Category Archives: Sageplan
Everybody knows that the smart phones we carry around today can do a lot of amazing things. From keeping a calendar to checking email to helping us find the hippest restaurant in town, the designers continue to find ways to pack more and more capability into this handy little devices.
One of the questions we hear a lot is whether or not a business could simply use their employee’s cell phones to keep track of them over the course of the day. On the surface, this seems like a good way to avoid buying a bunch of products and services to keep an eye on everyone, and save a little bit of money.
And in some cases, it may work just fine. Every major cellular service provider offers some version of cell phone tracking for a relatively small fee, which could provide an “off the shelf” solution for the business owner that just needs to occasionally locate their employees. And we are really impressed with the work Google is putting in to their mobile applications. Under the right set of circumstance, their combination of mobile chat, location services, and navigation can go a long way towards keeping everyone connected over the course of the work day.
But of course, as with most technology, there are trade-offs that need to be considered before picking a solution for your business. If you are in the market for a GPS tracking solution, here are a few questions to ask yourself before you settle on a smart phone solution.
- Privacy: This is always an area that needs to be addressed when employees are being tracked, especially if the tracker information is available during the employee’s time off.
- Reliability: Smartphones have off buttons, tracking applications can usually be disabled, which means that someone who
is doing something that they should not be doing during work hours can defeat a smart phone tracking system with the push of a button.
- Battery Life: Enabling the GPS chipset on a smartphone will dramatically decrease battery life, and can reduce the standby time on the device less than one day in some cases.
- Bandwidth: Be sure you understand how much data is being used by your application, especially if the device is sending in a constant stream of tracking information or web based navigation.
- Asset Tracking: Oftentimes a business is more interested in tracking a vehicle or piece of equipment than the operator.
Clearly, location services is one of the capabilities that a smart phone offers to a business owner. Just be sure that you understand the trade-offs and limitations of this approach, or you could end up with a solution that falls far short of the return on investment that can be generated by a purpose built solution.
The recession that began in 2008 was deep and profound, impacting almost every business. While most of us had very little to do with creating the recession, we all suffered through the consequences together. Slowly but surely the economy is getting better, and it is time for businesses to start thinking strategically about their next growth cycle.
For any business with mobile assets, one inevitable part of increasing business is increasing fleet expenditures. As business picks up, your fleet gets busier. All of your vehicles will almost certainly add mileage to their monthly averages, which is a good thing as it means that they are usually out adding to your company’s top line revenue. But how much will increasing fuel costs add to the overall expenses?
Diesel oil and gasoline prices have already shot up to their highest levels in two years, and most analysts are predicting a steady increase over the course of 2011 as the global economy picks up steam. The 2011 predictions from most analysts, including the U.S. Energy Information Administration are running in a fairly narrow range centered around a 10% increase over last year’s pricing. Given the global fuel markets, it is a fairly safe bet at this stage to put those figures into the forecast this year. While nobody likes to pay more in fuel costs, this sort of increase as the economy improves is relatively easy to swallow for most businesses as we all ride the wave of an improving economy.
Projections for 2012 Vary Widely
The more important question to answer for fleet managers is whether or not we will see a fuel cost increase in 2012 that mirrors the 30% plus increase we saw in 2008, and whether or not that increase will be permanent this time. While experts disagree on the timing, everyone agrees on the simple fact that supplies continue to dwindle as demand rises. Most of the increased demand in 2008 came from emerging markets such as China and India, and forecasts show that these markets will be increasing their demand again soon as they work their way through the latest downturn. While the timing is still murky, the inevitability of increasing fuel costs make it prudent to start planning for this eventuality.
Four Ways to Decrease Fuel Costs
Here are four ways that a fleet owner can work to reduce his or her fuel consumption over the long haul.
- Smaller, More Efficient Vehicles: This one is obvious and most businesses are looking at overall cost of ownership on their new vehicles as they are added to the fleet. When you look at your cost of ownership projections, be sure to calculate them at several different fuel cost estimates.
- Route Monitoring: Having the ability to monitor your vehicle locations allows you to insure that they are running their routes efficiently and that your corporate vehicles are not burning fuel for an employee’s personal benefit rather than your own. Personal side trip expenses in the work truck can really add up.
- Reduce Speeding: Everyone knows that the faster a vehicle goes, the more fuel it consumes. Not only is this an operational cost issue, but it also greatly increases your risk liability for everything from speeding tickets to accidents .
- Control Engine Idling: Studies have indicated that a typical work truck can consume anywhere from 0.7 to 1.2 gallons of fuel for every hour that the engine is left running idle. While this is sometimes necessary in extremely hot or cold environments, most often it is a cost that is easily avoidable when the proper monitoring measures are put into place.
So, What About That $5/Gallon Fuel?
My guess is that 2012 is not the year that we will see it. Only the most pessimistic of forecasters see it coming sooner rather than later. But I do believe that it will be here soon, certainly within the next five years, so it is time to start putting that eventuality into the strategic planning for your fleet. If you don’t, you could end up with a bunch of vehicles that cost you much more to operate and depreciate much more rapidly than your competition’s fleet.
I recently went to visit a customer, and when I got there it was clear he was having a bad day.
“We just got a call from the local news, they are asking for a company representative to appear on the ten o’clock news.”
At this point, I was having trouble seeing where the problem was. So far it sounded like an opportunity to get the business name out to everyone in the city. Then he finished his statement.
“One of our company trucks was just in an accident. Apparently he drove the truck right into the side of a house.”
The good news was that nobody was hurt, and the company had all the insurance and legal help it needed to keep the incident from causing any immediate financial damage beyond the repair bill for the house and the truck.
Of course, for the business owner, the issue was not so much about the accident as it was about his company’s reputation. How was this going to look in the press? How many customers were going to see it? How was this incident going to impact his bottom line?
Companies can spend significant resources on building up a brand image, and with good reason. If your business name is well respected in the community, then you may have a big step up on your competition.
But there are so many ways that an irresponsible moment by an employee can tarnish the company’s image. Speeding, an accident, even a lunchtime stop at an innapropriate business establishment can change the perception of your brand, giving your competition an advantage that they did not have to work for.
If you are a faithful reader of my blog, you know that I often talk about how one of the most important benefits of implementing a fleet monitoring solution is the “behavior modification” effect the system has on employees. They may not like having a tracker in the vehicle, but most employees will slow down and stop doing things they are not supposed to be doing when they know that the boss could be watching.
Limited beta testing has begun as a small group of customers shake down our newest tracking feature; Live Track.
LiveTrack is a game changer for web-based tracking, making it much easier to view all of your vehicle statuses in real time from any computer connected to the internet.
Testing is scheduled to run for a few weeks and a full release is soon to follow. Stay tuned for details!
Sageplan simplifies adaptation of GPS Tracking services for municipalities, counties, and school districts.
Austin, TX December 4, 2009 — Sageplan has been named a state-wide approved vendor by Texas BuyBoard, an organization created to help local Texas governments and school districts find and procure the products and services they require from qualified, pre-approved suppliers. After a thorough evaluation process, Sageplan was chosen to help these organizations take control of their mobile assets. Since 2004, Sageplan has been providing state-of-the-art GPS tracking and fleet monitoring services to a variety of retail consumers and industrial clients including private investigators, law enforcement services, private business, families with young drivers or elderly drivers, and of course governmental organizations.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to help Texas communities improve the safety, efficiency, and longevity of their fleet operations.” said Don Sesler, Sageplan President. “With every organization looking for ways to reduce costs and eliminate wastes, our SageFleet monitoring solution can help any city, county, or school district save fuel, reduce insurance rates, decrease overtime, and improve employee productivity in the field.”
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Sageplan operates its GPS tracking business under the brand and website World Tracking Solutions. This service offers a broad range of professional-grade GPS tracking devices, from battery operated units designed for quick installation and covert tracking activities, to permanently installed devices with additional fleet monitoring features targeted towards business and government applications.
The new Sageplan contract award from the Texas BuyBoard streamlines the procurement process for Texas cities, counties, and school districts that have been considering the implementation of fleet monitoring and fleet management technologies. With no software to install and no hardware purchase required, Sageplan has made it easy for even the smallest of government organizations to take advantage of the productivity gains and cost savings offered by their service.
Sageplan is an international technology company providing services in fleet management, technology import/export, and general business consulting. Our fleet management services help organizations cut fleet operating costs and increase employee productivity through the application of environmentally sound and field proven technologies. Our 15 minute consultation can show you how to reduce fuel consumption, lower insurance rates, and reduce wasted employee hours on the job.