Next-Generation Driver Performance Technology

David Rodriguez, SVP, GreenRoad
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David Rodriguez, SVP, GreenRoad

Field Service Safety on the Road. How driving a culture of safe driving can positively impact your drivers, your customers and your bottom line.

In an era of deregulation and increased competition, service companies must provide prompt, efficient service that their customers will not risk losing. To optimize return on fleet assets and valuable technician time, fleet managers need to maintain service units in top operating condition, and have instant visibility into their locations and availability at all times. 

“Your technicians are certified professionals who are experienced in their fields, not professional drivers”

Your technicians are certified professionals who are experienced in their fields, not professional drivers. Yet many service companies expose themselves to the risk of dangerous, costly and reputation-ruining collisions by putting technicians who lack professional driving training behind the wheels of their service vehicles or vans.  

Faced with dense dispatch schedules, technicians are tempted to cut corners on safe, fuel efficient driving in hopes of keeping on track. Driving incidents and citations cause further delays and increase costs for insurance premiums, vehicle wear and tear, liability, and fuel as well as damage to the company’s reputation. Yet for too many companies, improving driving behavior is merely an afterthought. This is one facet of business monitoring for field service organizations that most CEOs, CIOs, COOs and managers don’t pay enough attention to. Considering the cost of one safety related event, why? 

Let’s look at the data. On average field service technicians spend roughly 35 percent of their time on the road, yet they aren’t professional drivers. Additionally, according to government estimates, a single on-the-job vehicle crash can cost employers anywhere between $16,000 and $500,000 depending on the severity of the crash, type of vehicle and when the event took place. Add in the average time a worker is off the job due to a crash (12 days on average) and the cost become compounded due to worker’s comp, lost revenue and customer satisfaction.

While it’s difficult to put an exact figure on the cost of one specific driving incident the NSC has provided numerous examples of the financial impact one crash can have on a company: 

• In a 2010 crash where a beverage company employee was distracted while using a hands-free device crashed and sustained severe injuries costing the company $21million.

• In 2007 a crash was caused by a company employee that was using a cell phone while driving and caused one fatality.  The cost to the technology company was $21.6million.  

So what are field service companies doing to prevent un-safe driving habits? Considering that most field service technicians are using some sort of mobile device to conduct their day to day business it makes sense that the next-generation driver performance technology will be mobile based and can help fleet managers monitor the driving behavior of their technicians in order to identify areas for training and improvement. Today there only a few driver and fleet performance management providers that can offer in vehicle feedback that monitors the over 150 driving maneuvers necessary for full driver visibility and once installed on the technician’s mobile device and correctly associated to their vehicle, these solutions can provide real-time alerts and feedback to the drivers as well as to the managers at the home office. This feedback can help drivers proactively change their behavior in real-time and simultaneously help managers identify risk trends, safety hotspots and resulting efficiencies gained in fuel savings and vehicle maintenance. Additionally, field service organizations can leverage this technology with their insurance providers to garner discounted premiums and even help pay for technology like in cab cameras.

However, getting cost-conscious managers, owners or executive of field service companies to invest in driver and fleet performance technology can be an uphill battle.

Field Service organizations must first encourage using business intelligence to identify areas of organizational improvement. Through the use of extended safety and mobile based capabilities field service providers can harness the information from their driver performance management solutions to consolidate driver data across a large mobile workforce to provide managers with advanced business analytics. For example, driver performance management systems help to identify safety and risk trends and manage only by exception. Driver, vehicle and group scores can be displayed and shared by day, by trip or over an extended period of time to show changes in driving behavior over time and the cause of the improvement. The managers can also view the same analysis to identify areas of improvement or opportunities for training.

But training drivers is only one part of optimizing your workforce and its performance. Field Service organizations need ongoing benchmarks for not only their drivers, but their vehicles, costs and ultimately customer satisfaction.  With the right mobile technology, field services companies can constantly monitor their business, their drivers and their performance.

Driver and fleet performance management technology has been successful in helping large and small field service organizations worldwide to manage the risks associated with aggressive or poor driving, but not only does the right performance management technology empower organizations to make immediate improvements across their organization it forces them to take responsibility for their workforce safety on and off the road while at the same time improving their customers’ experience.  

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