Telematics technology has evolved rapidly since the industry realised It generates highly useful data, and is now entering an era where it can minimise fuel card fraud, writes Rachel Boagey.
A recent ‘Operational Fleet Insight Report’ produced by the AA and BT Fleet revealed that 74% of fleets containing 100-plus vehicles are now using telematics.
While traditional telematics played an important role in retrospectively flagging poor and inefficient driving styles, the technology is now evolving to provide a far more ‘real-time’ service, saving fleets money in multiple ways – one of these being by minimising fraud.
Fuel card fraud and abuse proliferates if the right controls aren’t put in place by fleets, and the misuse of fuel cards for fraudulent transactions is increasing. The good news is that by using telematics and other data, dishonest use of fuel cards can potentially be eradicated.
Fuel cards provide access to detailed spend and volume data, but what has always been more challenging is the capture of accurate mileage.
A telematics system, integrated with a fuel card solution, can automatically record and collate the required information, removing the risk of deliberate or accidental human error, making it possible to calculate precise mpg and identify any irregularities that point toward incidents of fuel card fraud.
The tracking tools can also validate fuel buys by ensuring that a company van was present at the point and time of purchase. If the telematics data proves the vehicle was not at the filling station, it would suggest an unauthorised vehicle has been filled up.
“Telematics technology presents no-argument facts about the performance of fleet vans, so it offers a way of investigating and proving not only fraudulent activity, but also where waste exists within an operation,” explains Steve Thomas, managing director of vehicle tracking company Ctrack.
Many companies similar to Ctrack can work with any fuel card provider, so can quickly and easily integrate its vehicle tracking software with one or more fuel management systems. “This enables fleets to have full visibility and control over how fuel is being used across an entire van operation in a single interface,” Thomas explains.
While some telematics solutions currently offer GPS-based odometer estimates, which are often impacted by any temporary loss of the GPS signal, TrackM8’s Connectedcare can provide a true odometer reading, delivering accurate information on mileage and real-time data on fuel tank levels.
Sean Morris, automotive business unit director at Trakm8, tells What Van?: “With fuel theft an increasing issue, the ability to read the actual fuel level in the tank is a real bonus.”
The company’s Connectedcare software can detect a rapid decrease in fuel levels caused by siphoning off fuel, and send an alert to the fleet manager or person responsible for company vehicles.
In addition, Trakm8 is developing the capability to link Connectedcare to a fuel card, which can inform fleet and company vehicle managers if an employee is ‘over-buying’ fuel over and above the capacity of the fuel tank.
“Fuel card fraud is a pressing concern for many businesses,” says Morris. “Trakm8 Connectedcare provides managers with actionable insights that enable them to take action before the severity and cost of the issue escalates.”
Fleet management software company Jaama has also been developing ways to help discourage and prevent fuel card fraud. Its Key2 fleet and asset management software has the ability to pull fuel card transaction information electronically and intelligently analyse the data against a range of user-configured parameters to help identify potential fraud activity.
Martin Evans, managing director at the company, says: “Fleet decision-makers using a fleet management system should not just import fuel data from fuel card providers but they should actively drill down into the data, and identify and address ‘rogue’ vehicles and/or drivers to enable financial savings to be achieved.”