TomTom fleet management

By: Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi

It’s been eight months since Transdev Melbourne’s (TDM) 510 buses were fitted with TomTom telematics, with the public transport provider already reaping the benefits

TomTom fleet management
510 Transdev Melbourne buses have been fitted with TomTom telematics

With six different depots across Melbourne, some 1,160 staff, 46 bus routes and 123 school services, TDM’s annual patronage is about 28 million.

Allocating each bus to a run can be challenging but TDM can do so smoothly thanks to online fleet management solution TomTom, which provides real-time monitoring of vehicle movements.

It’s taken six months to install the devices across the fleet, with schedules of every driver now linked to the system.

TomTom is connected directly to TDM’s fuel management system which gives up-to-date information on specific driving behaviours such as speeding, hard braking, acceleration, turning and idling, its business improvement manager Mark Nancarrow explains.

He joined the company just over a year ago at a time when the business saw a high turnover of staff, which led to a bumpy telematics start.

"There’s always challenges when you’re dealing with something that’s relatively new like this," Nancarrow says.

"In the project we had new people who had just joined the organisation taking over positions that had been vacant for a while, so sometimes you have that lack of continuity.

"While we were installing TomTom the organisation was also doing a program called Good-to-Great where a number of the core IT systems were being replaced, so there were a lot of challenges with IT resources and integrating IT systems.

"At the same time we’ve moved several of depots – we’ve closed a couple and opened one temporary and two permanent ones, so all of these things were happening at the same time. There were a myriad challenges this year with the program but we went ahead with it because we didn’t want to lose the opportunity," he adds.

"We’re looking at 2017 being a time where we can really see the difference in the bottom line; where we can do a better job at minding the data, pulling data out and using it more to our advantage."


Savings on all fronts

TDM expects to see a reduction in costs and incidents thanks to TomTom, which in turn will help improve customer satisfaction, Nancarrow says.

"It will reduce fuel cost and should reduce wear and tear on the maintenance; we have a lot of idling that’s going on and by being able to track that and see where it’s occurring we should be able to manage that more effectively," he adds.

"If you can’t measure something it’s hard to manage it so TomTom gives us the ability to manage many of the behaviours and things that are happening."

TomTom devices were installed in all of the 510 buses over a six-month period.

Drivers were able to self-monitor their performance by accessing driving reports, with each of their schedules linked to the TomTom system and reports made to drivers via new kiosks at depots.

The roll-out was staged prior to launching so that drivers were put through TDM’s Eco-Drive training, with the information only available to them during the first two months so they could see any particular areas they needed to improve.

"The TomTom system is actually meant to be a supplement with the Eco-Drive program which was a driver training program – to do the same kind of things to train drivers to drive slowly, slow acceleration, slow deceleration, no harsh turning and keep speed in line with road rules and with expectations of what is comfort and safety for the passenger," Nancarrow says.

It is unlikely that customers would have noticed any difference in driver behaviour but drivers did thanks to TomTom’s reports.

"It’s one of these things were we can get complaints but we can’t actually see it because we can’t put a supervisor in on every bus on a regular basis," Nancarrow says.

"We’re very thin in terms of management ability simply because supervisors have as many as 80 drivers that report to them. And, of course, they have many other duties, so chances of them getting on a bus are very infrequent.

"The only feedback that we’ve had though was customer complaints or compliments; we couldn’t actually measure that but when we started initiating the driver reports we saw an immediate decrease in speeding, braking and turning.

"What that told us was that drivers were aware of what they were doing and they were actually responding to that."

Most of TDM’s customers’ safety has nothing to do with driver behaviour but with customer comfort, he adds. 

"There are incidents where customers do get hurt if we have hard braking but most of those are related to incidents where the drivers had stopped suddenly because somebody pulled in front of them and when that happens sometimes when you break suddenly a passenger would fall forward and maybe injure themselves somewhere on the bus from the fall.

"TomTom gives us data about the bus itself but it doesn’t give us data about links of driver so each driver drives different buses each day and sometimes they may driver three buses every day so it’s hard for us to link the driver to the actual bus."

TDM is currently running an idling program hoping to improve driver behaviour by issuing driver rewards.

"By giving awards to the people who have the least amount of idling and to those who have the lowest number of speeding, braking, turning, we can give them the award so that there’s a constant emphasis on enforcing those behaviours in a positive way."

Frontline managers now have access to driver reports and are working with the drivers on strategies to improve their driving and provide further training if necessary.


Not just for buses

TomTom telematics has also been installed in TDM’s 70 changeover cars, which are used by bus drivers during breaks.

"We also have a telematics system installed in the cars called Keaz that actually has a keyless access; it also has a telematics in it so we can lock it and unlock the vehicle remotely and we can track it," Nancarrow says.

"We actually did have a vehicle stolen once and we were able to turn the vehicle off and identify the location for the police to recover the vehicle."

TDM plans to next install navigation devices into its buses, which in turn will reduce the amount of driver training.

"As our fleet gets more mature as some of it is not computerised, we should be able to get better data directly that TomTom can send to us, such as engine temperature, rpm readings – those kind of things that will help us identify when there is a maintenance issue that we can work on to prevent it from becoming a real problem before something breaks," Nancarrow says.

That is expected to come in place by this March, at the earliest.


More competitive

TDM expects to become more competitive thanks to TomTom, which will make it stand out from the rest.

TomTom was chosen because it best met TDM’s needs, Nancarrow explains.

"It should improve out standing with our customers," Nancarrow he adds.

"If customers have reduced complaints that’s a big thing for the client because the client is the one who captures all those complaints and sends them on to us- the client would be aware that we have reduced complaints in that particular area."

The telematics was also chosen because of operational reasons as it can monitor traffic gridlock and best allocate buses to each location.

Prior to joining TDM in 2014, its managing director Harry Wijers had upfront experience with telematics in Europe, witnessing fuel reduction.

He helped push for the installation of TomTom within TDM, Nancarrow says.

"He had experience with telematics in the Netherlands and Europe in general and had found that they can do significant fuel reductions because if you have less speeding and less braking, less acceleration, you can improve safety but you can also improve your fuel efficiency," he adds.

"We really have only began tapping into the amount of data that’s available from TomTom."

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