The Marriage and Benefits of Operational Software and GPS Technology
Knowing what you want to accomplish by having GPS is important so that you will be able to sift through the options, maximize the benefits and determine the best solution for your company.
There are several software vendors that provide operational tools to help manage and grow your business. When choosing a software vendor, look for a product that is comprehensive to benefit all aspects of your business including operations, customer service and accounting to help you to streamline these areas of your business:
Customer and job site tracking and a mechanism to record your customer service calls in order to assist you in organizing calls received and respond quickly to them.
There are many challenges assisted with routing your customers. A solution that will handle “fixed” or regularly scheduled calls, “on-call” or call-ins and technology to assist you with the challenges of door-to-door residential routing will enable you to handle any routing challenges you may encounter
Mapping technology is readily available with software applications and will assist you to provide a very visual picture of your calls
Being able to drill down to a detailed level when it comes to revenue tracking and reporting is essential to gain insight into the overall profitability of your business. For example:
- Track and bill costs associated with disposal
- Track your containers
- Detailed production reporting to ensure you are making profit at a route as well as a customer level.
A system that is operations-driven will enable you to always bill your customers as a result of servicing them.
Today, many different technology options are being offered. Software that is capable of being able to integrate to third-party vendors to provide a collaboration of many different technologies will provide more extensive benefits to the operation of your business.
There are many choices available under the broad heading of GPS solutions and just as many vendors who provide different options and functionality. Knowing what you want to accomplish by having GPS is important so that you will be able to sift through the options, maximize the benefits and determine the best solution for your company.
The ability to identify where your vehicles are has benefit. In its basic form, GPS technology allows you to know where your vehicles are located at any given time. However, having this information readily available as a stand-alone product without being fully integrated to your operational software, sometimes counteracts the many benefits you could receive from GPS.
Knowing the location of your vehicles is simply the starting point … many additional benefits can be derived by using GPS technologies. One example is information and associated reporting on driver behavior:
Speeding—Many GPS providers allow you to establish benchmarks where if you exceed the threshold, notifications can be forwarded by e-mail and/or text message to your office location.
Idling—With the high price of fuel, reducing the amount of idling time has substantial return on investment. Using some of the current GPS providers, again allows for benchmarks as to acceptable and unacceptable idling times.
Vehicle parked—Provides you with details about when your vehicles are parked or stopped for any length of time is an another option that is provided by many GPS vendors
Alerts—In addition to alerts for speeding, idling, parked vehicles, etc., some GPS vendors provide notification when vehicles need to be serviced and other events that can be received automatically.
Reporting—Where thresholds have been established, there are many reporting capabilities available, not only real-time but past historical information will always be available to management.
One of the latest innovations in using GPS is the ability to not only provide real-time two-way communications to the driver but additionally, interface to ®Garmin units. Real-time communications with the driver, provides the ability to:
Have an accurate date and time stamp of services performed
Confirm arrival and departure times
Provide a true comparison between a planned route and an actual route.
When integrated with a back-office software product, to assist the driver in performing his route as efficiently as possible, the route can be downloaded onto a ®Garmin unit that not only replaces paper route sheets, but also provides the additional benefit of having voice assisted turn-by-turn directions.
Another feature is the ability to provide two-way messaging to communicate with the driver, inform dispatch of their status and also record information of what has taken place. Previously, this functionality could only be accomplished by using expensive onboard computers that required significant training to use. Most people today are comfortable using the less expensive and readily available in-vehicle GPS devices. Having this two-way interface also provides the functionality to allow you to respond to call-ins quickly and effortlessly and for the driver to immediately notify any exceptions.
Enhancing Your Operational Tools
GPS capabilities should enable you to enhance your operational tools when interfaced to your back office software. Some examples of these benefits typically are:
View where your vehicles are located on your live dispatch screens
Provide capability for real-time updates when driver arrives, status of completion of service, etc.
Give you functionality to dynamically dispatch call-ins, emergencies, changes in services and more
Ability to see actual versus planned routes and associated costs
Ron Davey is President of RouteOptix Inc. (Kitchener, ON). He has been developing vehicle routing and mapping software applications for 30 years. In 1980, Ron worked in the solid waste industry for many years and co-wrote the software for a large solid waste organization. In 1990, Ron was hired as a consultant and wrote software for a solid waste technology company. In 1998, Ron recognized the need for software to service other vertical markets with similar challenges to the solid waste and recycling industries and designed his own vehicle routing and mapping application that was released in Nashville in 2000. The creation of Ron’s company, RouteOptix Inc., coincided with this release. RouteOptix now serves the solid, liquid and medical waste, recycling, grease, oil recovery and document destruction industries. Ron can be reached at (866) 926-7849, email [email protected] or visit the Web site at www.routeoptix.com.