Rebecca Hill, European sales manager at WEX Telematics, explores how telematics solutions can help operators protect their trucks, cargo and drivers
From uncertainty surrounding Brexit to increasingly stringent environmental legislation, 2019 seems set to be a challenging year for the road transport industry. Taking a proactive approach to safety and crime prevention is an important step to help secure businesses against this unpredictability.
Fleet managers have responsibility to ensure the protection of a fleet’s core assets: drivers, vehicles and cargo. The safeguarding capabilities of telematics technology have already been recognised, with the EU drivers’ hours and tachograph law, for example, requiring most HGVs to be fitted with a tachograph in order to monitor safe driving hours.
However, there are many more ways that telematics systems can be used to protect fleets – from deterring vehicle theft to encouraging safer driving habits. The key to realising the security potential of telematics lies in finding a provider that offers the best system features, and then supports fleet managers in making full use of those tools to safeguard what matters most to their businesses.
Vehicle theft and misuse
Telematics can protect fleets by deterring and mitigating the cost of criminal activity. With reports from SCREEN (Supply Chain Risk Exposure Evaluation Network) and NaVCIS (National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service) suggesting UK businesses lost in excess of £27 million due to cargo theft in the first half of 2018 alone, and the loss of just one HGV estimated to cost £250,000, the vehicle tracking and suspicious activity alerts offered by most telematics providers could save businesses tens of thousands of pounds per year.
The first line of defence offered by most telematics systems is an anti-tamper or power-loss alert, which sends out a warning if a device is damaged or experiences a loss of power, instantly alerting owners to any suspicious activity.
The presence, or suspected presence, of a tachograph device is itself a powerful deterrent against theft. Even if thieves manage to make off with a vehicle, telematic system features, such as geofencing and GPS tracking, mean there is nowhere to hide.
Many providers offer real-time GPS tracking, and deliver detailed journey history reports including when and where a vehicle has travelled. This means any stolen vehicle can be easily found and goods potentially recovered.
Geofencing features, such as WEX Europe Services Telematics’ Geo-Plus tool, can also help alert businesses to vehicle misuse or theft. These virtual cordons can be set up to flag when a selected vehicle has entered or left an area, meaning businesses know if a vehicle’s movements deviate from an assigned route or if it fails to arrive at its destination.
With a select number of providers, telematics systems can even be linked with a fuel card to give enhanced security for fleets, as well improved efficiency and less time lost to route deviations. WEX Telematics users, for instance can connect an Esso Card to their account, giving them access to route planning tools alongside geofencing to ensure drivers stay on course.
This, combined with access to detailed information about fuel spending, leaves little opportunity for misuse of company funds or assets.
Vehicle wear-and-tear, driver safety and security
Beyond ensuring drivers do not exceed safe operating hours, telematic systems record information that can help businesses improve the safety of their fleets: from identifying dangerous driving practices, to helping avoid penalties and fines.
The engine activity data gathered by tachographs, including instances of speeding, harsh breaking or excessive acceleration, can identify drivers in need of additional safety training, as well as those who should be rewarded for their safe and efficient driving. Improving drivers’ awareness of road safety and the consequences of reckless driving can have a positive impact on every layer of a business: from increased profitability, fewer days lost to injury or vehicle damage and lower insurance premiums, releasing cash to be invested elsewhere.
Fleets that promote considerate and consistent driving also benefit from less wear-and-tear on vehicles, so they remain operational for longer, with a reduced chance of collisions, injury or road-traffic law violations in addition to improvements in the public’s perception of the company.
While telematics systems are effective in helping businesses to identify the safest drivers, those which link with fuel card accounts can also make rewarding good service easier, since some providers offer incentivising perks. With Esso Card, for example, these include the ability to collect Tesco Clubcard points when purchasing petrol or diesel with a fuel card.
Free demonstrations of WEX Telematics can be arranged; contact details are available via the website.