Boers forestry company: Coordinating the vehicle fleet efficiently

05.11.2020 by Pauline Batzer
Timber trucks loaded with long tree trunks drive along a forest road.

Don't lose sight of the big picture! Foresters Andreas and Leo Boers have to coordinate vehicles, machines, and employees at various worksites every day. Doing this digitally can make it faster and more accurate – with an IoT solution.

A tornado with a top speed of 223 km/h swept over the district of Viersen in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia on the evening of May 16, 2018. It ripped roofs off houses, uprooted trees, tore down gazebos and even lifted an entire mobile home into a neighbor's plum tree. Several people were slightly injured, one seriously. The path that the F2/T4 cyclone cut through the rural area stretched over almost five and a half kilometers, and in some cases was up to 240 meters wide. The tornado completely destroyed a forest area along the L3 highway.

Coordinating Clean-up Work Quickly

The clean-up work began already the next day, also on the L3 highway. For Boers, as the local forestry and landscape service, this meant that all available vehicles, machines, and employees had to be pulled together as quickly as possible to efficiently coordinate the work ahead. After all, the highway had to be made safe to drive on again immediately, and the forest area had to be cleared up in parallel to the other jobs before the bark beetle or other pests could propagate too much in the damaged forest.

How to Optimally Manage the Vehicle Fleet?

Coordinating machines, vehicles, and employees, even on several worksites at the same time – that's the day-to-day business at Boers. The forestry company takes care of landscape conservation and forestry in the entire district of Viersen: maintaining the greenery at playgrounds, felling trees, clearing forest areas, and producing and selling firewood from the raw material wood. The company also sells Christmas trees. Here the question always arises: Which excavator, truck, and sprinter as well as which employee is at work at which worksite? How long were they in action there? When will a vehicle become available for the next job? And which employees are also available then?

Coordinating each worksite as precisely and efficiently as possible by telephone, recording individual operating and working times by pen and paper and then billing them correctly afterwards was nerve-racking and time-consuming for the company’s two managing directors, Andreas and Leo Boers. That's why the two owners were ultimately looking for an easy-to-install digital solution as an innovation in their fleet management, one that in the best-case scenario would also protect the vehicles from theft. And they found Drive & Track powered from Deutsche Telekom.

Drive & Track – the functions

  • Live maps: Locate vehicles and company property live
  • Reporting: Detailed analysis reports on all data, including engine and sensor measurement data, recorded events and interactions
  • Fleet Performance: Event based measurement of vehicle performance
  • Real-time alarms: Automatic notification of theft and use of vehicles outside working hours
  • Accident detection: Immediate notification when a vehicle is involved in an accident
  • Driving behavior and driver ID: Driving analyses and notifications of traffic violations such as speeding


 

A Digital Overview of All Worksites With IoT Technology

For digital fleet management with Drive & Track, Boers has retrofitted the entire vehicle fleet with a fleet tracker. The plug-in dongle contains a GPS module, a robust SIM card for networking via mobile phone and Internet as well as additional sensors and can be installed in the vehicle easily with plug and play via the OBD2 interface. Each employee is assigned a networked vehicle. The fleet tracker records the location, movement, and driving time of the vehicle, as well as vehicle status, battery voltage, and engine data. It sends the data continuously via mobile radio to an IoT platform (IoT, Internet of Things) in a cloud. Using this data, Boers now has an overview of its entire vehicle fleet and can see in the web portal exactly which vehicle and which employee was used for which customer and for how long. This information greatly simplifies invoicing, and all the paperwork with handwritten invoices and working hours is eliminated thanks to the digitalization of the fleet management.

Efficiently Coordinated and Protected Against Theft

Using the geodata, new worksites can also be planned more efficiently: Boers sees online which vehicle in the fleet is currently available and nearest. The digital technology makes annoying phone calls obsolete. In addition, the IoT platform creates detailed analysis reports from the data, for example on speeding violations, braking behavior, and acceleration. In the event of collisions, the system sends an immediate notification via e-mail and the managers can react quickly. Using geofencing, the IoT application even protects the company’s vehicle fleet against theft: If a vehicle leaves the GPS area of the worksite or depot defined in the software, the intelligent solution sounds an alarm and using GPS positioning shows the exact location of the vehicle on a map in the online portal.

Lean Processes: Advantage in Planning and Billing

The data of the digital fleet management solution helps the medium-sized company even after the completion of a project, because Boers sees exactly how many hours and which vehicles were needed. This enables the company to calculate future offers precisely. By planning projects efficiently, the company also saves fuel, reduces its CO2 emissions, and thus protects the environment. Drive & Track is scalable and therefore suitable for digitalizing fleets of any size.

The advantages at a glance


  • Efficient: Optimal use of vehicles, employees, and company property
  • Transparent: Always clarity about the actual vehicle location
  • Optimal: Proactive vehicle maintenance based on mileage
  • Controlled: Detailed analysis reports on all data
  • Uncomplicated: Plug & play retrofit solution with intuitive web interface
  • Safe: Avoiding traffic violations and driver coaching


 

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Pauline Batzer
Pauline Batzer

Project Manager IoT

Since 2015, Pauline has been passionate about the variety of the IoT world. She has gained a lot of experience with the Internet of Things from different perspectives by working with customers, partners, and start-up companies. For the Telekom IoT blog she writes about technological trends, products, and innovations in the Internet of Things which are implemented in different industries.