After installing Fleetmatics REVEAL™, ECS Transportation reports it has seen reduced costs, smarter routing and an improved corporate culture
By Richard Tackett
In the most recent installment of this three-part series, Connecticut-based ECS Transportation installed Fleetmatics REVEAL™, the flagship product of its new partner Fleetmatics. Fleetmatics worked weekends and off-business hours while installing its solutions, and also provided training to various members of the ECS staff.
Gene Horne, president of ECS Transportation, says he immediately saw cost reduction in areas where he didn’t expect any. Fleetmatics REVEAL was a GPS solution, to be sure, but the company quickly realized large savings in driver hours and fuel consumption.
“We saw savings in driver hours and fuel consumption thanks to the GPS solution,” he says. “It helps us to plan better routes and now we know if drivers are taking routes that are too long, or idling excessively.”
Fleetmatics says this is a result of ECS Transportation having more oversight into the areas which most affect the company’s profitability.
“We always say, ‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure,’ says Chris Daywalt, marketing manager at Fleetmatics. “We know how to measure variables that might not be visible to the naked eye.”
ECS recently moved its operations staff to a new building, outfitting it with 60-inch monitors that show live GPS traffic data directly to the office.
“We use the live GPS data as a selling tool, because a lot of our clients depend on us getting to and from locations as quickly as possible,” Horne says. “When we have to divert around heavy traffic, we can show them a live traffic report to justify the change.”
ECS Transportation undersaw some staff turnover as a result of the Fleetmatics implementation, but it was for the better.
“It made us more aware of which employees were honest,” Horne says. “Now that we have a way to really gauge fuel consumption, we’re more mindful of vehicle mileage matching up with fuel reports.”
Further enhancing driver behavior was Fleetmatics proprietary algorithm for driver behavior. The algorithm rates drivers on a scale of 0 through 100. If operators see any score below 60, they should take a close look at that driver. Because of ECS Transportation’s ongoing special-needs transportation for local school districts, the company saw a huge ROI thanks to improved driver behavior.
“Some drivers weren’t happy,” Horne says. “Suffice to say that those who weren’t entirely honest don’t work here anymore. But the savings that ECS would begin to realize were passed on to the great, loyal drivers and employees that work for us.”
Fleetmatics REVEAL also allowed ECS to set parameters for acceptable driving speeds. When the company’s speed limits are exceeded, dispatch can call the driver and correct the behavior. A verbal warning is followed by a written warning, which can ultimately give way to dismissal.
It’s not so much that the drivers know “Big Brother” is watching, Horne says. ECS wants to curb problems before they escalate into major issues – like police pulling over a speeding driver who’s transporting a child.
Horne says that the operation’s insurance provider loves the Fleetmatics system because it knows that monitoring driver behavior can reduce claims and save money.
“ECS improved safety, reduced costs and identified employees who were exceptional or needed coaching to become exceptional,” Daywalt says. “[Horne] is able to identify those people and coach them on what needs to be changed in their work. We consider his use of the system to be a total success.”
Many drivers, Horne says, appreciate the oversight because the system can support them in the event of a dispute.
“If, for some reason, they are sitting in traffic and their trip goes longer than expected, operations can verify that traffic, and not the driver, is to blame,” Horne says. “We don’t know if the route takes longer if they don’t say something. That is part of driver training and many drivers see the system as a support tool. It’s not always one-sided.”
Fleetmatics REVEAL has also done wonders for ECS Transportation’s maintenance scheduling. With 90-day, 6,000-mile inspections required by law, ECS is no longer relying on driver reporting or manual logbooks in order to stay on top of routine maintenance.
“It is helping us with scheduling oil changes, regular preventative maintenance and cutting down on excess part supplies,” Horne says. “If the driver finds any problem on the vehicle, he is sending a message to the shop and the mechanic is getting it. The maintenance team is ready for that specific problem when the bus rolls into the shop. They’re not waiting for a log or to speak with the driver.
In one case, Horne says that local authorities needed to find a student on one of ECS Transportation’s vehicles. With the help of Fleetmatics REVEAL, ECS was able to pinpoint the vehicle’s location – dating all the way back to when it left the school. The police were able to pull the vehicle over with a controlled stop and remove the student. Horne says that ECS actually turned log-in information over to police so that they could locate the bus directly using Fleetmatics’ portal.
In another instance, a vehicle was stolen and ECS was able to work with the Fleetmatics solution to recover it in 90 minutes. A driver found his vehicle missing after stepping inside a store for coffee. ECS transmitted the vehicle’s GPS to local police who were able to track the vehicle (sans driver) to Bridgeport, CT.
“It gives us a nice fuzzy feeling at night knowing where our buses are,” Horne says.
The path forward
Daywalt says that Fleetmatics’ goal is to always help clients manage criteria that they weren’t able to manage to before. The fact that Fleetmatics was able to help ECS in these areas and more makes the project a complete success, he says. Furthermore, Fleetmatics is interested in cultivating long-term relationships that will keep customer technology evolving for years to come. For his part, Horne agrees.
“Our ongoing relationship with Fleetmatics is helping us to spend our money wisely,” Horne says. “As technology changes, they’ll keep up with the latest and greatest updates for us and the rest of their clients.”
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