Derek Bryan outlines how field service organisations can protect their fleets from an increasing risk of theft...
There’s little doubt that buying and maintaining a fleet of vehicles can be expensive, especially for small or medium enterprises. Aside from staff, fleet vehicles are one of the biggest overheads for a business. And not only that, they often store vital goods, tools or equipment, meaning their whereabouts, safety and security is crucial to business success.
Recently, criminals have targeted vans up and down the country, and late last year West Midlands Police revealed that van thefts had almost tripled. Statistics like this are particularly worrying for fleet managers, as losing just one van can have a significant effect on revenue, productivity and customer satisfaction. While thieves can’t always be stopped, there are steps that can be taken to help fleet managers better protect their assets and prevent criminal activity.
Vehicle tracking and geofencing
One way to help thwart thieves is to install a fleet management system that includes features to help keep track of your vehicles at all times. For example, live map features that can identify vehicles’ locations in near real-time and trace the exact route each one has taken. From this data, fleet managers can run detailed reports via intuitive dashboards to monitor key metrics such as speeding and exact distance travelled. In doing so, if a vehicle is stolen it can be quite simple to track where your van ends up. Information like this can be critical in helping the police to track down any stolen vehicle.
[quote float="left"]One way to help thwart thieves is to install a fleet management system that includes features to help keep track of your vehicles at all times[/quote]‘Geofences’, a virtual perimeter that’s set up around physical locations that can be labelled and categorised, are a good tool for this. Managers can use them to map out areas that have been targeted by thieves and ensure that drivers do not leave vehicles in these ‘at-risk’ areas.
In addition, a fleet manager can also geo-fence their drivers’ homes to track if a vehicle leaves the area outside of agreed working hours, reducing unnecessary fuel expenditure and inappropriate usage.
Intelligent driver identification and real-time alerts
Intelligent alert systems, usually put in place to monitor driver behaviour, can also be useful for stopping thieves in their tracks. Fleet managers can also equip vehicles with driver ID functionality by providing each driver with a unique key fob that connects with a key reader in each vehicle’s dashboard. This system ensures that only registered [quote float="right"]This system ensures that only registered drivers are permitted to start the van[/quote]drivers are permitted to start the van; if a thief manages to break-in and start the ignition, fleet managers receive an alert that the vehicle has been started by an unapproved driver and an alarm sounds in the cab, helping deter any further criminal activity.
Alerts can also be set up to send fleet managers notifications if their vehicle has been used outside of working hours. In doing so, any unusual activity can be picked up quickly and a potential theft can be identified in good time. With crime numbers rising, it suggests that the thieves might be getting smarter and is growing wise to the steps fleet managers are taking to protect their assets.
Energy and efficiency
The steps used to keep track of vans can also have many other benefits for businesses: from monitoring driver behaviour to cutting down fuel costs and shortening delivering times via route optimisation. By using the advanced mapping tools available, fleets can easily identify the most suitable driver to a certain job based on their vehicle’s size, proximity, assigned geo-fenced area, and the amount of working hours they have available. Doing so ultimately helps fleet managers save time and money, and creates greater clarity when it comes to allocating jobs.
While there is no such thing as a theft-proof van, making criminals’ jobs that more difficult helps to deter thieves and helps the police to track down stolen assets. It’s therefore advisable to invest in a solution that monitors your fleet around the clock and offers safety and savings benefits.
Derek Bryan is VP EMEA, with Verizon Connect
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