Highway at night with digital data overlays

10 benefits of using telematics for fleet management

Telematics services are now a must have for any fleet. No matter how many vehicles you’re responsible for, these tools ensure your fleet operation is as cost-effective and efficient as possible.

The benefits of deploying telematics software are wide-ranging. Among their primary advantages is that they can greatly reduce expenses such as fuel costs. But they can also improve efficiency, boost driver safety, and much more.

Telematics are therefore a vital asset for any effective fleet manager. Here are ten ways they can help make your life easier and your business more cost-effective.

1.  Reduced fuel costs

Reduced fuel costs are a key benefit of a good telematics solution. These tools can achieve savings in a number of ways. For instance, they can guide drivers to cheaper fuel stations, alert you to fuel fraud or advise employees on how to improve their driving style to be more efficient.

By highlighting harsh acceleration and braking, for instance, they can cut down on fuel consumption. Elsewhere, they can also spot if a driver is idling their engine unnecessarily, which can also help improve overall fuel management.

2.  Improved routing

Telematics can also analyse the routes your vehicles take and suggest more efficient alternatives. This may help reduce the time taken to reach destinations or avoid known areas of congestion that will slow your drivers down and increase fuel consumption.

Being able to rely on real-time data lets drivers make adjustments to their route on the move to avoid incidents or high traffic volumes. This also means less time on the road and more time helping customers.

3.  Better driver behaviour

Van driver making delivery with parcels on seat

Sensors that monitor vehicle inputs – including acceleration, braking and steering – can all give an insight into your employees’ driving standards. GPS tracking also helps spot any incidences of speeding that are putting the driver or other road users in danger.

This information can then be used to create a table of your best and worst-performing drivers. Training or even disciplinary action can then be implemented to improve behaviour.

What’s more, even the presence of telematics can boost driving standards, even if no direct action is taken. This is because individuals tend to be more cautious when they’re aware their actions are being monitored.

4. Real-time information

Real-time data on vehicle location can also be fed directly back to fleet managers, colleagues and even customers. This means you know where your assets and employees are at all times, helping you better plan your fleet activities.

You can also receive alerts if a vehicle goes outside a designated area or is used outside of working hours, for instance, to ensure your fleet is being used appropriately. Alerts can also be sent automatically if a vehicle is involved in a collision or other incident.

5.  Predictive maintenance

Telematics sensors can also keep an eye on your vehicle’s systems in order to spot any potential issues before they arise. This can allow you to schedule in maintenance to correct any problems and avoid issues such as breakdowns.

You can also set up alerts for routine procedures such as servicing to help you plan ahead. This not only prevents costly repairs, but improves productivity as vehicles will not be taken out of action unexpectedly.

6.  Improved customer satisfaction

Real-time tracking and route planning can be used to boost your customer experience. For instance, you can give much more accurate estimated arrival times for appointments, send reminders when an employee is close, or even let users track a driver in real-time.

If a job or delivery is delayed for reasons outside your control, you can also give quick updates and revised estimates. This can reduce the number of complaints you receive and ensure you don’t lose a customer’s business.

7.  Reduced paperwork

Businessman dealing with pile of paperwork with pen and laptop

The use of telematics can also improve employee satisfaction. Because their movements are tracked automatically, they will not need to spend time filling out tedious manual paperwork for areas such as mileage reporting or driving hours.

This also makes life easier for fleet managers. They have easy access to clear, simple reporting and analytics tools, giving them instant insight into their drivers’ activities. As a result, they have to spend less time hunting down information and can devote more efforts to more useful activities.

8.  More accurate expenses

Another benefit of improved reporting is it makes activities like calculating expenses claims quickly, easier and more accurate. Managers won’t have to worry about drivers padding claims for fuel costs or working hours. They can also gain access to accurate reporting on issues such as MPG and CO2 emissions to ensure they are meeting their responsibilities in this area.

9.  Improved security

Tracking software can instantly alert managers if a vehicle is being used when or where it shouldn’t be, which can protect your fleet in the event of theft, as well as any unauthorised usage by employees. The systems can be made tamper proof with tools such as battery backups even if they are disconnected.

Fleet telematics also help crack down on fuel fraud. By looking at location data for fuel card usage and combining this with GPS information from the vehicle, you can ensure any use is legitimate. According to Shell, nearly two-thirds of fleets in the UK see this as a major concern, so this may be an important factor for many firms.

10.   Reduced liability

Telematics can also be used in combination with technology such as cameras to give a complete picture of any incident. This can be especially helpful in determining liability in the event of any accident. For instance, as well as clear, high-definition video of what happened, it can show the exact speed of the vehicle, when brakes were applied and more.

This can greatly lower any insurance claims and costs. In one case, telematics were found to have reduced accident rates almost nine-fold, and cut expenses by 84 per cent. Insurance providers also also offer lower premiums for fleets with telematics on board.

If you’d like to know more about telematics and what they can do for your business, get in touch with our team of experts today.

A large HGV travels across country to deliver or collect goods for the next business location

HGV daily walkaround checks

Drivers, vehicle operators and transport and fleet managers have a collective responsibility to ensure that the vehicles they are operating are safe to drive and that they’re roadworthy. While this is true of all types of vehicles, there are specific checks that must be carried out for lorries and other HGV’s daily, before the start of each journey.

What is an HGV daily check?

HGV daily checks, also referred to as walkaround checks, must be carried out before each journey to fulfil the obligation of ensuring a vehicle to safe to drive. The walkaround checks the drivers must do, need to cover the whole vehicle, including the trailer that the vehicle is towing and carefully assesses the interior and exterior items that can be safely assessed by the driver.

The checks that the drivers must carry out include: tyre condition, brake systems and components, steering, lamps, direction indicators and hazard warning lamps.

The latest walkaround guide issued by the DVSA also highlights an issue that has seen increased publicity in recent years – that of bridge strikes. The guidance now makes it clearer that drivers should be checking their vehicle height as part of the checks.

According to Network Rail, there are five bridge strikes every day that can cause death or serious injury to road and rail users. The DVSA has said that “not only are bridge strikes dangerous, but they cost the UK taxpayer around £23m a year to repair, as well as landing the owner of the vehicle substantial costs”.

The DVSA has updated their guidance video, highlighting some of the main checks that need to be completed.

Drivers are legally responsible for the condition of the heavy vehicle they are driving, so they must carry out these walkaround checks before each journey. The results of the checks must be recorded and any safety defects need to be reported and fixed before the vehicle is driven.

How long should HGV daily checks take?

The HGV daily checks are relatively simple, but it is important to do a comprehensive, thorough check of the vehicle.

With this in mind, the exact time it can take will vary. The emphasis should be placed on carrying out the checks thoroughly and carefully, rather than the length of time it takes to check your vehicle.

There are some sources that say the checks should take at least 15 minutes to complete, but it may take longer than this. The important thing to carry out each of the necessary checks before starting your journey, regardless of how long it takes.

A truck driver holding clipboard checking safety a large fuel tank of semi truck.

The latest DVSA guidance about walkaround checks

Carrying out HGV daily checks

To maintain roadworthiness, the DVSA has advised that the daily HGV walkaround checks must be completed

  • Before the vehicle is driven on the road each day
  • If more than one driver uses the vehicle in a day, then the driver taking charge of the vehicle should carry out their own additional checks to ensure the vehicle is safe for them to drive

The driver must also monitor the condition of their vehicle and report any defects that make themselves apparent.

Keeping a record of HGV daily checks

The driver must record all of the defects found during the daily checks and any that become apparent during a journey. It’s recommended that an agreed form or system is used to record the checks.

Forms should be used to record that all the relevant checks have been carried out each day. If no defects were discovered, the DVSA guidance states that a ‘nil’ reporting method is used, therefore confirming that checks were made, but no defects were found.

If defects are discovered during the checks, the records should include:

  • The vehicle registration
  • The date
  • Details of the defects or symptoms
  • Your assessment of the defects (e.g. ‘dangerous’)
  • Your name
  • Who the defect was reported to
  • Rectification work
  • Date rectification work was completed

Records should be reported to responsible person who has the ability to request the remedial action and records should be kept and be available for viewing for 15 months.

If any defects are discovered that may impact the vehicles safety, the vehicle must not be used until its repaired.

Responsibility for HGV daily checks

The condition and safety of the HGV is ultimately the legal responsibility of the driver. However, transport managers and vehicle operators must ensure that their processes include daily HGV checks. They must also ensure that drivers are made aware of their legal responsibilities with regards to vehicle condition and the procedures of reporting defects.

The DVSA recommends that responsibilities are detailed in writing and that drivers should be properly trained and drivers should sign to confirm that they’ve received a written copy of their responsibilities and understand what is required of them.

The consequences of not carrying out HGV daily checks

The DVSA can stop you and ask you to complete the daily checks on your vehicle, or request a copy of the records which show you have completed the necessary daily checks.

If any defects are found on a vehicle during one of these checks, drivers can be prevented from driving until the defect is fixed, or a fine can issued to the driver.

Driver writing electronic log

Carrying out daily checks to ensure that vehicles are of the highest safety standard is the duty of every driver and manager. It’s now much easier with the MyDriveSafe.Expert app, free to download and use, plus a manager’s portal and full reporting and compliance with all major standards for just £1 per driver per week.

The MyDriveSafe app reduces admin time, records the time taken to perform checks, creates incident/accident reports and produces a clear audit trail, helping you to spot problems earlier, avoid increasing costs and keep your fleet on the road.

Image of signs reading 'petrol' and 'diesel', pointing in opposite directions

Petrol vs diesel: Which is best for your fleet?

It’s a question that car buyers have been asking for years: should I opt for a petrol or diesel vehicle? This is a decision that’s especially important to fleet buyers looking to keep costs low and economy high.

Of course, in today’s environment, it’s no longer an either-or choice. There are also a range of cars available that use electric power to some extent. This is only set to grow in the coming years.

However, for now, let’s focus on the more traditional options to determine which will be better for you.

Is diesel falling from favour?

The popularity of diesel vehicles has risen and fallen over the years. In the early days, they had a reputation as smoky, smelly and slow cars that sounded more like farm equipment. But this perception has altered as technology has improved and diesels have closed the gap with petrol.

The potential cost savings you could enjoy thanks to their greater fuel efficiency then led to a surge in demand. However, recent developments like the 2015 VW emissions scandal have again tainted some people’s perception of diesel.

In 2016, the number of petrol and diesel cars sold in the UK were almost identical. Some 49 per cent of sales were petrol and 47.8 per cent diesel, with electric accounting for around three per cent.

Since then, however, the popularity of diesel has fallen significantly. In 2020, just one in four new cars registered was a diesel, compared with 63.5 per cent petrol and almost 11 per cent electric. So does this mean diesel’s time has passed? Far from it.

The pros and cons of petrol and diesel

Close-up photo of a man lifting a fuel nozzle from a pump.

There are still several good reasons to invest in diesel vehicles. Greater fuel efficiency is still a major benefit. These cars typically use around 15-20 per cent less fuel than petrol cars. This means lower running costs, which can offset higher initial purchase and fuel prices.

However, petrol remains cheaper than diesel. What’s more, while diesels have historically kept their resale value more than petrol, this is changing in response to shifting buyer demands and new regulations.

When it comes to the environmental factors, things are a little more complicated. In terms of carbon emissions, diesel-powered cars produce less CO2 than petrol. But while this is often used as the primary indicator of a car’s eco-friendliness, there are other factors.

For instance, diesels produce more nitrogen oxide than petrol, which also contributes to climate change. However, this can vary from vehicle to vehicle. Which?, for instance, found some diesels produce less NO2 than some petrol cars. Therefore, if your green credentials are a factor, it pays to do your research.

Cost considerations

One of the main deciding factors will be the running costs of your car. This typically means looking at fuel consumption. As noted above, diesel engines tend to be more economical than petrol – but does this offset the higher cost of fuel per litre?

The answer is that it depends on how much you use your car. Generally speaking, the more miles you do, the cheaper a diesel engine becomes in the long run. According to Which?, it can take between six and 11 years to recoup the extra fuel and purchase costs of a diesel. If you do very high mileage, however, you could start saving money faster.

But the cost of fuel is not the only consideration you’ll have to make when choosing between petrol or diesel. The type of engine you’ve got also factors into your car tax obligations.

For older cars, tax bands are based on emissions, so if you’re buying second-hand, a diesel could prove cheaper. However, for those registered since April 2017, only the first year’s ownership is taxed this way, with a standard rate applying afterward. This could greatly reduce any tax savings you may expect to make on a diesel.

The right fuel type for your needs

As well as fuel usage, there are other factors related to how you use your vehicle that may impact your choice. How and where you drive also makes a difference.

For example, diesel engines generally take longer to warm up than petrol engines. Therefore, if you’re doing a lot of short trips around town, petrol may be a more economical option.

On the other hand, some drivers prefer the improved low-torque performance of a diesel. Driven sensibly, a diesel will use less rpm and need fewer gear changes than a petrol engine. They also offer more pulling power, making them handy if you’re going to be towing a trailer.

You may also need to think about whether you’ll be driving in low emission zones. London already has an ultra-low emission zone for cars, and several other cities are set to follow suit in the coming years.

If you have older diesel vehicles – especially those that don’t meet Euro 6 emissions standards – you could therefore end up paying a lot of money to drive in these areas.

What about electric options?

Plug-in electric car being charged at on-street charging point

While petrol or diesel is still the main choice for many buyers, you may want to look to the future. In this case, you’ll have to consider whether a full electric or hybrid car will be worthwhile. Indeed, with the government going ahead with plans to ensure all new cars sold are electric by 2030, this will become a necessity in the coming years.

There are three main choices available for electric cars. These are:

  • Conventional hybrid – A combustion engine supported by an electric motor. The electric motor does not need plugging in, and is charged as the car moves, usually by recovering energy from the braking system.
  • Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) – A combustion engine supported by an electric motor, which can be charged via an external power source. The electric motor is typically used at lower speeds, with the petrol or diesel engine taking over when more power is required.
  • Full electric – No petrol motor at all.

When compared to petrol or diesel cars, the main advantages are much lower emissions and reduced fuel costs.

Each has its pros and cons. A conventional hybrid is the cheapest and least complex, but can only use a limited amount of electric power. This means you don’t see as many cost savings as a PHEV or full electric.

For fully-electric cars, you would also have to factor in range. Battery technology is improving all the time, with some cars now able to go hundreds of miles per charge, but the charging infrastructure still has some way to go.

As you can’t simply pull into a fuel station and fill up in five minutes, more careful route planning may be required for long journeys. However, for shorter trips where you can recharge regularly, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Choosing the best engine type for your fleet can save you huge amounts of money in the long run, especially when combined with the right fuel card. Contact our experts today to find out which would be best-suited to your needs.

Fleet manager completing vehicle checks on app

What are the rules of fleet vehicle checks?

When it comes to vehicle safety, you’re responsible for making sure your vehicles are safe to drive. Carrying out daily fleet vehicle checks is a legal requirement, so you can demonstrate compliance with Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) requirements.

As well as legal requirements, daily checks are vital for noticing any potential dangerous and costly faults.

Daily vehicle safety checks

The inspection must take place just before the vehicle is used by a trusted person. If your vehicles are used by several drivers a day, it is preferable to have a responsible person to carry out the vehicle checks initially. Other drivers throughout the day should constantly monitor the vehicle during its use.

You can find the full list of fleet vehicle checks on the government’s website.

Routine

Each time we step into a vehicle, we make checks possibly without consciously realising. We naturally check we have fuel in the tank, our mirrors are correct, and our seatbelt is fastened.

By adding on other vehicle checks, you can easily get into the habit of your vehicle inspection routine to ensure your safety, as well as other drivers on the road.

It can take no longer than 5 minutes, especially if you use a comprehensive fleet vehicle checks app.

MyDriveSafe

Instead of completing paperwork, you can complete vehicle checks on the MyDriveSafe app.

On the app, you can select your vehicle from our database by typing in the registration. Choose from one of the industry standard checklist templates for the type of vehicle or create your own, and go.

You can add photos and notes to any item. Once complete, checklist data is uploaded to the Cloud as soon as it detects an internet connection for you or your manager to review via an online portal.

Find out more from our brochure or get in touch with our team of experts.

 

Photo of a Tesco Extra petrol forecourt with customers refuelling

Why is supermarket fuel cheaper than branded petrol?

Drive around any town or city in the UK and you’ll quickly notice fuel costs can vary widely. In particular, supermarket fuel is often notably cheaper than what’s offered by the big brands such as BP or Shell.

But why is this the case? And will buying supermarket fuel make a difference to how your car performs? Read on to find out.

Why are supermarkets selling fuel?

Supermarkets have been selling fuel since the 1970s, and have steadily grown their market share. Indeed, almost four in five UK homes now lie within three miles of a petrol station run by Tesco, Asda, Morrison’s or Sainsbury’s. This is according to the RAC Foundation.

However, most supermarkets’ main competitors aren’t the big fuel retailers, but each other. These brands aggressively cut their fuel prices to undercut their rivals and get customers through the doors and into the aisles.

After all, most people will drive to a supermarket to do their big weekly shop anyway, so it makes sense to offer a convenient extra incentive to opt for a certain brand over another. If price per litre is your main deciding factor in where to buy fuel, this can affect your decision on where to shop for groceries too.

How much cheaper is supermarket fuel?

There are a lot of factors that go into determining the price of fuel. Global oil prices, how far the petrol station is from the refinery and the level of competition in the area all contribute. Yet overall, supermarket service stations consistently offer cheaper fuel than the big oil brands.

On average, petrol prices on the supermarket forecourt are usually around 3p to 5p cheaper per litre than for branded fuel. Sometimes, however you could find petrol as much as 8p or even 10p cheaper than from the big oil companies.

This may be especially true when supermarkets are engaging in price wars with each other, or are offering extra discounts for customers who spend a certain amount in store.

Is supermarket fuel the same as branded fuel?

However, many people may be wary of the old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ when it comes to fuel quality. So if you do buy supermarket petrol and diesel, are you getting the same product?

Fundamentally, the answer is yes. Supermarket fuel usually comes from the same refineries as the big brands, and will have the same basic chemical makeup. But it’s not quite that simple.

Photo of a gloved hand adding liquid into a car's fuel tank

The likes of BP, Esso and Shell will usually add a wide range of special additives to their own fuels in order to improve efficiency and performance. Exactly what these additives contain are, of course, closely-guarded trade secrets. However, they often include things like detergents and lubricants to make the engine run smoother.

Jason Lloyd, managing director at PetrolPrices.com, explains: “Many supermarkets get fuel from the same refineries as the leading brands. But it’s a bit like budget airlines – they get you to the same place, but with main national carriers you also get more, such as in-flight food and entertainment.”

Will supermarket fuel affect my performance?

Much like the own-branded cornflakes or cola you’ll find on the shelves inside, supermarket fuel is seen as a cheap, cheerful alternative to branded products. But, also much like own-branded food, while some people won’t notice any difference in taste, others will insist the big brands are superior.

With fuel, unlike cornflakes, we can try to get a definite answer by measuring any difference in fuel economy and engine wear. Yet results from these tests are often inconclusive.

Some tests suggest premium fuel can improve economy by up to four or five miles per gallon. If you’re a fleet driver doing 10,000 miles or more per year, this will more than offset the extra cost at the pump. But this is not the case for more occasional drivers, while other tests have found the difference in economy to be negligible.

Digital image of a speedometer at high performance

However, there may be other reasons to opt for branded fuel. If you’ve got a high-performance car, for instance, premium fuel with a high octane rating can be beneficial.

This fuel releases more energy when it ignites, so will be useful to make the most of a quality engine. But putting high octane petrol a standard compact car won’t suddenly turn into a hot hatch. Therefore, check your car’s user manual to see if you’d benefit from premium fuel.

Finally, it’s important to remember that whatever you decide, using supermarket fuel won’t be bad for your car. All fuel sold on UK forecourts has to adhere to minimum quality standards. This is to ensure they don’t damage your engine, and supermarkets are no exception.

If you do want to opt for branded fuel, there are ways to get this cheaper. Some credit cards, for instance, offer cashback when used at certain brands’ filling stations. Alternatively, fleet managers can take advantage of fuel cards to save money on branded fuel.

We offer a wide range of fuel cards from all the UK’s biggest brands, including Esso, Texaco, BP and Shell. What’s more, some cards can also be used on supermarket forecourts. Check out our selection today to find one that’s right for you.