Rural contractors are a busy lot. They run a mobile workforce that head out to some of New Zealand’s most remote locations every day. Knowing the whereabouts of vehicles, equipment and staff is one of the main reasons these busy businesses install a GPS-based vehicle tracking system. On top of providing a real-time overview of fleet whereabouts, these systems can also help rural contractors streamline other areas of their operations. Here’s three useful tips from New Zealand businesses on getting the maximum benefits from a vehicle tracking solution.
Rely on your GPS vehicle tracking– not the patchy mobile coverage
Here’s a common scenario for rural contractors: The back office urgently needs to get – or give – information from a staff member who’s on-site with no mobile reception. What do you do? Wait until 7pm when the staff member has got mobile reception again, or drive the 40-kilometre gravel road to ask a question?
The answer is: forget phones and use GPS fleet tracking instead. Vehicle tracking devices use satellite networks to communicate with the software. This means the back office can see the whereabouts of vehicles, regardless of whether they’re in mobile coverage or not.
For Rosewarne Cable Loggers, an administration company that supports Rosewarne Contractors’ logging and roading activities in Northland, GPS location technology is invaluable on remote work sites. It allows the back office to arrange tools and assets to be picked up or delivered to forestry sites, and share other important information. Rosewarne’s office manager, Maree, has stopped ringing around to pass on messages and can now communicate quickly via the in-cab devices with staff. Instead of chasing people and waiting for responses, she can now focus on more productive tasks.
A driver who requires assistance, but is outside of cell phone coverage, can get help and expect it to arrive more quickly to the exact location that the vehicle has stopped in. Because GPS relies on electronic data – darkness, poor visibility or lack of familiarity with the area does not affect its efficiency, so a tow vehicle, repair truck, police or ambulance can respond faster.
Manage customer or business sites
Whether it’s to manage your own sites, or your customers, a fleet tracking system can provide useful data to track all sorts of business activities.
Professional Farm Services, a Cambridge-based sales and service company, uses their system to better manage and maintain their rural customer’s onsite equipment, as they have a quick record of site visits.
Director Dave McMillan says: “We can go into the system to see how many times we have visited a particular pump to maintain and repair it. Being able to access this information also helps us to cross reference with our invoicing.”
Richard Haddrell, the owners of bee-keeping business Haddrell’s of Cambridge, says they’re using Teletrac Navman as a management tool. He uses the system to navigate staff directly to hidden, off road hives, and to checks report to see how much time the keeper has spent at each site ‘servicing’ the bees. Servicing bees includes checking their health and feeding them with sugar syrup.
Maintenance – make it easy!
A good maintenance schedule consists of regular services and excellent records on the fleet’s licencing (Registrations, Road User Chargers licences, WoFs and CoFs). Agri-businesses and rural contractors whose fleet is always out and about can struggle to pin down the vehicles – and their drivers – to check all of the maintenance needs and details of each vehicle in their fleet.
Herberts Transport in Southland has a mixed fleet of around 50 vehicles, which includes livestock, bulk trucks, spreaders, whey trucks and trailers.
The company’s head mechanic, Jason, now runs the fleets maintenance through Teletrac Navman’s vehicle tracking software – so there’s no need for drivers or back office to record details on paper. Jason gets email alerts at 1500km before a vehicle is due for a service, so that he can schedule in a maintenance time that suits everyone involved, and minimise mechanical issues in the vehicles.
The company also introduced electronic pre-trip checklists. As soon as there’s a checklist that is submitted that identifies a defect, Jason will be notified. Depending on the severity, he can then schedule a service, prevent the vehicle from leaving the yard, or order parts. The vehicle tracking system helps Jason to stay in control and be as efficient with servicing as possible, as drivers can be anywhere in the country on jobs, so they can plan the servicing or refits as soon as the truck returns.
GPS vehicle tracking provides kiwi businesses with much more than ‘dots on a map’. Smart rural contractors are using their system to improve overall management, so they can do much more with less effort.