Using vehicle telematics to improve performance and safety in the waste industry

Written by: Kevin Stanley | Published:
Telematics offer added visibility and control over a fleet operation

Telematics – that is, the technology used to send, receive and store information – offer a whole host of benefits.

It can help recycling and waste handling companies to reduce fuel emissions by monitoring the style and behaviour of drivers, as well as vehicle engine performance and reviewing performance.

By providing a means of optimising routes, enhancing driver behaviour and removing any unnecessary mileage, telematics offer added visibility and control over a fleet operation.

They can also help to improve efficiency and save money in a tough economic climate, as well as help to enhance driving skills in a time when driver shortages are much talked about.

Many vehicles involved in the waste collection and recycling sector have poor fuel efficiency, so any improvements can have a dramatic impact on usage and the associated carbon dioxide emissions.

Ian Nash, senior project manager of transport at Biffa, explains: “Using live traffic feeds and giving real-time feedback on driving style, via the satnav, assists the driver with re-routing and avoiding sitting in stationary traffic.”

Telematics can monitor all elements of driver behaviour such as acceleration, braking, cornering and speeding, as well as other influential factors.

“If companies can see where their vehicles are at certain times of the day and how long it takes to complete various jobs, they can develop an efficient route schedule to get the most out of their fleet,” says head of sales and marketing at Tracker, Kriss Cocomazzi.

“Companies need to select the telematics offering that is right for their fleet. Products on the market, such as TRACKER and Fleet Evo enable businesses to select the degree of data and functionality they need to support their fleet practices.”

Anthony Heath, of logistics service provider Clugston Distribution, currently uses Lytx as its vehicle tracking fleet safety solution.

“The vehicle tracking and forward-facing cameras have not only improved the efficiency of this fleet but also help Clugston measure and report on driver behaviour; this in turn has helped our driver trainer work in partnership with drivers to improve their performance and overall standard of driving.”

Kevin Barcroft, academy training manager at Simply Waste Solutions, is also a strong believer in the use of telematics. Over the past few years, the company has achieved nearly 18% greater fuel efficiencies, reduced accidents by 47% and improved legal compliance (tachograph infringements) by 85%.

He says: “Telematics on their own can rarely achieve anything, the data must be analysed and used carefully in order to bring in robust initiatives and mechanisms to address the underlying problems. We use CMS Supatrak – a stable and credible system.”

A mandatory system

With so many positive opinions on the use of telematics, it begs the question, should telematics be mandatory on new vehicles? “I really do believe that it should be mandatory, yes.

"I think it’s a shame that government has not realised or promoted the benefits of telematics more, especially when the government kickstarted the fuel efficiency and emissions agenda many years ago,” says Barcroft.

Cocomazzi believes that the question is not if, but when. She says: “It will happen. The accuracy of data intelligence gathered from telematics today is phenomenal, so installing solutions on new vehicles is having a number of significant benefits for manufacturers and their customers alike.

“Whether it’s vehicle and fuel efficiency information, early fault diagnostics, service and repair reminders, or driver behaviour, the value of information is limitless and does and will continue to enrich the motoring world, including the fleet industry.”

Fit for the future

Over at Viridor, the company predicts, the benefits and improvements of the technology are far from over.

A spokesperson for the recycling and renewable energy company says: “We believe this technology can offer great benefits in terms of dynamic routing and assisting the logistics team in achieving greater efficiency. Future developments include live updates, geo-fencing options and cameras.

“We are constantly evaluating the new systems coming on to the market, along with other technologies to look at driver behaviour and alternative-fuelled vehicles to consider how to best incorporate these advances into future fleet management.”

Telematics have been in use for some time now, but like most other technologies they have dramatically evolved over the years. So what will these improvements look like?

Nash says: “Improvements would include platooning vehicles on motorways to lower accident incident rates, active/adaptive cruise control is beneficial in making better use of the road space and lessening last-minute driver actions and the knock-on effect to following traffic.”

Autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles operations will enable more continuity of vehicle movements by removing driver behaviour linked to irrational actions.

One of the largest drivers for development is recent government legislation on CO2 emissions. Cocomazzi explains: “Businesses need to ensure that they are operating a ‘cleaner’ fleet, and as such fuel efficiency will continue to be a big concern within the industry.

“However, with telematics solutions continually developing to meet the need for accurate emissions reporting, businesses are now much better placed to provide the evidence they need to demonstrate that they are adhering to new environmental guidelines.”

The other development in the technology addresses the demand for ‘useable data’ in the market.

Cocomazzi adds: “Telematics solutions have progressed so that businesses do not have to spend as much time extracting and deciphering large amounts of data, and we predict this will continue, making telematics all the more pertinent in operating an efficient fleet.”

All of these innovations lead to telematics increasingly being seen as an effective means of instilling a safety-first fleet culture by targeting risk reduction and encouraging responsible driving.

Steve Thomas, managing director at Ctrack, says: “By gaining a detailed insight into driver behaviour, with the ability to monitor speeding and harsh driving events such as braking, accelerating and cornering, it becomes possible to identify areas of improvement and take corrective action.”

Telematics can be a wonderful tool in terms of enhancing performance, speed and accuracy; only with a telematics system can a recycling or waste handling business actually compare the planned, versus actual, performance of its transport operation, viewing in real time if vehicles are sticking to the daily schedules and, if not, taking corrective action.

Thomas says: “This added insight can be used to analyse and refine routes and schedules to improve the accuracy and efficiency of these plans. By doing so, a transport operation can make better use of their resources to not only reduce costs but also improve the service they provide to customers.

“If you don’t know what’s happening within the transport operation, it’s impossible to make the right decisions. The added visibility provided by telematics enables issues to be resolved based on facts, rather than relying on anecdotal evidence.”

Using the technology can also help to maintain a healthy customer-company relationship. For example, a customer may complain about a vehicle being late when, in reality, it was kept waiting onsite due to a hold-up.

By having this understanding, companies can work with the customer to perhaps stagger the arrival of vehicles to avoid future delays and better streamline the delivery or collection process.

Thomas adds: “Power Take Off (PTO) tracking makes it possible to have full visibility of vehicle equipment activity such as bin lifts to measure productivity and usage.

This not only provides precise data regarding work completion, missed collections and proof of tipping to confirm that service level agreements are being met, but also ensures that refuse and waste management vehicles are being operated safely and responsibly.”

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