Keeping track on fleets

By Lilia Guan

Geographical information systems (GIS) can be used to support a diverse range of asset tracking, helping to monitor the location and movement of mobile assets.

The geographic location of an asset, such as a garbage truck or repair crew vehicle, is transmitted via GPS, and tracked in real-time on a map that can be shared via the Internet, intranet or mobile devices.

Analytic features can trigger an action based on an object’s location relative to other geographic features, such as triggering an alert when a vehicle moves out of its service area.

Francisco Urbina manager – business development strategy at GIS vendor – Esri Australia Government told Government News fleet managers need to know when, where and how quickly tasks are completed to keep operations running smoothly and on budget.

“By tracking assets using GIS technology, relationships, patterns and trends can emerge that may otherwise be hidden in a maze of numeric tables and reports,” he said.

“GIS technology can be applied to help audit and measure mobile workforce productivity, route workers correctly, manage asset costs effectively, improve occupational health and safety compliance, reduce fuel consumption and minimise carbon emissions.

Ian Daniel, vice president Asia Pacific at global positioning system vendor – Navman Wireless agrees that GPS/GIS systems are being used in both government and commercial organisations, to strengthen decision making and encourage transparency.

He says GPS fleet management solutions have a wide variety of applications and their most common use has been for tracking vehicles and driver behaviour, but many organisations are also finding them ideal for helping improve customer service.

“This is because the software enables fleet managers to monitor vehicle locations in real time, allowing businesses to provide a solid estimate as to the driver’s arrival time and keep the customer informed about any delays,” he says.

“This functionality also allows organisations to speed up customer response times. For example, a service company will be able to identify the vehicle closest to a job and route them directly to the relevant location to reduce customer waiting time.

“This capability becomes even more important in the public sector, where response times for emergency service fleets are critical.”

According to Daniel, the ability to provide drivers with the most direct route to their locations also helps organisations manage their fuel consumption.

“This is particularly relevant given the carbon tax is due to come into force in July,” he says.

“Fuel forms the major source of emissions for fleet industries, so tracking and reducing consumption will be high on the agenda over the year ahead.”

Daniel says the carbon tax charges $23 per tonne of emissions, providing a serious incentive to reduce the environmental impact of the fleet.

“A GPS fleet management solution allows businesses to identify inefficient practices such as excessive idling, therefore reducing fuel usage,” he says.

“This can have a significant impact lowering emission levels over the course of a year.”

He believes for a business with a mobile workforce, knowing where employees were at all times was essential in managing occupational health and safety responsibilities.

“With the introduction of the new Model Work Health and Safety Bill – which came into force in January 2012 – the scope of business liability has further extended to driver welfare,” he says.

“This bill implements a national occupational health and safety standard across Australia whereby a fleet managed vehicle is defined as a ‘workplace’ and a duty of care is imposed on employers to ensure the health and safety of their mobile employees within this workplace,” Daniel says.

“With the legislation proposing fines of up to $600000 or a term of up to five years imprisonment for failure to uphold this duty, businesses need to put in place solid practices around fleet safety to limit their liability.”

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