GPS Fleet Tracking System Improves Mobile Resource Management in Chicago

chicago fleet vehicles gps tracking systemGPS fleet tracking systems are successfully being utilized in the largest cities in America for good reasons. According to Helen Rane Carbone, Chief Programmer and Analyst for the Chicago’s Department of Transportation “Before we implemented fleet GPS, our fleet managers and dispatchers had virtually no real-time information on the whereabouts or activity of our fleet vehicles. We relied on very basic communication using two-way radios and hand-written reports. This was never able to provide the type and depth of information we needed for real performance monitoring, improvement, and accountability, which is expected of all city departments.”

According to Carbone, “before implementing a vehicle tracking system, simply keeping track of mobile resources from a dispatcher’s perspective – vehicle and driver scheduling, routing, call response, location in the case of emergencies – was a very difficult daily task. Truly measuring fleet and mobile employees’ productivity was practically impossible.”

Cities like Chicago are also using GPS fleet management systems to enhance their efforts to go green. Fleet managers are using real-time vehicle location data to optimize routes and reduce excessive idling in an effort to reduce gas consumption, CO2 pollution and other hazardous greenhouse gas emissions. According to Ms. Carbone, telematics plays a big part in many of Chicago’s environmental initiatives in becoming a true green fleet. “Fleet GPS management systems help with everything from the number and type of vehicles we’re using for a particular task, how they’re being used, and the amount of CO2 emissions they’re producing. Everyone is looking to big cities like Chicago to be a leader in this arena, and fleet GPS tracking has gone from being a valuable tool to an absolute necessity.”

Chicago’s biggest single fleet is managed by the Department of Streets and Sanitation and is responsible for garbage and refuse collection. The Dept. operates one of the city’s largest vehicle fleets with over 1,600 vehicles of all types, and the city’s largest fleet of heavy-duty vehicles. A fleet of 600 city owned and operated waste disposal trucks and 355 recycling trucks work 24/7 to keep each of the city’s neighborhoods clean. Most of the fleet vehicles are responsible for servicing complex daily routes and are operated by several different drivers working round-the-clock in shifts.

The Department of Sanitation began installing refuse trucks with GPS tracking equipment in 2006. The goal was not only to improve dispatcher’s ability to track, monitor and communicate with truck drivers, but to also provide fleet managers with information to:

• determine if vehicles and employees were well suited and sufficient for a certain location
• know how efficient crews were at collecting waste from particular areas
• start establishing productivity benchmarks
• identify and improve areas were collection problems regularly occurred

The fleet management system transmits real-time location data to dispatchers via cell phone mobile networks. The vehicle locator transmits data every minute and whenever the vehicle makes a turn. This gives fleet managers a very accurate picture of how much time a vehicle spends in an area. By comparing this information against historical data for the same routes and/or established benchmarks, fleet managers can track mobile asset productivity and deal with concerns in specific areas. A supervisor can then be notified to investigate and remedy the situation. The fleet tracking system notification alerts and reports quickly point out when and where something isn’t right. Without a GPS fleet tracking system, there would be no way to do this as they only had driver reports to go on. This didn’t work in the past because crews really didn’t have any way of comparing themselves against other crews. Naturally workers are focused on quickly completing their routes and don’t have the time for paperwork.

The city of Chicago is third largest city in America at close to 2.8 million residents. Chicago’s location on the shores of Lake Michigan has historically positioned it as the gateway to the Midwest. The city is one of the most important business and transportation hubs United States.