In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, owners and fleet managers of service businesses like landscaping, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC, still need to manage their fleets, but may not want to go to the office daily and risk possible exposure to themselves or others.
Fortunately, by using new technology offerings such as the Vision GPS vehicle tracking device from ATTI using a smartphone, tablet, or PC remotely, in addition to e-mail, Zoom meetings, etc., fleets can socially distance as well as dynamically manage their fleets and work crews throughout the day without missing a beat.
“With an advanced, real-time GPS vehicle tracking system, essentially all employees can socially distance. To avoid potential viral transmission from other employees and vehicles, they can leave from their homes in their typical company vehicle and go directly to the job site without returning to the office, except to retrieve any needed supplies,” said Ben VanAvery, sales and marketing manager of Advanced Tracking Technologies (ATTI), a Houston-based designer and manufacturer of GPS tracking products.
Staying on Task
A GPS tracking system can facilitate social distancing and virtually eliminate the need for routine personal interaction, while ensuring that drivers and work crews stay on task.
“Dispatches can be made throughout the day and sent directly to the driver’s phone to tell the work crew the next job site address,” he explains. “Once they complete the job, it is recorded in the system, so the dispatcher, owner or fleet manager can stay apprised. In that way, it can serve as a remote time sheet.”
When emergencies occur or work must be handled by the nearest qualified, available technician, such a system can be very advantageous.
“With real time GPS vehicle tracking, you can see which technicians you have across the area, including who is nearest and who is experienced and properly qualified for the job. And by accessing real-time traffic data in the software, you can identify who is easiest to send to that location as well,” VanAvery said.
As an example, the Vision from ATTI transmits 10-second updates, showing precisely where vehicles are the moment the fleet manager or dispatcher needs to know. Compared with typical GPS tracking devices that may only update every few minutes, the system provides real-time location updates as well as speed and idle time alerts if something is amiss. This data is transmitted via satellite and cellular networks to a smartphone or PC on a 24/7 basis. The system has access to nationwide speed limits in its database.
With such a system the fleet manager or dispatcher via a smartphone app or PC can also display the real-time location of the entire fleet on a map, and zoom in on any specific vehicle. At a glance, he or she can see if a vehicle is moving (displays green) or stopped (displays red). If he or she touches a vehicle icon, the app will display where the vehicle has been, where it stopped, and how long it has idled.
By zooming in or out on the map, the fleet manager can see where all the fleet’s vehicles are and quickly reallocate any to where they are most needed. This can be particularly important if the volume of delivery or requests suddenly changes and must be rapidly accommodated.
Fleet managers can also configure the system to automatically send real-time text or email alerts to individual drivers, groups, or the entire fleet if factors such as traffic congestion, travel route, vehicle speed, starts, stops, or idling pose a concern or deviate from policy.
Emailed vehicle tracking reports can be configured to automatically summarize fleet performance of such factors on periodic basis to help determine which routes are the most efficient.
Advanced GPS tracking systems can also improve efficiencies on more established routes. For example, because the GPS system is automated, travel reports can be generated that analyze vital historical data, such as on-time pick-ups or drop-offs, can also be emailed without anyone having to open software. The reports can be customized as needed to include as much detail as needed, such as how many stops, how long per location, top speed, mileage, idle times of the day, etc.
Identifying and implementing more efficient routing and performance, in turn, enables individual drivers and the fleet as a whole to accomplish more in less time.
About the Author: Del Williams is a technical writer based in Torrance, Calif.