At around 47,000 square kilometres, Paroo Shire Council in southern Queensland is a remote jurisdiction covering a massive area. The population, centred on the town of Cunnamulla, numbers around 1900.
Like all local government jurisdictions, Paroo struggled with its limited resources to provide maximum benefits to ratepayers. It was for this reason, along with key occupational health and safety needs, that the Shire embraced GPS-based vehicle tracking.
“We operate around 65 discrete items of light and heavy plant,” says Chris Cowley, chief executive of Paroo Shire Council. “It’s a combination of passenger vehicles, graders, trucks and earth moving equipment.”
Cowley says the need to bring Paroo’s fleet management into the 21st century had always been in the back of his mind. The Shire’s workforce operates in a highly dispersed geographic location where it needs to derive maximum benefit from the Shire’s equipment.
“The challenges we had were twofold,” he says. “Firstly, there were the occupational health and safety aspects of where our staff operate, and secondly we had to ensure we were getting the most out of our operational efficiencies.”
The challenges we had were twofold. Firstly, there were the occupational health and safety aspects of where our staff operate, and secondly we had to ensure we were getting the most out of our operational efficiencies.– Chris Cowley, chief executive, Paroo Shire Council
Finding a solution
Paroo signed an agreement with Telstra that involved the installation of Navman Wireless GPS Fleet Management and Tracking Solutions along with vehicle state monitoring in all its vehicles and plant. The equipment reports back to base using Telstra’s 3G or 4G mobile phone networks, depending on what is available at the time.
Nominated staff within the Paroo Shire were also trained and certified to manage and maintain the wireless tracking solution. This added bonus meant installation of all Navman Wireless systems occurred in-house with minimum demand for remote technical support. Additionally, this has resulted in in increased operational efficiency and ongoing internal support.
The result of this was twofold; a fast installation process; and increased operational efficiency around ongoing support.
Paroo Shire Council can now monitor vehicle speed, idling time, the distance travelled in a day and several other parameters, including geofencing, which lets managers know if a vehicle has left a certain area.
Benefits for the community
Cowley says the telecommunications infrastructure has had an immediate impact on the way the Shire’s plant and vehicles are used. “The experience has been positive, and it has changed staff behaviour,” he says.
“Sometimes staff would leave a vehicle idling all day so the air conditioning was always on. We noticed an immediate drop in idling time once the equipment was installed.”
The drop in idling time has led to reduced fuel costs and lower wear and tear on the vehicles and plant.
Safety is also important given how large the Shire is. Cowley gives an example of a piece of plant in a remote location that had not been returned at the end of the day. “We were able to press a button and see it was 10 minutes out of town so we could notify the families and also know the staff member was safe.”
The next step for Paroo Shire is to link the data generated by the plant to its job-costing systems. “This will give us accurate costing inputs, rather than operator estimates,” Cowley says. “We will take that step in the next six months.”
Ask your Telstra Account Executive how your Council can adopt Navman Wireless, like Paroo Shire Council, to do safer and better business for your community and workforce.