Investigating ‘common sense technologies’: GPS tracking systems

The story here is: efficiency brings together financial and environmental arguments. Economy in general – not being wasteful – is common sense. So what is a ‘common sense technology’?.

Everyone understands that developed economies are powered by business. In business the priority is improving margins and cutting costs. This has been the case for my entire lifetime but the economic landscape has altered. Energy prices are rising and are set to keep on rising, so energy efficiency is increasingly the preferred way of keep costs down.

Pollution and carbon emissions are bad – everyone knows that too, more or less. But if you’re running a business that transports people, delivers goods, or uses any kind of fleet, you are likely to be reliant on fuel. This is expensive financially and costly in environmental terms. So what do you do?

You can look at energy efficiency as a matter of using lightbulbs and batteries that are less wasteful. But there are systems that transform business operations in multiple ways, saving time and money. This is what I’d call a common sense technology.

Technology can do more and costs less now than ever. In the case of GPS technology an impressive range of controls can be achieved for a cost that’s very low relative to savings. Still, it can seem like a significant expense to a business that doesn’t currently pay for vehicle tracking.

Companies that design tracking systems advertise the following points:
– GPS keeps drivers to the fastest routes, to save time and fuel, and provide more reliable service to customers.
– Speed monitoring to reduce likelihood of speeding fines, and dangerous and costly road accidents.
– Reduces ‘out of hours’ vehicle usage.
– Improves communication between drivers and central office, meaning job allocations and general admin becomes more efficient.

So I carried out a little research to see whether companies find the same efficiency value in vehicle tracking as the GPS companies advertise, and soon found examples of around a dozen businesses with fleets of varying sizes that had made a positive change to their operations.

Olympic South Limited, a public transport provider with seventy five vehicles, decided to try vehicle tracking because of the size and variety of its fleet. They found they saved money on admin time otherwise wasted on speeding and parking fines.

Snibor builders benefited most from being able to estimate ETA’s for its customers and provide more reliable service.

Energy company E.ON, wracked with carbon guilt? or guilt over being a major player in an industry that’s seen such significant price hikes in the last year? – I doubt it – was primarily interested in keeping down costs and giving it a reason to call itself environmentally friendly. Plus the technology improves security for drivers.

Delivery business John Mitchell originally wanted to reduce fuel use but its GPS system ended up chopping 80% off its phone bill: “Our traffic office and planners couldn’t do without the system now,” says MD Iain Mitchell.

In cash terms:
City Link saved £7,200 a year of fuel, paying for itself very rapidly.
Swift Couriers saved £12,000 on fuel and out of hours vehicle use by 75%.
Andrew Porter Removals saves over £3,500 a month and can offer realistic ETAs to customers, while saving over 12 hours of admin per week.

I will be publishing more profiles of common sense technologies here in the coming weeks, along with a report on why many businesses refuse to take up efficiency measures even though they can save time and money.

Case studies come from Yes Vehicle Tracking and TrakM8.

About the author:

David Thomas writes about clean technology and about specialist equipment for Expert Market. You can speak to him at @expertmarket

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Hello, I'm David. I write about energy efficiency and about the solar industry for websites and The Eco Experts. Skips rope and eats bread.

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