Going Green with GPS Fleet Tracking
By Don Ernest, Freelance Technology Writer
Companies have always had to rely on fossil fuels, but the hard facts supporting the pressures for manufacturers and service suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and CO2 emissions are weighing heavily. What started out as ethical concerns have turned into very real economic concerns as companies try to maintain profits and retain customers, such as the U.S. Government, that are demanding more sustainable business practices from their providers. Not to mention, fighting increasing fuel costs on top of everything else.
There is really no excuse for companies to not put forth “greener” efforts in today’s increasingly environmentally conscious world. While manufacturers have always faced stiff penalties for polluting water, soil and air, companies that rely on fleet vehicles for daily business are now being held accountable for their carbon footprints and GHG emissions.
For companies currently doing business with government agencies, or hope to do so in the future, there are increasing pressures from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to report their GHG emissions, as well as increasing expectation to comply with other mandatory regulations. Companies also face an increasing number of “eco-conscious” clients who demand some level of environmental accountability.
For companies that rely heavily upon their fleets of vehicles, which can number into the hundreds or thousands, this might be a daunting task of seemingly endless paperwork and analysis. For companies that utilize Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking to monitor and manage their vehicles, the task is much less cumbersome and time consuming.
Many of today’s most robust GPS tracking systems already provide a deep mine of statistical data and daily reports on each and every vehicle in a company’s fleet. By paying close attention to these reports and alerts, these companies not only run considerably “greener” fleets, but they run much more efficiently and cost-effectively.
What are some of the ways in which a GPS fleet tracking system can reduce your company’s carbon footprint and develop greener business practices? A close examination of even the most basic GPS benefits provides clear solutions for companies wanting, or needing to be greener.
Optimized Routing and Dispatching for More Efficient Fuel Consumption
At the very heart of most GPS vehicle tracking systems is a mapping method to provide the driver, or the dispatcher, with the most direct route from point A to point B. The shorter the route and the less time it takes to travel that distance will improve performance and save companies money in fuel costs. Every extra mile traveled costs a company more money, so reducing mileage can reduce costs as well as greenhouse gas pollution. A decrease in mileage translates to significant carbon reductions, plus thousands of dollars in cost savings per vehicle. GPS fleet tracking systems enable you to minimize distances traveled using route optimization based on time, distance, and live traffic.
Operating a timely and cost-efficient fleet for your business means keeping in constant contact with all drivers, and providing them with accurate work orders and up-to-the-minute scheduling changes. Integrating your fleet tracking software with Garmin helps you streamline dispatching and communications to maximize your business’ productivity.
A superior fleet tracking system provider can integrate your Garmin navigation units with their system in order to provide turn-by-turn directions, immediate notification of job status, accurate ETAs to the next job site, total number of jobs left to complete and easy-to-use messaging capabilities. All of this adds up to decreased distances traveled between jobs, increased response times, eliminates manually entering addresses to job sites while driving and the ability to input emergency jobs and message the driver for immediate notification.
Fuel Cards Offer Increased Fuel Efficiency
The use of fuel cards can also provide cost savings and invaluable reports which in turn can be used to curb unnecessary costs and monitor vehicle performance. The best GPS tracking systems fully integrate your fuel cards with their software. With powerful reporting tools and real-time data, you will have total visibility of your fuel spend. You will get precise fueling information for your overall fleet, as well as individual fuel usage of specific vehicles. This allows you to easily pinpoint any fuel wasting practices, or outright fuel theft.
Reliable fuel transaction information allows you to track accurate MPGs, pinpoint the direct cause of high fuel consumption, eliminate fuel leakage, enforce fuel-saving driving habits, ensure your vehicles run efficiently and ultimately reduce your overall fuel costs. Much of the new fuel-card technology is integrated with mobile communications systems. For example, GPS programs providing real-time vehicle location are able to locate the nearest low-cost fuel station.
Maintenance Reports and Alerts
Proactive vehicle maintenance is another simple yet essential way of getting the most out of your fleet equipment and making sure that all vehicles are operating at peak performance. It is a known fact that vehicles that receive regular maintenance run more efficiently and use less fuel than neglected vehicles. Regular maintenance service will also increase the life expectancy of a vehicle and will reduce the chances of a vehicle breaking down, causing additional delays and expenses.
A quality GPS fleet tracking system will allow you to ensure your vehicles receive proper maintenance. By setting alerts for each vehicle based upon calendar time, engine-on time, or mileage, you are notified via e-mail or in the reporting suite when a vehicle is due for maintenance.
GPS tracking allows you to remotely monitor such things as motor oil life, engine fault codes and emissions control system status. Recent studies have proven that better oil-life monitoring could save over 100 million gallons of oil over five years. By keeping track of services such a tire inflation and oil changes with GPS tracking Service Alerts, fuel usage decrease immensely. The Department of Transportation estimates that 5 million gallons of fuel per day are wasted due to low tire pressure, and the EPA states that a poorly tuned engine can use up to 50% more fuel and produces 50% more emissions than one that is running properly. These are hard facts to ignore when you’re trying to run a cost-effective fleet of service vehicles.
Monitor Speeding, Idling and Other Fuel-Wasting Behaviors
The most obvious ways to reduce fuel consumption for any vehicle is to reduce speeding and aggressive driving habits. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.” Multiply that cost across several vehicles and you have a huge source of cost leakage in your business.
Most standard GPS vehicle tracking solutions can 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, and allows you to address the situation right when it happens and notify the offending driver.
Excessive idling is another tremendous cause of wasteful fuel consumption. According to Ford Motor Company, every hour that a vehicle is idling is the equivalent of 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 and increases unnecessary emissions that contribute to global warming.
These are just some of the many ways in which a robust GPS tracking system can save your company money and increase your client base in an ever-expanding “eco-conscious” world. As government regulations become more stringent regarding acceptable greenhouse gas emissions, and pressures from an increasingly competitive and environmentally conscious free-market economy grow, it is time for all businesses to take a closer look at their fleet performance and operating practices. Once baselines have been established, realistic goals can be set, and results can be easily measured by a reliable GPS fleet tracking system. If you haven’t already, make the smart, and green, choice by looking into GPS vehicle tracking for your company today.
FleetMatics is a leading global provider of fleet management solutions for small and medium-sized businesses delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS). The company’s solutions offer real-time insight into vehicle activity that reduces operational costs and improves customer service. FleetMatics now serves over 14,000 customers, has installed more than 200,000 vehicles worldwide, and is adding thousands of vehicles monthly. Its SaaS and mobile application gives businesses anytime access to real-time data about their business.
The company’s world headquarters are in Ireland, with U.S. headquarters in the Boston area and additional offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte, Clearwater, and Phoenix. FleetMatics is the parent company of SageQuest. For more information, visit www.fleetmatics.com or call 866-844-2235
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