CoPilot UK Blog

Fuelling the Debate

With fuel costs continuing to rise, Connected Satellite Navigation is assuming a greater strategic importance – and can make a dramatic impact on the bottom line.

We’ve all done it. Driving to an appointment and taking a wrong turn. If you are lucky you can turn back immediately, but chances are you will add another half a mile, possibly more, to your journey. We’ll put it down to experience, but if you are doing six appointments a day, that wasted mileage can begin to add up.

Now imagine you are a Fleet Manager and you have 200 field service engineers…

Equipping field workers with Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs) may have seemed the logical answer a couple of years ago. Bulky,  a significant financial overhead and difficult to update, standalone devices are great for getting from A to B; unfortunately, a typical service engineer will need to go to C and D as well. And possibly E.

Now many companies are realising that mobile navigation technology can help keep their mobile personnel in the field and maximise efficiency. 

Connected mobile satellite navigation – by which I mean sat nav running on a mobile Internet-enabled Smartphone or PDA – is revolutionising the role of the field worker and the transport manager alike by combining PND functionality with useful up to the minute journey and customer information.

Moreover, connected mobile navigation can run on handsets fully integrated with sophisticated workforce applications, providing a complete enterprise mobility solution based on a single handheld device.

A good example of a company that is already benefitting from this approach to mobile technology is Severn Trent Metering Services.

Appointments for their meter fitters are sent directly to the engineer’s smartphone via the mobile Internet. Customer addresses are automatically passed into CoPilot Live Satellite Navigation which optimises the appointments and calculates an efficient route. The driver is then guided from door to door with voice instructions and detailed on-screen mapping.

The solution is helping Severn Trent realise significant fuel savings in a number of ways. Firstly, the engineers no longer have to drive to the depot each morning to receive paper work relating to their daily appointments. Secondly, less wasted mileage occurs as a result of drivers taking a wrong turn or getting lost. Third, total mileage is reduced thanks to CoPilot’s itinerary optimisation.

The result? Severn Trent Metering Services (STMS) is saving more than 6000 miles a week, and each fitter is managing an average of one additional meter appointment each day.

As Dan Allman, Contract Manager with STMS commented, “Cutting travel by 6000 miles a week has allowed Severn Trent Metering Services to recognise an estimated 50K saving in fuel per annum.”

Satellite Navigation, integrated to a multi-tasking mobile device, can also extend the reach of a mobile team by removing traditional geographic boundaries.

Tesco.com has incorporated CoPilot Live sat nav into the same device used for scanning and signature capture by the drivers of their South London home delivery service. Customer delivery details are uploaded to each device and the addresses automatically fed into CoPilot Live for voice navigation.

Drivers are no longer restricted to making deliveries within their local area, but can cover unfamiliar areas too. Vans can contain more consignments, the number of returns to base is reduced and drivers can increase the number of deliveries per shift.

As John Higgins, IT Director, Tesco.com commented “The deliveries are on time and the drivers don’t get lost – they don’t need an A to Z in their cab. It’s cheaper for Tesco and it’s more efficient for the workforce.”

Impressive? How about saving 2.5 million miles a year and removing 15% of your fleet from the road? Drive Assist, a company specialising in providing replacement vehicles on behalf of insurance companies extended the reach of all their drivers through using connected satellite navigation and re-engineered the business in the process.

Historically, each job involved a driver delivering a vehicle to a customer and then returning to base in a following car, doubling the fuel cost for each delivery. Thanks to the new system that integrates data capture, job allocation and satellite navigation on a single hand held device, vehicles can be moved directly from customer to customer, requiring only a simple valet prior to delivery.

The efficiency savings have been dramatic, with Drive Assist able to substantially reduce the size of their fleet, while maintaining a delivery-to-customer window of two hours or less throughout the UK mainland.

Sat Nav 2.0

In the Business to Business space at least, the advantages of connected mobile navigation could mean that the days of the basic personal navigation device are numbered. 

The latest generation of GPS-enabled rugged connected mobile devices can out-perform a PND in many ways, providing telematics and fleet management services which previously would have required a significant investment in hardware and custom installation. For example CoPilot Live’s FleetCenter service uses the mobile Internet to provide comprehensive navigation fully integrated with location tracking and job despatch – all from one connected device.

Fleet Managers can quickly gain a real-time view of the location of all field employees, where they are headed and what time they are expected to arrive.

Resources can be allocated based on proximity to customer rather than incurring the additional fuel cost of sending out depot based personnel.

If this sounds like an encroachment on the personal liberties of the field worker, it is important to realise that recent legislation demands that non-office based personnel receive the same corporate attention and protection as their office-based colleagues. Having the ability to view location and arrange emergency support if required is not only becoming a legal requirement, it makes sound business sense.

Mobile satellite navigation technology is also evolving. The perennial media story of the trapped HGV will gradually become history as the industry responds with commercial vehicle navigation that takes into account vehicle length, width and weight restrictions, and producing efficient routes accordingly.

Connected navigation systems will be able to automatically download updated maps, access live traffic information and even provide customers with a real-time view of when their deliveries will arrive.

Combined with additional live job feeds, delivered straight into the navigation via the mobile Internet, connected mobile satellite navigation is set to remain at the heart of the telematics revolution, and a prerequisite of any integrated mobility solution.

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