John Cameron is general manager of Trimble Field Service Management (FSM), where he is responsible for worldwide operations and development. He holds a bachelor's degree with highest honors in mechanical engineering from UC-Berkeley and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. For more information, visit trimble.com/fsm.
To ensure that their businesses run as efficiently as possible, managers must capture and consolidate vast quantities of data generated by in-vehicle devices, smartphones and tablets of mobile workers. Doing this requires reliable systems that analyze and turn that data into usable intelligence that allows managers to manage by exception rather than by instinct. For instance, information from location technology helps to optimize scheduling and routing, which reduces the expense of vehicle maintenance and fuel. Data from fleet and workforce management systems enables operational changes to boost productivity.
Construction fleets can enjoy double-digit percentage gains from implementing these technologies. A study by NDP Consulting found that GPS technology produces 11 percent savings in labor costs, 13 percent in fuel and 13 percent in vehicle maintenance and repair. In addition, field service managers have learned that workforce management software can increase productivity by more than 10 percent and dispatch efficiency by more than 20 percent. Listed below are four steps that best-in-class companies follow when implementing fleet technologies.
1. Optimize Your Workforce
Workforce management helps companies to optimize their operations, giving managers and dispatchers visibility into the work schedules and activities of field workers. When integrated with fleet management software, workforce management helps businesses react quickly and reduce labor costs by assigning in-day worker schedules based on real-time information.
Information collected throughout the workday about dispatch efficiency and field workers' activities allows managers to compare assigned work with completed projects. Managers can then adjust schedules and reassign work to ensure quality of service, worker productivity and increased productivity and customer satisfaction.
2. Gather Information
Excellent service is tightly linked to how companies collect, digest and act on field data. In-vehicle GPS boxes feed data back to dispatch centers throughout the day, providing critical insight into the quality of service that field workers deliver. This information includes job commitments that are kept and missed, duration of jobs and whether time is wasted by poor scheduling and inefficient staff utilization.
GPS navigation, vehicle tracking and workforce management solutions help managers collect the data that provides valuable insights about vehicle use, staff behavior and dispatcher efficiency. Savvy field service managers understand the importance of tracking and acting on data like delivery time stamps, time spent at each jobsite, routing records and daily logs, can translate into enhanced operations.
Unacceptable behavior, such as unauthorized use of vehicles and regular speeding can be mitigated and even eliminated to reduce waste, save fuel and minimize overtime. In addition to real-time data collected, managers can compare historical information with current data to identify trends and areas that need improvement.
3. Leverage Technology
Advances in location technology, geolocation and telematics are allowing construction managers to optimize routing to save fuel, improve drive time and control vehicle wear and tear. GPS data allows managers to compare routes that drivers use with the assigned routes that take multiple factors into account, including point-to-point distances and traffic patterns. Enhanced routing is more than just finding the shortest distance, so efficient route planners also pay attention to hourly, daily and even seasonal traffic patterns, road construction, proximity between customer locations and crew shifts. Field service managers have learned that route optimization generates critical ROI on technology investments and is instrumental in mitigating poor driver behavior.
4. Measure Results
Performance management analytics (PMA) is making measurement simpler because field service leaders can monitor the workforce by accessing performance data to analyze their operational efficiency. PMA allows managers to generate and customize reports that show criteria such as quality of service, statistics for individual workers and actual vs. estimated tasks completed.
By providing greater visibility into the performance of each worker and into the business as a whole, the technology allows managers to better evaluate the effectiveness of their operations.
Clearly, making improvements in efficiencies requires a long-term commitment, and organizations that successfully implement these improvements do so by having the right strategy and technology in place.