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Trucking Fleets Leverage Traffic Data to Work Smarter, Cut Costs

Thursday, September 13th 2012

Summary: Saving a mile or two on fuel economy is a key metric for fleet truck companies. So is an hour or two a week per operator. Put them together and fleets large and small can save money. This article explores one solution from TomTom that puts fleet operators in the driver’s seat when it comes to saving time and money.

Drivers today have advantages that were never available in the past. Road conditions and traffic information are standard inputs for routing the quickest way to get home after a hard day at the office.
 
But for professionals who spend their day on the road and the companies that manage fleets, it’s all about squeezing time windows to incrementally increase job completion rates while saving an additional gallon or two of gas. To achieve better gas mileage and improve driver effectiveness a more professional solution is required.
 
TomTom Business Solutions
, a division of TomTom, has developed WORKsmart for companies that employ professional drivers and where road navigation is a core business. Because traffic is a reality and urban congestion is unavoidable, fleet managers need a solution that starts with improved planning before a driver turns on the ignition.
 
One of the unique aspects of WORKsmart is that it functions like a true business intelligence (BI) solution that integrates location-based information. That is, a working LI/BI tool.  TomTom's solution offers action-oriented reporting that includes dashboards to help operators measure key performance indicators (KPI) such as time of arrival, vehicle safety and whether drivers are performing at the expected level given the job situation. Each KPI may be different and customized for each fleet or company objective, but if it can be measured, it can be factored into overall performance.
 
TomTom has created a congestion index for major cities.  So, by including this index as well as historical and current traffic information, vehicles can be routed by determining how quickly they can arrive and not just by the shortest distance. Most of this information is provided to the dispatcher rather than to the driver.  Michael Geffroy, vice president of TomTom's Business Solutions, explained. "What's really helping today is our ability to mitigate the issues with distracted drivers.  When drivers are on the road, they don't need a phone.  They will know where to go, the route and when to get there. Time management eliminates distractions."
 
Key metrics that are supporting the need for better efficiency as well as driver safety are factors such as:

  • Where is time spent?
  • How long does it take to drive to a job site?
  • How long does a driver spend on breaks?
  • What's the average time at a worksite?

Reporting is not left to a stack of papers but is immediately forwarded to drivers and managers. As such, each has a stake in making the process more efficient.  Top line benefits accrue because operations are more predictable. Drivers are getting more work done within an 8-hour day resulting in a reduction in overtime. Companies are also seeing a reduction in response times by as much as 20%.  "If you are getting one more job done per day, job rate production increases," said Geffroy.
 
TomTom offers this solution on a monthly subscription basis. Payback is usually 6-9 months on average. There are now back-end solutions for office users that are available on iPads and iPhones. According to Geffroy, "You run the fleet from your home office."

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