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Using Geofencing for Smarter Fleet Management

  • April 06, 2021
  • Bill Westerman
  • Reading Time: 4 minutes
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There’s good reason the best fleet management apps make it easy to create and manage geofences. (Credit: CalAmp)

The power of a simple geofence is striking. Creating these GPS-enabled virtual boundaries in a fleet management app such as CalAmp iOn™ enhances productivity and safety in both obvious and surprising ways.

With geofencing, you can configure an automatic notification to inform you when a vehicle has entered or exited a defined area, which can take any shape you wish. You can also get instant geofence alerts on activities within the area and review comings and goings via easy-to-access reports. The information helps you better understand and react to what’s happening with your drivers, your deliveries and even your customers.

Not using geofencing yet? Here are eight things geofences can help you do.

1. Limit unauthorized activity

You may have already thought to set a geofence around places your drivers aren’t supposed to go during work — the local park or casino, a popular but out-of-the-way fast-food restaurant, the mall, etc.  l. Geofencing these areas on a fleet management app allows managers to know in real time if a vehicle enters, and to clock how much time the driver spends there.

Geofences help managers enforce company policies in other ways, too. Set geofences around gas stations that aren’t approved vendors, for example. Place a geofence around a work yard to monitor off-hours utilization. Geofence a person’s coverage or service area to track use of a corporate vehicle assigned to an individual. Are hourly workers instructed to take the fastest route home? A geofence around the authorized route will divulge whether a driver took the scenic route.

2. React quickly to theft

If a vehicle or other asset leaves the depot or storage yard in the middle of the night, there’s one likely explanation: theft. The sooner you learn that an asset has broken the geofence, the sooner you can alert the police to a potential theft, and the greater the chances of recovering the asset.

Geofence-triggered alerts and notifications can be chosen strategically and configured to reach the right person at the right time on the right device so they function as valuable operational tools, not white noise.

3. Track time and attendance

A geofence can act as a virtual timecard that makes manual “clock-ins” unnecessary.

Place a geofence around a job site or, in the case of municipal fleets, a check-in point such as a parking lot, and you’ll know precisely when an employee or contractor enters and leaves. The information can help simplify the recording of start times as well as differentiating between idle/wait/on-duty time and work/drive time for employers with different hourly rates.

4. Improve the customer experience

When it comes to customer service, timeliness is next to godliness. A geofence around a key customer site lets you know whether workers arrive or deliver a shipment on time. It can also reveal how much time a worker spends there. One national cleaning franchise uses geofencing to track when a cleaning crew arrives at a home and whether they spend an appropriate amount of time servicing that customer.

Setting geofences along important routes is a simple way to know about delays before they impact the customer. If the driver hasn’t passed a landmark by a certain time, you can alert the customer to the delay and provide an updated estimated time of arrival — no more ETA phone calls to the driver needed. If the delay is significant, a manager may choose to assign another driver to take over downstream jobs.

Geofences around destinations can also be used to drive customer notifications. For instance, service customers could be alerted when a technician is 5 miles out from their home. Drawing a radius around a loading area or distribution center can allow logistics customers to be alerted in advance of a truck’s arrival so they can prepare to receive the shipment.

5. Facilitate social distancing

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) began using geofences in an innovative way. Before the pandemic, when snow plow operators were called in for duty VDOT staffers would wait in the parking lot with a list of expected vehicles and manually check off each truck on arrival. Creating a geofence around the parking lot allowed VDOT staff to “see” vehicles arriving from the relative safety of their office on the geofence events page.

6. Streamline operations

Monitoring geofences is a convenient way to see how much time routes typically take. Automated reports can help managers adjust routes and schedules and reallocate resources as needed. If geofence data shows that drivers along certain routes are regularly delayed, it’s time to reevaluate those routes. If delays happen mainly during certain times of day due to traffic congestion or ongoing construction, schedules may need to be adjusted.

7. Monitor assets

Monitoring asset availability and utilization is easier with geofencing. Geofencing the maintenance yard or garage lets the fleet manager know at a glance that a vehicle is not available for service, even if the driver neglected to call it in or file the appropriate paperwork. A geofence around a storage yard shows every vehicle or asset in the yard, which can help improve utilization and streamline project or job workflows.

8. Protect and reward drivers

Protecting drivers is always a top priority. Fence off areas that are recognized as dangerous to ensure that drivers avoid them or configure alerts so you’ll know when they’ve entered and safely exited a dangerous area or stopped moving within one.

Finally, your employees and contractors work hard. By providing visibility into on-time arrivals and route optimization, geofences can help you identify those who deserve to be recognized or rewarded.

CalAmp iOn lets you create a geofence with a few clicks and manage your alerts seamlessly across all devices. Schedule a demo.

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