OFFICIAL BUSRide Field Test: Fleetmatics connects with ECS Transportation
When the Connecticut operator needed a better way to track vehicles, he turned to Fleetmatics
By Richard Tackett
For Gene Horne, president of ECS Transportation, Norwalk, CT, a two-minute GPS refresh rate just wasn’t sufficient for his burgeoning school transportation business. For years his company used a simple GPS solution from a different provider, but that provider had been unable to close its refresh window to less than two minutes. For ECS Transportation, which had been serving special-needs transportation for schools in the Fairfield County School District in Connecticut since 2001, this was a serious liability.
“A bus can travel a great distance in two minutes, as any operator knows,” Horne says. “We needed something that could pinpoint our buses exactly with a shorter refresh window. Furthermore, we were looking for a solution that could enhance our fuel-tracking capabilities – something that our previous provider had no way of doing.”
ECS Transportation was founded in Stanford, CT, in 1999 as a delivery transportation service with a handful of vehicles. However, in 2001, Horne saw a potential niche in the market – special needs transportation for local school districts. Within five years of undertaking this new service, the company grew to 75 vehicles.
“School buses couldn’t really handle this type of service,” Horne says, “so we became fast-growing innovators in the Connecticut market.”
Today, ECS Transportation covers a 60-mile radius from its home office. The successful school business now allows the company to do more traditional motorcoach business as well as running corporate employees shuttles for local offices. The company currently has 170 employees and 140 vehicles.
The search begins
For about six months, ECS explored multiple options for a new vehicle tracking service and Horne wanted a complete solution.
It was the specific need for more accurate fuel-tracking that brought ECS to Fleetmatics, whose U.S. headquarters are in Waltham, MA, a fleet management provider founded in 2004 in Dublin, Ireland. The company has approximately 37,000 customers that represent a total fleet of approximately 737,000 vehicles worldwide.
“Fleetmatics initially caught our eye initially because of their fuel card program,” Horne says. “With their GPS solution, we’d be able to receive alerts whenever a driver was using the fuel station. The alert would work in tandem with GPS so that we’d know which driver was fueling which vehicle – that’s a big help if you’re worried about anyone stealing fuel.”
“ECS Transportation is a pretty typical customer of ours – by that I mean they use our software in a traditional way,” says Todd Ewing, director, product marketing at Fleetmatics. “Their previous GPS provider allowed them to track their vehicles, but they were looking for something more. We knew we could channel their investment to help them also track payroll, fuel, safety and hours of service, and enforce driver compliance with company initiatives.”
Horne and the ECS team were very impressed with the initial presentations from the Fleetmatics team, and, after speaking to a few customer references, made the decision to sign up for the Fleetmatics REVEAL product.
Fleetmatics’ flagship product is Fleetmatics REVEAL, a cloud-based fleet management and GPS solution.
“Fleetmatics REVEAL extracts actionable business intelligence from real-time and historic vehicle data as well as driver behavior data,” Ewing says. “It takes all of these data points and serves it back to our customers in an easy and digestible way. This provides customers total visibility into what’s going on with their fleets. Through that, we’re able to help companies experience increases in productivity, while reducing operating- and fuel costs.”
The GPS-centric features of Fleetmatics REVEAL include custom reporting, a live map, Geofences and near real-time alerts, helping to enhance fleet efficiency and oversight. All files are stored securely in the cloud and accessible from any computer or mobile device.
Driver ID is another key feature of REVEAL. Unique key fobs are assigned to each driver in an operation and key readers are installed in every vehicle with the GPS tracking unit. As a result, drivers switching vehicles don’t cause lapses in oversight or irregularities in reporting.
The solution also has near real-time reporting capabilities for vehicle maintenance, as well as the aforementioned fuel card program – which includes reports for fleet fuel purchased, fuel efficiency, lost fuel and carbon footprint.
Initial contact and ROI
Though the ECS Transportation and Fleetmatics teams had met at a few trade shows, most of the initial contact between the two companies came from calls and web conferencing. It was through these conferences that the Fleetmatics team was able to discern the needs of ECS and formulate plans about how to best fulfill those needs. The entire process lasted a couple of weeks and included web demos of the Fleetmatics product.
Fleetmatics probed ECS on a number of questions; something that Ewing says is typical of the company’s exploratory phase with new customers. The Fleetmatics team needed to know what had ECS looking into tracking, and specifically how they heard about Fleetmatics. Before the implementation process could begin, Fleetmatics probed the total number of vehicles, fuel costs per month and the age of the business.
“They wanted to see what vehicles we had and what areas we were servicing, and they came up with a lot of suggestions,” Horne says. “Specifically, they made suggestions about payroll for drivers and how it relates to hours of service.”
Ewing says that the Fleetmatics team was particularly interested in personnel issues – did ECS employees fill out a time sheet, or punch a clock? Furthermore, the company was looking for information on what times ECS thought employees should leave and return to the yard, and how ECS was currently verifying the time.
According to Ewing, another major suggestion from Fleetmatics regarded the vehicle safety component of ECS
“This is an area where we would really be able to show ROI, because of the special-school needs transportation of ECS.”
Watch for the second chapter in this three-part series in the October 2016 edition of BUSRide Magazine. Discover the installation and testing process undertaken by Fleetmatics and ECS Transportation.