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AUG / SEPT | 2016

O F F I C I A L

BUSRide Field Test:

Fleetmatics connects with ECS Transportation


O F F I C I A L

BUSRide Field Test:

Fleetmatics ECS Transportation connects with

When the Connecticut operator needed a better way to track vehicles, he turned to Fleetmatics By Richard Tackett

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or Gene Horne, president of ECS Transportation, Norwalk, CT, a two-minute GPS refresh rate just wasn’t sufficient for his burgeoning school transportation business. For years his company used a simple GPS solution from a different provider, but that provider had been unable to close its refresh window to less than two minutes. For ECS Transportation, which had been serving specialneeds transportation for schools in the Fairfield County School District in Connecticut since 2001, this was a serious liability. “A bus can travel a great distance in two minutes, as any operator knows,” Horne says. “We needed something that could pinpoint our buses exactly with a shorter refresh window. Furthermore, we were looking for a solution that could enhance our fuel-tracking capabilities – something that our previous provider had no way of doing.” ECS Transportation was founded in Stanford, CT, in 1999 as a delivery transportation service with a handful of vehicles. However, in 2001, Horne saw a potential niche in the market – special needs transportation for local school districts. Within five years of undertaking this new service, the company grew to 75 vehicles. “School buses couldn’t really handle this type of service,” Horne says, “so we became fast-growing innovators in the Connecticut market.” busride.com


ECS Transportation currently has 170 employees and 140 vehicles.

Today, ECS Transportation covers a 60-mile radius from its home office. The successful school business now allows the company to do more traditional motorcoach business as well as running corporate employees shuttles for local offices. The company currently has 170 employees and 140 vehicles. The search begins For about six months, ECS explored multiple options for a new vehicle tracking service and Horne wanted a complete solution. It was the specific need for more accurate fuel-tracking that brought ECS to Fleetmatics, whose U.S. headquarters are in Waltham, MA, a fleet management provider founded in 2004 in Dublin, Ireland. The company has approximately 37,000 customers that represent a total fleet of approximately 737,000 vehicles worldwide. “Fleetmatics initially caught our eye initially because of their fuel card program,” Horne says. “With their GPS solution, we’d be able to receive alerts whenever a driver was using the fuel station. The alert would work in tandem with GPS so that we’d know which driver was fueling which vehicle – that’s a big help if you’re worried about anyone stealing fuel.” “ECS Transportation is a pretty typical customer of ours – by that I mean they use our software in a traditional way,” says Todd Ewing, director, product marketing at Fleetmatics. “Their previous GPS provider allowed them to track their vehicles, but they were looking for something more. We knew we could channel their investment to help them also track payroll, fuel, safety and hours of service, and enforce driver compliance with company initiatives.” Horne and the ECS team were very impressed with the initial presentations from the Fleetmatics team, and, after speaking to a few customer references, made the decision to sign up for the Fleetmatics REVEAL product. Fleetmatics REVEAL Fleetmatics’ flagship product is Fleetmatics REVEAL, a cloud-based fleet management and GPS solution. “Fleetmatics REVEAL extracts actionable business intelligence from real-time and historic vehicle data as well as driver behavior data,” Ewing says. “It takes all of these data points and serves it back to our customers in an easy and digestible way. This provides customers total visibility into what’s going on with their fleets. Through that, we’re able to help companies experience increases in productivity, while reducing operating- and fuel costs.”

ECS Transportation has served special-needs transportation for schools in the Fairfield County School District in Connecticut since 2001.

The GPS-centric features of Fleetmatics REVEAL include custom reporting, a live map, Geofences and near real-time alerts, helping to enhance fleet efficiency and oversight. All files are stored securely in the cloud and accessible from any computer or mobile device. Driver ID is another key feature of REVEAL. Unique key fobs are assigned to each driver in an operation and key readers are installed in every vehicle with the GPS tracking unit. As a result, drivers switching vehicles don’t cause lapses in oversight or irregularities in reporting. The solution also has near real-time reporting capabilities for vehicle maintenance, as well as the aforementioned fuel card program – which includes reports for fleet fuel purchased, fuel efficiency, lost fuel and carbon footprint. Initial contact and ROI Though the ECS Transportation and Fleetmatics teams had met at a few trade shows, most of the initial contact between the two companies came from calls and web conferencing. It was through these conferences that the Fleetmatics team was able to discern the needs of ECS and formulate plans about how to best fulfill those needs. The entire process lasted a couple of weeks and included web demos of the Fleetmatics product. Fleetmatics probed ECS on a number of questions; something that Ewing says is typical of the company’s exploratory phase with new customers. The Fleetmatics team needed to know what had ECS looking into tracking, and specifically how they heard about Fleetmatics. Before the implementation process could begin, Fleetmatics probed the total number of vehicles, fuel costs per month and the age of the business. “They wanted to see what vehicles we had and what areas we were servicing, and they came up with a lot of suggestions,” Horne says. “Specifically, they made suggestions about payroll for drivers and how it relates to hours of service.” busride.com | BUSRIDE

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Fleetmatics’ flagship product is Fleetmatics REVEAL, a cloud-based fleet management and GPS solution.

Ewing says that the Fleetmatics team was particularly interested in personnel issues – did ECS employees fill out a time sheet, or punch a clock? Furthermore, the company was looking for information on what times ECS thought employees should leave and return to the yard, and how ECS was currently verifying the time.

According to Ewing, another major suggestion from Fleetmatics regarded the vehicle safety component of ECS Transportation’s business. “This is an area where we would really be able to show ROI, because of the special-school needs transportation of ECS.” Watch for the second chapter in this three-part series in the October 2016 edition of BUSRide Magazine. Discover the installation and testing process undertaken by Fleetmatics and ECS Transportation.

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O F F I C I A L

BUSRide Field Test:

ECS

Transportation acclimates to Fleetmatics After selecting the GPS fleet management solution, the operator begins the installation and training process By Richard Tackett

When we last left ECS Transportation, the Connecticut-based operator had begun its search for a new GPS solution and had interacted with Fleetmatics, a fleet management provider operating since 2004. Initial meetings between the companies had ECS electing to sign up for Fleetmatics REVEALTM, the flagship product of its new partner. Fleetmatics conducted comprehensive needs assessments through calls and web conferencing, taking particular interest in personnel issues, as well as vehicle safety.

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Installation begins The initial implementation process began in 2012, and Fleetmatics was able to accommodate the Monday through Friday schedule of ECS Transportation. Installation of Fleetmatics REVEAL was handled on weekends by a member of the Fleetmatics network of installation companies. “We have an installation coordinator at Fleetmatics,” says Chris Daywalt, marketing manager at Fleetmatics. “That coordinator figures out the logistics of installation schedule – where the vehicles are and when Fleetmatics REVEAL needs to be installed. From there, the coordinator works with several large companies with locations all over the country. We then choose the a local certified installer for our client.” Daywalt says that the all installers are initially embedded with Fleetmatics, so the installations meet the company’s standards. Gene Horne, president of ECS Transportation, says the installation process was comprehensive, with the third-party installers initially removing all of the older GPS units in the company’s buses. The entire process of removing old units and installing Fleetmatics REVEAL on nearly 60 vehicles took approximately one-and-a-half months. “They were neat and quick,” he says. “They were in and out, which was crucial for us. The installation didn’t interrupt our core business, which is school transportation Monday through Friday.” Training the team Fleetmatics REVEAL training sessions with ECS Transportation staff were a combination of web-based teleconferences and training videos. Sessions were tailored to specific staff divisions.

“ECS has a lot of people doing different things in their company,” Daywalt says. “We train people on different aspects of the system, depending on what they will use. It’s not one-time thing, it’s as needed.” Sessions included training for setting up software parameters, Geofencing and the Fleetmatics REVEAL user interface. Fleetmatics REVEAL’s dashboards provide complete reports on fuel, activity, timecards, driving style and overall business summaries, so it was important for staff to know the ins and outs of the system. Drivers were also educated about Driver I.D. and the key fobs that would be issued to them. Horne says that one big benefit, gleaned from the training sessions, was an ability to give clients a log-in I.D. for the system. He knew his school clients would greatly benefit from seeing vehicle location in near real-time. “They trained our office staff and dispatchers first, so that later we could go out into the field and train our customers,” he says. As new staff members join the team, ECS will simply reach out to Fleetmatics for additional training. Also, the company will handle all future maintenance, installation, and downloading security and updates. Immediate returns ECS also saw an almost immediate 15 percent reduction in payroll expenses because of the new, foolproof tracking. “We had drivers saying they’d worked eight or nine hours, and we’d take their word for it,” Horne says. Actually tracking the drivers using software allowed us to find and root out discrepancies between reported hours and actual hours of service.” busride.com | BUSRIDE

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As implementation began, Fleetmatics also had a major suggestion regarding the vehicle safety component of ECS Transportation’s business. “We have a proprietary algorithm for driver behavior,” Daywalt says. “It scores driver behavior on a scale of 0 to 100, so if you see anything below 60, you need to really take a close look at what this driver is doing. This is an area where we were able to really show ROI, because of the special-school needs transportation of ECS.” Horne says the driver monitoring did cause some turnover in staff, but that it was ultimately the best possible outcome for the company. “Some drivers weren’t happy. Suffice to say that those who weren’t entirely honest don’t work here anymore,” he says. “But the savings that ECS would begin to realize were passed on to the great, loyal drivers and employees that work for us. We’ve got people working here that have been working since our founding in 1999. We’re very proud of that.” Watch for the final chapter in this three-part series in the November / December 2016 edition of BUSRide Magazine. Find out where ECS Transportation is now; how the “path to success” has been achieved and what the future holds. Fleetmatics and the Fleetmatics logo are registered trademarks of Fleetmatics in the U.S. and other countries. 22

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O F F I C I A L

BUSRide Field Test:

ECS Transportation forges ahead with Fleetmatics After installing Fleetmatics REVEAL™, ECS Transportation reports it has seen reduced costs, smarter routing and an improved corporate culture By Richard Tackett

In the most recent installment of this three-part series, Connecticutbased ECS Transportation installed Fleetmatics REVEAL™, the flagship product of its new partner Fleetmatics. Fleetmatics worked weekends and off-business hours while installing its solutions, and also provided training to various members of the ECS staff.

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Instant savings Gene Horne, president of ECS Transportation, says he immediately saw cost reduction in areas where he didn’t expect any. Fleetmatics REVEAL was a GPS solution, to be sure, but the company quickly realized large savings in driver hours and fuel consumption. “We saw savings in driver hours and fuel consumption thanks to the GPS solution,” he says. “It helps us to plan better routes and now we know if drivers are taking routes that are too long, or idling excessively.” Fleetmatics says this is a result of ECS Transportation having more oversight into the areas which most affect the company’s profitability. “We always say, ‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure,’ says Chris Daywalt, marketing manager at Fleetmatics. “We know how to measure variables that might not be visible to the naked eye.” ECS recently moved its operations staff to a new building, outfitting it with 60-inch monitors that show live GPS traffic data directly to the office. “We use the live GPS data as a selling tool, because a lot of our clients depend on us getting to and from locations as quickly as possible,” Horne says. “When we have to divert around heavy traffic, we can show them a live traffic report to justify the change.” A culture shift ECS Transportation undersaw some staff turnover as a result of the Fleetmatics implementation, but it was for the better. “It made us more aware of which employees were honest,” Horne says. “Now that we have a way to really gauge fuel consumption, we’re more mindful of vehicle mileage matching up with fuel reports.” Further enhancing driver behavior was Fleetmatics proprietary

algorithm for driver behavior. The algorithm rates drivers on a scale of 0 through 100. If operators see any score below 60, they should take a close look at that driver. Because of ECS Transportation’s ongoing special-needs transportation for local school districts, the company saw a huge ROI thanks to improved driver behavior. “Some drivers weren’t happy,” Horne says. “Suffice to say that those who weren’t entirely honest don’t work here anymore. But the savings that ECS would begin to realize were passed on to the great, loyal drivers and employees that work for us.” Fleetmatics REVEAL also allowed ECS to set parameters for acceptable driving speeds. When the company’s speed limits are exceeded, dispatch can call the driver and correct the behavior. A verbal warning is followed by a written warning, which can ultimately give way to dismissal. It’s not so much that the drivers know “Big Brother” is watching, Horne says. ECS wants to curb problems before they escalate into major issues – like police pulling over a speeding driver who’s transporting a child. Horne says that the operation’s insurance provider loves the Fleetmatics system because it knows that monitoring driver behavior can reduce claims and save money. “ECS improved safety, reduced costs and identified employees who were exceptional or needed coaching to become exceptional,” Daywalt says. “[Horne] is able to identify those people and coach them on what needs to be changed in their work. We consider his use of the system to be a total success.” Many drivers, Horne says, appreciate the oversight because the system can support them in the event of a dispute. “If, for some reason, they are sitting in traffic and their busride.com | BUSRIDE

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trip goes longer than expected, operations can verify that traffic, and not the driver, is to blame,” Horne says. “We don’t know if the route takes longer if they don’t say something. That is part of driver training and many drivers see the system as a support tool. It’s not always one-sided.” Maintenance made easier Fleetmatics REVEAL has also done wonders for ECS Transportation’s maintenance scheduling. With 90-day, 6,000-mile inspections required by law, ECS is no longer relying on driver reporting or manual logbooks in order to stay on top of routine maintenance. “It is helping us with scheduling oil changes, regular preventative maintenance and cutting down on excess part supplies,” Horne says. “If the driver finds any problem on the vehicle, he is sending a message to the shop and the mechanic is getting it. The maintenance team is ready for that specific problem when the bus rolls into the shop. They’re not waiting for a log or to speak with the driver. Real-world impact In one case, Horne says that local authorities needed to find a student on one of ECS Transportation’s vehicles. With the help of Fleetmatics REVEAL, ECS was able to pinpoint the vehicle’s location – dating all the way back to when it left the school. The police were able to pull the vehicle over with a controlled stop and remove the student. Horne says that ECS actually turned log-in information over to police so that they could locate the bus directly using Fleetmatics’ portal. In another instance, a vehicle was stolen and ECS was able to work with the Fleetmatics solution to recover it in 90 minutes. A driver found his vehicle missing after stepping inside a store for coffee. ECS transmitted the vehicle’s GPS to local police who were able to track the vehicle (sans driver) to Bridgeport, CT. 24

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“It gives us a nice fuzzy feeling at night knowing where our buses are,” Horne says. The path forward Daywalt says that Fleetmatics’ goal is to always help clients manage criteria that they weren’t able to manage to before. The fact that Fleetmatics was able to help ECS in these areas and more makes the project a complete success, he says. Furthermore, Fleetmatics is interested in cultivating long-term relationships that will keep customer technology evolving for years to come. For his part, Horne agrees. “Our ongoing relationship with Fleetmatics is helping us to spend our money wisely,” Horne says. “As technology changes, they’ll keep up with the latest and greatest updates for us and the rest of their clients.” Fleetmatics and the Fleetmatics logo are registered trademarks of Fleetmatics in the U.S. and other countries.

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