Canadian Vending

Features Business Operations
The GPS Solution


April 1, 2008
By Stacy Bradshaw


Topics

Is there really a need for global positioning system technology in the
typical Canadian vending operation? Most drivers already know their
daily route like the back of their hand, and they definitely don’t need
an obscure voice recording telling them when to “turn left” or “turn
right.”

Is there really a need for global positioning system technology in the typical Canadian vending operation? Most drivers already know their daily route like the back of their hand, and they definitely don’t need an obscure voice recording telling them when to “turn left” or “turn right.”

This is true, however, GPS is no longer just for super-techies and the lucky few driving fully loaded luxury sedans and SUVs. Manufacturers have created tons of new and creative applications that do a lot more than just route mapping. Many are designed specifically for the small- to medium-sized business owner. The one garnering the most attention from the vending industry is GPS Fleet Management.

“Operators are talking about it,” says Jean-Marc Laniel, president of Laniel Canada, a vending equipment and food
products supplier.

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Laniel uses GPS to track and maintain his service and deliver vehicles. He’s done extensive research on GPS fleet
management and is convinced it’s also the right solution for Canadian vending operators.

The benefits and potential downfalls of the latest technology hitting the vending world are worth exploring, according to those with experience.
   

gpssolution 
This GPS (Global Positioning System) unit by GPS Fleet Solutions is best installed behind the radio or near the steering column.

 

What is GPS?    
The global positioning system (GPS) is a navigation system made up of a network of different satellites. A GPS receiver picks up signals from the satellites and uses that information to determine its latitude and longitude. No matter what type of GPS unit is being used – a cell phone or vehicle-tracking device – they all operate in this same way.
   
What is GPS Fleet Management?
GPS fleet management utilizes GPS receivers that are typically housed in a little black box with an antenna that goes on the roof of the vehicle. The boxes are placed somewhere inside each vehicle – usually near the front window or dash, behind the radio or near the steering column. Operators can then track exactly where the vehicle is, where it’s been and for how long, using a GPS web-based software.

What are the benefits?
According to Peter Wiitanen, director of marketing for GPS Fleet Solutions, GPS fleet management is not just a matter of tracking the vehicle for theft or theft recovery.
 
The systems allow operators to track how fast their drivers are driving, how long they’re idling for, and if they take the vehicle out of the designated boundaries. They can also track start and stop times to see how much time they’re spending at one location. The result is savings on fuel expenses, wear and tear, unnecessary overtime costs, and even lowered insurance premiums.

“And when you go to resell the vehicle, you’ll receive a better value for it … and the cost of the unit pays for itself right there,” adds Laniel.

What are the drawbacks?
With GPS units in each vehicle, disgruntled drivers often feel like they are being watched by “big brother” warns Wiitanen. But if operators take the time to explain that it’s about increasing the efficiency of the business and not spying on the employees, he said drivers are usually OK with it.

“It’s about their safety as well,” says Laniel. Given that drivers are often carrying cash, it’s a huge “peace of mind” component for them.

  

Top 10 Questions:
What to ask before investing in a
GPS fleet management solution

  1. Does the system track the vehicle in real-time or
    is it based on historical data?
  2. Does the provider offer in-house technical support?
  3. What are the monthly fees?
  4. Can I install the units myself?
  5. If not, how much does installation cost?
  6. Are the units easily transferred to another vehicle?
  7. Do I have to download a software or is it web-based?
  8. Is a mapping software provided?
  9. Is there a charge for the mapping software?
  10. Does it easily integrate with other mapping
    programs, like Google Maps or Microsoft MapPoint?
 
  

How much does it cost?
GPS fleet management systems range in price depending on the provider and the type of system. “Live” units that let the operator track the vehicle in real-time require monthly fees, while “passive” units that transfer the data after the vehicle enters the yard typically do not.

“I’m allergic to monthly fees,” jokes Laniel, which is why he decided to go with a passive system. He doesn’t need real-time, but suggested it might be useful for a company running two to three shifts a day or that experience a high turnover of employees.

“I don’t think it’s a large investment … say approximately $500 per truck for passive fleet management, because with the system we purchased you can continue to use it for many years,” he adds.

More and more operators are relying on unsupervised resources – drivers and vehicles – that, if left unmanaged, cost valuable time and money.

“Once you invest in something, you need to protect it,” says Laniel.

That’s why he says GPS fleet management just makes sense for vending operators.

For more information on the system Webb’s Refreshments uses, visit the Current Links section at www.canadianvending.com.�