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Global Positioning Device Lets Bosses Track Vehicles

Sara Thorson The Business Journal, March 21, 2003 print edition

Global positioning systems were first developed to help the military track the enemy. In business, employees usually aren't the enemy, but idle hands at the office can hurt the bottom line. So can idle vehicles.

A new Valley company promises to help companies learn whether their employees are working hard or hardly working by tracking the activities of company vehicles via GPS. GPS Fleet Management, LLC was started six months ago by Myron Hammes and his wife Denise, in Paradise Valley.

Hammes said his company helps businesses combat the more distasteful aspects of human nature. "Unfortunately, not everybody is honest," he said. "GPS fleet management creates an awareness of how company time and resources are spent." For less than $500 per vehicle installed, a business can have GPS systems installed in a fleet that reports back on each vehicle's activity. The systems log starts, stops, drive times, idling, rate of speed, landmarks, locations, routes, distances and other significant events. They even can be programmed to page the boss when a certain event occurs, like excessive speeding or idling.

Hammes said his customers underestimate the misuse of company trucks. "You might imagine where some of these trucks have shown up," he said. "Every single business I've installed has had a speeding problem. We found one driver who liked to drive 93 mph with a trailer attached. That's like a screaming missile."

The company installs both active and passive GPS systems. Active systems use cellular technology to tell an employer the location of his vehicle at anytime, while passive systems use computer chips to log vehicle activity and report back to the employer when it returns. Some companies opt for hybrid systems, which allow both active and passive tracking.

Hammes said most of his customers have opted for the passive systems. Once vehicle data is automatically downloaded, the fleet owner, they can use the software to analyze it, conduct time and productivity studies, map routes and graph progress.

Hammes said objective data on employee activities can be a motivational tool and promote honesty in the workplace. "Usually, in an employer-employee relationship, you don't have the facts; you just have 'he said/she said,'" Hammes said. "This takes all the subjectivity out of it."

David McCall agrees GPS Fleet Management is good for business. McCall's company, TCK Air Conditioning and Heating Inc. of Phoenix, installed 10 vehicles in January.

"It has made the guys more productive, more responsible to their timecards and cut back on unnecessary overtime," McCall said. "I've seen a huge improvement in accountability." McCall estimated that the software is saving him about $500 per month.

Hammes said most of his customers have seen the system pay for itself within three to six months.

As far as privacy issues, Hammes said he encourages clients to be up front with employees as soon as the devices have been installed. That way nobody feels like Big Brother is watching him work. "You're not putting a collar on the employee; you're just putting a device on the truck."

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