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“We don’t have limiters on all our vans, so it’s important that we make sure they are driven at the correct speeds. The managers decide how to best act on the information we provide, and I have confidence in the system”
J Tomlinson provides building solutions and has maintenance, repairs and construction teams carrying out facilities management work across the country, 24/7. J Tomlinson teams keep many business-critical services operational, while serving new and existing communities. With new starters joining every fortnight, and a fleet of over 200 leased commercial vans on the road, Fleet Manager, Jane Hatton has every need for a good fleet tracking system.
We visited Jane and members of the J Tomlinson Fleet Department, Craig Hayes and Janet Lucas, at their Nottinghamshire head office – a warehouse steeped in automotive history, that was once used to produce 300 Scimitar GTEs per year. With the help of Quartix telematics, the team ensures that the vans are operated safely and efficiently. Other departments in the business make use of the Quartix telematics system to supply live tracking updates to customers, and the managers use trip reports to check staff hours.
Selecting Quartix as a new telematics provider
A previous vehicle tracking supplier was not providing everything that J Tomlinson needed, so Jane started looking at other options. “Running a speeding report used to take me all morning,” she says, “We needed to change with the times and get a more sophisticated solution. With Quartix, it’s no longer a chore to get the data, and we have a lot more reports available.”
Quartix ran workshops for the various teams to help them get used to the new system. Janet comments, “We always hear back from Quartix within minutes of an email and new trackers arrive quickly.” “For the business, Quartix has ticked a lot of boxes,” says Craig, “We have much more information available to us now, and it’s an easy system to use.” As a Fleet Manager, Jane needs to know that the team offers the business valuable, comprehensive insights and can provide full tracking data if ever there is an issue with a job or member of staff. “The managers decide how to best act on the information we provide, and I have confidence in the system.”
Locating 200+ vans nationwide
Aside from knowing where vehicles are at all times and being able to easily update customers on projected arrival times for work, there have been many other benefits to installing the trackers. Over the years, J Tomlinson has experienced some abandoned vehicles when staff have left the business and chosen not to bring the van back to the head office. “We wouldn’t have been able to find those vans without the tracker, but we were able to avoid any trouble with the insurance” says Jane.
Hardware options to meet unique needs
Having chosen the OBD Plug & Track devices, the team keep a close eye on any disconnection alerts, which are sent to all Directors and the fleet department. While the plug-in device saves the business time, Craig explains some recent experiences that have led him to trial other options too. “The Plug & Track is lovely, it’s quick and simple and we don’t need to be there to install it. Some of the new van models now, such as the Mercedes, have the tracker port in the passenger footwell and it can get knocked by boots and equipment. If we see that certain people have repeated disconnection alerts for whatever reason, we ask them to bring the van in to get a wired tracker,” says Craig.
“The Plug & Track is lovely, it’s quick and simple and we don’t need to be there to install it.”
Monitoring personal use of vehicles
Staff take J Tomlinson vans home to park overnight and are asked not to use them for personal trips without authorisation. The business will often recruit in the areas where contracts are won, meaning vans often reside far away from the depot once they are collected.
Having created geofences around home addresses, Craig compiles a list each week showing vehicles that travelled more than 5 miles over the weekend period. This allows for the drivers to move the vans to a different position or fill up with fuel at the weekend and highlights only significant vehicle use in the report. Craig then filters out anyone on the weekend shift rota, and sends the remaining list to J Tomlinson managers, asking them to address any unauthorised vehicle use.
Since introducing this process, the number of vehicles on the list has reduced. “At first, we were seeing 40+ on the list each week, with hundreds of miles racked up over the weekend, so it was a big cost to us in fuel. Sometimes the drivers have been given authorisation to use their vehicles for something, such as moving a large item, or they’ve taken the van to be washed at the weekend. I highlight any trips out-of-hours so the managers can check it out – the drivers know we are checking their van’s use in this way, so it works well.”
“At first, we were seeing 40+ on the list each week, with hundreds of miles racked up over the weekend, so it was a big cost to us in fuel. I highlight any trips out-of-hours so the managers can check it out – the drivers know we are checking their van’s use in this way, so it works well.”
Ensuring vehicles are driven safely
Janet runs the speeding report each week, to help managers to address any unwanted driving behaviour. “We don’t have limiters on all our vans, so it’s important that we make sure they are driven at the correct speeds. The managers love it because it helps us spot any repeat offenders – if someone shows up two or three times speeding, we can flag it, and that can stop a potential fine from eventually coming through. We see less speeding fines now than, say, parking fines or bus lane fines, so I think it’s had an impact.”
In a situation where the driver denies the speeding prosecution, the tracking system helps. “We can log on to see if the driver was there at the time that the speeding ticket was given, and what speed they were travelling.”
Looking at the driving style scores across the J Tomlinson fleet, it is clear that the vehicles are driven safely, putting them in better stead with insurance companies. “We’re a big fleet of 200 vans so it hasn’t always been easy to get insured. But our premiums came down last year – we’ve had parking sensors fitted and the tracking capabilities must have come into play here as well,” says Jane, who hears from the managers that staff have been keen to understand how to improve their driving. “Good driving scores reduce the wear on the tyres. If you were in the red a lot, your tyre treads would go down much faster – and engine health would suffer too,” Craig adds.
Protecting staff and supplying evidence
Having a strong presence in some areas means J Tomlinson can often be targeted with accusations of having clipped other vehicles with their vans. Jane recalls one in particular, “A claim went to court but luckily, with Quartix, we could prove that our van wasn’t where the incident happened. We had been in the area but not on that road, so we had evidence that we weren’t involved.”
The Quartix system has also helped staff many times when accidents have happened. Insurance claims have been avoided using the trip data to support J Tomlinson’s case, especially in one that Craig remembers, “It was clear that our member of staff was approaching a bend at low enough speeds, whereas the other driver had 500 yards of straight road in a run up to it, so they were more likely in the wrong.” Jane recalls a shocking story in which telematics was their lifeline, “A horse once jumped over a hedge onto the bonnet of an engineer’s van. They were on a hands-free call to one of the team who heard it happen, and even though the phone cut out, the tracker enabled us to get people straight to the scene.”
J Tomlinson can use the Quartix system to prove that their staff visited a property. Jane explains, “If our staff go out to a job and the person doesn’t answer the door, the Quartix system can prove that we visited the property, by using the reports that show ignition on and ignition off.”
Craig explains how he positions telematics to staff; “It’s not about keeping an eye on drivers; we’re making sure the vehicles are safe.” Jane assures her drivers that she isn’t watching their every move and the tracking simply enables them to operate an efficient fleet.