Today, the world has access to more information at the press of a button than it could possibly have imagined 20 years ago. Converging communications and information technologies are bringing increasingly greater levels of business intelligence to fleet operators, allowing them to almost be in ‘˜two places at once’. But too much information can be worse than no information at all, says Global Telematics’ CEO, Paul Roberts. FleetWatch asks him to elaborate on how his organisation’s Orchid FMS solution addresses the need for ‘˜relevant fleet intelligence’.
The ongoing business challenge for any commercial fleet operator is to constantly improve efficiencies through enhanced customer service while simultaneously keeping vehicle running costs as low as possible. This is a two-fold discipline that requires diligent management of both driver and vehicle.
The fact that commercial vehicles are by definition, mobile, means they’re largely ‘˜out of sight’ of management and therefore require technology-enabled systems to be fitted to them to assist management in monitoring both vehicle status and driver behaviour.
“No two fleets are quite the same and therefore, so-called ‘˜boxed, one size fits all’ fleet management systems are failing to deliver a tangible return-on-investment. Orchid Telematics concentrates on providing customised fleet management solutions via Orchid FMS 5, which is a modular and scalable system backed by comprehensive technical support, configured to suit specific customer requirements,’ says Roberts.
Despite the huge variances in management styles within the local truck transport industry, there are key performance areas that apply across the board, says Roberts: “Issues like reducing fuel consumption and vehicle damage, which includes undue wear and tear, apply to all fleets, as does on-road risk mitigation through effective driver coaching. To effectively address these issues, fleet owners need to invest in a system that pinpoints areas of weakness and undue risk, a system that warns fleet managers of impending trouble in good time, before it’s too late.’
Report by exception
The Orchid FMS 5 offering is designed to report by exception, flagging fleet managers in real time (via SMS and email reports) whenever a driver or vehicle contravenes predefined parameters such as vehicle speed, idling, over-revving, harsh braking, route deviation, PTO applications and excessive driving hours.
“Most modern trucks are equipped with CANbus technology which delivers extremely accurate data regarding the status of the engine, gearbox, electronics and braking systems. Many fleet management systems integrate with CANbus systems which does bring greater data accuracy to the reporting process but can also swamp fleet managers with too much data’ Roberts adds.
“What Orchid FMS 5 Fleet Management Software does is it provides fleet information that is user-friendly and completely relevant to individual business requirements. It uses state-of-the-art technology to store and analyse real-time vehicle and driver information. This information is transmitted from the TCU (Telematics Control Unit) installed in fleet vehicles to our secure communications Hub where it is interpreted by our software and channeled into customised reports and flagging services,’ explains Roberts.
The latest Orchid FMS 5 software suite includes Fleet Base (a secure information database), Fleet Mapper (state-of-the-art maps and visuals), Fleet Reporter (generates standard and customised reports giving snapshots of critical information on an immediate, daily, weekly or monthly basis), Fleet Editor (allows users to edit and customise the information they wish to see) and Fleet Interface (enables users to integrate data into their own back-office software system).
“Through comprehensive consultation with our clients, we customise Orchid FMS to work according to the fleet’s operational policies and benchmarks so that it delivers intelligence that is strictly relevant to that fleet,’ Roberts continues.
“This ensures that fleet managers don’t get swamped by data they can’t make head or tail of but receive only the information that highlights real issues of concern, like excessive fuel consumption and risky driving behaviour.’With fuel and insurance/accident costs making up as much as 50 percent of fleet running costs, Orchid Telematics has developed two new modules to help fleet managers reduce fuel consumption and improve driver competency.
“Fuel consumption can be measured for each trip, ensuring that excessive usage can be investigated as quickly as possible. The system also offers a driver-behaviour scoring module that, supported by driver training and linked to performance rewards, is a powerful tool to drive down fleet operating costs and vehicle abuse,’ says Roberts. “Orchid FMS 5 also includes a CO2 emissions reporting module, which will become a necessity in the near future.’
Ultimately, technology needs to harmonise the relationships between machines, in this case trucks, and people (drivers, technicians and management). By filtering the immense volumes of data accessible from the TCU system, according to individual customer specification, Orchid FMS 5 is able to deliver intelligence that can be easily understood and used to satisfy the perennial fleet imperatives of improved efficiencies and reduced operating expenses.
“Simply put, the true value of Orchid FMS 5 lies in its power to ‘˜cut to the chase’, delivering relevant intelligence that helps individual truck fleet operators take control of their business by improving efficiencies, managing fleet costs and reducing asset risk to ultimately increase profitability,’ concludes Roberts.