Track Truck Speed from the Office
BY Sandy Lender
There’s more to telematics than increasing fuel savings. While installing a tracking device in fleet vehicles gives managers the opportunity to more efficiently monitor maintenance intervals based on actual hours of use, it also gives managers the opportunity to increase driver safety practices. For this month’s Safety Zone, I’ll use the CarChip Connect from Davis Instruments, Hayward, Calif., as an example, but keep in mind there are myriad devices on the market that can help you monitor and track any number of functions.
What happens with a device like the CarChip Connect is the contractor/owner installs a small device, usually wireless these days, in the cab of the vehicle to be monitored. The device is typically placed in an inconspicuous location so even the operator doesn’t notice it. It’s not something on the dashboard that a thief is going to spot easily or that is going to interrupt the operator’s field of vision.
The device uses real-time GPS telematics to send information to a website that the contractor/manager has access to. That information ranges from fuel use to battery condition to vehicle position to vehicle speed and more. If you’ve selected the right product, you can have a device that emits a small alarm when the vehicle operator exceeds a set speed or leaves a geofence area you assign for the vehicle. Do you have a work zone where the internal traffic control plan (ITCP) states a specific machine will not be allowed to back up? Set the alarm so it sounds in the cab if the operator puts the vehicle in reverse while it’s in that geofence/work zone.
Some devices offer stored data to help correct operator habits as well. In the category of fuel efficiency, the jackrabbit starts and stops of wheel loaders at stockpiles and cold feed bins can be recorded and then discussed during a toolbox talk or training session to teach the operator a smoother workflow. The data the device collects regarding speeding, hard braking, cornering or exceeding other company set parameters for haul trucks or work/mechanic trucks can also paint a clear picture for safety directors. By identifying poor driving habits and discussing these with operators, you can decrease accident risk, which can result in decreased insurance premiums.
The companies that offer these devices and access to websites of information typically offer downloadable reports of the information as well. Review of the reports helps you identify inefficiencies such as idle time and aggressive driving. Not only does reducing idle time save about one gallon of gas per hour of eliminated idling, it reduces the amount of time you have operators unaccounted for while machinery is running.
Not all monitoring equipment offers the same range of functions or reports, so be sure you ask the questions pertinent to your business when researching the devices you want for your fleet. If your only interest is monitoring haul truck speed while the drivers are on the job, you can track that with most products on the market. The more robust your monitoring system, the more you’ll be able to automate and take off your fleet manager’s plate. As it is with most things in life, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Talk to your sales rep about all the bells and whistles so you can set up safety parameters that help you train best practices in your fleet of drivers and operators.