“After three short months…I achieved a 10% improvement in MPG. I must admit it wasn’t easy at first. I really had to focus on not accelerating too hard, and I always caught myself going higher speeds. I became so much more aware of my behavior behind the wheel. By the end of three months, it became second nature.”
Those are the words of today’s guest author, Jeff Pursell, Donlen’s VP of Telematics and Strategic Development. Jeff is a fleet industry veteran, and has more than 20 years experience strategizing and executing solutions to complex business problems. In response to challenges faced by fleet managers today, Jeff designed and developed Donlen’s proprietary DriverPoint™ Telematics and Scorecard application, which helps commercial fleets improve efficiency, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Last month, Donlen released Version 2.0 of their award-winning telematics solution.
Thanks Jeff, for the sneak peak into…
Three years ago, stock prices were dropping, fuel prices were rising, and finding ways to “green your fleet” was becoming more reality than buzz phrase as companies looked for ways to reduce costs and meet stakeholder demand.
Reports were out stating that up to 33% of a vehicle’s fuel economy is impacted by driving behavior. So, it made sense to us: find ways to help fleets improve driving behavior, which will lower MPG and result in cost savings across the fleet.
Donlen’s “green driving” program was threefold: train, measure, and manage.
First, train drivers through online learning and certify their understanding of the material. Second, measure their driving behavior through the use of a telematics device. Third, manage and measure driving behavior by grading the driver and providing a monthly scorecard to measure each driver against their past performance and how they stack up against their peers.
Grading drivers worked well and companies were finally able to quantify driving behavior. Improvements in score translated to better fuel efficiency and reduced fuel cost. Reduced fuel cost equated to reduced carbon emissions. Better driving behavior also improved safety and reduced accidents.
I went through training myself. I always felt I was a “green” driver, especially since I understood what I should be doing behind the wheel. Boy, was I wrong! Scoring is done on a 0 to 10 point scale with 10 being the best. My initial score of 1.89 left much to be desired. My areas of improvement were rapid acceleration and overspeed events. I put the lessons I learned into practice.
After three short months, my score jumped to a 5.01! Over the same time, I achieved a 10% improvement in MPG. I must admit it wasn’t easy at first. I really had to focus on not accelerating too hard, and I always caught myself going higher speeds. I became so much more aware of my behavior behind the wheel. By the end of three months, it became second nature.
As we listened to our customers who were using the program, we knew driving behavior would be better visualized on a map and provide a clearer understanding for fleet managers. In April 2011, DriverPoint™ was introduced. Yes, DriverPoint provides all of the typical functionality available from other telematics products, but what sets DriverPoint apart from every other product is the integration of driving behavior data and the ability for users to focus on exceptions within their fleet. These are the areas where you can really make a difference.
Customer feedback about DriverPoint has been extremely positive and results very good. Because we developed DriverPoint in house here at Donlen, we’re able to quickly adapt to customer needs through frequent updates to the application. In fact, we incorporate improvements and new reports every two weeks with no interruption to users – it happens behind the scenes and pushed automatically.
Last month we released DriverPoint 2.0, introducing fleet and driver dashboards and robust reporting. I have a few favorites. The Vehicle Timeline has a “calendar look” and shows a week at a time snapshot of any vehicle’s activity. The Driver Watchlist allows fleet managers to focus on key driver exceptions. And Advanced Reporting lets fleet managers open many reports and view any of them interactively with the map.
So, what’s the future of telematics and fleet?
Advanced productivity analytics
Many telematics solutions already address utilization and route management. The analytics will become more advanced and provide even more ways for fleets to create efficiencies and improve productivity.
Telematics integrated into fleet management
A telematics device will be part of every vehicle and be completely integrated into overall fleet management. Within the next five to ten years, every new vehicle will be equipped with a telematics device through the OEM. At that point, true innovation won’t be gathering the data but the analytics behind it.
Backend system integration
Many companies have data residing on multiple systems, such as ERP, CRM, maintenance, fuel, and driver logs. Successful telematics solutions will need to provide automated updates between systems.
In conclusion, the real benefit of using telematics is the wealth of information that can be gathered to help you improve the productivity of your fleet. And when you also train drivers, you have one of the most effective ways available to achieve significant results.
Contact Jeff Pursell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Save the date: Jeff will be the host of an upcoming AFLA webinar about telematics on August 14, from 11 to noon CST. We’ll post more information soon!