School bus operator uses wireless tech to squelch idling

Fleet management solution from Navman Wireless helps companies meet environmental AND efficiency objectives

One of our ex-neighbors, who made a living out of pruning all the big tall, old trees that live in Northern New Jersey, used to let his truck idle every morning the way that diesel operators have been used to doing for many years now. Annoying, of course, but also plain inefficient on so many levels.

Anyway, idling is a big pet peeve for Garrett Scholes, one of the owners of The Provider, a school bus operator in Brentwood, N.H., that specializes in transportation for special needs students. Apparently, this niche is much bigger than you would realize: The company a fleet of about 200 vehicles, which transport about 1,600 students every week.

Scholes says the Provider, which was founded by his mother, first embraced wireless navigation technology from Navman Wireless close to five years ago thinking that it could helps with better tracking the mileage and hours related to individual busing contracts.

Pretty quickly, however, he realized that excessive idling (where a vehicle is sitting and running for more than 10 minutes) could be addressed and controlled with the technology. That's because The Provider can set parameters with the technology under which dispatchers are alerted under those circumstances. When an alert is triggered, dispatchers call the driver in question -- not just because they are worried about emissions, but because idling wastes fuel. "Changing behavior in this case is about reinforcing the right behavior," Scholes says.

Ultimately, the Navman Wireless technology helps The Provider make better decisions, that also happen to be good environmental decisions, Scholes says. "Our definition of being green is cutting out waste," he says.

Renaat Ver Eecke, vice president and general manager of North America for Navman Wireless, says his company has doubled the number of vehicles monitored by its solutions over the past two years, now tracking 110,000 vehicles. That's about 3.5 million miles per year. Because of its ability to cut on idling and also to help drivers pick the most expedient routes to travel, Navman Wireless estimates that it saves about 552 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions across the fleet it manages. Most of those savings are calculated based on reduced fuel consumption.

One especially large target for the technology is schools, Ver Eecke says, given the need of districts to cut costs wherever possible. The Navman technology also serves another burgeoning application: the need for schools to ensure that drivers are properly inspecting vehicles before and after route runs, and ensuring that students make it safely to their home or to the school.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com