The demand to increase efficiency, effectiveness and productivity in fleet management has become ever more important. Many SME’s and large organisations that operate fleets of vehicles have found that fleet operations can be drastically improved through In Vehicle Monitoring Systems (IVMS). In Vehicle Monitoring Systems are essentially electronic tracking devices that sit within a vehicle. These devices comprise of software which enables a vehicle to be tracked with the aim of improving fleet performance by monitoring data such as driver identification, driver behaviour, live route location tracking, monitoring fuel levels and much more. All of this data can be tracked and accessed in real time which makes IVMS ideal solutions for fleet managers and operators to track fleets remotely.
What is an IVMS?
An IVMS is an electronic device that is located within the vehicle, recording a range of information about a driver’s behaviour, and vehicle performance. It is the black box of the motor vehicle world. Information that is recorded varies from one device to another, but typically, an IVMS will record live data on speeding, acceleration, braking, seat belt use and more, all time and date stamped. This gives you an accurate and detailed picture of exactly what is happening at any point within your fleet.
A worthwhile IVMS will not just record data, but will actively measure driver and vehicle performance against your pre-determined set of criteria and safety expectations. Some IVMS utilise the vehicle’s OBD II port and operate on a plug and go basis, others are far more complex systems that are wired in to the vehicle and provide real-time tracking and download of data.
It should also be noted that IVMS are only as valuable as the actions taken on their data. This is why they need to be used as part of a wider fleet management programme that includes reporting and training, and an overall approach towards driver and employee safety.
Why Do I Need an IVMS?
In Australia, vehicles are the main cause of fatalities due to work place accidents, accounting for one in every three work-related fatalities. Work-related fatalities cost businesses enormously in terms of both employee welfare and dollars. Time off due to injuries, compensation pay-outs, and industry reputation – all affect the bottom line. In fact, work-related road crash injuries cost around $500 million every year. IVMS, or In Vehicle Monitoring Systems, have been designed with the core aim of minimising injury and fatality caused by vehicle crashes. Adopting them is imperative for Australian fleet based businesses.
Certain industries fare worse in terms of vehicle accidents than others. Fleet-based workforces are inevitably at greater risk than their non-mobile counterparts. However, risks also increase according to the type of work carried out. For example, oil and gas, mining, agriculture, forestry and fishing, and construction, all have high levels of vehicle crashes causing injury and fatalities. Indeed, motor vehicle crashes are the most common cause of fatality for oil and gas extraction workers. Utilising In Vehicle Monitoring Systems isn’t therefore a case of getting on board with the latest tech gizmo, it’s absolutely imperative to safe operating.
IVMS and Motor Vehicle Fatalities
Employers have responsibilities and obligations towards their employees. Australian employers can use IVMS as part of their strategy towards meeting their responsibilities under road safety and transport legislation as well as Workplace Health and Safety Legislation. This includes monitoring driving hours in heavy goods vehicles, and taking positive steps to ensure you operate your business paying heed to your duty of care in providing a safe place, and a safe system, of work.
IVMS also enable businesses to ensure that their employees also conduct their duties in the safest possible way, thereby ensuring their own safety within the wider framework of safe working practices established by the employer.
It is the features and functions of particular IVMS that determine how suitable they are for your business. In brief, IVMS help to combat the following factors which account for so many work-related motor vehicle fatalities each year:
- Australian rural roads often lack the standard of safety features we see elsewhere in the country
- Fleet-based businesses in Australia often rely on large vehicles and equipment which require drivers to work long-hour shift patterns
- Other contributing factors to incidents and accidents include elements such as weather conditions and falling asleep as the wheel – otherwise referred to as driver fatigue
Don’t be misled thinking that IVMS are only useful for large HGV fleets. All fleets, no matter how many vehicles or the type of vehicles, stand to benefit from In Vehicle Monitoring Systems. In particular, over half of work-related motor vehicle fatalities in the Oil and Gas industry can be contributed to utes rather than heavy plant machinery.
Benefits of IVMS
The benefits of In Vehicle Monitoring Systems are wide reaching, but include:
Reduced Insurance Premiums:
IVMS provide insight in to exactly what happen at in the event of an incident. This means insurance claims can be more efficiently handled, and responsibility apportioned appropriately. It also provides valuable information in order to ‘learn from mistakes’. Many insurance companies in Australia will offer reduced premiums for fleets where IVMS are being actively used. Tracking functionalities also ensure that vehicles are only used for legitimate purposes.
Reduce Speeding, Harsh Acceleration & Excessive Braking:
The existence of an IVMS leads to more responsible behaviour by the driver. Knowing that the vehicle is being monitored ensures that corners aren’t cut, and safe driving practices are adhered to. Where errors are made, fleet managers are also well-equipped to broach behaviour management strategies and effective training.
Load & Vehicle Security:
In-Vehicle Monitoring Systems can help to protect the vehicle’s load from security threats and theft through knowing where a vehicle is at all times. Furthermore, the vehicle itself is safer from theft or tampering. The IVMS serves to ensure speedy return of any vehicle stolen as well.
Fuel Usage Reduction and Reduced Carbon Footprint:
A by-product of many IVMS is that your fleet managers have greater insight in to fuel usage and expenses, frequently one of the greatest business costs for fleet based businesses. Fuel use can be reduced through a number of means, from reduced idling to more efficient routing. This in turn will also help to reduce vehicular maintenance costs.
For IVMS that use real-time data this is particularly invaluable. If fleet managers are able to identify a vehicle in trouble, assistance can be provided immediately to employees in difficulty.
Many IVMS bring the added benefit of geo-fencing, allowing you to set certain boundaries for each vehicle in your fleet. This means you might set a specific speed restriction on a particular site where incidents are prevalent, or set certain areas which vehicles aren’t allowed access to.
Live GPS Tracking:
Knowing where a vehicle has been, and indeed where it currently is, gives you an understanding and overview of your fleet, as well as the individual vehicles within it.
Improves Driver Safety:
Fundamentally the primary reason for implementing IVMS is to improve driver safety, and reduce the numbers of injuries and fatalities. Many IVMS include driver alerts to immediately provide feedback to a driver regarding certain behaviour, meaning immediate changes can be made to driving behaviour. Some systems also come with a driver dashboard which can be used for two-way communications, dispatching, mapping and more. The specific ways that driver safety is enhanced will vary from device to device, and should be considered at selection.
Meeting Health and Safety Obligations:
Having an IVMS as part of a wider motor vehicle safety programme helps you to meet your duty of care as an Australian employer. Being able to demonstrate how you improve driver safety is key to meeting your responsibilities. An IVMS can help to monitor driver hours and more effective manage driver fatigue.
Reduction in the Number of Motor Vehicle Incidents and Crashes:
IVMS work best as a two-way system. They help to make individual employees more aware of their risk factors and improve their driving skills and safety, whilst also reporting on driver performance which can be used for future training and safety measures. Overall, IVMS reduce the likelihood of incidents and crashes.
Industry and Customer Reputation:
Employers who actively demonstrate a thorough approach to the health and safety of their employees (and other road users) are demonstrating corporate responsibility. In modern times this is a valuable ‘selling’ tool and gives your business another unique selling point.
IVMS utilise different methods of collecting information about what’s happening in a vehicle. GPS tracking is one method, another is using a dash-cam. Dash cams be often be added to provide additional insight from video recordings and can either provide continuous recording, or can be triggered by an incident.
Cost of IVMS
Costs associated with implementing In Vehicle Monitoring Systems can vary enormously depending on various factors. Typically, however, the costs can be viewed in two primary categories:
- Buy the IVMS outright
- Monthly subscription costs
Many suppliers will only require that you pay a monthly subscription without any upfront costs. These monthly costs will cover the installation and everything else you need to implement and maintain your In Vehicle Monitoring System. This is the preferred option among fleet operated businesses as it provides a range of benefits, including:
- On-going support
- Receive technology updates
- Maintenance of In Vehicle Monitoring Systems
- Lower short term costs
On the other hand, some companies may charge you an upfront cost without a monthly subscription and others may require that you pay both the initial costs and monthly fees.
Costs are established on a per vehicle per month basis. Broadly speaking, the bigger the fleet, the greater the economies of scale and the greater number of features. However, there is a broad spectrum of options across the market. Off-the-shelf plug and go IVMS options are available for a minimal cost, whereas more complex systems are typically hard-wired with a monthly subscription. More complex systems usually include the costs of customer support, whereas off-the-shelf packages may not come with any support at all. Therefore comparing costs needs to be done carefully to ensure you are comparing like with like.
Costs should also always be weighed against cost savings brought about by implementing an IVMS. Typically IVMS save money through reduced compensation pay-outs, increased driver productivity, reduced mileage and fuel costs and lower insurance premiums. The more detailed the information you gain from the IVMS, typically, the greater the cost savings. Costs should therefore always be viewed in terms of return on investment, rather than strictly on initial outlay. IVMS are not only designed to improve driver safety and reduce the risk of injury or fatality, but also to reduce business operational costs.
Choosing an IVMS
Utilising an IVMS makes sound sense, both financially, and in terms of your duty of care towards your employees, but how do you choose the In Vehicle Monitoring System best suited to your business?
Before you start browsing different IVMS available on the Australian market, it is essential to know exactly what you are looking for, and what your specific fleet needs. To do this you need to consider:
- The Nature of Your Fleet: Will the devices need to be weatherproof or rugged? How many vehicles need IVMS? Is your fleet growing?
- How Implementation Will Affect the Fleet: How long will your fleet be off the road for?
- On Going Support: You may need to ensure that you choose an IVMS with 24/7 customer and technical support.
- The Location of Your Fleet: What are the best methods for communication and data transfer? Does your fleet operate solely within mobile range, or is satellite coverage more important? These answers are important to knowing if you need GPS and/or mobile coverage.
- What Information Will You Use & Who Will Use It: An IVMS is only as powerful as the actions you take with the information it gives. Therefore, decide what is important to your business, what information you will use, and who will have responsibility for using it?
Implementing an IVMS
Once you have a clear understanding of which IVMS to opt for you are better positioned to follow the implementation process:
1.Choose Your IVMS:
Using the information gathered above you can short-list the right IVMS for your fleet-based business. You can identify devices that meet your specific requirements such as improving driver safety, improving vehicle safety, reducing the cost of incidents and crashes, tracking for regulation, reducing fuel costs, or protecting lone workers.
Most IVMS providers in Australia will offer you a customised demonstration so that you can see if the system will work for your business. You may also consider running your short-listed options as a pilot to see its benefits in action.
Put IVMS on the Business Agenda:
Fleet business leaders need to come together to decide how the IVMS plan is going to work in practice. This means identifying the exact vehicles that need it, how they will be accessed, how fitting will take place etc. Beyond this, now is the time to identify what new roles and tasks will be created by the full use of IVMS, and who is going to take on these roles. Additional training will be needed, but accountability needs to be set. You also need to establish how information gathered through the IVMS will be used and communicated to others.
Vehicles will need to be accessed and the IVMS deployed within them. Training and assistance in using the IVMS will need to be given to all those adopting the IVMS as a new work practice.
Measure & Review:
You need to measure the effectiveness of your chosen IVMS. In particular, measure how well the IVMS is performing against your original objectives. Procedures should be implemented for continual review as well as checking the individual devices. Furthermore you need to establish a link between the data gathered and feedback this back to your team to ensure you can better train drivers and maximise the benefits associated with vehicle monitoring. Some companies develop initiatives whereby IVMS reporting on driver performance feeds into employee reward systems.
How do IVMS work? – GPS Tracking Technology
Modern applications make use of GPS tracking technology for tracking purposes. GPS tracking systems are often installed as part of the IVMS and allow for the effective implementation of automatic vehicle location technologies to receive GPS signals, formulate and co-ordinate data which is then sent, in real time, to the fleet’s operational base.
Predominantly there are three types of GPS technologies that aid vehicle tracking applications in the scope of IVMS:
1) GPS Data Loggers
A GPS logger is used for passive tracking applications, wherein the tracking data is logged in an internal memory storage which is only viewed when the logger is physically accessed and downloaded.
2) GPS Data Pushers
Data pushers are the most widely used type of IVMS GPS tracking units. They, as the name suggests, ‘push’ data, meaning that they send data to the tracking base at regular intervals of time. This, in turn, facilitates effective monitoring. Unlike the loggers, pushers provide a more realistic avenue with regards to time based monitoring. Mostly, they are coupled with mobile phones to make it more user-friendly and effective. GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) technology can also be used to regulate the information flow even better and with the dawn of smart phones these gadgets can now be used as data pushers to facilitate the intended vehicle tracking tasks.
3) GPS Data Pullers
Data pullers are the most advanced type of IVMS GPS trackers. They track activities in real time. Unlike the pusher trackers, they do not work on an interval basis; rather they consistently feed data back to the tracking base throughout any fleet journey or operation. As a result, the fleet manager / operator has access to live tracking data providing vehicle and driver information in real time.
Active and Passive Vehicle Tracking Devices
Passive devices can be called upon as those using GPS logger technology for tracking purposes. Passive vehicle tracking systems are able to monitor and collect a proportion of the data that real time GPS trackers can provide such as GPS location, vehicle speed and vehicle heading. However, as previously mentioned the data collected is stored within the tracking device and can only be accessed and evaluated once the fleet vehicle has returned to the tracking base and the data has been manually downloaded by a fleet manager or operator.
On the other hand, active tracking devices provide a wealth of valuable vehicle tracking information that can be accessed in real time, including: driver communication, route planning and scheduling, fuel level monitoring, live traffic alerts, real-time location tracking, fleet maintenance management and much more. Active IVMS use the technology covered in the second and third type of GPS trackers. Operators can also view the data in real time using web and mobile phones. Many SME’s and large organisations with vehicle fleets utilize this type of integrated approach as well as employing passive tracking technology to create a well-rounded, accurate and reliable vehicle tracking system. Management also becomes more effective with this approach. When there are network issues, and real time tracking is not feasible due to a lack of GPS and GSM signal, internal storage can be accessed to continue tracking vehicle fleets and store data during that particular window of time.
Uses of IVMS and Vehicle Tracking Systems
Along with the features and the benefits mentioned above, In Vehicle Monitoring Systems can also track specific data such as vehicle idling time and the opening and closing of doors. Many of the features and benefits offered from these tracking systems can be seen across a variety of industries.
In particular, vehicle and fleet tracking companies that offer delivery and courier services can benefit hugely from the ability to track vehicle location in real time and plan more efficient routes to avoid traffic, thus increasing the fleet’s productivity while also reducing vehicle idling and minimizing unnecessary fuel expense. Similarly, driver communication and speed monitoring can be very beneficial within the Mining industry to ensure the health and safety of fleet workers.
The commercial car-pooling and logistic activities of any firm can be effectively managed through IVMS to increase productivity, efficiency, improve the level of service offered and ultimately, lower operational costs.
Choosing the Right IVMS Solution for Your Business
If you want to improve the performance of your fleet with a vehicle tracking system, Global Positioning Specialists can provide you with free vehicle tracking quotes tailored to your specific requirements. Simply fill out our form and receive your free quotes from leading vehicle tracking suppliers now.