Interview: TomTomWORK Maximizes Field Service Efficiency for Large and Small Fleets

By Joe Francica

Field service managers are always looking to squeeze that last drop of savings from their fleets, whether it’s through a reduction in man-hours or fuel. Regardless, attempts to reduce cost while improving customer service are challenging. TomTom WORKsmart is a work order manager system that’s linked to TomTom’s GO 7000 in-vehicle navigation devices, specially designed for fleet management. In this interview with Michael Geffroy, vice president of sales, and Robert Knych, senior sales engineer for TomTom Business Solutions, Editor in Chief Joe Francica gets under the hood of TomTom WORKsmart with an in-depth look at how the system “works.”

Directions Magazine (DM):  Let's start with a basic overview of how TomTom WORKsmart fleet management solution and TomTom WEBFLEET can be deployed to a company with a typical fleet of 25-100 vehicles. Is this a complete work order management system that allows both dispatcher and driver to update orders in real-time and change time windows, as well as providing statistics on fleet efficiency?

Michael Geffroy (MG)/ Robert Knych (RK):
Yes. TomTom WORKsmart fleet management solutions provide dispatchers with the ability to schedule and send orders to drivers. The drivers can then update the status of the orders in real-time and these updates are sent back to the dispatcher. Dispatchers can also modify (change time windows), cancel and update orders in real-time. WEBFLEET records all of this information and provides reports that the fleet managers can then use to measure fleet efficiency. WEBFLEET also provides a dashboard feature that fleet managers can use to configure various fleet key performance indicators (KPIs) and view these KPIs online for near-real-time fleet efficiency tracking.

DM: Is the TomTom WORKsmart fleet management solution a rule-based system where assignments are made automatically based on the type of work needed in addition to the proximity of the driver to a job site? For example, are vehicle groups assigned a series of orders based on skill set, or are groups a function of location, or both?

The TomTom WORKsmart order management system is not rule-based, but vehicles and/or drivers can be grouped based on any criteria, including the type of work they can perform. Appropriate jobs can then be assigned to appropriate resources based on skill set as well as proximity to the job location. This process can be automated using WEBFLEET.connect, WEBFLEET's application programming interface (API), to tie into the customer's existing route planning and scheduling applications.

DM: Can territories be assigned to drivers? Can the dispatcher monitor whether territories are ahead of or behind schedule based on a set of work orders?

WEBFLEET does not use territories as criteria that can be defined or assigned to drivers, but all driver orders and their statuses are available in real-time to the dispatcher so this information can be determined at any time. The dashboard can also be used to show this type of information at a glance, and of course WEBFLEET provides this information as part of a standard report.

DM: Explain in detail about the communication between the dispatcher and the driver via TomTom WEBFLEET and the navigation device that each driver has in the vehicle. Is this a specially designed device just for WORKsmart fleet management solution?

The dispatcher uses WEBFLEET to communicate with the drivers while the driver communicates with the dispatcher through the in-vehicle navigation device. The actual communication is accomplished over a GSM connection. The navigation device included with TomTom WORKsmart fleet management solutions is the GO 7000, which includes additional memory and software specific to TomTom WORKsmart. The GO 7000 is not available through the TomTom consumer/retail channel.

This dispatcher can communicate with the driver through WEBFLEET using either text messages or by sending orders. Unlike a phone-based solution, these messages are not sent via SMS and therefore they are not limited to 160 characters. A TomTom WORKsmart fleet management solution work text message can have up to 500 characters. The second method a dispatcher can use to communicate with a driver is through the use of orders. Orders can also contain up to 500 characters of text including information such as an identifier, service type (service, delivery, pickup), time of execution and tolerance, as well as address and contact details. All of this information is used by the driver and the GO 7000 device to navigate the driver in the most efficient manner to the customer location.

The driver communicates to the dispatcher primarily using text messages sent over the GO 7000 device. These messages can also be up to 500 characters in length, and are entered manually or composed of pre-defined messages that the drivers chooses from a list and sends to the dispatcher. The driver can also add additional text to any of these pre-defined messages. The same holds true for order messages. The driver can communicate to the dispatcher through order status messages using the GO 7000 device when working an order. The GO 7000 can also store up to 15 pre-defined Order Status messages that the driver can then choose from a list and send to the dispatcher. As with pre-defined text messages, the driver can also enter additional information to pre-defined order status messages. The main difference between text messages and order status messages is that text messages and text "status" messages can be sent at any time and for any reason. Order status messages, on the other hand, can only be sent when a driver is working on an order - so they are tied to that particular order for reporting purposes.

The final method of communication that a driver can use is recording working time or trip type. The GO 7000 can track the hours a driver is working and whether the vehicle is being used for business or private travel. If configured for "working time recording," the driver can specify when he is starting work, finishing work, starting a break or finishing a break. If the dispatcher only needs to know when the vehicle is being used for business or private trips, then the driver can simply choose "business trip" or "private trip."

DM: What is the average cost savings that your clients realize by using this solution?

TomTom WORKsmart fleet management solution customers are realizing average savings of 25 to 35%. This results primarily from fuel savings due to more efficient navigation to the customers and from time savings through more efficient dispatching, which allows additional jobs per day/week to be completed by drivers. For example, our customer, Henry's Wrecker Service in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, has realized fuel savings of $200 per truck per month - totaling $40,000 per month for its 200-truck fleet.

DM: How important is reporting a fleet's carbon footprint and how do you document this?

TomTom is committed to helping our customers lower their environmental impact. WEBFLEET provides a dashboard report on daily fleet carbon footprint, calculated using the vehicle mileage and fuel consumption (miles per gallon etc.). This can help the customer implement an internal carbon footprint reduction program or meet external incentives or requirements put in place by local or national governments. Europe has taken the lead in this area, but we expect the U.S. to follow suit eventually.

DM: Does the system have a way to automatically evaluate the more efficient drivers/routes or underperforming drivers/routes?

Yes, TomTom WORKsmart fleet management solutions provide this functionality through the WEBFLEET dashboard, which provides fleet efficiency information based on fleet KPIs. These KPIs can be set to report on a wide range of criteria, such as number of orders completed per driver per day, usage per vehicle, time working on orders, etc...
DM: What's next for fleet management and navigation? What additional efficiencies can you build into TomTom WORKsmart that will continue to provide fleets with better management and lower cost of ownership?

TomTom is constantly looking at adding additional functionality to enhance its WORKsmart fleet management solutions and help our customers manage their resources more efficiently. Today, we are working closely with our software partners to add additional functionality such as route optimization, commercial vehicle routing and fuel-tax reporting. We are also looking at adding additional devices that connect via Bluetooth to our in-vehicle telematics box, such as Dallas keys and vehicle data that can communicate and transmit working times and vehicle fuel consumption information to WEBFLEET.

Published Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Written by Joe Francica

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