By Alexis Dingfelder
The coming months are going to be challenging for fuel oil companies. With record-breaking oil prices and the fast-approaching winter, many are seeking ways to upgrade service and enhance customer relations.
To provide existing and new customers with superior levels of service, and distinguish themselves from their competitors, fuel oil companies are increasingly monitoring deliveries with customized, computerized vehicle tracking systems, which enable them to follow the progress of their vehicles in real time from desktop computers.
With more than a decade of experience in wireless technology and mobile efficiency consulting, Vehicle Tracking Solutions has developed the VTS Fleetminder system, a real-time, global-positioning-software-based fleet-management solution that allows companies to view drivers’ exact start and stop times, among other important factors.
VTS not only increases efficiency, but also brings a sense of security to their clients. Two of VTS’s clients, a tire supplier and a fence company, have reaped the benefits of Fleetminder in what most companies would view as a crisis.
Fleetminder by VTS was put to the test when both companies unfortunately became victims of burglary. The fortunate side of this incident was that within 10 minutes of the trucks being broken into and stolen they were located and recovered by using Fleetminder before any of the equipment was harmed or removed from the trucks.
This situation had a very positive outcome, as it could have been detrimental to either company with over $50,000 worth of equipment in the trucks.
Every 30 seconds, the computer program updates a detailed street-level map, showing vehicle speed and direction. Without leaving the desk, and with just a click of the mouse, a supervisor or dispatcher becomes a silent passenger, able to view the vehicle’s progress, as well as access lists of every stop, its duration, driving speed and mileage.
Constant awareness of up-to-the-minute locations of all vehicles ensures that new drivers stay on course, reveals which deliveries take longer than necessary and highlights any unauthorized stops. Additionally, vehicle functions such as door locks, starter kill and other sensors can be remotely monitored and controlled.
‘VTS has definitely made us more efficient,” said Vincent Theurer, owner of Approved Oil in Brooklyn, N.Y. ‘It’s a great way to get the information that helps us do our business better. When customers call to ask when the driver will arrive, we can answer immediately without disturbing the driver. We just need to look at our computer screen. Plus, if we see a driver stuck in traffic, we can call the next customer on the list and alert them to the delay. This works very well and prevents complaints from waiting customers.”
Headquartered in Hauppauge , N.Y., VTS serves fleets of five to 5,000.
‘We supply and install our Advanced Vehicle Location hardware in their trucks, as well as train and support our clients on customized user-friendly Microsoft Mappoint-based desktop mapping and reporting software,” said John M. Cunningham Jr., owner and CEO of VTS.
The software, which takes up minimal space on a PC or server, provides a wide range of reports, including:
Detailed listings of every stop.
User-definable speed reports.
Turn-by-turn route reports.
Vehicle odometer reports for maintenance tracking.
Mileage reports for mile drive by state, DOT/IFTA approved.
Sensor reporting, which tracks items such as door opening and engine idle time.
‘Our clients never pay a hosting fee to see their vehicles or reports,” said Cunningham. ‘They keep their data for life at their office, safe and secure, and can grant access to as many or few staff members as they wish.”
For more information or a demonstration of the VTS Fleetminder system, fuel oil companies can call (800) 671-5222 or visit www.vtsn.com.
Alexis Dingfelder is a public relations coordinator for Advertising Works, Inc., Setauket, N.Y. She can be reached by calling (631) 444-0176 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.