Sunday 21st July 2019

Case study: Sustaining a successful business with better fleet management

Published on January 30th, 2019

The Bradfords Group was established in 1770 and claims to be one of the largest independent supplier of building materials in the UK. It needed a more comprehensive telematics solution for its fleet of 700 vehicles and a year after installation has had quantifiable success with the system it chose.

To support its goal of delivering first-class, responsive customer service, the company was seeking a way to better monitor vehicle location, and improve drivers’ behaviour and overall safety.

Comprehensive tracking

Martin Caddick joined The Bradfords Group as head of Transport about a year ago. He discovered that although the Yeovil-based company already had a telematics system in place, it wasn’t doing the job. He says, “The previous system did not provide the key metrics we required and was difficult to use. The lack of user friendliness made the system virtually unworkable.”

Knowing the precise location of vehicles is essential for communicating delivery status to customers or retracing a vehicle’s movements. Caddick also wanted to uphold the Bradfords brand by monitoring and minimising non-compliant behaviour by drivers, such as speeding.

The company has more than 40 branches throughout the South-West of England and a fleet of 700 vehicles ranging from forklifts and cars, to pickups and Large Goods Vehicles (LGVs).

Informed by experience

The transition from the previous telematics solution to that provided by Geotab was informed by Caddick’s experience of implementing a telematics solution for a previous employer. Geotab provided the tools — including customised reporting — for the company to meet its safety and monitoring goals.

He notes, “Obviously, I have had some experience of other solutions in the market, but I think our reseller went above and beyond in terms of support and demonstrating to the business what can be achieved if the Geotab solution is used properly, which is always the problem you have with telematics.

“Everyone wants it, but no-one wants to use the information or doesn’t know how to use the information. Our reseller has been very, very good, and has remained very good in terms of the backup and the support that they’ve given us.”

Indeed, it was the combination of Geotab’s capabilities and the reseller’s superior customer service that sold the solution to Caddick and his colleagues. The company implemented Geotab about 12 months ago, and Theresa Heal, transport manager for The Bradfords Group, said it was a painless process.

She commented that there was little pushback from drivers, reflecting both the way both the fleet and company leadership implemented the solution and the realities of the U.K. fleet market in regard to telematics.

Protecting drivers

“For anyone who has been less than positive about it, we’ve explained that it’s a level of protection to them as well, and I think they buy into that once they’ve seen it,” Heal says. “Generally, telematics has been in the UK market for quite some time…so, every single driver who is qualified in the UK will be aware that it’s just a thing that you learn to accept in a company.

“Maybe ten years ago, there was a lot of push back about having a tracker. But the reality is its pretty non-existent now and everyone is quite open to it.”

The Geotab solution has been installed on all of the fleet’s commercial vehicles — vans, pickups, and LGVs.

Measuring the ‘Magnificent Seven’

With the Geotab Solution in place, Caddick and his team have developed a customised reporting tool they named The Magnificent Seven because it is a scorecard that monitors seven key types of driving behavior, including speeding, harsh cornering and braking, idling and over-revving.

With the Geotab Solution in place, Caddick and his team have developed a customised reporting tool they named The Magnificent Seven because it is a scorecard that monitors seven key types of driving behavior, including speeding, harsh cornering and braking, idling and over-revving.

“We leave it up to the manager as to whether they share that information with the drivers or not, and publicly shares it with his or her team or whether they just have a one-to-one conversation with the drivers,” says Caddick.

The Magnificent Seven scorecard has led to improvements in drivers’ behaviour and safety — with speeding a particular area of focus and success. As a result of drivers obeying the posted speed limits, The Bradfords Group was also able to cut fuel costs.

Providing proof

Several months ago, the company received a substantial bill for damage one of its drivers had reportedly caused after colliding with a railway bridge. Using Geotab data, Caddick was able to vindicate the driver: as the truck was unladen it could not have stuck the bridge, which saved the company the associated costs of the damage.

“I believe that our insurers take a positive view of having a tracker unit in our vehicles,” he says. “I would say our insurers, when we renewed, viewed the fact that we had such a good system as Geotab within our business as a positive.”

New fleet goals

Caddick expects that it may be some time before he’ll be able to fully quantify all of the benefits the company has netted from using its Geotab solution, but with his experience using telematics and managing fleets, he can make some educated predictions about other benefits the company can expect.

“I would expect that we would see some reduction in brake wear because of the reduction in harsh braking,” he says. “This is because people are driving the vehicles differently and they know they’re being monitored. In terms of what else have we actually experienced, it’s hard to say because we haven’t got that much data behind us, but know what we are going to experience and that will be a reduction in cost and, hopefully, fewer incidents.”

So far, the system has helped The Bradfords Group cut fuel costs by 2 to 4 %, but having tackled the reduction of speeding events, Caddick says that his next goal is to cut fuel costs further. For example, by reducing the amount of idling the fleet is experiencing, particularly in the winter months. By reducing drivers’ vehicle warm up time routine from 15 minutes to five minutes, across 180 or 250 vehicles, the fleet could save literally thousands of pounds a month in diesel.

With a committed transport team at the helm, in partnership with Geotab and its reseller, The Bradfords Group is looking forward to more fleet improvements and business success.

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