Two years of a pandemic have heaped change and disruption on Fleet Managers. For many it’s been a struggle just to meet operational expectations or to pivot to the ‘new normal’ without adding any extra challenges. In this environment, it’s not surprising that transitioning to more environmentally sustainable operations may have been shifted to the not-so-urgent tray.
If lowering your fleet’s emissions sounds like a good idea to you, but you have more pressing issues we have good news: you are probably already helping the planet simply by ensuring your fleet operates as efficiently as possible.
In this article we’re going to illustrate how business goals and environmental gains are tightly linked. You will see that good fleet management is delivering benefits in a variety of areas, and we’re going to start by talking about productivity.
Productivity is the fleet’s ability to meet operational requirements as measured against the inputs necessary to do that. Those inputs are varied, but the ones most in focus for Fleet Managers are the assets (vehicles), and the cost of running those assets: manpower, servicing, fuel, etc.
Achieving productivity gains is dependent on improving the management and utilisation of the fleet; essentially, you are trying to eliminate waste and achieve more with existing or fewer resources. Inevitably, these improvements to operations also have a beneficial effect on emissions reduction. This can be seen in two ways: the immediate consequences and secondary consequences.
The immediate consequences of improved fleet management can be seen in reduced fuel use by managing factors such as harsh driving, speeding, and excessive idling. Using tracking, geofences and reports on vehicle trips can also lead to more efficient journey and task management, which could result in the fleet’s total milage being reduced. Naturally, the reduced fuel use generated by these initiatives results in an emissions drop.
The savings gained by reductions in fuel use, lower service costs due to reductions in harsh driving and possibly lower insurance costs lead to the secondary consequence of improved fleet management. Through savings in operational expenditure, money is made available to reinvest in the fleet. One outcome of this could be the purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles or EVs, resulting in even more savings and fewer emissions.
The link between productivity and sustainability is clearly understood internationally. The diagram below was produced by the US government to illustrate Core Sustainable Fleet Principles as a part of the government’s Federal Energy Management Program.
The two blue segments in the car are key elements in improved fleet management and utilisation, and the darker green one is absolutely linked to productivity. The fourth may seem initially to only have a sustainability focus, but if driving an EV brings down operating costs it’s also linked to productivity. Buying less fuel to meet fleet operational requirements improves productivity.
Locally, we can see evidence of the correlation between lowered operating costs and emissions reduction in the industry leading transition to EVs carried out by Meridian Energy. Nick Robillard of Meridian states: “We’ve managed to remain cost neutral on the initial capital cost (adopting EVs) while lowering our operating costs.”
The lesson here, is that every litre of fuel you save simultaneously reduces your operating costs and your carbon footprint.
Many Smartrak customers are already reducing emissions as a consequence of better managing their fleets and the more they push for improved productivity, the greener their fleets become. The diagram below illustrates a solution adoption journey for a customer that starts out with bringing fleet vehicles into a shared pool.
Stage One: Pooling the vehicles means those sitting idle can be either utilised for tasks or retired. Demonstrated fleet reductions of at least 10% are proven in real-world deployments, which simultaneously reduces costs and emissions.
Stage Two: Vehicles are now being tracked when they leave the carpark. Fleet Managers know exactly how long crews are at a job site, can offer customers a more responsive service, and manage resources to achieve more with less. The resulting uptick in efficiency and reduction in waste benefits the bottom line and the planet.
Stage Three: Driver behaviour - monitoring speeding, harsh driving and excessive idling reduces fuel costs, brings down insurance premiums, improves safety, and reduces emissions.
Reduced emissions as a consequence of better fleet management are to be celebrated. But is there a chance to actively enroll the conversation around global warming into a future fleet strategy, benefitting productivity and the planet?
The pressure to move towards more sustainable transport options is growing, with efforts to persuade or legislate evident in three key areas:
In NZ, government departments and local government entities have been given clear expectations around the adoption of EVs and their reporting requirements regarding GHG emissions. There is a grace period, but that will be much shorter than the lifespan of most fleet vehicles
In NZ, the ‘Ute Tax’ is creating soft pressure to steer purchasers away from high emissions vehicles to low and zero-emission alternatives.
In Australia, all governments have brought incentives in to promote low emission vehicles.
Shareholders and the public are aware of the need to reduce emissions. In this environment, fleets will be seen as obvious targets for improvement.
Fleet Managers can either wait until the pressure to adopt a lower emissions profile necessitates change. Or they can set the strategy ahead of enforced change and build a future fleet that responds appropriately to operational requirements.
Fortunately, a best-practice approach to building an emissions reduction strategy is available.
This six-step process is largely dependent on having access to accurate emissions reporting, which is why Smartrak has led the industry in developing an easily adopted emissions reporting solution that will automatically measure the emissions produced by individual vehicles and the whole fleet. This provides the data for cogent decision making and will accurately identify the emissions reductions produced*.
This structured approach to adopting more sustainable fleet policies delivers three key benefits that ensure Fleet Manger’s stay in the driving seat of fleet operations.
The attention that’s being given to lowering emissions is the change-generator you are using to accomplish improved fleet management goals. So go big and bring on the EVs. If emissions reduction is a result of having a great fleet strategy the C-Suite and the green lobby will be equally impressed.
*Smartrak Emissions Reporting is currently only available to NZ customers, but development is progressing
PoolCar and KeyMaster are designed to help simplify the management of pooled fleets and streamline access to vehicles for users. But the combination of PoolCar and KeyMaster has additional benefit in that they help organisations improve the security and access to their vehicles. Learn how to improve your vehicle security with KeyMaster and PoolCar.
Let’s start at the beginning. Someone can only make a booking through PoolCar if they are an authorised user. This means they have been specifically granted visibility of certain vehicles and the opportunity to book them in the booking platform. Authorisation is govened by the types of vehicles a user is authorised to drive, by location, and by time controls (excluding out of hours or weekend use, for instance).
By itself, PoolCar provides assurance that only authorised people are booking vehicles. But this isn’t the same as controlling access to vehicles. If the keys to fleet vehicles are hanging on a hook in an unattended office, unauthorised people can still gain access to them regardless of booking controls.
The next step in increasing security is through the use of KeyMaster key cabinets. KeyMaster cabinets are designed to integrate directly with PoolCar and will only release keys to people who have a valid booking in PoolCar. The cabinet is also controlled by PoolCar, which means it can be situated virtually anywhere that’s convenient to vehicle users, provided it has access to the internet and power. If you have a satellite office or worksite that’s remote from head office, you can keep the keys for vehicles based at that location in an onsite KeyMaster.
It's also impossible to take the wrong keys from a KeyMaster cabinet because the key that’s associated with the booked vehicle is illuminated within the cabinet, with all other keys held fast by locking bolts.
Furthermore, KeyMaster cabinets are equipped with an integrated pinhole camera that captures the image of everyone who accesses the cabinet.
Including a KeyMaster within the solution also brings a degree of rigor to key management. By removing the requirement for someone to physically oversee keys, you eliminate any occasions where keys are left unattended or mistakenly handed to the wrong person.
As an integrated solution, Poolcar and KeyMaster effectively plug the gaps in access and vehicle security. And they provide that confidence while reducing management workload and streamlining access for legitimate vehicle users. These are important aspects in solution efficacy. If your vehicle security protocols hinder operations or demand extra effort in order to comply with them, they will eventually be ignored; PoolCar and KeyMaster ensure that compliance is easy and automatic.
We understand that being a Fleet Manager comes with many considerations in mitigating risk and ensuring the well-being of both the fleet and your drivers. Keeping track of your fleet’s day-to-day operations is no small task. However, an effective fleet management system can streamline your daily workload and reduce the risks associated with your fleet.
Keeping track of your fleet’s servicing schedule can be a real challenge. If you don’t, you run the risk of facing costly repairs, more frequent breakdowns, and even endangering your workers on the road.
Fleets that don’t get the services they need are much more likely to see breakdowns, which leads to tow trucks, hire cars, and putting vehicles out of action. Each of these can add a significant cost to your organisation and decrease the productivity of both your fleet and employees. Workers may also have fewer available vehicles, opening up the risk of missing or rescheduling meetings if adjustments are not made.
A fleet management solution can mitigate these problems by ensuring you’re always notified when vehicle servicing is due. GPS tracking ensures the odometer readings of your fleet vehicles are constantly tracked, providing you with a timely and accurate notification of when the next service is due. This keeps your fleet rotating like clockwork and reduces the likelihood of vehicles being removed from the fleet for extended periods due to unexpected problems.
Another way effective fleet management can play a role in risk reduction is through the identification of risky driver behaviour. This includes speeding, harsh braking and cornering, fatigue, or distracted driving.
This is especially important considering how dangerous it is on our roads. A third of all traffic is either commuting or work-related travel and 42% of all workplace deaths in NZ and 64% of workplace deaths in Australia involve vehicles. With statistics like these, it is imperative that organisations take their duty-of-care responsibilities seriously.
One way to achieve this is via GPS tracking. Fleet Managers can proactively monitor risky driver behaviours and be informed if any driver is habitually speeding or driving recklessly. Identifying drivers that take excessive risks on the road can allow you to take corrective action, fulfilling your responsibility to protect your drivers and those they share the road with.
Regardless of the size of your fleet, it’s important to ensure you have the ability to keep on top of your fleet’s finances. This includes the differences in fuel efficiency across your fleet or any tendencies for some vehicles to experience more issues during use. Being unaware of these factors can lead to unnecessary expenditures for your organisation in excessive fuel consumption, frequent roadside assistance, or repairs that temporarily take vehicles out of action. All of these reduce the productivity of your fleet and increase financial expenses.
An effective fleet management system maximises utilisation, providing oversight and enabling control over which vehicles are assigned to particular tasks. Ensuring fit-for-purpose allocation can minimise incidents on the road and reduce fuel cost through giving preference to the most efficient vehicles. This informed control helps your organisation cut fleet costs and reduce exposure to financial risk
Another risk that can be mitigated with a fleet management solution is vehicle theft. In 2020 an average of 131 vehicles were stolen in Australia each day, and in New Zealand, a car theft occurs every twenty-three minutes.
Having a sound key-management system can make all the difference in protecting your fleet. Effective key management helps to keep vehicle keys out of unauthorised hands and provides fleet managers with an auditable account of when and where your keys were taken and by who. This means you have total control over who has access to your fleet vehicles, preventing car theft by locking keys in intelligent electronic cabinets that only provide the right key at the right time, to the right person.
The GPS tracking functions of fleet management further aid in vehicle theft prevention and can assist in recovery. Firstly, Fleet Managers can utilise geofencing features on their depot and vehicles, which notify you if fleet vehicles or expensive plant and machinery are taken after-hours or on weekends. This lets you take immediate response if a theft or unauthorised use has occurred. What’s more, the in-built GPS tracking provides real-time location data that can be invaluable in asset recovery in instances of theft.
As you can see, there are numerous risks associated with managing fleets. But with a solid fleet management solution, you can easily minimise or mitigate these risks. Smartrak has a number of comprehensive solutions that help Fleet Managers tackle all the challenges your organisation may face. To learn more, feel free to get in touch with us via the form below
At the end of the day, your fleet is only as good as your chosen selection of vehicles. Unfortunately, vehicles don’t come cheap, and when faced with a finite budget, how can you ensure that you’re not only getting good value for money, but you’re identifying opportunities to reinvest? PoolCar provides several ways for Fleet Managers to capture costs so you can invest in the fleet of tomorrow.
To successfully implement a strategy that will help you reinvest in your fleet, you need a way to accurately recover fleet costs. One way to do that is to charge fleet usage back to each of the departments in your organisation. That way, you’re not having to foot the whole bill, and those who use the fleet are paying their way. PoolCar makes this a breeze by capturing cost centres at the time of booking.
At the end of the month, you can use simply run a report that breaks down the percentage of usage across every department. The cost centre captured at the time of each booking becomes the identifier for departmental usage. And because you’re accurately capturing all bookings, there’s no need to guess. This ensures you can accurately recover fleet costs and not eat into your fleet’s already limited budget.
Another way to reduce fleet costs is by reducing your fleet’s utilisation. PoolCar captures data on how often each vehicle in your fleet is being driven. Would it surprise you to know that the average fleet barely reaches 20% utilisation? This is potentially leaving a lot of money on the table in the form of unnecessary vehicles, and their associated running costs.
What we see is that when organisations adopt PoolCar, they often manage to reduce their fleet by up to 10%. This can free the capital tied up in assets that would otherwise sit idle in the car park. It also helps Fleet Managers push back against claims that there aren’t vehicles available to staff. Solid booking data trumps anecdotal evidence every single time.
But while reducing your fleet size will provide some quick wins — you’ll recover some costs when de-fleeting old vehicles, including registration and maintenance costs — the real way to reduce costs is through behavioural change.
Behavioural change might not be high on your radar for ways to reinvest in your fleet, but it’s an important next step as it helps identify instances where fleet use isn’t actually necessary. This comes about by offering alternatives to vehicle travel, and by prompting employees to re-evaluate if a vehicle is necessary in the first place.
The simplest way to encourage behavioural change is via carpooling. Rather than having an employee start their journey planning by booking a vehicle, it can be a great exercise to first get them to see if anyone else is going to the same destination at the same time. If that’s the case, PoolCar has a request a ride feature, where you can book a seat in an existing booking, thereby making better use of the already booked vehicle. This also provides an opportunity for cross-pollination of ideas, especially when you have individuals from different departments spending time together and talking shop.
Another way to promote behavioural change is to require a manager to authorise short bookings. PoolCar has the ability to flag bookings for short distances. This can provide an opportunity for managers to ask if a vehicle is necessary for the trip; perhaps walking, public transport, a bike, or scooter would be more suitable? There are also opportunities to enquire whether a trip is even necessary and could the meeting take place online instead.
By promoting change around how employees access fleet vehicles, there is an opportunity to reduce the reliance on fleet vehicles. This gives you the chance to again analyse if vehicles are needed, and if not, reduce your fleet size.
So, you’ve used PoolCar to streamline your fleet, reduced its size, and cut down on unnecessary staff travel. As a result, you’ve managed to improve the bottom line of your fleet’s budget. While it might be tempting to bank the money and save it for a rainy day, there are several ways to reinvest in your fleet that will pay dividends both now and into the future.
One option is to use the money you’ve saved and invest in high ANCAP rated vehicles. Afterall, it’s likely that your vehicles are now considered a place of work. When you consider that one in five work vehicles will be involved in an accident this year, and that more than 40% of workplace deaths in Australia and New Zealand involve vehicles, you want to ensure your employees are as safe as possible when on the road. It’s also worth pointing out that ANCAP ratings degrade with time. A five-star rated vehicle ten years ago is likely only one or two stars today. Investing in new vehicles with modern safety features is a fantastic way to reinvest in your fleet.
Another option is to use your savings to accelerate the transition to Zero Emission Vehicles. This would not only lower your fleet operating costs (no reliance on petrol and lower maintenance costs) it would also help accelerate your organisation’s goals around reducing emissions.
As you can see, implementing a shared vehicle solution like PoolCar opens up multiple opportunities to lower your fleet’s operating costs. But by reinvesting those savings in your future fleet, you stand to reap the benefits for both your employees and the organisation as a whole.
Over recent years, industrial manslaughter has become an increasing issue in organisational operations and negligence – leading to convictions in Australia and pushing for similar legal accountability in New Zealand. With the growing clarity on corporate negligence that may lead to the death of an employee, taking the extra measures to ensure the safety and security of your workers couldn’t be more critical. Smartrak has several products that serve to prioritise employee well-being and safety, including locational GPS tracking and check-in and duress functions.
First, let’s discuss the legal definitions and ramifications of industrial manslaughter. Where manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another human being, industrial manslaughter is an offence that occurs when a business causes the death of a worker through negligence. This negligence occurs when there is a failure in the duties of the employer to provide and maintain a work environment that is safe and without risk to health. Whilst this duty of care exists for all organisations, those with off-site employees that operate out of direct supervision should take high note of this shift to hold directors and organisations accountable.
In Australia, four states and territories (ACT, QLD, NT, and VIC) have passed industrial manslaughter legislation (with WA soon to follow suit). This led to the first industrial manslaughter conviction in 2020, which resulted in the sentencing of 10 months imprisonment for two directors and a $3 million fine. This case in question came from a forklift-related death of an employee, where the employing organisation was charged for failing to supervise workers effectively.
New Zealand on the other hand has no current industrial manslaughter legislation, however, similar negligence laws can be found in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 Section 47, and penalties can amount to $600,000 and/or 5-years imprisonment for businesses or business officers.
Clearly, Industrial manslaughter places a necessary penalty on the reckless endangerment of employees, and it is up to organisations to take all the steps they can to protect their workers from hazardous environments to ensure they finish the work-day safely. Having fleet drivers on the road or workers travelling off-site opens the business up to blind spots in supervising their workers and ensuring their safety. Organisations should take a strong focus on ensuring their employees have the knowledge, support and tools to be best protected in the event of an incident whilst at work.
At Smartrak, we have an array of devices that help employers maintain location and safety updates on their workers, as well as provide the employee with duress functions for fast response to incidents or dangerous situations.
The Protector Pro is a location-based communication tool that helps to assure an immediate response in an emergency. With built-in manual SOS triggers and even a Man-Down feature that activates when the device registers the employee as unconscious, your organisation can be constantly kept informed on the location and well-being of your employee, providing peace of mind for the safety of all workers. An example of product use might be when an employee is working in areas of low cellular coverage, such as extreme-rural areas or basements. In such events, employers can schedule timed check-ins for the workers, where a missed check-in can prompt notification to management to signal a potential issue. This helps extend the efforts made by the organisation, reducing liable negligence through taking the extra measure to ensure the wellbeing of the employee.
Other Smartrak products include the Personal Locator, Mini PL and Shout, each of which will help an organisation take further efforts to meet their duty of care for the safety and wellbeing of their employees. Not only will this help to protect the employee against workplace incidents, but it can boost morale for organisational culture and protect the business from criminal negligence – putting the employee first in operations.
At the end of the day, the safety of your workers is the utmost priority and benefits both the worker and the organisation. For more information on how Smartrak’s services can help your organisation, fill out the enquiry form below.
Smartrak offers a wide range of lone worker safety solutions to suit a variety of industries and organisations. While every one of our solutions fills a particular niche, it can be slightly overwhelming to determine which is the best for your organisation’s particular needs. We thought we’d put together a series of profiles that outline how important duress devices are in any lone worker situation.
We work with a wide range of healthcare providers, ranging from hospitals, through to mental health organisations, and in-home nursing services. These organisations have doctors, nurses, and health practitioners out on the road undertaking check-ups in patient’s own homes.
Due to the nature of the work, carers are often spending hours on the road, driving from patient home to patient home in order to provide the necessary support for recovery or illness management. In these situations, carers are working in unfamiliar locations and engaging with individuals and their families who are often in high levels of discomfort and distress. This raises the potential for conflict.
One prime example is when nurses or mental healthcare workers are required to undertake in-home visits. The very nature of in-home care is that these employees are by themselves for long periods of the day. And while in many situations, a phone call to a manager or emergency services is all that’s required, occasionally that isn’t possible.
If a healthcare worker operating alone finds themselves in an uncomfortable situation, then dialling for help might actually escalate the situation. Instead, a discrete duress device can provide an ‘out’ by alerting a manager that they need someone to check-in as a means to deescalate any volatile situation.
Smartrak offers several solutions that are ideal for this scenario.
The Mini PL is a straight-forward duress solution that offers simple alert functionality should a lone worker find themselves in trouble.
Our Duress Pendant is a comprehensive solution that works in tandem with in-vehicle GPS tracking. The pendant relies on the vehicle’s telematics solution that can operate on either cellular or satellite networks, depending on the chosen configuration. It works at a maximum range of 200 meters, sending a duress alert via the vehicle should the device be triggered.
This is an effective duress solution as many healthcare lone workers drive to patient homes, so a vehicle is usually present. It also offers a greater degree of flexibility, through the option of either cellular or satellite connectivity. This is especially important if lone workers are working in remote or regional locations, where phone signals become unreliable. Finally, it also combines both vehicle telematics and lone worker safety, providing your organisation with a more comprehensive suite of operational data.
Pooled fleets are a fantastic way for organisations to fine-tune their fleet size in order to maximise utilisation. By taking advantage of pool booking software, Fleet Managers can identify underutilised vehicles and take steps to improve fleet ROI. But this can be especially challenging when a fleet also includes allocated vehicles.
It’s not unusual for organisations to offer employees a vehicle as part of their salary package. However, issues arise when these allocated vehicles are used primarily as a method of daily commuting. Consequently, these vehicles spend a significant period of time sitting idle and unproductive in the car park. If allocated vehicles make up a significant portion of your overall fleet, this directly impacts on overall utilisation.
This unproductive, idle asset base presents a significant challenge for Fleet Managers. Owners of allocated vehicles are unlikely to offer their vehicles for general use if there isn’t a way to ensure that they will always be available for the home commute. Some may become possessive, not allowing anyone to use what they perceive as their own personal vehicle. Or worse, owners might decide to play favourites, only allowing direct team members or specific colleagues use the vehicle.
A pool booking solution like PoolCar can solve these seemingly two opposing viewpoints. It provides an opportunity for Fleet Managers to take advantage of idle vehicles, while ensuring availability of those vehicles for the commute home of their allocated drivers.
PoolCar users can create recurring bookings in order to block out specific periods of time. In the case of an employee with an allocated vehicle, a booking could be created that begins at the end of one business day (5:30pm Monday) and finishes the following morning (8:30am Tuesday). By making this a booking that repeats daily, you ensure that no one can accidentally book an allocated vehicle during that period.
This solves two problems. First, it opens up the potential for normally idle vehicles to be used during the workday. This can either relieve pressure on an already in-demand fleet, or it can provide Fleet Managers with the opportunity to start culling other vehicles while aiming for utilisation targets. It also solves any concerns employees might have about whether or not their vehicle will be booked out when they want to head home.
There will come a time when an employee with an assigned vehicle will call in sick. Ordinarily, this might cause panic, as bookings will need to be modified. However, PoolCar can easily solve this problem. PoolCar admins can easily log into the system and flag the vehicle as being unavailable. Once that’s sorted, they can either shift any affected bookings to other vehicles manually, or let the software take care of it. Because PoolCar is a SaaS solution, any bookings will be automatically updated, providing a seamless experience for anyone with an impacted booking. They probably won’t even realise the vehicle has changed beyond an email letting them know their booking has been updated.
PoolCar can also step in if the keys aren’t returned in time for the allocated driver’s homeward journey by generating an alert email to the system admin. At the same time, because the overnight booking is still outstanding, PoolCar can automatically re-allocate any bookings impacted because the vehicle hasn’t been returned. It also gives the Fleet Manager an opportunity to check in with the employee to make sure everything is ok.
The other aspect of pool booking is having a comprehensive key management solution. Pairing PoolCar with KeyMaster ensures that keys can’t just go missing; only individuals who have a valid booking can open the cabinet and can only take the key associated with their booking. This ensures that you can quickly identify who hasn’t returned the keys, instead of running around the office tapping people on the shoulder.
It puts a level of accountability on the driver of the vehicle; they must return the key to the cabinet when they arrive at work, closing off their recurring booking and making the vehicle available for others. If they forget, then the Fleet Manager will be alerted and can chase up straight away. It also ensures that the owner of the allocated vehicle knows exactly where their keys will be at the end of the day. The don’t have to run around looking for keys or chase people that might have already left for the day.
A key management solution also helps allay any concerns that might arise regarding infringements or fines. If a vehicle is associated with an infringement, it is a simple matter to report on who was responsible for the vehicle when the infringement occurred. The vehicle owner isn’t required to take the blame.
As you can see, a pool booking solution like PoolCar has the ability to not only streamline your shared fleet booking process but also widen the scope of your shared fleet. By opening up the possibility of using allocated vehicles as part of your shared fleet, you can start to better utilise assets that might otherwise sit idle for hours during the working day. And with PoolCar’s powerful features, owners of allocated vehicles can be sure they won’t be inconvenienced.