Some vehicle tracking systems feature some kind of driver communication or messaging. One way messaging is fairly common – this is where the driver can receive text-based messages or instructions from despatch. Some higher end systems will feature two-way communication, where the driver can respond either by selecting from a list of canned responses, or by typing a message through an interface.
At a time where almost everyone have a mobile phone, are there any real advantages to integrating these communication systems with your vehicle tracking systems?
Fleet managers know that however much they plan routes and organise their drivers’ days, things are going to change. Customers – whether private or business – will have changing needs and the company who can adapt to what their customers want is the one that stays in business.
To do this well requires flexibility in a fleet and that can only really be achieved if the manager has real time access to the fleet drivers. This can be done simply mobile phone but that might mean the driver having to pull over to answer a call or text, and it isn’t really always-on real-time communications. But there are solutions out there and that is where bespoke communication centres come into their own.
Devices made by companies such as the Motorola and Siemens bring together the elements of satellite navigation, navigation apps, an in-cab phone and two-way messaging all in one package. In this way, the whole communications and tracking equipment can be bought together into a system that a driver can use without having to stop. This offers many advantages, including:
- Integration with office routing software for instantaneous updates and re-routing information.
- Text updates if the vehicle isn’t moving.
- Real-time traffic updates concerning accident and congestion hold-ups ahead.
- As required messaging access to the office.
- Real-time load and delivery status with either the office or customers.
- Vehicle tracking and security all in one package.
- Fast recovery in case of vehicle breakdown
Systems like this allow two-way communications between the truck and the office and all the advantages that it brings. Typically having touch screens these devices are revolutionising how a fleet operates.
It is no longer the case a driver leaves base with a list of customers and then make their own way there and arrive whenever the traffic conditions allow it. Customers can now be given an almost exact time slot for their projected delivery and can have the faith that it will be adhered to.
Real-time communications can remove many of the problems that might be encountered in the day, such as damaged or short-counted goods. With a simple call to the office, damaged items can be replaced quickly and short counts made up, ensuring that the customer isn’t left high and dry.
Critics might say that a communication centre such as this is a step too far and it may become overwhelming for the driver to receive communications while they are driving. But with systems offering voice activation and hands free calling, there is little likelihood that a driver’s concentration will be taken from the road in ant greater way than when using a standard SatNav device, and so the case for these types of systems far outweighs their downsides.