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Keep the fleet on the right track

30 September 2011

PFM was recently sent a survey looking at uptake and perceptions of the vehicle tracking business. Tim Fryer had a look through the results.

FLEET MANAGEMENT IS ONE OF THOSE FUNCTIONS that can drift in and out of the FM’s portfolio. In this survey of 250 influencers in fleet operations, conducted by Ctrack, the sector breakdown of respondents had FM as only sixth on the list.
However, as the top five slots were taken by (in descending order) Construction, Service management, Road transport and logistics, Manufacturing and Sales and Marketing, it is clear that there will be a large FM content within these other sectors.
The Ctrack Vehicle Tracking Survey 2011 is designed to provide insight into the uptake of vehicle tracking amongst UK-based businesses, how the technology is being used, what benefits are being achieved and what barriers are preventing more companies adopting a solution.
There is still a proportion of fleet operators not currently using vehicle tracking that are unconvinced about the potential benefits, but more than half of those yet to adopt the technology believe it can provide return on investment.
Fuel costs and pressures to reduce operational overheads are currently the key challenges for a large number of fleet operators, with many using vehicle tracking to help overcome these issues.
There is considerably greater use of vehicle tracking for vans, and to a lesser extent heavy goods vehicles, than cars according to the respondents utilising the technology. In fact, four fifths of respondents tracked vans compared to just a third for cars, perhaps reflecting a more established and proven business case for van operators.
The findings suggest that vehicle tracking has become embedded within many companies’ fleet operations, with over 70% having used the technology for more than four years and almost 5% for over 10 years. Just under 5% of fleets have adopted vehicle tracking in the past 12 months representing continued year-on-year growth in uptake.
Meanwhile, the advances in the functionality of web-based tools, combined with the affordability of this type of system when compared to server-based solutions, has meant that they now account for more than half of all active tracking systems. A further 25% of tracking solutions now use a combination of server-and web-based systems, often to achieve added flexibility and support multi-user requirements.
It seems that fleet operators are increasingly combining their tracking solutions with in-vehicle tools to maximise the operational performance of the system. In particular, integrated satellite navigation is now used in 53% of all tracking systems to support improved routing, reduced mileage and enhanced workflow.
Elsewhere, Driver Identification (24%), handheld PDAs or terminals (7%) and panic alarms (7%) are also being utilised to a lesser extent. In addition, many companies are integrating vehicle tracking with other back office management systems in order to streamline their operations and automate internal processes.
In terms of the primary purpose for using vehicle tracking, productivity (36%), cost reduction (16%), asset management (15%) and customer service (14%) are the most common reasons, although security, health and safety and legislative compliance also featured in the responses.
However, fleets are now achieving a wide range of business and operational benefits that are delivering real return on investment. Of the respondents that stated that their fleet operations had achieved reduced costs, a wide range of savings are consistently being achieved. For example, more than two thirds have lowered fuel costs by an average of 8.6%, whilst over half have reduced overtime claims by an average of 15.3%.
The difficult economic climate has had a mixed impact on fleet operations with more than half believing it has had a negative impact. In particular, only 15% had seen their fleet budget increase during 2011, with the remainder experiencing a reduction or staying the same.
However, 46% of respondents overall thought telematics could help them overcome the challenges caused by the downturn, although this percentage dropped dramatically amongst those not currently using vehicle tracking to just 26%.

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