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FTA trial finds that telematics brings convincing returns to smaller fleets

A three-month trial conducted by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and transport management solutions provider Microlise has questioned the widely-held view that telemetry is the sole preserve of large fleet operators. Clearly, there are excellent returns on investment in telematics technology to be had for more modest-sized outfits too.

In a controlled trial, specialist waste management operator Vetspeed had seven of its 40 vehicles fitted with a new telematics system unbeknown to its drivers for an initial five week period. After this first set of data was analysed and then conveyed to those drivers to address issues of performance further trials were undertaken. The upshot was that Vetspeed’s drivers cut their fuel consumption by 0.43 miles per gallon (despite the severe weather conditions that hit the UK during the trial), potentially saving the company around £13,000 a year.

Gary Gates, Transport Manager, of Vetspeed, said:
"Like any other company, Vetspeed needs to remain at the cutting edge to deliver to its customers the very best value possible. Transport costs obviously represent a massive proportion of our overheads so it makes good sense to focus on improving performance as much as we can in this area."

"We were not in any doubt that our drivers would perform well, but what we wanted to see was whether they could perform better. By allowing us to look at things like engine idling, for example, we were able to share with our drivers ways they could finesse their driving behaviour. We are talking fine tuning here, not wholesale changes, but the results are well worth it."

Since the trial ended, Vetspeed’s productivity has improved by 200 drops a month due to better routing and closer monitoring of driver behaviour. Awards were given to both the ‘best’ and ‘most improved’ drivers from the trial.

Julian Barker of the FTA said:
"It doesn’t really matter how small a fleet is, being able to ‘drill down’ data to address areas of performance or even non-compliance is very useful for any company. This trial shows what can be done when a responsible and forward-looking operator adopts the latest technology and applies it intelligently. Only this way can performance be accurately assessed and then improved or rewarded."

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