Mobile Workforce: Optimize Your Business with Fleet Tracking and Timecards
By Paul Fitzgerald for America's Backbone Weekly!-- AddToAny BEGIN -->
Technology has made the task of managing a fleet enterprise a whole lot easier in recent years. GPS tracking devices have made it possible to track your vehicles in real time, making tasks like route scheduling more efficient. Technology has also made it easier to manage your drivers with the advent of remote timecards. If you're a fleet manager and you aren't using these technologies in your business, it might be time to think about doing so. Here's a look at some of the options now available in the industry.
GPS tracking lets you know where your vehicles are at all times. It can be achieved by installing simple GPS tracking devices onto your vehicles (they usually cost around $250), or by installing a more robust system of remote sensors which can handle additional tasks, such as monitoring vehicle maintenance status and driving behavior.
Simple GPS trackers, such as those from US Fleet tracking, run in price from $239 to $378. The NT-V3ia model, which costs $249, monitors vehicle location (transmits location every 5 to 10 seconds) and allows web-based tracking from a computer or mobile device. It also allows you to remotely set routes from the web platform and will send speed and geofence alerts by email or text.
Geofencing refers to the ability to set restricted boundaries of transit using GPS technology. Should a vehicle stray from its designated geographical zones, you will be sent an alert. This is very handy in cases when vehicles are stolen and your driver may not yet be aware of the theft. When you receive an alert, you can contact the driver who will let you know whether he or she has driven the vehicle off course for a valid reason, or if the vehicle has been stolen. GPS tracking has obvious value in cases of theft, as it allows you and law enforcement agencies to locate the vehicle in a timely manner.
GPS tracking also lets you plan routes efficiently. If you get a sudden order while your vehicles are on the road, a GPS system will let you determine precisely which vehicle is closest to the new pickup location. This will save you money in fuel costs which is an obvious boon to your bottom line. Advanced tracking systems also monitor driving speed and idling time, which can also affect fuel costs. We'll look more closely at the potential for savings with GPS a little later.
Driver Timesheet Management
If you're looking for a solution that does a little more than track vehicles, there are products on the market that provide extra features, like driver timesheets. For example, Actsoft's Comet Tracker platform lets you track current vehicle locations, and customer locations from Smartphones, Tablets, computers or vehicle-mounted dashboards. It has added benefits like work order dispatching, which allows you to send detailed job orders electronically, saving time and simplifying the dispatch process. It also has a Standard Forms service which allows you to take pictures and capture signatures and barcodes. One feature that really stands out is its electronic time sheets which track the number of hours your drivers are working, and send them to your payroll applications. Your drivers can 'punch in' on their wireless devices, which records both time and GPS location. The ability to manage your employee data as well as your vehicles with one cloud-based software platform is a real time-saver.
For even more robust driver-management features, there's Actsoft's Comet Mobile Workers (available from U.S. Cellular). This software package allows you to manage sophisticated scheduling, including recurring jobs and assignments. You can add new jobs to existing schedules at any time, and workers receive automatic notifications in the field. You can create worker profiles, and generate graphs and charts to visualize data that's pertinent to your business. Actsoft's pricing can be determined by contacting the vendor for a quote.
There are many different companies and products in America that provide fleet management solutions. You can conduct further research by doing Google searches and by contacting vendors to find out exactly what features each package provides, how much it will cost, how much technical support they provide, and how easy the products are to manage on your end.
Is it worth it?
Let's look at the potential savings that can be had by employing GPS tracking systems. According to the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency, each 5mph driven above the speed limit equates to spending an extra 20 cents per gallon of fuel. Ford Motor Company states that every hour spent idling is equal to 25 miles of driving. Since good GPS systems also include reports on driving performance and behavior, fleet managers can now determine where wasteful speeding and idling is occurring. Drivers can be informed about the potential cost leakage and their driving can be corrected. Depending on how much drivers are speeding or idling, the savings that arise from analytical data can be substantial.
As for electronic time sheets, there's no research to indicate how much money they can save, but the convenience of being able to manage your company's labor force from a single platform and one which may be integrated with your vehicle tracking system ? may be worth it.
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