Lightfoot driver behaviour technology optimises fleet performance
- Ashwoods Automotive turns to Wireless Logic for data connectivity
- Driving style leads to over 20% fuel savings
- SIM-enabled connectivity fit for Europe-wide push
From the smallest of commercial fleets to some of the UK's largest operators, Ashwoods Lightfoot Driver Behaviour Technology is on the verge of trampling down the nation's carbon footprint and decreasing operators' cost of fuel. By the end of 2012 over 5000 vehicles are targeted to be retrofitted with Lightfoot systems with savings for fleet owners which could run into £millions. A significant factor in Lightfoot's success is its real-time and cumulative reporting, with each vehicle connected back to a central server via M2M SIM connectivity.
Behind the success of the Lightfoot system sits Ashwoods Automotive, one of the country's leading developers of hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) technology. Two years ago, Ashwoods recognised an opportunity to optimise fleet performance through ‘on the job' training for drivers. The cost and inconvenience of placing drivers onto driver training programmes was too impactful on a fleet operation says Mark Roberts, Managing Director of Ashwoods. "We identified that courses to improve driver behaviour, safety and economy do have a place. But cost and effect on daily operation are highly significant in today's fleet management. Our simple idea was to develop a system that coaches the driver every minute of every day, with regular reporting back of performance to the fleet owner. They don't leave their driving seat."
The resulting solution was named Lightfoot - recognising that the one factor that has the greatest impact on fuel consumption and vehicle safety is - the driver. Lightfoot is easily retro-fitted into all major commercial vehicles, with aesthetic styling that makes the system sit seamlessly within the vehicle's dashboard. A series of traffic lights from green to red give the driver live information on his/her driving performance. Driving in an optimum way will see the driver remain in the green, whilst stepping into amber and onto red will initiate audible warnings instructing a change in driving style. The live information is backed up by a cumulative record which reports on the driving performance over a given time period. And it is the capture of data and resulting reports back to the fleet operator that call upon M2M connectivity across the mobile network. An embedded SIM within the Lightfoot module sends data at pre-arranged times to a central server from which fleet management can advise, encourage and incentivise individual drivers. To achieve this, Ashwoods turned to Wireless Logic, specialist managed services providers within the M2M market, to develop connectivity solutions suitable for the UK and across Europe. Flexible, cost-effective and reliability were high on Ashwoods' shopping list to which the team at Wireless Logic, led by Jon-Paul Clarke, were able to fulfil. "The technical brief from Ashwoods was surprisingly simple from a solutions perspective - relatively low data usage, two-way communication via SMS so that the system can be adjusted and interrogated, and broad-reaching network coverage," comments Jon-Paul. "Yet a key aspect of the business structure for Ashwoods was the recurring revenue model. We developed a number of bespoke plans across several networks which enable Ashwoods to secure long-term revenue-generating opportunities that are highly competitive for their customer base."
Wireless Logic are predominantly using the Vodafone network for UK-based Lightfoot installations with further support from Telenor for applications in Turkey, Spain and Greece. Inactive SIMs are sent to Ashwoods' installation team from which activation is then controlled via Wireless Logic's ‘SIMpro' provisioning platform. "SIMpro is a critical part of the ‘just in time' installation process as we retrofit Lightfoot," continues Mark Roberts. "By having complete control of our SIM base, we can switch on, switch off, monitor data usage and overall performance through one window. Connectivity is the lifeblood of Lightfoot; we have to have complete confidence in every part of the airtime process."
So how effective is the Lightfoot Driver Behaviour Technology? The answer can be found by observing Lightfoot's ‘blind trial' process that is a key part to the installation programme. "Following the fixture of a Lightfoot system, we typically run the monitoring system without the traffic lights and audible in action. During a typical two-week trial we can capture normal operator behaviour without Lightfoot performance guidance. The next two weeks see the driver introduced to the system and data is recorded to see the difference in driving style," comments Mark Roberts. "The results are clear to see - fuel savings ranging from 14 to 23%. Our customers can see the distinct behavioural changes immediately and then they just do the sums. They can choose whether to view data daily or weekly and armed with this live information, can then liaise with the driver to report back on their performance."
Lightfoot is always on, always monitoring driver performance and always advising on how the driving style can change to give optimum return on fuel used. Additional benefits to fuel savings include reduction in engine, brake and clutch wear, fewer accidents resulting in a positive effect on insurance premiums, and reduced vehicle and driver downtime. "Lightfoot behaviour technology has arrived at the right time for fleet operators," concludes Jon-Paul Clarke of Wireless Logic. "It delivers on the ongoing need to reduce transport costs whilst capitalising on the immediacy of live data analysis enabled by M2M connectivity. Ashwoods and Wireless Logic have worked hard to deliver a highly-effective yet simple telematics solution that focuses on the driver. No complex data on engine performance, but a real focus on what their right foot is doing. We are delighted with the results to date and are collectively confident in rolling out Lightfoot across mainland Europe."
Final word from Mark Roberts of Ashwoods: "Lightfoot is an exciting addition to the Ashwoods product portfolio. It is now being adopted by standard engine fleets as well as customers already using Hybrid and EV technology. We see the next three year period as vital to take-up of the Lightfoot technology. Live communication is key and we are confident that in Wireless Logic, we have chosen the right partner to deliver and manage the SIM-based connectivity."