From its headquarters at Grantham in Lincolnshire, SOS Motorcycle Recovery provides a unique service throughout England and Wales recovering broken-down motorcycles and transporting bikes between locations. The service has become so successful that the company has recently expanded into Spain. It operates on behalf of a number of leading recovery organisations and insurers as well as working directly with motorcycle manufacturers and dealers and with professional users of motorbikes, such as courier and television companies. The UK service is provided 24/7 through a control room at Grantham and SOS aims to have a mechanic and recovery vehicle at a breakdown within one hour.
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The SOS UK fleet of 40 specially designed and equipped recovery vehicles are based at the homes of the mechanics who drive them. Knowing where vehicles are at all times and being able to instantly communicate with the mechanics is essential if SOS is to respond quickly to call-outs and satisfy the attendance time requirements of its recovery organisation customers. The ability to provide accurate arrival times can also be critical for non-recovery work, such as delivering bikes to film and photoshoot locations. To support more effective management of the fleet, satisfy legislation like the Working Time Directive, and enable better control to be exercised over the operatives, much detailed management information is needed. This includes operational detail such as routes taken, traffic hold-ups, and expected arrival times at a breakdown, as well as hours worked, and the identification of responsibility for speeding, parking or other traffic offences.
For SOS Motorcycle Recovery the solution lay in a connected navigation system based on TomTom Business Solutions WEBFLEET software. The in-built flexibility of WEBFLEET.connect enabled integration with the company’s existing IT system, based on Garage Manager and Turbo Despatch, both of which are standard software applications in the recovery industry. Users of these systems normally have to use the terminals that are supplied with the software, but these do not have the functionality of TomTom Business Solutions PNDs.
TomTom Business Solutions systems development partner Connect Fleet is very familiar with both of these systems and using WEBFLEET.connect was able to write a software application that enabled integration of the two systems. SOS set out the information that they required to be sent to the PND and what needed to come back into Garage Manager, such as the time the engineer arrived on the scene and when he had completed the job.
“The result is that we now have a fully-integrated job and fleet management system that is very user-friendly for our staff in the control room and our mechanics in the field,” says SOS founder and managing director, Gary Bravo. “It can also produce a wide range of reports that provide valuable data to help us to manage our business more efficiently, improve productivity and identify cost-savings. “The new system is used in exactly the same way as the old system, but is now more effective, so our back-room staff only needed training in how to make optimum use of the considerably greater functionality of the TomTom system.”
Jobs come in through Turbo Despatch straight into Garage Manager. One simple keystroke transfers that data into WEBFLEET and sends it direct to the GO unit in the vehicle via the LINK 300 tracking device. Instant touch-screen messaging enables the mechanic to acknowledge receipt of the task and he is the directed to it by the most direct route using the unit’s navigation capability, which gives clear directions by voice supplemented by easy-to-read maps. He is also alerted to any traffic delays and this allows the control room to give the stranded bike a very precise time of arrival, giving a greater level of service to customers.
On completion of the job, one touch of the screen shows the job is cleared and this information is automatically synchronised with Garage Manager. The control room then know the availability for the next call-out for any particular area. ”One feature that has proved particularly useful is the ability to change languages instantly,” says Gary Bravo. “We are using the same system in our new Spanish operation, which we can access from the UK. The ability to instantly change the language to English enables us to obtain the same sort of data as we do in the UK.”