Monday, 6 February 2012

Snow Joke - Why Telematics Really Can Save Lives In Arctic Conditions

With snow and ice once more causing havoc on Britain's roads, it's worth reminding ourselves of the advantages that telematics provide when the weather turns Arctic.

As we explained in detail in what has become our most popular post, there are at least five, key advantages telematics can provide. Tracking devices enable fleet managers to:

  • - accurately locate drivers and vehicles in difficult driving conditions
  • - exercise their duty of care and alert emergency services where necessary
  • - communicate with and update clients regarding the status of deliveries
  • - establish a two way communication channel between office and cab
  • - remotely monitor fuel levels and direct drivers to appropriate refuelling locations in bad weather

Contact us for more details about how you can keep your fleet and your staff safe in arduous Winter conditions.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Won't Get Fuelled Again: 3 Key Ways That Transport Telematics Can Fight Fuel Thieves

Fuel theft is one of the biggest threats to the global transport business. Each year millions of gallons of gasoline, diesel and petrol is stolen from the tanks of trucks, lorries and vans worldwide. The shocking truth, however, is that most fuel-related crimes are committed within organisations, by members of staff operating sometimes sophisticated schemes to siphon off fuel from their employers.

No matter how large or small the theft, it hits someone's bottom line. What surprises us here at iBox technology, however, is how few transport professionals realise that telematics can play a huge role in cutting down and even eliminating these crimes. How? Well, here are three key ways in which you can detect and prevent fuel theft from your fleet.  

1. Fuel Cap Switches

Fuel cap proximity switches show when a fuel cap has been removed and refitted. Each instance will be recorded on the transport manager's telematics data flow. By cross-referencing this with other data, you can get a clear picture of what is going on with your fleet - and whether anything is amiss.

For instance, most commercial drivers use Fuel Cards which charge the petrol and diesel used directly to their transport manager rather than the driver themselves. This allows the transport office to see where and when vehicles are refuelling, but it also allows them to ensure that the fuel cap has been removed at legitimate times. If removals coincide with fuel stops, the chances are all is fine. If not, however, you need to know why. 

2. Fuel Level Indicators

Fuel level indicators show what percentage of the maximum fuel level is being carried by a vehicle. This can be a key clue when someone is behaving illegally. If, for instance, the percentage of fuel being carried drops dramatically and in a way that doesn't tally with the vehicle's mileage, then alarm bells should ring immediately. 

Again, it's a piece of data that can be used in conjunction with other pieces of information, such as Fuel Card transactions. If large amounts of fuel is being purchased, but levels aren't rising accordingly, you may be a victim of a sophisticated crime operation.

3. Authorised Stops

Telematics devices like the iBox 'Tele-mate' allow transport offices to list authorised stops, locations where your vehicles are scheduled to make deliveries or collections or perform other legitimate tasks.

Once more, this allows you to combine this information with other useful data to form a detailed picture of your drivers' activities. If vehicles make unauthorised stops and these stops coincide with the removal of the fuel cap and drops in fuel levels, this again should set alarm bells ringing.

All in all then, telematics provides transport managers with a range of tools that can help them detect fuel theft within their fleets. In the current economic climate, it can make the difference between survival and failure. For more information about how iBox technology's 'Eco-mate' and 'Tele-mate' can help protect your precious fuel supplies, contact us today. 

Friday, 24 June 2011

Trixi Of The Trade: New Cycling Code Shows Truckers How To Avoid Accidents

Pic of Trixi mirror: handyshippingguide 

Ask a professional truck, lorry or van driver his or her opinion of cyclists and you are 100 per cent certain to get, how shall we put it, a strongly-worded reply. Some, it's fair to say, regard them as the bane of their day-to-day lives, but most are professional enough to recognise they have as much right to be on the road as them. 

There's no question, however, that driving on roads where cyclists are prevalent does present real challenges to heavy transport drivers. It is all too easy to miss or misjudge their presence - and before you know it a tragedy has occurred. 

Which is why the latest idea from the Freight Transport Association (FTA) is a great initiative. The FTA this week responded to the rising numbers of fatalities and injuries caused to cyclists by heavy freight trucks in London by releasing a new Cycling Code for drivers. The Cycling Code contains a host of measures and gives advice not just to drivers of trucks and vans but also to cyclists, business and local authorities who  manage the roads. 

Specific measures include advice to fleet managers on reporting accidents and near misses to educating drivers about cyclist awareness and the use of Trixi mirrors. 

“Cycling in London has doubled in the last 10 years. As operators of commercial vehicles regularly making tens of thousands of journeys every day to deliver essential goods and service to London residences and premises, we are acutely aware of the risks posed to other road users, especially cyclists," said the FTA. 

“As responsible businesses we wish to take the initiative to promote a Cycling Code of best practice to be followed by vehicles." 

Of course, telematics can play its part in helping to maintain the safety of both cyclists and truck and van drivers. Detailed tracking and GPS data can reveal and alert drivers to areas where cycling activity is heaviest, where accidents have occurred in the past and where Trixi mirrors are in place on street furniture and in particular on traffic signals. In other words, telematics add crucial - and potentially life-saving - depth and detail to the driver's knowledge of the city environment in which he or she is operating.

For more information on how iBox technology can help your fleet deal with these issues contact

In the meantime, if you want to read the new cycling code in full visit this link:

Thursday, 16 June 2011

BBC Hails Tracking Devices For Helping 'To Win War On UK Vehicle Crime'


It's not often the telematics industry gets mentioned in the mainstream media. So this morning's BBC Breakfast news report on how tracking devices are helping the UK motor industry to 'win the war against vehicle theft' was a really important moment.

The report was a response to the news that the number of car thefts has declined dramatically because of the use of telematics and other high-tech security features, such as immobilisers and smart keys.

The BBC reported that during the last seven years car thefts have fallen by around two-thirds and the vast majority of those thefts were of older vehicles, most of which were more than three years old.Last year 107,000 cars were stolen, down from 119,000 in 2010 and massively down on the 600,000 a year which were taken 20 years ago.

BBC transport correspondent Richard Scott reported that new cars in particular are becoming almost impossible to steal. And industry experts cited vehicle tracking devices as one of the main contributors to this dramatic change.

With 'smart keys' preventing thieves from starting vehicles on the road, many are now being loaded onto a trailer. But vehicles with sophisticated vehicle tracking systems - like ibox's Mates - are generally recovered quickly.

Andrew Miller, director of research at car insurance repair research centre, Thatcham, said the reduction in thefts was "due to the incredible improvements to a raft of security systems including alarms, locks, immobilisers, toughened glass and tracking devices".

Miller warned, however, that the industry couldn't afford to rest on its laurels as criminals were working hard to get round the new, high-tech security barriers. So vehicle tracking specialists need to stay one step ahead of the criminals by continuing to develop newer and more sophisticated devices. We are certainly committed to doing that, but it's nice to get a pat on the back from in such a high profile way.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Caught In a Spot: New Roadside Fines Underline Importance Of Tracking And Telematics

Breaking transport laws became a lot more expensive this week as haulage companies started to be be hit by new, £80 release fees to get back vehicles seized under VOSA immobilisation notices.
Vehicles on the UK's roads are regularly pulled over and hit with on-the-spot immobilisation notices by VOSA officers for a variety of reasons, from mechanical defects to failure to pay fixed penalties. Trucks, vans and lorries are also taken off the road when drivers tachographs or other telematics reveal that they have been driving for dangerously long hours. 
The £80 fines are payable immediately by the transport companies rather than the drivers themselves, with the VOSA officers able to process card payments at the roadside or over the phone. But the bad news for hauliers and transport bosses is that vehicles won't be allowed back on the road until any defects are corrected, making breaches of the law far more expensive than just the fine itself. 
All this once more underlines the importance of telematics and vehicle tracking to fleet managers. Monitoring and analysing the sea of data telematic devices can provide is the best way to ensure that vehicles and drivers are within the law at all times. Bosses can keep track of all sorts of data - from driver hours to driving patterns via analysis of harsh braking and acceleration. 
For more details on how ibox technology can help you stay within the law, contact us today.  

Monday, 6 June 2011

Google Vehicle Tracking Guide - by ibox

We're always on the look-out for new ways to share our knowledge and help fellow transport professionals. So we've begun adding to Google's exciting 'knol' knowledge base with the first of what we anticipate will be a large collection of articles and guides on telematics and vehicle tracking. Visitors are already popping on to our pages in large numbers. It's early days yet but we hope to build it into one of the biggest and most important online resources for fleet and transport managers. Take a look here.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Who You Gonna Call? Stressbusters - Why Tracking And Telematics Devices Are Good For Men's Health

It seems there's nothing more certain to get the male blood pressure going than sitting in a traffic jam. An intriguing, new scientific study has found that men's stress levels soar seven times higher than women’s when they are stuck in stationary traffic.

In a major study of hundreds of drivers, psychologists measured levels of stress chemicals in the saliva of male and female volunteers sitting in snarled up traffic. They discovered that men are far more likely to get hot under the collar about wasted and lost time - while women deal with the stress and pressure by switching off and listening to the radio.

While female stress levels went up by an average of just 8.7 per cent as they waited behind the wheel, the levels of chemicals in men went shooting up by 60 per cent.

According to the scientists behind the study, one explanation for the wildly differing results is that men are more reliant on the ‘fight or flight’ response to stressful situations. In other words, men want to either deal with the problem head on or walk away. In a traffic jam, you can't do either - hence their frustration.

Psychologist David Moxon, who carried out the research, warned that frustration could have a serious impact on male drivers making them drive erratically - and therefore dangerously. They also warned that most men are unaware of their rising blood pressure and the fact that it is putting their welfare - and that of other road users - at risk.

‘The fact that they are not always aware of this could indicate that driving regularly in dense traffic could have a profound effect on their health,' Moxon explained.

The best solution to the problem, he suggested, was that drivers avoid congestion altogether by planning ahead and using telematics devices.

For ordinary drivers that may mean a Sat Nav. For a professional driver in a truck or van, however, the best option is a tracking device. iBox technology devices like the 'Tele-mate' in particular allows drivers to stay in constant two-way communication with their fleet managers, who can alert them to traffic problems.
It's another way in which telematics devices not only looks after the safety and efficiency of vehicles, but also helps protect the health of drivers.

For more information about how our devices can help your business contact iBox technology today.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Back on Track? Transport Industry Has Cause For - Cautious - Optimism.

Don’t speak too soon, but there are signs of a small recovery in the global transport industry, well, for some companies, at least.

According to the latest statistics, global transport and logistics revenues increased by 15% last year to $197.8bn (£121.20bn). 

That's the good news. The bad news is that, in real terms, this means that industry revenues have barely shifted from where they were in 2007.

And it appears there are certain areas of the industry that are faring better than others.

The figures, published in Transport Intelligence’s Global Transport & Logistics Sector Leaders 2011 report, reflect the performance of 19 major companies including DHL, Wincanton and Kuehne + Nagel.

It found that industry profit margins remain wafer thin at less than 5% and suggests that while these profits might be enough to keep “low asset” operations going, they spell danger for big logistics firms with their own fleets.

"The industry needs to increase its margins in 2011 and beyond," says TI analyst David Bagshaw. "2010 has seen a good recovery for most of the industry, but it still has some way to go.”

The report suggested that the worst hit part of the industry is haulage, which hasn’t pulled out of recession yet and is suffering continued profitability problems.

All this, of course, underlines the crucial role telematics and vehicle tracking can play in business. At iBox technology, we are seeing that our range of mates is delivering significant savings in all sorts of areas - from increased fuel efficiency to staff rota savings. Why not give us a call to discuss how we can save you money in these challenging economic times.

To Russia With Love - How iBox Helped Track A Truck To Chernobyl & Back

On Track: The Chernobyl 2000 convoy on its way to Belarus.

We are always hearing about unusual applications of our tracking equipment and leading hire company Watts Van and Truck have told us about one of the most extraordinary yet.

Back in April, Watts' Gloucester depot fitted our vehicle tracking equipment to a brand, new £80,000 demo DAF articulated truck that was destined for Russia, well, Belarus to be precise, and the area around Chernobyl, scene of the devastaing nuclear reactor accident back in 1986.

Watts had generously loaned the truck to Chernobyl 2000, a Worcestershire based charity who run humanitarian aid convoys to Belarus each year.

Watts were happy to provide their vehicle to the charity, but understandably they wanted to be sure it was secure as it made the 1,300 or so mile journey through eastern Europe. So they fitted an iBox technology ‘Trac Mate’ to the cab, allowing them to track it every mile of the way. It gave them the peace of mind they needed while the valuable vehicle was out of their sight. And it allowed the charity to get on with their important work.  

As the charity explained: “Belarus was the country most affected by the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. Many of us remember the name Chernobyl but few of us realise how it has changed the lives of so many, even those who weren't born when it happened. Between sixty and seventy five percent of this fallout landed on Belarus making them the worst affected country. One fifth of the land mass of Belarus was contaminated beyond recommended levels and 99% of the land is still contaminated to some degree. The people of Belarus live, eat, drink and breathe radiation.” 

The convoy made it to Belarus delivering a large supply of clothes, toys and other items to children and families there. It arrived safely back in the UK at the end of April. We are quietly proud of our involvement in the project and are delighted it all went well. To visit the charity's website click here.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Gulliver's Travels - iBox In The Press

A Gulliver's RCV truck. pic: courtesy Gulliver's
One of the most enjoyable aspects of our job is forming relationships with businesses who value our contribution to their day-to-day working life. One such firm is Gulliver's, the UK's leading vehicle and plant hire company.

Gulliver's celebrated their 50th anniversary last year and specialise in hiring out both general and municipal vehicles. Their fleet is now almost 3,000 strong, ranging from small vans to 44 foot tractor units. Their municipal fleet also provides councils up and down the UK with a range of hired RCVs, sweepers, gully emptiers, skip loaders, hook loaders, access platforms and cranes.

We've been helping them with their vehicle tracking for more than a year now, building a relationship that, we like to think, works well. 

We can't be doing too bad a job because our partnership with Gulliver's has been the subject of an article in the leading transport professionals' magazine FACTS.

As I explain in the piece: 

“In these tough economic times, the need to come up with efficiency and cost savings is greater than ever. Whether it’s improving a fleet’s fuel efficiency via our Eco-Mate or streamlining a firm’s communication and task management systems via our Tele-Mate or Task-Manager, we’ve got the technology to help make the difference. Our equipment is designed to deliver our clients with three main benefits - reduced costs, increased productivity and improved customer service. The fact that we are working more and more closely with Gulliver’s hopefully means that they believe we are delivering in each of those key areas. We thoroughly enjoy working with Gulliver‘s. We’ve developed what we hope will become a long term working relationship.” 

For more details about iBox technology’s range of vehicle tracking and telematics options, our website at 

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Judge's Prison Sentence For Tacho Fiddlers Is A Boost For Telematics and Tracking Industry

The huge importance of telematics and vehicle tracking was underlined this week by an unlikely but powerful source - a Crown Court judge.

The judge, at Norwich Crown Court, sent three container drivers to prison for falsifying tachograph records. The drivers, who all worked for a sole trader in the Norfolk town of Downham Market and transported containers in and out of the port of Felixstowe, had been using a variety of tricks to produce inaccurate records of their driving behaviour.

These had included driving without a tachograph chart, pulling the fuse out of the tachograph to stop it working properly and carrying out widespread ‘wind backs’ to give a false impression of the amount of time drivers spent at the wheel.

The three drivers were given various length sentences between four and eight months. Two other drivers, who had committed lesser offences, were given 150 hours community service.

The trial was the result of a two-year investigation by VOSA, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. After the verdict VOSA’s operations director Alex Fiddes said: "Although this is a tremendous result for VOSA, it is sad to see that a small minority of unscrupulous operators are prepared to break the rules and disregard road safety in this way. The severity of the sentences reflects the importance of drivers' hours rules. HGV drivers must stick to the rules and take proper rest, otherwise they risk causing serious accidents.”

That final statement is the one that really rings true.

Vehicle tracking and telematics devices aren’t installed just to measure meaningless statistics and allow fleet managers to ‘spy‘ on their staff for no good reason. They are there to ensure the safety and welfare of not just drivers but other road users. In the bad old days, lorry drivers would be forced to work every hour of the day and regularly fell asleep at the wheel - with tragic consequences. Awful accidents involving overworked drivers are now - thankfully - a rarity and telematics have played a huge part in improving the situation.

The judge at Norwich Crown Court gave the whole industry a boost by sending out such a clear message.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

R.I.P Eddie Stobart - UK Transport's First Superstar

Eddie Stobart, right. Pic: BBC
Like everyone in the transport business, we were saddened to hear the news today that Eddie Stobart has died at the age of just 56. 

As most of you will know, Eddie built up his father's lorry empire and ran it for more than 30 years before selling the business to his brother William and his partner Andrew Tinkler in 2004. He died earlier today after developing heart problems yesterday and being rushed to hospital in Coventry.

Transport, haulage and trucking aren't exactly glamorous industries. But Eddie somehow managed to sprinkle a little stardust on our business, transforming it in ways you couldn't have imagined. 

Who would have thought that people would become obsessed with spotting Eddie Stobart trucks on the M1 or M4  in the same way that others spot trains coming in and out of Waterloo Station? Who would have imagined a television documentary series about a trucking company? But that's what Eddie's energy and vision  achieved. After selling his company, he should have been able to enjoy a long and happy retirement. It's tragic that he's been taken from us so soon. 

So we extend our deepest and most sincere condolences to Eddie's family. Rest In Peace Eddie. And thank you for brightening up our industry. 

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Tanks For Nothing: Soaring Fuel Thefts Making Life Even Tougher For UK Transport Firms

As if the UK's transport and haulage industries haven't got enough to cope with, they now face a serious and costly new threat - fuel theft. 
Siphoning diesel from lorries is rife at the moment, with the number of reported crimes soaring. 
A survey by the RHA, Road Haulage Association, found that almost 60 per cent of those polled had been victims of fuel theft in the past 12 months. 
Chrys Rampley, RHA security and infrastructure manager, told "Fuel thefts in the road haulage industry have always been a big issue, but the spike in diesel costs will make operators' margins suffer even more than usual."
Rampley said that while some thieves were stealing diesel for personal use, an increasing number were selling large amounts of fuel on the black market. The RHA survey backed this up, revealing a hike in the number of thefts in the region of 1,000-1,500litres, compared to the average 100-600litres that had been stolen in the past. 
More than half of victims in the poll said diesel had been siphoned directly from lorry tanks, while the rest had been taken from storage tanks in yards and compounds. 
Perhaps not suprisingly the most vulnerable locations and times are lay-bys at night and in the late afternoon. 
One leading haulier, David McMurray, MD of Accrington, Lancashire company McMurrays Haulage told "We have been targeted a handful of times so far in 2011. It has been a problem for the industry for a long time, but fuel is becoming like liquid gold-dust, so I'm not surprised to hear the number of incidents has risen again."
McMurrays has fitted its fleet with anti-siphoning products, but there are doubts over whether this is effective. The RHA said that some anti-siphoning security was proving counterproductive because thieves went well-equipped and tore the fuel cap off the tank, which left the whole tank in need of replacing at even greater expense. 
This is where telematics can play its part. Of course, you can never stop a determined criminal, especially when they operate in well organised - and potentially dangerous - gangs. But devices like iBox's 'Check-Mate' and 'Eco-Mate' can help fleet managers keep abreast of what's happening remotely by helping them monitor variables, from fuel levels to the security of vehicles in lay-bys. If drivers are targeted by gangs, the 'Tele-mate' also allows two way communication between driver and fleet office and, if necessary, the police. 
On the subject of which, we would expect the police to help combat this alarming rise. And, to be fair, the specialist lorry crime unit TruckPol has re-introduced the reporting of fuel thefts under 1,000 litres after stopping the service back in July 2009. 
But as we reported in a previous blog, TruckPol now faces severe funding cutbacks. It all means that hard-pressed hauliers are going to feel more embattled - and abandoned - than ever. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Euro-Trash - Why The UK Transport Industry Needs To Wake Up To Europe's Future, And Why Telematics Will Be Crucial

Europe's roads will change dramatically between now and 2050. 

Transport groups and UK politicians have been trashing the European Commission's newest plans to rid cities of petrol-fueled vehicles by the year 2050. 
The plans were revealed in a white paper published yesterday in which the EC called for  €1.5 billion in infrastructure investments to create a 'Single European Transport Area' over the next two decades. The white paper also calls for a swathe of  pro-green measures to ensure the EU cuts its transport emissions by 60 percent by 2050.
Suggested moves include laws requiring road freight transport travelling in excess of 300km to be shifted to rail or waterborne transport.
UK politicians dismissed the document - basically telling Brussels to keep its nose out of British roads and town centres. "We will not be banning cars from city centres any more than we will be having rectangular bananas," said UK transport minister Norman Baker.
And Ivan Hodac, secretary general of the automobile industry's trade association (ACEA), called the proposal to shift long distance haulage from the roads to rail and water "a mistake". 
But there's no question that the EC is serious about introducing measures to slash emissions and rid its cities of heavy vehicles. And quite frankly, companies have got to face up to the fact that they are going to have to be more careful about planning long distance travel - and not just because of ever-spiralling fuel costs. 
All of which is going to mean that telematics and vehicle tracking devices are going to play an increasingly important part in fleet management. And technology like iBox's popular 'Eco-Mate', 'Trac-Mate' and 'Tele-Mate' will be crucial in this new, more heavily regulated environment, allowing managers to locate their drivers and vehicles, monitor their emissions and fuel efficiency and communicate with them as they travel around Europe's more tightly-controlled road networks. 
For details about how we can help you navigate your way around the Europe of the future, contact iBox or visit our website 

Rip Off Van Winkle - Fuel Crisis Forces 60-Year-Old Builder To Sleep In His Van

Pic: Daily Mail
We told you so! 

Just days after chancellor George Osborne's 'too little, too late' cut to fuel duty, an ordinary builder has illustrated the desperate impact petrol prices are having on British business. 

Dennis Stapleton is sleeping in his cramped van four nights a week instead of travelling the 63 miles from his current workplace in Hertfordshire to his three-bedroom home in Cambridgeshire at the end of each day.

He leaves his house on a Monday morning with a week's worth of clothes and returns home after work on a Friday. He showers at a nearby service station and parks his van on an industrial estate at night.

Stapleton, who is 62, reckons he saves £600 a month by crashing out amidst his tools. 

"It's uncomfortable, but at the moment I have to find a means to survive," he told the Daily Mail. 'It's very cold. I get changed as quickly as possible in the morning and jump into my sleeping bag as quickly as I can at night.'

As we wrote last week, Osborne's cut of 1p off petrol and freezing of future changes until next year, was immediately wiped out by the garages who simply squeezed forecourt prices up. And it means that stories like that of Mr Stapleton, will become more and more common.

Of course, even he could benefit from a device like iBox's 'Eco-mate'. The tracking device can save businesses thousands of pounds in fuel bills each year by providing live and downloadable reports on fuel usage, efficiency, idling time and harsh braking patterns.

We might send him a free unit to see if it can shave something off his bill and allow him to sleep in a decent bed more often.