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Telematics Use Grows in Work Truck Fleets

From tracking preventive maintenance to reducing vehicle idling and fuel consumption, truck-based fleets are adding telematics devices to their fleet vehicles to improve operations.

March 2010, Work Truck - Feature

by Lauren Fletcher - Also by this author

Water District Shrinks Operating Costs

Faced with dropping revenues from reduced customer water consumption, the Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) needed to shrink operating costs while still carrying out projects required by state and federal laws.

Located in Riverside County, Calif., EMWD provides fresh and recycled water and wastewater services to a 555 square-mile area. Forced to establish mandatory water use restrictions, EMWD aimed to reduce operating and labor costs to compensate for shrinking revenues.

According to Mark Iverson, EMWD maintenance director, an initial agency goal was more efficient use of its 350-vehicle fleet.

"When the district extended the criteria for vehicle life from 10 years/200,000 miles to 12 years/250,000 miles, we began a study that covered all aspects of fleet management and efficiency. This assessment resulted in changes that have already yielded substantial cost savings and will undoubtedly prolong the life of our fleet," said Iverson.

After evaluating various fleet management products, EMWD installed Networkfleet on all 1996 or newer vehicles. In addition to the potential savings in operating costs, EMWD chose Networkfleet for its plug-and-play installation capability and 24/7 roadside assistance, included in the system's cost.

Iverson explained, "Unlike other GPS products, Networkfleet connects directly to the engine's onboard diagnostic unit (OBD-II) without cutting or splicing wires. After a brief training, EMWD employees completed the installation of Networkfleet on 300 vehicles - without hiring additional staff. It took less than 30 minutes per vehicle."

Because Networkfleet connects to the engine's OBD-II, EMWD can now remotely monitor engine diagnostics, fault codes, and emissions control system status. For example, EMWD staff receives an immediate alert when an engine problem occurs, allowing technicians to proactively repair the vehicle before the problem worsens.

EMWD had to overcome inaccurate perceptions among employees about this type of device.

"Many organizations have the misplaced idea that a GPS system is only useful in situations where employees are suspected of misusing vehicles. Over time, our employees saw they were actually benefiting from from the system. For example, now we can prove a driver wasn't speeding at the time of an accident," said Iverson.

"Networkfleet also automatically collects emissions data, which eliminates the need to bring vehicles in for biennial smog checks," Iverson noted. "Proactive maintenance and automated smog checks save both time and money."

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