So why are these services so vital to van fleets? Van fleets aren’t heavily regulated in the way that trucks are, so Wise explains that the onus is on the operator to ensure their operations are in line with best practice: “In one sense, this would seem to suggest that technology such as telematics is less relevant, but those organisations who embrace the potential for change can steal a march on the competition.”
Of course, telematics is an incredibly broad term and covers extensive monitoring capabilities for van fleets. While journey planning and mileage capture are two of the more common, the geo-fencing and servicing elements can provide some great added value and time-saving abilities to van fleet managers who use them effectively, explains the AA’s Thomas.
“Those unexpected wins are often the element that really convinces a fleet manager of the benefits,” he says. “For example, we’ve seen one delivery business into London save a fortune on congestion zone fines. The drivers were not mentioning they had entered the congestion zone to the fleet manager and so he was paying the higher-rate fine. Using geo-fencing, he now receives an immediate alert and can pay the much lower daily charge. In this situation, as is often the case, connected car data acts as an enabler to further improve efficiencies within the wider business.”
While investing in telematics is becoming a crucial part of successful fleet management, Thomas doesn’t think it is realistic that all fleets will go ahead just yet. “I think for now it’s needs-based – some fleets with just two or three vans may not yet think they require route planning as the fleet is not of a big scale. For bigger fleets, however, they are now realising that the duty of care, deployment, journey planning and cost savings benefits that come from telematics are vital.
“I believe the uplift in telematics has allowed a duty of care to become not just workable, but an efficient and positive practice and believe this trend will continue alongside the growth in technology.” Looking even further ahead, TomTom’s Wise believes telematics will have an important role to play in the use of autonomous vehicles for business: “Developments in this area have the potential to help create entirely new business models, particularly for delivery businesses, many of which currently use LCVs.
“Use of autonomous vehicles will rely heavily on real-time data flow, including mapping, traffic, scheduling, order information, recipient ID, job instructions and more,” she continues. “With the right information, technological innovations have the potential to change the way we work, transform service delivery and bring about a big shift in the mobile workforce.”