This parks and facilities maintenance company has lots of jobs in lots of locations all over the country. EROAD helps the fleet team track assets and costs while reducing speeding and fuel consumption.
Recreational Services is New Zealand’s largest parks maintenance provider. A family business founded in 1992, they now have over 600 staff, a huge inventory of plant and machinery, and long-term contracts across 11,299 sites from the top of the North Island right down to Queenstown.
Working predominantly for councils, Recreational Services cares for a diverse portfolio of green spaces nationwide, including sports fields, reserves, gardens, and playgrounds.
Specialising in all aspects of opens space maintenance and management they manage everything from mowing, sports turf, to project works such as building new parks assets and playgrounds.
Like the maintenance tasks they perform, their fleet is also quite varied, comprised of smaller trucks right up to Class 4 transporters. They’ve also got EVs, utes, and lots of mowers and tractors. Quality & Improvement Manager Graham Norton is responsible for the entire fleet with strong support from the national fleet manager. “I look after a lot of our systems and try to drive innovation as well.”
He’s clearly been doing a bang-up job, as Recreational Services’ fleet is in the top 6% of EROAD’s New Zealand population. Since they adopted EROAD about five years ago, they’ve seen a 94% improvement in driver behaviour.
A seasoned user of telematics, Graham had used various systems at Recreational Services and elsewhere. “When we picked up EROAD, we’d done a lot of market analysis of what it could do, and we really got into it pretty much from day one.”
Initially, they trialled EROAD in the Far North with just a couple of units and liked what they saw. Their old telematics system was difficult to pull information from. EROAD, on the other hand, was “really intuitive. It’s got nice tile icons to help you pick the reports you need, so it’s really easy to get that information and share it with the staff.”
Two years ago, they decided to roll EROAD out to their entire fleet, understanding that a lot of groundwork needed to be done first. To encourage successful uptake, they made people a big part of onboarding from the start.
“We did a roadshow with all the different contracts, showed them the leaderboard and the information we get from EROAD,” says Graham. “We talked to the teams about what EROAD does, how it educates people in how they drive. People quickly got on board with it, and I think that’s what drove the improvement. It wasn’t just a system in the background.”
Graham oversees CIPS, or Continuous Improvement of Process and Systems, an ongoing company-wide initiative. CIPS and the tightknit family culture helped RS readily embrace EROAD. “The Directors interact with the teams all the time, and everyone talks to each other. If they’ve got concerns, any staff member can ring me or our CEO . They can talk to EROAD if they want too, so that really helps with engagement.”
EROAD’s Driver Login was especially helpful in tracking “the team” when COVID hit. “We still had to get out and do the work we had to do. The grass was still growing; there were still weeds. So, we kept on working.” The handy messaging feature enabled teams on the go to stay in touch. “If they had any kind of near miss, like where a member of public got too close, they could report it through the comments.
“The reporting is really cool as well. You just tap on an icon to see the login percentages for any contract. That made it easy for us to go back to the site manager and highlight concerns or just say, ‘Hey, you’re at 95%. Well done.’”
Although they knew about Driver Login, staff use of the feature was inconsistent and aimed more at driver safety than job or cost tracking. “Now, instead of reporting based on the vehicle, we’re reporting based on the drivers, so it’s a lot more accurate.”
With driver visibility, Graham can contact operators to counsel or congratulate them and talk through how they’ve actually improved. Without Driver Login, you would see only vehicle numbers, which makes investigating incidents difficult, as multiple people may use a vehicle on any given day.
The leadership team communicates with staff weekly about the company’s safety culture and makes the employee part of the conversation. “We ask them, do they actually believe in our health and safety vision?” to make sure we’re not just ticking boxes.
“When we’ve had tsunami warnings, we’ve been able to send fleet-wide EROAD alerts.” And isolate individual vehicles: “If you see someone doing something they shouldn’t or something they’ve done really well, you can send a text straight to that vehicle.”
While they keep an eye on driver behaviour, praise is far more common than performance management: “If they go through a month and they’ve only had one minor overspeed, we’ll make a point of saying, ‘Keep up the good work’ – it’s all about being positive and looking at the wins we can get from EROAD”
They’re also in the early days of beta-testing Power BI, which Graham says makes it easy for the team to gather and analyse data. Sue from their BI Team has found the EROAD API user friendly and has created some very nice Power BI reports as a result.
“You can mix information from multiple systems to get the result you want. Instead of having to run separate reports, we’re merging EROAD data with our other fleet data in a single report.”
In fact, they’re building a report on sustainability right now, looking at travel distances, vehicle types and idle time trends all in one place. “We’re also tracking our EV hours and kilometres in a multi-month report so you can see trends.”
As a service provider to councils, who now give preference to sustainable contractors, Recreational Services has an “EV first” fleet replacement policy. “Any fossil fuel vehicle we replace, we’ll always see if there’s an EV alternative. If there isn’t, we try to get a hybrid or something that offers better fuel efficiency.”
While the goal is to promote increased EV acquisition and utilisation, unfortunately, the current market limits what they can do. “Most of our fleet are utes and there are no viable alternatives. We’ve got a lot of midsized trucks as well, and there’s nothing in the EV market.” They are, however, staying in close contact with all the major suppliers: “As soon as something comes out, we’ll grab those, drop them in, and track them through EROAD.”
Improving driver safety company-wide has been the biggest benefit of all “The leader boards have been one of the biggest things for us in EROAD.”
With drivers and managers actively monitoring and discussing performance, high-level overspeeds have dropped 90%. And when events do occur, Graham says there’s often a justifiable reason, such as suddenly changing speed zones, 95% of the time. “We get virtually no lead-footed drivers now. It’s a phenomenal change and a great reflection on how our team has brought into EROAD.”
As a knock-on effect, their fuel economy is vastly improved as well. Noting a 7% reduction in fuel consumption since EROAD was deployed.
“We’ve had a huge change because, obviously, staff are driving more carefully.” With that type of fuel savings, does EROAD more than pay for itself? “It’s like any system: You’ve got to use it to get those savings. But, absolutely, yeah.”
For Recreational Services, the biggest benefit is ease of use. “Our managers are busy. They don’t have time to muck around building reports. Now they can just click on an icon to generate a report or even schedule a report.”
He also appreciates how easy it is for drivers to pick up their daily overspeed report, which they can also receive by email every Monday. “It gives them access without having to look into the system too hard.”
EROAD’s usability is further enhanced by the team’s responsive customer service: “They’re always quick to get things fixed for us and they listen. They’re very proactive and good to engage with.”