Following overwhelming results in the last four years, Go-Ahead London has extended its fleet management partnership with MiX Telematics for another four years. We look at why this is of such importance to the UK capital’s bus operator.
Managing 1 500 buses in one of the world’s most bustling cities is a mammoth task. Along with those 1 500 buses come their 4 500 drivers, and they too need to be managed, monitored and motivated. It’s not a simple undertaking, but since 2008, Go-Ahead London has seen its average fuel efficiency increase by 12 percent, with emissions decreasing by 17,6 percent, through its partnership with MiX Telematics.
A member of the Go-Ahead Group, Go-Ahead London serves central, southern and eastern London through four Go-Ahead London brands: London General, London Central, Blue Triangle and Docklands. The company operates a mix of Scania, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz buses, with a total of 4 000 Go-Ahead buses monitored by MiX Telematics.
As a major player in the British capital, economy, efficiency and environmental performance are key operational aspects. In order to achieve this, the company first identified two key threats to business: the uncertainty caused by ever-fluctuating fuel prices, and a concern that significant amounts of fuel were being lost to poor driving style – fuel returns varying by up to 30 percent between drivers.
A related issue is that Transport for London tenders specify the use of vehicles equipped with the latest-generation emission-reducing technology, which demands consistently high standards if fuel efficiency is to be maintained. New levels of operational efficiencies were clearly needed.
The solution was to invest in telematics as a means to measure, monitor and improve driving standards and evaluate fleet performance. Evaluating fleet performance enables the company to optimise vehicle selection for particular routes and areas. MiX Telematics’ Fleet Manager Solution was identified as the system that would best meet Go-Ahead’s present and future needs.
“Ours was the first large-scale deployment of a fleet management solution within the bus industry,” says Go-Ahead Group engineering director Phil Margrave. “And the long-term results generated by the system, which have been achieved in combination with our other efficiency-enhancing activities, have been impressive.”
In addition to the core product, the optional RIBAS display system was installed. This onboard unit alerts drivers when five key parameters (over Revving, excessive Idling, harsh Braking, harsh Acceleration and Speeding) are exceeded. Encouraging drivers to operate within the RIBAS limits significantly improves all performance areas.
Initially, the systems were used to identify which drivers were performing well and who needed to improve. Thereafter, a more detailed examination of the data revealed where individuals were going wrong, allowing detailed training and development programmes to be created for each driver.
To gain buy-in from drivers, an initiative known as the Go Green Club was developed in parallel with the introduction of the system. Membership of the club is dependant on drivers achieving “green” driving reports over three consecutive months and a minimum of 1 500 miles (938 km).
A range of benefits is offered, including access to the scheme’s major incentive – the 500 Challenge, where the 20 top-performing drivers compete for a brand new Fiat 500. This approach provides the motivation and encouragement for individuals to perform well and position themselves among the best.
“While fuel and other cost savings are key,” says Margrave, “the MiX Telematics solution helps us in other ways, such as training, where we use the system to identify training needs and monitor drivers’ progress.”
These systems are now regarded as integral parts of the organisation’s drive for efficiency, and are routinely fitted to all new buses. The matching of vehicles to particular routes and tasks is now also fully optimised.
The hardware is backed by MiX Telematics’ FM-Web reporting software, which delivers customised reports directly to the fleet manager. Together with this, MiX Telematics provides an ongoing consultancy service to the Go-Ahead Group, ensuring that maximum use is made of the system and that its full potential is realised. And this potential is being realised, says Margrave.He adds: “Passengers also benefit from the improved comfort and safety facilitated by the system – we have even heard of customers choosing to wait in the queue for one of our buses to arrive because the journey is so much more comfortable!”
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