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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting - 18th November 2013

 

Cabinet Member for the Environment and Visible Services

 

Vehicle Based Telemetry (Vehicle Tracking)

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To advise Cabinet of the benefits of installing Global Positioning System (GPS) based vehicle telemetry on Council vehicles, and to seek authority to utilise Visible Services reserves to fund the provision of a suitable vehicle telemetry system on a spend to save basis.

2.         To advise of further work being undertaken on ‘home to work’ transport arrangements and further plans for transportation savings.  

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet note the benefits of installing Global Positioning System (GPS) based vehicle telemetry units to the Council’s fleet.

2.         That Cabinet authorise the use of £60k from the Visible Services Reserve to fund the first year purchase costs.

3.         That this report be referred to the Economy and Environment and Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committees for information.

4.         That further reports be submitted to Cabinet in due course detailing a new policy on ‘home to work transport’, other transportation savings and the performance outcomes of the new vehicle telemetry system, with the first report on this due in March 2014.  

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To advise Cabinet.

2.         To provide authority for the use of Visible Services’ reserves for the purchase of a vehicle telemetry system.

3.         To ensure that the relevant Scrutiny Committees are kept appropriately informed on this matter.

4.         To ensure that Cabinet are kept informed on a timely basis of the continued performance of the telemetry system and of other work aimed at reducing ongoing transport costs.  

 

Background

3.         Over a number of years the Council has reduced levels of front line staff supervision, which has made the monitoring of performance levels of mobile workers more difficult. With the current high fuel and vehicle costs, and the need to improve operational efficiency to a maximum, it is imperative that the Council operate with the minimum number of vehicles necessary to deliver its services in the future. This goal is not likely to be achieved without the assistance of a real time electronic ‘vehicle use’ monitoring system.    

4.         An ‘Opti-time’ mobile working system is used in building services.  This system is capable of identifying the geographic location of workers via their handheld devices, however this is not its primary purpose. Also in order to show locations the system has to be activated by either a signal sent from the data controller or the worker. It does not show real time locations unless activated as described and the system does not monitor the operation of the vehicle in which it is located.

5.         The Opti-time system is ostensibly an appointment and job management programme designed to interface with the Council’s existing software systems. The system is linked to the worker and not to the vehicle and utilises hand held ‘Personal Digital Assistance’ (PDA) devices. Recent Audit reports have indicated problems with the management of this system which have been reported to Cabinet (Cabinet minutes C2005 and C1444 refer) and these are now being addressed via the Building Maintenance Change Plan. The system itself is reported, via the recent audits, as being fit for the purpose intended, though it will not provide the levels of real-time vehicle monitoring required to obtain maximum fleet efficiencies.  

6.         A large number of the most successful haulage and service companies now utilise vehicle tracking technology, sometimes referred to as ‘vehicle tracking’, ‘telemetry’, ‘vehicle management systems’ or ‘telematics,’ in order to constantly monitor and improve the efficiency of their fleet.

7.         Council's have generally been slow to take up this technology partly due to the reticence of staff and trade unions, fearing the so called 'spy in the cab', but also due to the fact that the costs of the early technology units, which were sometimes linked to mobile telephone networks, were high.

8.         This Council has however trialled various vehicle telemetry systems over recent years with some success. Devices have been fitted on all our gritting vehicles for the past five years, primarily as a method of resisting third party claims for damages as a result of snow or ice related road traffic collisions, but also to monitor salt use and vehicle speeds and locations. The devices have proved invaluable when working with the police and insurers and are now in regular use by a large number of Councils as part of their winter maintenance arrangements.

9.         This report details the outcome of a recent assessment of the current vehicle based fleet management systems market and advises of a proposal which would see such devices fitted initially to 240 vehicles within the Visible Services and Housing Directorate. The total fleet is circa 270 units.

Relevant Issues and Options

10.      There has never been a more appropriate time to install telematics to the Council's fleet as with forthcoming budget pressures it is imperative that all vehicles are fully and appropriately utilised with any inefficiencies reduced to an absolute minimum.

11.      One of the main advantages of the current vehicle tracking and fleet management systems, which can be termed 'telematics’, due to their wide functionality, is that they are very accurate and relatively low cost. They also tend to be modular which means that the level of monitoring or feedback required can be varied depending on the service requirements. For example a simple tracking device could be fitted to a small trade person’s vehicle which would just monitor location, time, speed and levels of braking and acceleration, whereas a recycling collection vehicle could be fitted with a more advanced two way device which records and monitors this base information but in addition also features routing software, weighing technology, reporting triggers for recycling participation and a whole range of other management information that could be required either for service monitoring or efficiency purposes.

12.      In addition to fuel savings, which are detailed later in this report, it is envisaged that the telematics system will improve driver behaviour, thereby reducing vehicle maintenance costs on items such a brake parts. It will also greatly improve service continuity and delivery times, with all vehicle locations being displayed on a digital map of the Vale in real time. Supervisors will be able to send the nearest suitable vehicle to a problem which will reduce operating costs and downtime and vehicle routes will be able to be strictly controlled, again reducing downtime.

13.      The utilisation of individual vehicles will be able to be closely monitored and the fleet numbers reduced if the level of utilisation is below relevant business parameters for the vehicle / service type concerned.          

14.      The system will initially be fitted to all vehicles with the Directorate of Visible Services and Housing (240 number) with other Directorate invited to join the network when the system is fully operational.  Considerable savings, linked to transport arrangements, have been put forward for Visible Services and this is the location of the Fleet Management Section, hence the reason why this Directorate is hosting the system.

15.      The system chosen is web based, so no additional software will be required; it also displays information on a wide range of devices including Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, Windows Mobile or Android.

16.      The Authority, as an employer, has a duty to its employees to protect their health and safety whilst at work, this includes the legal requirement to take breaks and adhering to standard road safety, the telemetry will help to actively monitor this. The system benefits include:

·           Provide added security for lone workers – panic buttons (optional) relay directly to C1V where the emergency procedure will be escalated, should this be required, emergency services will be given an exact location of where the driver/vehicle is;

·           Ensure compliance with working-time directives statutory requirement;

·           Allow managers to be able to identify where staff are in emergencies for a more rapid response;

·           Provide drivers with information to improve driving techniques and increase driver awareness through driver training this will thereby improve efficiency and safety (optional).

·           Provide information on accidents to protect the interests of the Council and employees / drivers;

·           Employees can be issued with on with a unique “driver identity key†(optional).

·           Highlight when staff are entering known dangerous locations by sending an alert to specified telephones.

·           The telemetry will provide improved security for items of stock and equipment as well as the vehicles; if a vehicle is stolen the system can track the vehicle and assist in its recovery.

·           The telemetry will allow departments to implement improvements that will increase efficiency and make significant reductions in non-productive time and thereby save money.

17.      The ‘in vehicle’ telemetry unit is GPS based and can pinpoint the location of a vehicle to an accuracy of 5 metres. The status of the vehicle can be measured in terms of, but not limited to:

·           Time and location of stops and starts;

·           Length of time at specific locations;

·           Speeding and violent breaking events;

·           Excessive idling;

·           Vehicles leaving authorised areas;

·           Vehicles entering no-go areas;

·           Unauthorised usage and out of hours usage;

·           Driver identification, who is driving the vehicle at any given time;

·           Vehicle location and status information can be obtained from:

·           A full screen map which can be zoomed down to street level;

·           A live journey list which shows the vehicle location and status in real time;

·           A journey replay screen which enables historical journeys to be replayed;

·           30+ detailed vehicle management reports.

18.      As advised, it is proposed that units be fitted to all 240 vehicles in the Directorate of Visible Services and Housing’s fleet. This will involve fitting units on a wide range of vehicles from ride on mowers to refuse collection vehicles. The units will also be fitted to all building maintenance vehicles to compliment the existing Opti-time system.  It is proposed that the units be fitted on a phased basis with larger vehicles, where there is most potential for cost savings fitted first. It is hoped that the system will eventually be rolled out to all the Council’s fleet, though this will be a decision for each individual service Director.  The cost of adding vehicles to the system will be £260 in the first year and £210 per annum thereafter, per vehicle. 

19.      An added benefit of the system is the improvements offered to vehicle controls during emergency situations.  In such cases the emergency control room operators will be able to view the actual location within the Vale of all vehicles designated to address the particular emergency.  This will offer significant improvements in the ability to manage, for example the Council's 4x4 vehicles during periods of severe weather when services such as 'meals on wheels' are being delivered to residents.

20.      The day-to-day operation of the system will be monitored by individual service managers with the Directorate’s support services section responsible for overall monitoring and reporting arrangements. A suitable suite of reports will form the background detail for future performance management reports to Cabinet, the first of these reports being produced for March 2014.   

21.      In addition to this change to the management of the Council’s internal Fleet, the Director of Visible Services and Housing is reviewing the recent cost savings in transportation identified by Neath Port Talbot Council, to establish if any of the savings mechanisms identified can be rolled out to this Council. This review involves senior officers from all Directorates, the outcome of which will inform a future report to Cabinet.   

22.      Also the Director of Visible Services and Housing is working on a new policy for ‘home to work transport’ for staff which if accepted by members will see all Council vehicles returning to our Depots unless there is a clear business case for them to be used for ‘home to work’, and they have real-time tracking devices fitted. Again this will be a subject of a future report to Cabinet.     

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

23.      Officers recently undertook a tendering exercise involving 6 of the most advanced telematics companies operating in the UK and are minded to accept the lowest tender received for the purchase of 240 units and a three year ongoing subscription in the sum of £133,867. This equates to a total annual cost of £44,622 over the 3 year period and a cost of £185.92 per vehicle per annum, or £3.50 per week for the base model units.  As previously advised, additional vehicles can be added at a cost of £260 for the first year and £210 per year thereafter for the bare model.

24.      With fuel savings alone, annual cost savings of £75,377 could be realised by the fitting of the devices:

Purchase Cost and Installation

 

 £            59,995

3 year subscription

 

 £            73,872

Anticipated fuel savings

 

-£          360,000

Anticipated saving over 3 years

 

-£          226,133

Per annum (saving)

 

-£            75,377

 

25.      In addition to these savings further efficiencies will be made on vehicle maintenance and fleet size reduction. Also the utilisation of vehicles will be able to be closely monitored and scrutinised, reducing wasted journeys and improving service delivery. In some cases the telematics systems will feature a two way facility where important information can be sent back to the control point in real time, for example recycling participation, and where work instructions can be sent from the control room directly to the vehicle. This will improve efficiency whilst also providing valuable management information to shape future service delivery.

26.      The Directorate will be looking to return circa £1m over the next 2 years on transport and vehicle related savings. Due to the severe budget position it is likely that all these savings will be brought forward to 2014 / 15. This level of savings can only be realised by a radical change in the way that vehicles are used. To do this very accurate vehicle utilisation data will be required to inform future decisions.  

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

27.       Telematics’ companies suggest that fuel savings alone from such systems can realise between 10%-20%. For our purposes a fuel savings estimate of 15% has been used in the calculation, which equates to a saving of £120k per annum. At current fuel costs this represents a fuel use reduction of 10,344 litres per annum. The Council currently uses bio-diesel which results in emissions of carbon dioxide of approximately 2kgs per litre. The fuel use reduction, even assuming no change in the fleet size, would reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 20,000kgs per annum.      

28.      Better utilisation of vehicles will also provide improved services for citizens and will assist in making ‘in house’ service delivery more sustainable for the future. 

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

29.      The installation of telemetry may reduce the Council’s risks in third party accident claims as these may be better defended with the benefit of accurate location and time data.

30.      All employees will receive training on the use and capabilities of the system and all vehicles will show clear identification to drivers that telemetry devices are fitted. Protocols will be agreed with the trade unions for addressing any staff conduct issues identified by the telemetry and there will be an emphasis on early interventions in any such situations.  (See Para 36 below)

Crime and Disorder Implications

31.      Incidents of vehicle theft will be better avoided with telemetry units fitted. The system will also assist in ensuring that vehicles operate within the relevant speed limits.  

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

32.      None.

Corporate/Service Objectives

33.      Outcome:  Current and future generation o Vale residents and visitors enjoy the built and natural environments of the Vale of Glamorgan and actively protect and maintain them.

E3 - review and update the Council's Carbon Management Plan to reduce emissions from council buildings, street lighting and council vehicles. (2015/16).

Policy Framework and Budget

34.      This report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

35.      There has been no ward member consultation as fleet issues are Vale wide.

36.      The Unison, GMB and Unite trade union secretaries have been consulted on this proposal and have also attended a demonstration of one of the shortlisted telemetry systems. The trade unions have collectedly advised that they have no objections to the installation of vehicle telemetry provided that the system is used appropriately and only in pursuit of service efficiencies. They have asked that a protocol be agreed for any conduct issues that could arise from this additional vehicle monitoring, and this is accepted. They have also asked that the installation be undertaken in stages with the fitting of telemetry to vans phased with the agreement of a new policy on ‘home to work’ transport. The Director of Visible Services and Housing is currently working with the trade unions on the ‘home to work transport’ policy and a report on this will be provided to Cabinet shortly. He has commenced work on a telemetry management protocol.

37.      It should be noted that the protocol will not preclude the use of the telemetry system as an evidence tool for staff conduct matters.  The protocol will merely ensure early intervention in conduct matters and consistency across operational areas.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

38.      Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing

Tel:  02920 673 101

 

Officers Consulted

Accountant - Visible Services

Operational Manager - Legal Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing

 

 

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