Working Towards Fleet Sustainability? Try Telematics

Original article from Geotab: on June 27th, 2018

Governments around the world have jointly acknowledged the need to take action on climate change. Almost 200 parties have signed on to the Paris Agreement, a worldwide initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Businesses have also joined this movement and are embracing fleet sustainability as part of their corporate social responsibility programs.

What Is Fleet Sustainability?

Fleet sustainability refers to activities centered around reducing the environmental impact of fleet vehicles, including strategies such as:

  • GPS tracking
  • Fuel-efficient driving
  • Reduction of idling and carbon emissions
  • Adoption of hybrid/electric vehicles and right-sizing
  • Use of alternative fuels
  • Vehicle pooling or car sharing
  • Considering alternative modes of transportation

Additional benefits of sustainability include reduced fuel use and vehicle costs.

How to Measure Fleet Sustainability

There are three types of measure that a sustainable fleet strategy is based on:

  1. Transport Demand Management — Reducing miles driven by analyzing routes that are being used, a fleet can determine if a trip is necessary. When mileage savings can be made, fuel and mileage costs can be reduced, as well as emissions.
  2. Cleaner Fuels and Technologies — Using the lowest emission vehicles that are appropriate for the role.
  3. Efficient Vehicle Use — Ensuring that the fleet is using vehicles only as much as needed, employees are using efficient driving techniques and minimizing wasted fuel. Driver performance and vehicle maintenance have a big impact on fuel.

It is the responsibility of a fleet manager to construct smarter and cleaner transportation solutions. In order to have sustainability, fleet managers need to choose the right technologies and use them properly to deliver the best results.

Fleet organizations tend to have large carbon footprints. If companies attempt to reduce their overall fuel consumption and take advantage of cleaner fuel alternatives, they can work toward improving the environmental impact of fleet.

Supporting Green Fleet Goals with Telematics  

Is it possible for fleets to reduce carbon emissions while saving money? The answer is “Yes.”

The Geotab open platform allows you to oversee your entire fleet at all times. Geotab GO telematics devices retrieve important information from the vehicle on a quantitative scale, letting you monitor every aspect of your fleet. You can collect data on GPS location, idling time, dangerous driver behaviour, speed, customer visits, and many other measurements. Having this data available allows you to increase your profitability, while keeping your fleet safe and compliant.

One of the key areas that telematics devices can increase your profitability involves fuel consumption. Fuel is the largest expense for fleet operators, and is also one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions.

fleet fuel purchase at pump with credit card

Three ways fleets can use Geotab to reduce fuel, emissions and increase profitability:

  1. Identify and reduce unnecessary idling
  2. Optimize routes
  3. Practice proactive vehicle maintenance

Here are more details:

Reduce Unnecessary Idling
One of the biggest culprits in vehicle carbon (CO2) emissions is idling. According to the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency), 27% of U.S greenhouse gas emissions comes from transportation. Greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector increased more than any other sector between the period of 1990-2015.

In an example from Natural Resources Canada, if every Canadian would reduce daily idling by three minutes, CO2 emissions could be cut by by 1.4 million tonnes yearly. To put this statistic further into perspective, it would be equivalent to taking 320,000 vehicles off of the road.

While currently some idling is a necessity in the transportation industry, there is a lot of idling time that can be reduced with the help of vehicle telematics.

Idling Rules:

Geotab allows you to see how long your drivers have been idling, where you can then create reports on overall fleet idling time. One common idling scenario seen in the transportation industry revolves around the belief that diesel engines need to idle for five minutes after startup to warm the engine. Longer idling can actually cause more damage/wear on your engine than turning it off and on. If you have a fleet of 30 vehicles and all of your drivers continue to idle for the additional two minutes each startup, you are already wasting one gallon of fuel, and releasing unnecessary CO2 into the air before any vehicles have left your yard.

With the Geotab user interface you are able to customize the device in your vehicles to alert your drivers when the engine has been idling for too long. For example, a fleet manager could set the idling rule to notify drivers once the engine has been idling for three minutes — with an in-cab alert, either a beep or a verbal command by GO TALK. The driver will be prompted until the behaviour is corrected. It is also possible to run reports to view the idling of your entire fleet in order to provide quantitative data on this costly driver behaviour.

You are able to create specific reports and have them emailed to you on a weekly basis through the MyGeotab user interface. Although it is currently impossible to eliminate all idling in the transportation industry, with the Geotab suite of devices and programs, you can help reduce your fleet’s carbon emissions and in turn, increase your profitability by minimizing unnecessary fuel consumption.

CO2 Emissions Reporting:
Geotab offers a custom report for fleet management that is called the CO2 Emissions Report. It is free to download on the Geotab Marketplace. This is necessary for customers who want to decrease their carbon footprint. This report uses engine based fuel economy data to calculate an estimated amount of CO2 emissions from fleet activity.

Route Optimization
Traffic congestion and idling are an everyday reality for fleets. By optimizing routes, fleet to follow in order to avoid these heavily congested routes as much as possible. For example, if you have a customer delivery every week and you see a report indicating that your vehicle has been moving at a speed well below the posted speed limit for 25 minutes or more, it is safe to assume this is due to some type of traffic congestion issue.

With MyGeotab, you can preset routes for your drivers and can avoid these known high traffic areas. This feature can provide your drivers with the most efficient route and increase the number of stops that your driver can make in a day. This will result in less fuel wastage, increased productivity/profitability and again, less carbon emissions released into the air. Fleets can also find custom solutions on the Geotab Marketplace. Read more about route optimization in this blog post.

Vehicle Maintenance Logs/Schedules
Some of the common contributors of fuel waste and unnecessary carbon emissions are based on vehicle maintenance not being completed on a regular basis. A perfect example of this includes tire maintenance. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for every 1 psi that tires are under-inflated, gas mileage is reduced by 0.2%. Be Car Care Aware (BCCA) advises driving a vehicle with deteriorating brakes forces the vehicle to work harder in order to accelerate as the brakes will not release properly and in turn increase the amount of fuel being used. They also mention using the recommended motor oil type for your vehicle could save you 1-2% on fuel.

With MyGeotab you can add a maintenance reminder for the vehicle based on time intervals or kilometers driven. Read more about setting fleet maintenance reminders in MyGeotab here.

You can also record completed vehicle maintenance and updates for future service dates. Through the Geotab Marketplace you can simplify this process further with the Dynamic Vehicle Maintenance Reminder report. The BCCA also warns that a poorly maintained vehicle could cost you 15% more in fuel, leading to increased fuel wastage costs and unnecessary carbon emissions.

Until we reach a day when we no longer require fossil fuels to power our transportation industry, fuel consumption and carbon emissions will continue to be a costly reality for both the profitability of fleets and the atmosphere we rely on to survive. Making telematics part of your green fleet plan is a smart strategy for achieving fleet sustainability. Read about Geotab’s environmental practices here.

Original article from Geotab: on June 27th, 2018