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Tracking the benefits: GPS technology as a modern business tool
Supplied by: Radars Direct Australia
GPS technology can provide specific and detailed answers to questions of critical importance to a business of any size.
16/08/2012 - Originally developed as a military navigation instrument, global positioning systems (GPS) are now mainstream business tools capable of extensive fleet tracking and providing mission-critical data. Kalon Huett
This transition has taken place so rapidly that most companies operating fleets and distribution networks now view GPS as a priority measure rather than a 'nice-to-have' extra.
According to Rowan Fetzer, owner of Radars Direct − a leading supplier of tailored GPS tracking solutions – this type of technology can provide specific and detailed answers to questions of critical importance to a business of any size.
"The benefits are obviously quite vast," Fetzer told IndustrySearch.
"The most common goal is to improve the safety and efficiency of the business by monitoring driver behaviour."
So what exactly can a business operating or relying on a transportation network gain from receiving driver-related statistics on a regular basis?
"It helps to manage a fleet of vehicles, know where they are at different times of the day, and provide proof of delivery and appointments," Fetzer explained.
One Radars Direct customer runs a daycare centre and requires verification of stops made by its pick-up / drop-off bus service, while councils use GPS to record the number of bins collected each day.
Far from simply offering a broad picture of a vehicle's routine, modern GPS units are capable of delivering just about any kind of information a business manager wishes to know.
"Journey reports are one of the most useful aspects of GPS technology," Fetzer said.
"You get a report for that day showing where the vehicle was, where it stopped, and how many traffic lights and other interruptions it encountered.
"Companies use these journey reports to notice if a truck is taking too long to get from A to B – perhaps because the driver is looking to extend his work hours – and the manager can then ask: 'why did you take the Princes Highway when you could have used an alternative route to save time?'.
"Ignition hours is a great feature because it alerts you to unusual activity such as an engine left running for three hours in the same location."
Fetzer cites electrical services companies as another prime example of the sort of businesses that can benefit from receiving key decision-making information from GPS technology.
"A company might have ten sparkies on the road and be worried one of them is taking longer than everybody else to get jobs done," Fetzer said.
"By monitoring his vehicle they might find he's been stopping off at Hungry Jacks for half an hour in the morning and then again in the afternoon."
For a cost of around $20 per month, Fetzer believes managers gain a very handy understanding of their fleet's day-to-day practices, as well as access to specific data should an isolated incident occur.
Harsh acceleration, braking and speed violations are other useful features of some of the more advanced GPS devices.
"The In-Vehicle Monitoring Solution (IVMS) is purposely designed to monitor driver behaviour," Fetzer said.
"If you have someone who is always speeding or braking harshly, he may be causing a few accidents every year."
Fetzer says the best way to think of GPS fleet-tracking is like efficiently watching over your company from any location in the world – simply log onto the automated web service to be connected to any division and any specific vehicle at any time of the day.
"While you're obviously not controlling the drivers' behaviour personally, you are monitoring everything and trying to improve how the process is carried out," he said.
"It's all recorded, it's all logged and it's all backed up. The reports show everything.
"Why were you driving 110km/h in a 90 zone before harsh braking and causing an accident?"
"Unfortunately," says Fetzer: "some truckies are not the most honest people − they might be unhappy with the company they work for and be lying about where they've been."
But the technology also exists to "protect the driver".
"If he wasn't doing anything wrong it will show the speed he was driving and when he braked," Fetzer said.
"This could actually help the driver and the company. It is designed to prevent accidents as much as anything else."
While it can be seen GPS units are able to provide a range of benefits, it is also important to note there are a number of different models on the market to suit each individual user's needs.
GPS monitors such as 2G network models, 3G network models and satellite systems all come with their own unique abilities and attributes.
"If you want a device that is always connected you can employ a hybrid system," Fetzer said.
"You can drive out to Uluru and be connected the whole way there because the device is connected to the satellite."
Alternatively, a basic micro-tracker model: "still gives you good coverage in all metropolitan areas," according to Fetzer.
In the end a company's GPS decision will come down to its unique requirements.
"The best thing any business can do is test the technology and see how it works," he said.
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