In News, Benefits of GPS Tracking


Every Tuesday, Mike Gibney sits down with his cup of coffee, about seven other team members, and one main focus – GPS. As director of claims and loss control at pest control company Rollins Inc., Gibney spends about 45 minutes discussing all things GPS every Tuesday with his team. Topics range from shifting the company’s current database to a Web-based system, to making sure drivers from two new acquisitions are educated on the vehicle-tracking system, and the rules that come with it.

“We have policies that revolve around GPS,” Gibney says. “We have rules that govern driving behavior, and it’s had a huge impact on the amount of insurance we’re having to pay out.” And he isn’t exaggerating. Since implementing GPS into its service fleet 11 years ago, Rollins, which owns well-known Orkin, has saved as much as $40 million per year.

“We have dramatically reduced our cost of risk, back in 1996, 7% of revenue was going to insurance. Now, we are only spending about 2.2% on claims and insurance.”

What’s even more important is the company, and its employees, are safer. Accidents are down from about 33% of the fleet in 1996 to only 9%. Workers’ compensation claims have decreased from about 25% of the workforce to 11%. Gibney has no qualms attributing all of these results to GPS. “Safe driving is paramount to this company, and we’ve invested millions into this technology,” he says. “It’s a hell of a system.”

How can a GPS system save the 20th largest fleet in the nation millions of dollars in insurance costs? Gibney says it’s a matter of tracking unsafe driver behaviors like seatbelt use, speeding, and after-hours usage, and then implementing and enforcing a progressive discipline plan. “Our job is not to terminate our employees,” Gibney explains. “We just want to modify their behavior.”

Employees are written up if they exceed 71 mph, neglect to wear a seatbelt, or if they are driving the company vehicle after hours. Using the hardware platform from Geotab, the GPS tracking system uses a patented trip recording method as well as a Driver ID option that monitors driving performance by individual employee, a great feature if employees have to switch vehicles. By querying information from each vehicle’s OBDII port, the GPS unit can also determine if the driver seatbelt is on or if the passenger seat is being occupied. Audible buzzers alert drivers when they are engaging in what Rollins defines as “risky behavior,” and a text message is sent directly to branch managers when drivers violate the rules.

According to Gibney, Rollins experienced a spike in productivity after first implementing the GPS system and has continued to see improvements as it tracks additional behaviors. Because drivers are paid based on productivity, it’s a win-win situation. “A lot of times the employee doesn’t know how much they are helped by the technology,” Gibney says. “But if you have an accident and you mess up a whole day, you just lost a whole day’s worth of pay.”

Of course, the pest-control company has had its share of “Big Brother” fears over the years and has been very open with employees about its intentions. “GPS was brought to the table as a safety issue, and in that spirit was sold as a way to reduce accidents and injuries,” Gibney says. “We don’t want to lose good people. We just want them to follow the rules.”

Now that the company has resolved its speeding and seatbelt issues, Gibney and his team are focusing much of their efforts on monitoring harsh braking. The GPS system tracks any time a vehicle decelerates 11 mph or more within a one second period of time. “Sixty-five percent of all of our chargeable accidents are where we rear-end a party in front of us,” Gibney says. “If we can resolve that issue and allow more distance between vehicles, we should see a reduction in our rear-end accidents.”

Once harsh braking has been tackled, Gibney says he will continue to look for more ways to enhance GPS as a risk-management tool. “This is a very driven culture,” he says. “It’s not good enough to maintain the status quo.”

Indeed, Rollins has been a pioneer in using vehicle tracking solely for insurance claims reduction. Only recently have other companies started to see the savings potential, many of which have visited Gibney at his Atlanta office to share GPS best practices. “There is a lot that goes into GPS,” he says. “If a company thinks they can go out and just purchase something off the shelf and expect everything to work, they are sadly mistaken. It has to be managed.”

Rollins recently decided to transition to a Web-based data-management system to better manage the millions of rows of data it receives on a weekly basis. Called MyGeotab, the software will allow the company to store data securely and centrally with multiple users and will also include dashboard reporting for driving performance as well as fleet efficiency. “A Web-based solution is a more reliable source,” Gibney says. “In the IT world, things always happen. We are so dependent on GPS now as a culture that we can’t afford for it to go down.”

As with any improved efficiencies, Gibney says the benefits of GPS trickle down to the customer. “When you are in the service business, everything is service,” he says. “We have to know that everybody is on task. We have to know that that customer is being taken care of.

“Orkin is probably recognizable by at least 90% of everybody in the country as ‘the bug company’, we have a brand to protect. The last thing I want to see is a driving disaster with one of our employees. That’s what keeps me up at night. Now, with GPS, I don’t have to worry.”

Full Article Featured in Connected World Magazine: Three Connected Perspectives

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