VENDING INDUSTRY TAKES STOCK OF FLEET EFFICIENCY

The industry can trace its roots back to 215BC, when a mathematician called Hero invented a machine to vend holy water in Egyptian temples. Today’s vending machines and services are sophisticated and technologically advanced. They are intended to provide the highest quality service, reliably and hygienically, 24 hours a day.

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Vending ServiceEvery year, UK consumers insert around £1.85 billion in the slots of more than 462,000 refreshment vending machines. Every day, 8 million cups of coffee and 2 million cups of tea are vended, and to service that demand requires a legion of vehicles.

The challenges facing the vending industry today are not uncommon to many other distribution and service sectors. Competition is tough and margins tight so it is vital that business seek solutions to help them keep costs to a minimum while impr oving customer satisfaction. And a key component of t his is the fleet that needs managing efficiently to meet these exacting goals. By using a GPS tracking system companies can understand and take control of their fleet to improve their productivity.

The consensus amongst vending companies questioned by Fleetmatics was that the dual trials of managing and improving the driver’s performance together with improving customer service through providing accurate and accountable delivery times were top of the list of problems. For Simon Ovenden of Ovenden Hire, the ability to locate vehicles wit hout a telephone call was the chief reason that he sought a fleet management system in the first place.

When it came to improving the performance of the drivers themselves Ovenden found that the plethora of options available within the system meant that improvements took care of themselves without the need for any special activities by the company. “The drivers are all very well aware that the Fleetmatics system can pinpoint their location and provide us with detailed analysis of how they have performed behind the wheel including real-time alerts,” he says. “With the system in place their performance improved without any real intervention on our part.”

From the Fleetmatics dashboard you can view the performance of the drivers in a myriad of different ways providing the incentive to curtail bad practices and improve their driving. It offers an easy to view,customisable graphic interface that allows operators and drivers to understand the true impact their performance has on the business. When driver performance improves the result is that productivity is increased and costs are reduced. Bad driving practices such as speed violations, average speed, engine on-time, vehicle idling, vehicle mileage and number of stops can all be identified. As well as this the system allows you to identify and report individual driver and vehicle performance.

However, sometimes figures and numbers are hard to appreciate. But one thing that all owners understand is cost. The system delivers performance data into the metric that really matters: money. Using cost assumptions you can customise the system to show where money is being wasted, and track how improvements affect profitability in real terms.

One of a fleet’s biggest opportunities to drive savings and productivity comes from coaching their workforce and changing driver behaviour. But as drivers change vehicles, reporting becomes incomplete or inaccurate, and capturing which driver is assigned to a vehicle using a key fob or card swipe isn’t enough to solve the problem. Fleetmatics REVEAL provides comprehensive flexibility to organise the account and all of the insight in the system by either vehicle or driver.

Another useful tool is the Timeline View, a visual, interactive representation of vehicle activity enabling customers to easily consume vehicle and driver activity information without investing time in reading detail-intensive reports. Customers can scan activity for multiple vehicles at a time, quickly revealing exceptions such as late starts, early finishes, long idles or long stops and drill directly down to the incident details. The level of interactivity and drill down capabilities of this feature sets a new standard for the industry.

For Ovenden, the myriad of reports that are available from the dashboard function gives his company a key business advantage. “We can provide instant answers to customers about the location of the load along with expected and accurate arrival times,” he explains. “We can generate reports for key criteria such as delivery time as well as records of driver’s hours on the road.”

An unforeseen advantage of the system came when Ovenden Hire were involved in a dispute with another company over a delivery. “We had a dispute over when and where we had returned a machine back to another company. However using the Fleetmatics system we were able to produce a report that identified the location, the time and the date that the machine was returned,” Ovenden explains. “The company had to concede that the machine had been returned and the dispute was quickly ended, saving both time and money.”

The Fleetmatics system can help companies to respond to customer needs faster and with greater accuracy; improving dispatching, increasing customer satisfaction and saving valuable company time.