Telematics provide cost-effective way to go green

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Alternative fuels have commanded most of the attention in recent years at the Green Truck Summit, but a panel discussion held here today reminded fleet managers that there are lower-cost and simpler ways to go green.

“Before you even begin on an alternative fuels endeavour, you need to look at telematics first,” said Anthony Foster, fleet manager with Pioneer Natural Resources.

He said fleets that use telematics to improve driving behaviour will see a correlation between safe driving and reduced fuel consumption. Pioneer deployed telematics to measure several key performance indicators and achieved: a 22% reduction in speeding events; a 28% increase in seatbelt usage; a 74% decrease in hard braking; and an 83% decrease in harsh acceleration.

The company expanded its telematics program to monitor: tire pressures; oil life; fuel economy; engine fault codes; engine hours; and odometer readings. It is using that information to coach drivers and to evaluate its asset utilization.

Bruce Ottogalli, transportation manager with United Water NJ, shared a similar success story. His company used telematics to measure and reduce idle time. It installed GPS units into its vehicles in 2012 and implemented a plan to limit idling time.

Two systems were used: IdleRight and Eco-Star. IdleRight requires the driver to shut down the truck manually while EcoStar shuts the truck down on its own. The IdleRight system must be coupled with a remote starter. Both systems monitor battery power and restart the truck to charge the system when it reaches a pre-determined level.

Ottogalli said the systems cost about $500-$600 per vehicle to install. However, the savings have provided a quick payback.

In 2013, Ottogalli said the company had the system deployed in 59 vehicles and reduced its idle time by 5,765 hours. At an average cost of $2.91 per gallon, the company saved $43,731 in fuel costs and reduced its carbon output by 300,000 lbs.

Ottogalli admitted drivers were not initially fans of the system, but came around when they were assured it wouldn’t be used for disciplinary purposes.

Tim Taylor, client success officer with Telogis, said it’s not uncommon for fleets to save enough in idle reduction alone to pay for a telematics system.

“The biggest low-hanging fruit is idle time, that is how you pay for telematics,” he said.

He said most fleets are shocked to find out how much their vehicles are being idled.

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