June 17, 2007 Got a sneaking suspicion your employees might be driving your company's fleet cars like they stole them? Fleet cars are a significant expense for a company, and ensuring they're treated well, both by drivers and mechanics, can reap rewards in maintenance costs, insurance and resale value. That's why many companies are starting to use automated, wireless fleet diagnostics systems. These clever devices plug into the CPUs of fleet vehicles and silently relay information back to the fleet manager on a range of maintenance, running information and fault issues. They can also tell you who's been a leadfoot in the company car - including how much time they've spent over the speed limit, how much fuel they're using, and a range of other information that can help instil a sense of accountability in fleet car users.
AccuTag Vehicles Systems, a product of Williams-Pyro, is the latest entry into the fleet monitoring market. AccuTag has business partnerships with three large municipalities and their respective fleet operations. The company's fleet management tool plugs directly into the diagnostic port of vehicles, collecting data remotely and transmitting it wirelessly with no monthly fees. Fleet managers will have the benefit of seeing vehicle status, fault code, driver performance, GPS data and route history data, enabling them to reduce cost and make smart operational decisions.
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The devices can record speeds (and their relationship to speed limits from the GPS system), throttle position, fuel economy measures, brake usage and a range of other metrics to put together a picture of how a car is being driven.
Most of these tools operate on a range of different wireless networks, giving them excellent coverage in urban and rural areas. The fleet manager simply logs into the system and can see how each car is being used and draw up a range of comparative reports. We imagine these could lead to some red faces at salary review time!
The bad news for speedsters who don't drive company cars is that the same vehicle CPU information has frequently been used by police and insurance investigators to determine the cause of crashes and the like. And with such a wealth of information stored, how long will it be until we can expect every car to wirelessly interface to law enforcement systems, and tell on you for breaking the limit?