Trucking needs incentive to install GPS systems

Governments told they must offer incentives if they want trucking companies to install GPS monitoring systems

Trucking needs incentive to install GPS systems
Trucking needs incentive to install GPS systems
By Brad Gardner | July 29, 2010

Governments must offer incentives if they want trucking companies to install GPS monitoring systems in their vehicles, a consultancy firm says.

New Zealand based CCS Innovation in Logistics, which consults operators on how best to use GPS, says industry will not implement in-vehicle tracking technology without governments providing benefits to do so.

CCS Managing Director Corinne Watson suggests regulators reduce the number of random compliance checks on companies using GPS or reduce road user charges in recognition that monitoring a vehicle reduces the risk of crashes.

"To significantly increase the uptake in in-vehicle telemetry will require a comprehensive policy with compelling incentives for transport operators to implement such technology into their fleet," Watson says.

GPS is seen as an effective safety tool because it can monitor a heavy vehicle’s weight, speed, braking, acceleration and cornering.

In a discussion paper released last month, the National Transport Commission recommended a national strategy on telematics to look at ways to encourage the trucking industry to adopt the technology.

NTC Chief Executive Nick Dimopoulos says he wants to see 90 percent of the road freight sector using in-vehicle tracking systems by 2030 to manage fatigue, speed and overloading risks.

The NTC is also finalising a policy paper on the use of electronic work diaries as an alternative to the paper-based method and has released a paper on a framework for on-board heavy vehicle mass technology.

However, CCS has raised doubts over whether small trucking operators can afford to install GPS technology.

Referring to a recent study by the company into the New Zealand trucking industry, Watson says only 16 percent of companies with less than five trucks have a monitoring system despite making up 53 percent of trucks on the road.

Conversely, Watson says 67 percent of firms with more than 50 trucks have GPS fitted even though they account for 10 percent of trucks on the road.

She says the study shows small companies do not justify the investment and continue to complete paperwork manually.

"Larger operators will find economies of scale in automating some activities," Watson says.

She also cautions against governments introducing an all-in-one unit to cover all compliance aspects of the industry, such as electronic work diaries and road access.

CCS recommends each standard remains divisible because operators might end up paying for something they do not need.

"A standard which requires one unit to meet all outcomes may lead to a price which makes this unattainable for the smaller operator who can only see benefit from one of the outcomes," Watson says.

However, CCS has backed the NTC’s recommendation that GPS monitoring remains voluntary.

In its paper on on-board mass management technology, the NTC highlights a push from some governments for the mandatory introduction of monitoring systems to improve compliance.

"The government should not overlap into fleet management," Watson says.

"The fleet operator must remain free to deploy tools as required in order to carry out his business."

If governments pursue mass monitoring, Watson says a process must be in place to validate the data produced by the GPS.

She says there may be instances where the technology incorrectly reports the weight of the load due to the road surface and if the truck is in motion.

Watson says governments must also ensure maps and mapping data are consistent so that the speed of a truck is accurately compared to the gazetted speed limit on the road it is travelling.

"There are numerous examples worldwide to validate what we have seen with our own customers – that speed limit boundaries are not synchronised between the electronic mapping used by an in vehicle telemetry system and the actual location of the roadside signage," she says.

Following feedback on its proposal for a national strategy, the NTC will submit a final proposal to the Australian Transport Council (ATC) to vote on.

The ATC, which brings together the nation’s transport ministers, will also vote on the NTC’s on-board mass management proposal.

Related stories:
Potential of in-vehicle telematics untapped
Regulators want mass monitoring
Enforcement essential to catch ‘cowboys’

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