systems provide a customisable desktop meaning you can have the information most important to you and your business accessible at the touch of a button.
If you need access to historical data, check your provider offers this and has the infrastructure to store such data.
You can now access many telematics systems using a mobile phone, giving you access wherever you are, so it’s worth checking your provider has this functionality.
When using the map function, whether to track your vehicles or send a route to a driver, consider which maps are being used by your provider. It’s vital you ensure the maps are clear, easy to read and simple to follow with enough information for a driver to find their destination quickly.
It’s also important to verify that maps are updated regularly and they can display real-time changes in traffic and congestion.
Ensure you can zoom in on the maps sufficiently, generally down to street level, while terrain and a hybrid/satellite view may be helpful for trickier locations such as a farm, restaurant or rural locations.
Vehicle theft and unofficial use
The right telematics system can alert you to when a vehicle starts or moves outside of pre-set hours. This means you may get to report a vehicle theft to the police immediately, increasing the chances of the vehicle being recovered, so keeping your fleet intact and safeguarding insurance premiums.
If you use trailers, consider trailer theft, or misplacement of, to avoid leaving your fleet short.
Unauthorised usage of fleet vehicles out of hours can be an issue. Staff may use your fleet vehicles for personal errands or jobs on the side. This adds wear and tear to your vehicles, affects insurance premiums and increases your overheads.
Alerts and notifications
Rather than sifting through hours of information, make sure your telematics system has an alert function. That way you can get either instant notifications or weekly reports of driving offences – such as speeding – when a vehicle’s engine starts and stops, distance travelled, out of hours use or if a vehicle enters a restricted area.
You can also set up vehicle maintenance alerts, letting you know when a service is due using parameters such as distance travelled, a pre-set length of time or how long the vehicle has been running.
You might be wowed by what a new start-up can offer at a low price, but it’s advisable to check the financial stability of your provider and check they have a long list of happy and satisfied clients before committing.
Also, consider how often a provider updates their systems to keep them relevant in a quickly evolving technological world. And find out what training they offer to ensure you get the best out of the system.
Check what technical and customer support is offered, ensuring the provider’s staff are knowledgeable and well-trained. It’s also important to know what warranties are offered and how quickly defects are dealt with.
Choose wisely and the right telematics system can put you in complete control. Your fleet will run more efficiently while overheads drop and profit rise. And not forgetting you’ll have a more productive workforce and happier customers.