We have all seen it — a giant over-the-road tractor-trailer rig sitting by the side of the road idling often for 10, 20 or 30 minutes at a time. That truck is not only wasting fuel, it is also spewing hydrocarbons into the atmosphere needlessly. The Environmental Protection Agency has cited studies that suggest that the transportation sector is responsible for 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which many say are important contributors to climate change.
While some feel helpless to find solutions that won’t play havoc with the world’s economy, one solution might literally be in the sky. By analyzing and using data gained from Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) systems, operators of vehicle fleets can bring a new level of efficiency to their operations that will stop unnecessary idling and other current practices that are costly, wasteful of resources and potentially damaging to the environment.
Amazon has changed consumer expectations about product delivery by making same-day delivery — once considered largely a pipe dream — to be routine. At the same time, Amazon’s business model has significantly increased the use of fleet vehicles, and that can have potentially damaging effects on the environment. But the same tech that can guarantee same-day deliveries can be used to make those deliveries as efficient as humanly possible with a big assist going to GPS systems.
“According to our data a vehicle can idle an average of more than 25% of its overall operation time,” said Gary Fitzgerald, CEO of GPS Insight, a provider of vehicle location and analysis services. “Our software can help identify wasteful idling and even alert drivers or fleet managers in real time.
This can represent tremendous savings on fuel and fleet maintenance costs.”
By utilizing a GPS tracking solution, fleet managers can literally take control over idling, speeding and other inefficient driving behaviors that waste fuel and produce excessive CO2 emissions that are released into the atmosphere. But helping to curb poor behaviors is only one benefit to using satellite tracking to control fleets. Perhaps a bigger benefit is increased overall efficiency, and that, too, can help limit greenhouse gas emissions and reduce fuel use.
GPS tracking can help get drivers from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible. By taking efficient routes to and from the job site or delivery destination, fleets will significantly reduce greenhouse gases emitted from their vehicles. And the increased efficiency can have customer satisfaction benefits by enabling the delivery company and/or retailer to give customers accurate estimated arrival times of their goods and services.
“Transport and delivery fleets are incorporating fleet technology to offer their clients more accurate ETAs, increase how many customers they can serve per day, and to dispatch their drivers on optimal routes,” Fitzgerald told forbes.com. “As fleet technology continues to evolve, it will help businesses compete in this new landscape of the transportation industry.”
The new landscape will include significantly increased efficiency using current transport technology that relies on fossil fuels and provide an enabler for an efficient switch to battery-electric or hydrogen-fuel propulsion in the future. GPS Insight says it can currently provide actionable insights and solutions that provide a reduction in maintenance costs, more efficient routing and dispatching, and in many cases over 10% in fuel cost reductions alone.
GPS route planning and vehicle tracking also pave the way for autonomous-operation delivery vehicles. A route the system recommends for a human driver would often be exactly the same route an autonomous vehicle would take to get to the destination.
As Fitzgerald said, “Much of the information we gather for our customers will still be relevant with an autonomous fleet. Fleet managers will still need to know where their vehicles are, as well as insight into fuel consumption and vehicle maintenance needs. However, we are quickly seeing our customers’ requirements converging towards what once were met by multiple solution providers. This is why we stay close to our customers, to ensure we are providing innovative solutions that meet their needs.”
Beyond the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and use of fossil fuels GPS tracking technology has another important potential benefit — safety. Many collisions, mishaps, and accidents are caused by driver error or inattention. The GPS “eye in the sky” gives individual fleet operators unprecedented understanding and insight into driver behavior, which is critical in assisting them to improve overall safety.
Since GPS Insight’s system can also incorporate in-vehicle cameras, it can provide context around what is happening on the road. GPS might identify something like a “harsh braking event” — much harder than normal use of the brakes — and suggest that the driver be chastised for it. But the associated camera system might visually show that the harsh braking event was required to prevent an accident.
“Now we can actually reward a driver for a good harsh braking or cornering event,” Fitzgerald said.
“In addition, we’ve partnered with insurance companies whose customers have demonstrated a 68% reduction in claims and an 85% reduction in loss.”
Certainly, some drivers might be a bit wary of having both an eye in the sky and a camera in the cab watching their every move, but if the result is better efficiency, safety and a reduction in fossil fuel use certainly that is worthy of the intrusion.