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Case study

Kimball Construction credits customer service for effectiveness of GPS fleet tracking solution

We have so many different types of customers and our support rep really helped us make the system work for our situation to get the best level of detail that worked for us.
Steve Kimball

Kimball Construction credits Verizon Connect software training as the primary way the company has been able to operate more efficiently and safely. Since installing GPS tracking on its 18 vehicles, Kimball has been able to run reporting on location and activity tracking 24/7, resulting in greater driver accountability as it relates to idle times, speed, mileage, and hours worked.

A growing company, Kimball Construction provides services in the greater Baltimore, MD area, along with Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia. With job superintendents going to an increasingly spread-out perimeter, company Vice President Steve Kimball needed a system to ensure both the efficiency and the safety of his 18 vehicles.

“We wanted to track locations, but safety was important to us,” says Kimball. “The speed limits here are around 65, but there were instances where our trucks were going 80 miles per hour.”

His research led him to Verizon Connect. With this customizable GPS fleet tracking solution, Kimball is able to monitor the location and activity of each vehicle in his fleet, at any time from any Web browser or the app on his smartphone.

While the system is known for its ease-of-use, Kimball wanted to make sure he was getting the most of it. Thanks to the personal training sessions Verizon Connect customers receive with the service, he was able to get up and running in the areas most important to his company.

“The tracking is important, but the software is the magic behind the tracking,” says Kimball. “Knowing how to use it is key and the training session was the best way to figure that out. We have so many different types of customers, and our support rep really helped us make the system work for us and get the best level of detail that worked for us.”

For Kimball Construction, efficiency and safety were improved through the use of historical reporting options. Verizon Connect offers a variety of reports generating from GPS vehicle tracking data to help the user more accurately monitor work hours, engine idle times, speed and mileage. If a preset threshold is broken, the system can send an alert in real time or simply flag the behavior for later reporting.

“Our trainer helped up set up automated reporting for our system,” says Kimball. “Now we get idling and speeding reports sent to us via e-mail every Monday, and in less than four minutes we can scan our vehicles and get a handle on what they’ve done for the week. If we have concerns we can go back and talk to the driver about it.” For example, he adds, “We had a guy who was idling for a few hours and with the price of gas we just can’t have that happening. Our customer service rep was very helpful in crafting an idling report that was specific to our business. She set up a dashboard to create a quick view of the company’s idling activities and it’s really helped us cut back.”

The Idling Report provides true idling times (when ignition is on and vehicle is not moving) for every vehicle in a fleet. It also shows the location of idling and sends an alert when idle time exceeds a set threshold. Minimizing idle times helps reduce fuel waste, and also decreases engine wear and tear. The Speeding Report provides similar information for excessive speeding, and can help detect problematic driving behavior, improve safety and reduce liability.

Since implementing the system, Kimball has found other perks provided by Verizon Connect to help his company stay efficient and competitive. “We have had people tell us the driver was here, et cetera, and the driver would have a different story. Now, by having the system, we can debunk the story of things that people say our drivers are doing. We have already had a few instances since getting Verizon Connect that we were able to prove our drivers were right and in the correct place.”

Keeping his own employees honest is important too, Kimball adds, and Verizon Connect makes that much easier. “We use it to monitor timing on jobs for verifications. Most of our cars are in the hands of a superintendent. If he’s leaving early, that means that pretty much everyone else is gone as well—ten to fifteen people on a crew. So that’s saved us money, since we have cut back on unearned pay to the crew.”

With the help of the Verizon Connect trainer, Kimball was able to craft what he calls a “Usage Report.” “Our employees with trucks are allowed to take our trucks home and dispatch from their houses but are not allowed to use for personal use, after 6 pm or before 5 am. The Usage Report contains exceptions so that we know when the guys are driving on Saturday or Sunday. It’s a quick format report that gives us a summary.”

Reports provide essential documentation, but for many, the dashboard is the feature Verizon Connect customers use most, as it provides real-time data on every vehicle in a fleet, including location, activity and mileage. “We track overall miles per vehicle,” says Kimball. “When we put a new truck in the fleet we get the initial mileage and track from there. The guys have to claim some personal mileage, so it’s an easy way to keep track of it.”

The dashboard has also helped Kimball Construction increase its overall fuel savings. “My main concern was that we were trending downward in idling. You can burn a gallon or more an hour. If it’s in the middle of winter, it’s okay if the truck is idling or flashing its lights. But sometimes the drivers aren’t thinking and just let the car run. The Dashboard lets me filter and trend based on idling, and it took some reminders for the guys, but there’s been improvement.”

Kimball says that his drivers were wary of the introduction of a GPS fleet tracking solution, but he was able to show them the mutual benefits. “The people who are driving our vehicles have the biggest amounts of responsibility. They control a lot of spend on labor and we need to have some control over that. You need communication and verification to provide some level of confidence. Most of it is a quick look and an overview, but you have the ability to drill down and be very precise and see where exactly the drivers are. You have the records. There are times we have to go back and recreate routes for customers to prove we were on-site or weren’t on-site. Having that ability is helpful for us.”

Now that Verizon Connect has become part of his company’s regular routine, Kimball is able to appreciate the benefits it has provided. “Being able to track speeding wasn’t something that I thought would be that important but it’s been such a positive aspect of it. It’s great to know that they have gotten so much safer. The trucks are a huge liability and anything we can do to control that in a fair way is helpful.” Also, he’s quick to add, “Our insurance company likes it.”

Kimball credits the communication between Verizon Connect and the people in his organization who use the system for its success. “The trainer was great about listening to our business and intuitively knowing what we can use the system for and the best ways it would be effective for us.”

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Tags: Cost control, Dispatching & Scheduling, Performance & Coaching, Productivity & Efficiency, Routing, Safety, Team Management

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