14 November 2008: A direct link between Garage Manager and TomTom WORK's Connected Navigation system is making life easier for Bedfordshire recovery company Guise Motors.
The firm has 24 recovery vehicles and operates across a wide area of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. It provides cover 24 hours a day, every day of the year, for all the principal breakdown clubs as well as the police and private customers. Its operations are based at the company headquarters close to J13 of the M1 just outside Milton Keynes and at Toddington Services on the M1, making it a busy operation that responds to up to 18,000 calls a year.
With some of the larger clubs now tightening their ATA (Actual Time of Attendance) times down to 30 minutes, it's important that Guise can quickly identify which of their vehicles is best positioned to respond to a call, and get the information to the operative as efficiently as possible.
Previously, this was done using Garage Manager through a terminal in each vehicle. With the introduction of TomTom WORK's connected navigation system based on their WEBFLEET fleet management software, the company has been able to link the two systems in a seamless way that improves efficiency, particularly in the control room at Milton Keynes, and makes life easier for the operatives.
Now all the information passes through the TomTom WORK GO unit in each vehicle, which provides two-way messaging using touch screen technology, as well as direct satellite navigation by the shortest route. The TomTom LINK 300 tracking device also enables the newly refurbished control room to know the precise location of each truck at all times, with the trucks plotted on a large screen that is updated every minute.
The systems integration was carried out using Recovery.connect, a development specifically for the recovery sector by ConnectFleet, a TomTom WORK partner. This completely replicates the functions of Garage Manager, so that staff in the control room experienced no change in the way the new system operated compared to the old. The installation took less than two hours with no disruption to normal activity.
Jimmy Rust, Operations Manager at Guise Motors, said it is already proving its value in more ways than one. ‘We now have a system that enables the control room to instantly select the most appropriate vehicle or operative to attend, can communicate with him by two-way messaging to instantly determine his availability to take on the job, and can then chart progress in real-time from start to finish.’
‘Control room staff can give a precise ETA to the person at the scene. It also lets them know when a vehicle and operative are available for the next job, which can help improve our response times and vehicle utilisation.’
‘For the operative in the truck, it provides a safe, hands-free means of communication, simply by touching the screen on the TomTom WORK GO unit in the cab. All the job details are there for him to see at a glance, exactly as they appear in the control room. And once he has accepted the job he is guided to it by the most direct route using easy-to-read mapping and clear voice instructions.’
‘Should there be any hold-ups on the route, he is alerted to these and notified of the likely time delay and then re-routed to avoid traffic. There's also information about the location of speed cameras, which assists our drivers in complying with the law.’
Mr Rust added that the new system also delivers a number of management benefits. ‘Operatives use it to 'clock on' at the start of their shift, so we know instantly who is ready to take on work, and we have a clear record of their working hours. This helps us to manage overtime and to comply with the Working Time Directive.’
‘We can also monitor excessive speeding or engine idling. Every Monday, I automatically receive a report by e-mail which provides useful information such as the number of jobs carried out, the location of each job, mileage covered and time taken.’
‘The system is saving us money in other ways, too. The TomTom WORK GO unit is one third of the cost of the terminal we previously used, which spread across 22 vehicles represents a considerable capital sum. Two way messaging cuts our mobile phone bills and direct navigation means we use less fuel moving between jobs.’
‘We've looked at a number of systems that claim to provide this level of seamless link and found that most have a weakness in one area or another. But with TomTom WORK and Recovery.connect we definitely have a system that does what it says on the tin, and which delivers positive benefits to our company and to our customers.’