For PHCP professionals, next month marks the start of one of the busiest times of the year – the winter heating season. As professional techs embrace the latest on-the-job technologies in order to detect and solve issues and monitor performance of heating equipment, they can also look to their fleet managers to help improve how quickly and efficiently they get to their jobs every day.
Fleet managers can help crews prepare for a busy heating season with advanced technology like fleet management software. Fleet management software, which is equipped with GPS tracking technology, gives fleet managers greater visibility into improved service routes and helps protect their most valuable assets – their techs – while they are on the road. Ultimately, this technology can help fleet managers improve their bottom line and business outcomes this heating season.
What is fleet management software? At its core, fleet management software is a mobile workforce management platform, where fleet managers have visibility and insight into vehicle and asset locations, can track driver performance and fuel usage and can also dispatch jobs all in one platform.
GPS tracking technology is the fundamental technology behind fleet management software, and it monitors the location of an object or vehicle with an attached GPS tracking device. Fleet management technology then uses the location data for near real-time location updates, and it can overlay it with road conditions, commercial road maps, and the utilization of vehicles and business assets on the job.
Fleet managers can also use location and driving data to help monitor and improve unsafe driver behavior, such as harsh stopping and harsh acceleration, and track vehicle maintenance history when paired with a vehicle’s engine control module.
Safety by the numbers
One of the most important elements of fleet management software is the ability to help improve driver safety and vehicle health with empirical data and actionable information.
The platform tracks odometer readings, fuel usage, idle time, driver behavior and more, which allows fleet management software equipped with rich analytics to deliver key information about individual driver performance and vehicle health to a fleet manager.
The Verizon Connect Reveal platform also provides numerical scores for driver performance and vehicle health that fleet managers can personalize so that drivers are reaching custom safety KPIs and vehicle maintenance is scheduled appropriately for the business.
With this information, a fleet manager can provide personalized coaching, track individual driver improvement and have visibility into the health of their vehicles.
Rhett Wheeler, risk manager at San Diego-based plumbing company Bill Howe Plumbing, for example, was looking to improve driver safety on specific driving metrics, including speeding, hard braking, fast acceleration and hard cornering.
He began using Verizon Connect’s fleet management software to receive immediate alerts on these types of driving events and set up driver scorecards to track the overall driving performance of individual drivers.
According to Wheeler, “the reports initially were very shocking.”
At first, the company’s drivers averaged a 77 out of 100 safety score, which included scores as low as 30 out of 100.
The empirical and data-backed results allowed Wheeler and his team to provide personalized coaching on specific driving behaviors as a result. The company, which has 130 trucks on the roads, has since increased its average safety score to 97 out of 100, while also improving driver morale and increasing safety measures.
That benefit alone can help save the company potentially millions of dollars in damage. For example, the year before implementing Reveal, the company had 16 accidents totaling nearly $1 million in damages. After implementation, the total number of accidents dropped to two the following year.
With Reveal, Bill Howe Plumbing receives actionable data that has helped management promote safety, increase productivity and efficiency, lower insurance costs and reduce fuel consumption.
In sum, the company has seen the following benefits:
Ultimately, fleet management software can help PHCP fleet managers prepare for the busiest times of the year by providing them the peace of mind that their vehicles and drivers are safe and ready with the numbers to back it up.
"It can help my customers, helps me watch my drivers and cuts down on accidents,” says Bill Howe, president. “That just saves everybody money and time."
A fleet manager today wears many hats, handling everything from vehicle logistics and dispatching jobs to mobile teams. However, for managers in the PHCP industry these requirements take on a new meaning during the winter. When an engineer is on the move and disaster strikes – whether it is a road accident or approaching snowstorm – they need to be able to rely on their fleet manager to play the role of both the navigator and meteorologist.
This is where fleet management software and GPS tracking technology come into play. Fleet managers can utilize the software for near-real time location data of their drivers with overlays of road conditions and weather. The managers can then share better routes with their drivers and help guide them efficiently and safely to and from jobs.
For Michael Cormier, president of Boston-based portable toilet company Throne Depot, playing the role of meteorologist is more important than ever during the winter months.
“The biggest obstacle for weather in Boston is the ice storms and snow,” Cormier says. “If it snows over 12 inches, we don’t want trucks out for safety reasons. But if it is less than that, snow is business as usual.”
In order to protect drivers from the dangers of ice and snow on the roads, the company uses Verizon Connect’s Reveal fleet management software to keep an eye out for hazardous road conditions as they unfold and to reroute drivers.
“The technology helps us see where the snow is and where the bad areas are a lot of times,” he adds. “For instance, if we see traffic is slow, we can assume certain areas have not been plowed yet, and we can reroute our guys around that. The quicker we can get on the right routes, the more profitable we are – it’s that simple.”
With the heating season on the horizon, now is the time for PHCP fleet managers to assess the tools and technologies they have in place. To take operations to the next level this season, managers can use fleet management software in order to prepare their fleet vehicles, drivers and the business for a higher volume of jobs, so they can serve the customers when it matters the most – rain, snow or shine.