Eco-driving, how to succeed

Eco-driving, what and why

This post will address what to focus on when buying an eco-driving system.

Eco-driving in a broader scope is all about education. Or rather education and motivation. If a driver knows how to drive in an environmentally friendly and economical way and is motivated to do so, the battle is won. But the battle must continually be won to last in the long run. When implementing the idea of eco-driving in an organization, there are different approaches.

One approach is education without technical aid. An eco-driving education will have an effect, and if you combine it with follow-up educations and internal motivation work, you will probably have some lasting effect. The more the drivers attach to the idea, the better the result will be. However, it is often hard to get a good result from the training without technical aid, and it is also hard to maintain the motivation level over time. You need a system that makes training easier with direct feedback on every maneuver, and that  keeps reminding day in and day out about the importance of eco-driving. A system that also provides parameters for management, on which to base follow-up discussions and examination of the drivers’ performances.

Five key factors of an eco-driving system

There are five factors that can make or break an eco-driving investment. Here is a list with brief comments of each.

1. Proven technology

It is vital that the technology you end up purchasing actually delivers what it promises, and the only way you can make sure of that beforehand is by opting for a proven technology. A solution that already is delivering what you are looking for, to existing long-term customers, will save you a lot of grief. Unproven IT solutions are always a big risk, and why risk it, if you can find a solution that is already working? Technology aspects to consider are for example MTBF (mean time between failures), uptime, robustness, upgradeability, surveillance and remote management.

2. Handling of different vehicle types and models

Most vehicle fleets operate with different vehicle types, diesel, gas, hybrid or electric, as well as different brands. Therefore it is essential to have a system that manages all vehicle types and brands (Mixed Fleets).

It is also central, when examining the driver performance, to have different grade groups depending on the vehicle type, since not all parameters are interesting for all types of vehicles. You also need to sum up the grade groups to a total grade that can be compared between different vehicles. The vehicle fleets will in the future consist more and more of hybrids and electric vehicles, which adds different parameters for eco-driving. You need to take this into account when purchasing an eco-driving system.

For hybrids it is for example interesting to get a longer run on electric before switching over to regular fuel. This saves fuel. After switching over to regular fuel, the fuel economy is the same as for any combustion engine driven vehicle. For electric vehicles, other parameters are interesting. One aspect that is very relevant to electrical vehicles is that they are range sensitive. To be able to run that extra distance can be crucial for some operations, since an effective and energy-saving driving style can be an important factor for being able to run electric vehicles on some routes.  Braking is however central for electric vehicles as well. For example, if you break really hard, the mechanical brakes take over, and then you lose regeneration. There are also losses in the energy regeneration.

3. Handling of different traffic types (city, countryside)

It’s really important that the drivers perceive the system as fair, for example when it comes to different traffic types. There’s a big difference in the eco-driving grade outcome for different traffic types (city, countryside, mixed) if the different circumstances aren’t taken into account. Therefore, it’s a big plus if functionality and specific grading parameters for different traffic types are already integrated in the system, so that you don’t have to spend a lot of resources and time on configuring solutions for making the system fair.

4. Distinct and understandable feedback to help drivers improve their driving behavior.

The information to the drivers is vital. Both direct feedback, the possibility for the driver to check the results afterwards and the possibility for management to give relevant feedback. It is also important that the communication is as logically presented as possible, so that the drivers really understand what to improve. There are many parameters collected and processed, but the feedback can’t be too complex, otherwise it will be hard to digest.

People are also individually different, and they prefer different ways of taking in information. Therefore it is beneficial to have more than one venue of communication. For example:

– Driver console or a LED-based display giving real time feedback. This gives the driver a sense of control over the situation and an instant understanding of what maneuvers should be avoided or preferred. But also to show them their result as an overall grade for their entire trip. The most effective feedback is the screen-based interface, where the drivers get more specific information about their performance.

– Web, tablet or phone, makes it possible for the driver to gain access to their results afterwards, to be able to examine their own driving behavior to find ways to improve their results. The web or mobile device become even more useful if the real time feedback in the vehicle is a LED-based display, or if there is a lot of additional information conveyed through the driver console, which takes away focus from the eco-driving system.

– Reports make it possible to make the results readily available via email for the drivers. Not all drivers might go on the web to find out their own performance. Therefore, to get a report of their results is a good way to reach all drivers.

5. Tools for management to follow up and support drivers in improving their driving

It is key for management to have ways to follow up and support the drivers. Management is a vital factor for eco-driving to become a success. The more confidence the drivers have in the the support from management, the better the results.

The reports mentioned above is another very useful tool, since the information is pushed out to the drivers, but it is also a way for management to be able to follow up on the drivers’ progress and to be able to direct their support efforts where they are most needed.

In general, it is very important that the company supports the drivers in this process, and that there are motivated coaches who can catch and help drivers who are lagging behind, aren’t performing as well or are stuck in a negative trend. Since there can be many drivers in an organisation, it helps a lot to have a system that makes the drivers in need of help visible to the management.

The communication regarding the eco-driving concept is vital to get right. If to drive environmentally friendly is added to the job description, it is easier to communicate the message of importance more clearly, and to maintain focus on the eco-driving results. The key is to get the drivers to realize that they aren’t just supposed to drive the vehicle from point A to point B. They should also do it in an environmentally friendly and for the passengers comfortable way.

Other important factors

Fairness

For an Eco-driving system to work well, both the drivers and the management have to trust the results. For the drivers to respect the system, it must both be fair, and be perceived as fair. When you are compared to others, it is very important that you don’t feel unfairly treated, and that you understand on what grounds your results are based. Unfortunately many of the tools on the market today aren’t measuring in a fair way. This is because it is difficult both to develop the right criterias and to design the system that supports measuring and collecting the relevant data that is needed for a fair and correct evaluation. Therefore it is vital to evaluate how the divers are measured, how the grades are distributed and what measures are taken to make it as fair as possible. Take your time to really go through this, because with a system that is perceived as unfair, it will be difficult to get the drivers onboard, and you might not get the results you are hoping for. In worst case, you might even alienate your drivers at the same time.

Comfort

Comfort is another field that is central in connection to eco-driving. Not only because a lot of passengers already today have negative experiences from too aggressive driving styles amongst drivers, but also because drivers that are very motivated to get good eco-driving results, might for example neglect to reduce speed when taking corners or going over bumps. It won’t register as an increase in fuel consumption, but it sure will be noticeable for the passengers. Therefore, you need a comfort system, that takes away the risk of abusing the eco-driving system in that way. It will of course also benefit the passengers, who will get a better customer experience from a comfortable ride.

It is also helpful to have the possibility to see where different events occur. This is beneficial for both the drivers and management. For the drivers to be able to point out exactly in what circumstances their events occur so they can adjust their driving, and for management to take steps to avoid hazardous situations. For example if there is a rondell with a lot of comfort events, management are able to inform all drivers and ask them to be careful. They are also able communicate this to the authorities to demand an adjustment of that specific traffic place, based on facts they are able to present. It is also possible to detect drivers who continue to cause these events and talk to them individually.

Login

Another aspect to think about is the login procedure. You don’t want to add another login, since this will add time for getting ready for the shift, which in turn will add considerable costs over time. Make sure that the eco-driving system supports login through a system you already have installed and are using in the vehicles. This will save money as well as make it more convenient for the drivers. It will also make sure that the drivers will log into the system every time. This is central for the system to function fully.

What’s in it for me?

A good way to get the drivers more invested in the program and to make them perform better is to measure the savings and give a bonus to the drivers based on performance. This is an effective way to create an incentive for the drivers to perform their best and to adapt to the new behavior needed to reduce the wear and tear of the vehicle, the fuel consumption and the carbon footprint. When implementing a bonus system, it can be wise to make sure it is somewhat flexible, since there might be discussions regarding fairness in the grading system, and a flexible system makes the discussions much easier, since you can adjust for locally occurring discrepancies that might otherwise lead to unnecessary friction and mistrust in the system.

Education

There are some different aspects regarding education. One is that the education material to help implementing the system is comprehensive and helps you inform your drivers and other personnel on how to handle the system.

Another aspect might be that if you are able to add a comprehensive navigation system that guides the drivers through the routes, you will be able to reduce the education time for a driver on a new route. To be able to reduce this education cost, will save a lot of money.

What an eco-driving system might provide

Below is a display over what types of eco-driving system you might encounter, and a rough estimation on what the different parameters can add in terms of savings. For example how much can you add to the savings by going from pure education to a technologically aided eco-driving system? What functionalities can you add depending on what type of technical equipment you use?

The benefits of different areas of eco-driving in terms of technical support are shown in the image above. The different results are of course not exact, but they are based on many years of experience and statistics. What you can see is that there are different levels you can access, depending on what technical equipment you opt for. Without technical equipment at all, you will be able to reduce fuel consumption with approximately 0,5%. This might seem like a small win, but for a large fleet it will add up to considerable amounts of money.

When opting for an eco-driving system with led-based feedback to the diver, you add the possibility to measure comfortable driving and communicate warnings for bad maneuvers. This adds additional possible savings up to 4%.

The next step is a screen-based interface, which enables measuring the driver’s individual values as well as providing the driver with detailed reports, results and grades directly through the driver console. This increases the possible savings further, up to 8-12%, which can add up to quite a considerable amount for a big fleet. The screen-based system also adds other possible functionalities and services, that can reduce costs even more, like fault report, rerouting, messaging and route instructions. Route instructions can be very valuable for new drivers, or experienced drivers driving a new route. It is also helpful in case of temporary reroutes or traffic situations.

The importance of hope

When it comes to eco-driving, a clear goal and direction is important. We as humans are not functionally wired to react to or feel concerned by climate change. This video provides some insights into what we can do to make people more motivated and engaged in the climate change issue. Ready to take action along the fundamental principle and philosophy behind Eco-driving systems for public transport.

One of the most important things is to get past the feeling that the problem is too big, and that we’re already heading for a disaster. Such a message just makes people passive. Another important lesson is to talk about saving the climate and the children, rather than saving money to start out with. However, with a bump in the paycheck in the end of the month, the perseverance might be stronger in the long run. To tap into the competitive streak of people can also be a good thing, as long as it is not discouraging to those performing less well. The subtle social pressure of being able to compare yourself to your peers is a powerful tool for improvement.   

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS ECO-DRIVING

Below, you find an example of an eco-driving system requirement compilation. It might give you a little guidance to what you need to address, when investing in an eco-driving system.

General Shall requirements

Branch requirements – The system shall be developed and adopted to public transport with a well developed support for branch specific demands. The system shall be used by bus drivers and shall generate well comparable and just results regardless what service the driver performs and in what vehicle. Everything else is unacceptable and will not be approved.

Supporting system for drivers – The system shall include support for drivers and management to reduce the total fuel consumption, reduce the number of accidents, improve comfort and reduce vehicle wear.

Supporting system for other parts of the organization – The system shall include support for workshop, service organization and traffic management regarding status and traffic clearance for vehicles.

GDPR – The system shall be conform with and fulfil the requirements of GDPR.

ISO 14001 – The supplier shall operate in a manner that is environmentally certified according to ISO 14001.

ISO 9001 – The supplier shall have a quality management system that is certified according to ISO 9001.

ISO 27001 – The supplier shall have an information security strategy that is certified according to ISO 27001.

Categorization and goals for driven distance – Driven distance shall automatically in real time be divided and classified into three different categories. Example of categorization suitable for public transport is [City traffic, mixed traffic and country side]. The goals for driven distance shall be possible to adjust separately for the respective categories to enable setting representative goals for how the driven distance is expected to be carried out.

Classification of drivers – The system shall automatically calculate the driver’s performance and grade it in at least three grade levels [approved, in need of improvement, immediate action required].

Savings – The system shall be able to calculate the savings compared to a reference value. The reference value shall be defined by measurements performed before the system is implemented.

Quality-

  • Back-end – the cloud service shall have an availability of at least 99,7%. This number shall be presented to the customer on a monthly basis.
  • The vehicle system shall have an availability of at least 96,2% measured from server when the engine is started. Excluding mobile operator downtime and vehicle malfunction time. This number shall be presented to the customer on a monthly basis.
  • The driver’s result shall, in 95,7% of the cases, be presented at the latest one hour after the driver shift ends.

References – The supplier’s system shall be used in daily operation in at least 300 busses, of which at least 100 shall be gas driven, to ensure that the system works well also with gas driven vehicles. The supplier shall name at least 3 public transport reference customers, with the system installed in at least 30 vehicles each, where the drivers use the system in daily operation in city traffic.

”Back-end, cloud services”

Cloud services, in general – The system shall be delivered as a cloud service, no installation at customer site, except in the vehicle. Login shall be individual and access shall be role based with support for driver, management, dispatchers, workshop and service. Vehicles and drivers shall be organized into a company hierarchy where the users only are given access to information regarding their own level and the levels below. The user shall be able to freely define the period for information compilation through selecting optional start and end dates.

Data management – Data should be stored in compliance with GDPR.

Operation support driver – The drivers shall be able to see their own detailed result including savings and compilation of results from the collective group of drivers. Drivers shall however not be able to see detailed individual information regarding other drivers.

Operation support management – Management shall be able to see lists with compilation of all drivers’ individual performance including driven distance, consumption and savings as well as detailed results for each driver.

Operation support for dispatchers – Dispatchers shall be able to see lists with vehicles not cleared for traffic including indication of why they aren’t ready.

Operation support service – service personnel shall be able to see lists with vehicles in need of attention to be able to be cleared for traffic.

Operation support workshop – The workshop shall be able to see lists with vehicles that need repairing to be able to be cleared for traffic, lists with compilations of all vehicles’ individual status including driven distance, consumption and the vehicle status as well as detailed information regarding respective vehicle’s individual status.

Login/logout – The operator shall via Internet be able to see which vehicles are in traffic without a driver logged in.

Map presentation – The user shall be able to look up where the vehicle was located at different points in time. The system shall present where the vehicle was located with an adjustable interval from between 1 minute up to 20 minutes.

Scoreboards – Scoreboards presenting the drivers’ total savings broken down to per year and per month and a list of the drivers that are green, shall be included. The scoreboard shall communicate with the cloud service and be updated with an interval of no longer than 15 minutes.

Consumption/idling depot area – The consumption and idling accumulated in the depot area shall automatically be excluded from the diver’s result.

Vehicle environment, hardware and services

Display in vehicle  – the system shall include a display mounted in the bus in the size range from minimum 7 to maximum 9 inch (to avoid disturbing the driver in traffic) which provides real time feedback to the driver regarding driving and a separate view displaying the driver’s summarized performance over the whole shift. The brightness shall be adjustable by the driver, for example to avoid being blinded during night traffic.

Login vehicle – Driver login shall be accessible via display in vehicle (touch screen), RFID tag or via tachograph. The driver shall not be able to log out during traffic.

Thermometer – The system shall include an externally mounted thermometer to be placed in the driver environment and give information to the monitoring system to monitor if the vehicle can be cleared for traffic.

Integration with vehicle – The system shall function and measure fairly regardless of vehicle brand, model, year or fuel type.

Monthly salary report & Incentive reports

Salary incentive file – The system shall deliver a salary report [Excel] via e-mail containing columns with at least [employment number, name, grade for last month (approved, in need of improvement, immediate action required) individual compensation, individual savings.

Individual compensation – Individual compensation in the salary incentive file shall be defined partly through five different levels of total savings for the collective group of drivers, and partly through compensation level per grade category for respective total saving level. the individual compensation level for the period shall be based on:

  • the total savings of the collective driver group during the period.
  • the individual savings by the driver during the period.

Reduction of individual compensation – The individual compensation shall be reduced if the driver’s time in duty differs from the expected time for the period. Such reduction shall occur in five beforehand defined steps.

Monthly reports

The system supplier shall deliver collective monthly reports with at least the following content;

Monthly result

  1. The total savings of the month divided on login/line/route
  2. Line result

The period result (6 months) – presented per driver

  1. The period savings in litres, Euro, procent
  2. The period – Procent logged in drivers
  3. The Period – Procent green, yellow and red drivers, total number of drivers
  4. Environmental report regarding CO2 collected for all vehicles
  5. Average consumption and distance
  6. The supplier’s skill measurement

The period result – presented per vehicle

  1. Average consumption
  2. Distance

The monthly individual result – report per driver and summarized.

  1. The system shall provide an individual report per driver, showing the driver’s performance in terms of idling, overspeed, savings, braking in high speed etc.
  2. Drivers belonging to a group driving in an uncomfortable way for passengers – for example braking hard and to great extent.

System monitoring and system integration

System monitoring – securing quality. The system shall contain a monitoring module where faults in the system, the vehicle and connected systems is presented as events on a map. The system shall at least contain following status [battery, communication and temperature]. It shall also be able to receive and present status and error codes from these systems, for example breathalyzer, video system, ticketing system, display system etc. The alarms shall via Internet be presented per vehicle and per level of severity in at least 3 different levels. The alarms shall be configurable for using via SMS, e-mail or website.

System monitoring – Reports shall be available regarding accessibility and quality according to the requirements above.

System integration – The system shall be usable for communication and sharing of information, position and other relevant information shall be broadcasted via LAN on the vehicle to connected systems. The system shall hence function as a platform for other services – for example breathalyzer, ticketing, video system, and passenger counting system. The system shall do inventory of and register other connected on-board systems.

Export data – The system should automatically be able to export data to enable the customer to produce their own reports and searches via NOPTIS standard.

System monitoring – The system should be able to monitor the vehicle status, including oil pressure and engine coolant temperature.

Should requirements

Alarm displays – information of alarms and statuses should be presentable on an alarm display. The alarms should be possible to rearrange according to customer demands.

It should be possible to run additional application on delivered display (in the vehicle).

Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is the author’s opinion and doesn’t reflect the opinion of any other person or organisation.

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