Centerline Communications: Managing unprecedented fleet expansion with telematics
Published on October 27, 2023
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How do you effectively manage a fleet of vehicles and promote safe driving behaviors in a company that’s expanding rapidly? This was the exact situation Kevin Henry, Director of Fleet at Centerline Communications, found himself when he joined the company four years ago. At that time, there were approximately 125 vehicles to track and manage. Today, the Centerline fleet is approaching 700 vehicles – and growing.
Henry, along with Fleet Assistant Evan Roy, keep pace with all the change by combining their ingenuity with the hands-on support of Enterprise Fleet Management and telematics from Geotab.
Results at a glance
- Successfully grew fleet from 125 vehicles to 680+ over four years
- Stopped the problem of unplugged devices by adopting the OEM model, saving countless hours of follow-up
- Added Geotab to the fleet vehicles of all acquired companies
- Made a positive impact on driver behaviors and saved money
The challenge: Growing pains
If regular fleet management is challenging, then a fleet experiencing five times the growth over only a few years is downright daunting. Centerline keeps it manageable thanks to a close partnership with Enterprise Fleet Management and Geotab.
Through the pandemic, vehicle shortages made rapid growth difficult. The team at Enterprise Fleet Management supported Centerline’s growth by tapping into their network strength to continue ordering vehicles and getting them rapidly deployed into the field.
When Henry joined Centerline, the Enterprise Fleet Management portal provided excellent visibility into the entire fleet, helping them stay on top of all aspects of fleet planning and replacement. But they needed a better system for delivering fleet telematics.
“We were using another telematics provider when I came on board, but I really didn’t like their program,” says Henry. “Not only was it expensive, it just wasn't a good fit for us. I wanted to make a switch.”
Henry interviewed four telematics companies, all offering similar features. But when it came to Geotab, there was clear functionality that stood out, including seamless integration with Enterprise Fleet Management.
“Some of the other companies could not pull vehicle mileage into the Enterprise Fleet Management portal and that was a deal breaker,” says Henry. “When I learned that Geotab has OEM devices built into Ford vehicles, it sweetened the deal.”
The unplugged predicament
A pain point at Centerline involved devices becoming unplugged from vehicles – whether by drivers, mechanics or even by accident. Chasing down the where, when and why of those unplugged devices was incredibly time consuming for Henry and Roy. Added to that was the requirement to recover devices when vehicles get turned in.
“We have to send the driver a UPS label and rely on them to send it back, which doesn’t always happen,” says Henry. “We can’t just let [the device] go. We’ve got to chase it down and it takes time.”
The solution: OEM devices and company-wide accountability
By choosing Ford vehicles with OEM Geotab devices pre-installed, Centerline eliminated unplugging incidents. In the minority of vehicles that still use traditional plug-in devices, Roy has worked with Geotab to create a watchdog report that streamlines the process of tracking down devices that haven’t brought in data for three to five days.
In fact, reporting is a big part of the fleet management picture at Centerline. It’s also a shared responsibility. Reports go directly to VPs in each line of business weekly and it’s their responsibility to flow the appropriate data to their managers to drive incidents down.
“Our expectation is that our VPs take action on the report right away,” says Henry. “We’ve made it really easy for them to view and sort on things like seatbelt use or speeding. This helps them quickly identify the drivers who aren’t performing well.”
“Everyone’s working together to get to the same goal,” says Henry. “We have really great data and we want to be able to analyze it in specific ways.”
The results: Steps to blazing a trail of excellence
Henry and the Centerline team have high trust in the Geotab platform. He says the team lives in Geotab, “[Roy is] in there 10 or 15 times a day.” The platform gives them visibility into their fleet at any time.
Changing behavior is a difficult task, but a necessary one when it comes to safety and compliance. Henry’s initial focus was to monitor seatbelt use and speeding habits. With every vehicle equipped with a Geotab OEM device, managers receive alerts when compliance is broken. These notifications allow managers to have conversations with drivers and encourage improved driving habits.
The expectation from this careful monitoring is to see a drastic reduction in the number of high offenders. By consistently identifying drivers who are traveling over speed limits, idling excessively and failing to engage their seatbelts when the ignition is on, the Centerline team can stop small infractions from turning into big incidents. This not only keeps employees safe, it saves the company money.
The power of teamwork
Henry believes that the level of growth and improvement they are continually striving for at Centerline requires a team effort – and Geotab and Enterprise Fleet Management are a critical part of that team. He and Roy meet with their dedicated account reps at Enterprise Fleet Management and Geotab regularly to talk about larger industry trends and identify areas where they can improve.
“It’s important to have both teams interacting with us,” says Henry. “We’re going to keep growing as a company, so meeting on a regular basis and accomplishing the things on the list is critical. It’s about more than making sure the right data is coming in. It’s about doing business with the right people.”
Looking forward, with Centerline continuing to grow through acquisitions, Henry has his hands full absorbing and updating new fleet vehicles. Despite the pace of change, he’s committed to ensuring every vehicle in his fleet is covered by Enterprise Fleet Management and Geotab.
“With every acquisition, I pull out their telematics and GPS devices, and buy out their existing provider contracts, no matter how much time is left owing,” he says. “I want every vehicle living in one portal. That’s how important Enterprise Fleet Management and Geotab are to us.”
Types of vehicles:
Ford pickup trucks, cars
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