In 2012, Arjun S. Kumar, then 13-year-old school student from Chennai, was caught in a cyclone-induced heavy rain while returning home by the school bus, leaving his parents worried about his whereabouts and well-being. To help parents and involved institutions in such situations, the boy later went on to program a mobile application called Locatera, which helps school authorities and parents to track a school bus, get information on the students available in the bus and know whereabouts of the bus at any given time. Interestingly, this app, developed by a school student, has been acknowledged by the government of India, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Google. Fortunately, there are a host of similar solutions available today. Here we talk about a few of them.
Benefits for organisations
Apart from educational institutions like schools and colleges that provide transport services to their students, transport companies that often partner with hospitality majors can boost their business using bus tracking applications.
Creating a brand value
For any player in the transport business, safety is the biggest concern. Thus, when safety is assured, the brand value of the transport company goes several notches up. And this is exactly the USP of this technology. The application helps track a vehicle’s movements in real time—including location, speed, direction and so on. Tabs on the driver’s behavioural patterns like punctuality, driving style and route regulations keep both the company as well as customers informed about the reliability of the driver. In addition, there are panic buttons to raise emergency alerts.
Trans Global Geomatics, a Hyderabad-based fleet management solutions company, has provided a school-bus tracking solution for International School, Kakinada, which manages 40 buses. There were reports of frequent school bus delays during pickup. Additionally, the management suspected fuel theft from the buses, noticing unavailability of the vehicles at times.
Trans Global Geomatics provided the school a bus tracking solution, which gave users insight like vehicle idle alert (SMS- and email-based notification for every five-minute halt), real-time bus navigation tracking to monitor the whereabouts of the bus, details on every halt made by the bus throughout the day, and daily pickup and drop-off data. All this data helped the school authority to manage their vehicles better while keeping an eye out for any kind of nuisance like fuel theft.
Be it an organisation’s own fleet of buses or a third-party transport company, cost efficiency is a necessity. Application-based analytics, route consistency monitoring and driver tracking greatly reduce unnecessary expenses. Organisations can monitor hourly paid drivers to avoid over-payment due to driver delays. Route optimisation helps reduce inefficient driving, cutting down fuel expenses.
Applications also allow fuel and engine status visibility, so institutions can track unplanned vehicle usage or unaccounted fuel loss. For instance, InnoVita Technologies, a Pune-based vehicle tracking solutions company, has reported up to 15 per cent decrease in the fuel cost for its customers who have incorporated the school bus tracking solution.
Better customer services
Bus tracking solutions provide details like estimated time of bus arrival and analytics on driver punctuality, time management and schedule patterns, utilising which organisations can improve their schedules and advise drivers on better time management. Parents can also be pre-informed about the pickup timings.
Magnasoft Consulting India cited an example where the transport manager of one of their client schools explained how difficult the bus fleet management was and how challenging it was to address the delays caused by the buses during pickup without a smart system helping them out initially. The integration of a bus tracking solution called Northstar Duo, by Magnasoft, helped the school to keep a constant tab on the bus on-road and also provided insight into the pickup timing patterns of the drivers—essentially allowing the school authority to formulate a better pickup schedule, manage the bus timings and get a clear idea of the vehicle whereabouts in real time. Parents receive an automated voice notification of the vehicle arrival.
Additionally, the school was able to increase the fuel-efficiency of its vehicles through route monitoring. This greatly eased the vehicle management process for the school and improved parent satisfaction with punctuality maintained ever since.
Lower maintenance cost
One of the most difficult challenges faced by institutions is to provide in time a substitute for a broken down vehicle. Bus tracking applications enable predictive maintenance by providing insights on probable malfunctioning or notification about due servicing. Thus, proactive service and maintenance minimises vehicle downtime. In case of a probable breakdown, vehicle owners can have a substitute bus ready to avoid any major service delay.
All in all…
For institutions providing transport services, delivering safe, smooth, timely and efficient services with minimal expenditure is crucial. All these factors culminate into trust and positive reputation of the institution in the eyes of its customers. And that’s what vehicle tracking applications are meant for!
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