Simplytrak’s all-in-one approach to connected fleet solutions

Founded in 2005, Yorkshire-based Simplytrak’s fleet management and connected services solutions have been used to optimise the operations of many customers globally. Founder and director Andrew Johnson and managing director Ian Wood spoke to Natalie Middleton from Fleet World magazine about its continually evolving solutions and latest innovations to support fleets.

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Founded in 2005, Yorkshire-based Simplytrak’s fleet management and connected services solutions have been used to optimise the operations of many customers globally.

Founder and director Andrew Johnson and managing director Ian Wood spoke to Natalie Middleton from Fleet World magazine about its continually evolving solutions and latest innovations to support fleets.

Operating from a small village in East Yorkshire and serving clients globally, this telematics company has been creating intelligent and innovative solutions for fleet managers for almost 20 years now. In the UK alone, clients include Ticketmaster, Wickes, Amazon Delivery Service Partner ATA Couriers and Practical Car and Van Hire, as well as regional Yorkshire organisations, such as Hull City Council.

During Simplytrak’s time in business, the face of the fleet sector has changed dramatically; from the types of vehicles run through to the operational nature of fleets, particularly driven by the pandemic.

A pioneer in providing safety solutions with remote immobilisation-based technologies and camera telematics to increase vehicle and driver security, Simplytrak’s latest innovation has been designed in partnership with the world’s largest courier operator.

Intended to put an end to opportunist and organised vehicle theft, the company recently launched its latest innovation, SimplySecure. Developed by a team of vehicle security and telematics experts on the back of the success of Simplytrak’s remote immobilisation solution, SimplySecure not only ‘auto-immobilises’ a driver’s vehicle but also educates the driver to remove the keys from the ignition every single time, eliminating the risk of theft and avoiding negated insurance claims.

“Artificial Intelligence and Machine-to-Machine Learning have been such buzzwords in our industry for some time now. With SimplySecure, we are implementing these concepts in one solution,” explains Ian Wood, who joined the company in 2015 as business development manager and became managing director in 2019. “Our team has developed a system that talks to the vehicle, enabling it to make its own decision as to whether the vehicle is immobilised.”

Explaining the background to the solution, Wood continues: “We were approached by one of the largest courier companies in the world, which was expanding rapidly – not least due to the first Covid-19 lockdown. They were looking at securing their vehicles when delivering parcels. We were asked to build on our existing security system specialising in the remote immobilisation of vehicles. Now we’ve gone down the route of talking to the vehicle’s own OEM system and integrating it with our tracking systems – using the machine’s artificial intelligence. Not only is SimplySecure a security and driver training device, it can provide all the other features a tracking system does such as monitoring fuel spend and mileage as well as geo-fencing.”

Wood says being a driver training tool makes SimplySecure relevant for fleet managers across industries by enabling them to create accurate risk profiles; both for entire fleets as well as individual drivers.

“In our client’s case, vehicles are generally stolen because drivers have a certain length of time to drop parcels off and they leave the engines running and the keys in the ignition. What our system does is, as soon as the driver opens the door, it immobilises the vehicle, whether or not the keys are left in the ignition or not to secure it. The driver then has to contact the head office to reset the vehicle.”

It’s a rapidly expanding area too, as the pandemic puts the focus on home shopping and an increased need for home deliveries.

A specialist approach for mixed fleets

Another area of specialism is van operators with mixed fleets, where relying on the data from the OEM’s own connected system becomes more complicated as operators have to integrate vehicles from different makes.

Andrew Johnson, who founded Simplytrak almost 20 years ago, says: “Most companies out there will have mixed fleets. And don’t want six different monitoring systems to monitor them. What they need is one system that monitors everything, so this is another area where we excel in.”

A further development that the company is working on will bring a solution to the fast-growing number of van fleets turning to electric vehicles.

Johnson outlines: “As electric vehicles come into the mainstream and companies start including them on their fleets, the drivers are going to need to take them home and charge them overnight.

“Now obviously they’re going to have to refund the electricity used at home, so our system will monitor how much electricity has been put into the vehicle so that companies can reimburse the drivers correctly.

An all-in-one solution

Regardless of what fleet managers are looking for, from basic tracking to cameras, immobilisation, and security, Simplytrak says one of its main USPs is that it can offer it all.

The business has a dedicated team of software and hardware integrators that address the requirements of more niche and specialist customers, creating bespoke solutions.

Ian Wood explains: “The good thing with Simplytrak is that we can build around our bespoke system, from a standard tracking system to a complete system built around a fleet’s needs.

“For many fleets, if they want a Direct Vision Standard (DVS) system for instance, they’ll go to a certain company to supply that. If they want a camera solution, they’ll go to another company. The same for a security solution.

“Simplytrak can offer all of that from one platform. For instance, one of our largest clients has an immobilisation solution for driver ID; meaning before a driver can start the vehicle, they have to tap a dedicated key fob, which means that drivers can be restricted to which vehicles they can or cannot drive. They also receive remote tachograph information and have a full 360-degree camera solution to meet the requirements of London’s DVS.”

Johnson adds: “Thanks to our built-in system, all our solutions are connected. If a fleet has our camera solutions, they can access the data and footage through our platform. Regardless of what a fleet adds to our system, it all goes through that one single platform. So, you can now see what the driver is seeing from dashboard data to what the driver is actually seeing through the windscreen and to the rear.”

You can read the Fleet World article here.

Every year, our group of companies Forward & Thinking, Simplytrak and Wold Outdoor, known as SAAS Global, come together and choose a charity to support with fundraising and activities for twelve months. This year, after a team vote, we decided to support Andy’s Man Club.

Andy’s Man Club was founded after Andrew Roberts sadly took his own life aged 23 in early 2016. After looking deeper into into male suicide and men’s mental health, his mum Elaine Roberts and brother in law Luke Ambler discovered that male suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50, and founded the charity in Andrew’s name. 

Their aim is to reduce the stigma surrounding men’s mental health and create an environment where they can get together and discuss their mental health without fear of judgement. The groups are volunteer-led, with the vast majority of group facilitators having first interacted with Andy’s Man Club when they came through the door as a service user. Six years later, the club now has almost 100 clubs across the UK! 

“I voted for Andy’s Man Club because I think it’s so important to break the stigma surrounding men’s mental health and encourage men to talk openly about their feelings”, says Patrick Hewitt, Business Development Manager, Simplytrak.

Paul Longley from Andy’s Man Club in Hull joined us in our office for an insightful talk about the incredible work that the charity does. Paul spoke about his own experience with the charity, discussing how attending the club helped him with his own personal struggles. 

“Listening to Paul’s own experience and how Andy’s Man Club supported him, really shows how important it is for initiatives like this to exist,” says Georgia Hall, Designer, SAAS Global.

“Paul’s talk was great, it was interesting to hear about how the club was formed. I will definitely be spreading the word about Andy’s Man Club and the amazing work they do to save lives every day. I’m really happy we voted for them to be our chosen charity of the year,” Chloe Cordell, Media Assistant, Forward & Thinking.

Paul Longley spoke about how the money donated to the charity is used: 

“All the money raised for Andy’s Man Club goes towards opening new clubs in different towns and cities, meaning every donation helps to save a life. Supporting us is not just about raising money, spreading awareness is the most important. Awareness of our clubs shows anybody out there struggling that there is somebody to help.”

Paul spoke about the club’s initial six questions that they ask the group at the beginning of a session: 

  1. What’s your name and a positive reason for why you’re here? 
  2. How’s your week been? 
  3. What’s been your highlight of the week? 
  4. Do you have anything to get off your chest? 

The first four questions are always the same and questions five and six are always different. For the last two questions, the club like to focus on something positive, such as, “What positive thing are you going to do for someone else or for yourself this week?”. This approach ensures that group members feel positive about their time at the club, and gives them something to look forward to. 

Along with the in-person clubs, Andy’s Man Club also offers online support. This is to ensure that anybody struggling with their mental health has access to help, not only those who are able to attend a club. 

To learn more about the amazing charity, or to join one of their groups visit https://andysmanclub.co.uk/

We’ve got lots of fundraising activities planned for this year, keep up to date on our social media pages to see what we’re getting up to! 

Hey Sean, welcome to the Simplytrak team! 

1. Firstly, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? 

I’ve had around 30 years of experience in the commercial vehicle industry with a focus on selling specialist equipment for fleets such as cameras, sensors and weighing systems. 

2. What attracted you to the role and made you want to come and work at Simplytrak?

After meeting with Ian and Darren I knew that I wanted to work at Simplytrak as it seemed like a really great company. Simplytrak was founded almost twenty years ago and it keeps evolving its solutions. I’m really excited to be here and to get started! 

3. So, what does your role at Simplytrak consist of? 

Simple fact is to get out there and shout about our amazing solutions! Let me use this opportunity to shout about our latest innovation, SimplySecure – we’ve only gone and developed a solution to make opportunist vehicle theft a thing of the past! Simplytrak developed this solution with the largest courier company in the world, to help them secure their vans and goods as well as to train their delivery drivers to keep their vehicles as safe as possible. 

4. What is a problem in the industry that you want to fix? 

Vehicle theft is a big one. Over the last few years van theft has risen by around 45% in the UK. With our solution SimplySecure, we can bring that figure down. 

SimplySecure adds massive benefits to a fleet of vehicles. Especially delivery drivers. They’re out of the van, leaving the engine running and door open at times just to get their parcels delivered as quickly as possible. I know Amazon have had instances where vans have been stolen, losing thousands of pounds. SimplySecure will take that away completely. 

Protect the goods inside, protect the driver, protect the assets and the van itself. 

5. What do you like so far about working at Simplytrak? 

Simplytrak is a great company to work for, everyone is really nice and friendly and very helpful. There is a very relaxed, fun atmosphere in the office when you’re working. It’s just a really good company – nice, warm and engaging. 

6. What are you most looking forward to in your new role?  

I’m really looking forward to getting out, speaking to people and protecting vehicles with our amazing solutions! 

Thank you Sean! We can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store for us… 

The Market Weighton based company is fast growing its reputation for vehicle tracking and has impressed North Yorkshire’s Rural Crime Division by going above and beyond for a victim of theft.

The tracking systems earnt the respect of The North Yorkshire Rural Crime Division after the system was used to track and locate a recently stolen quad bike.

Sergeant Arfan Rahouf from the North Yorkshire Rural Task Force was involved in the vehicle recovery operation and he commended the tracking software after being impressed by Simplytrak’s speedy response and the softwares ability to pinpoint the stolen vehicles exact location. PC Arfan commented, “We received fantastic service from Simplytrak. The tracking kit enabled the team to locate, seize and recover the stolen quad within twenty-four hours.” 

Having previously been interviewed about rural vehicle crime, PC Rahouf commented that: “The problem with rural crime is it is not high enough up the agenda for people. If you take a quad bike from a farmer then that is their livelihood gone for a couple of days – if not weeks – until it can be retrieved or replaced and the impact of it is massive.” Since the introduction of the Rural Task Force over three years ago, rural crime has fallen, however PC Rahouf stated that, “The force has seen an increase in farm and agricultural theft, in particular quad bike thefts.” Which is where tracking and security systems come into play and can offer confidence to the rural community.

Talking about the incident and the systems capabilities, Ian Wood, Managing Director said: “Simplytrak supplies Platt Quads with the tracking system and software and in turn they supply vehicles to their network of customers with the added security of Simplytrak’s tracking systems. Having originally purchased a quad fitted with a tracker from Platt’s the vehicle was subsequently re-sold to a private customer and the system was later disabled. Unfortunately for the new owner, the vehicle was recently stolen and North Yorkshire Rural Crime Division contacted Simplytrak to enquire about the original tracking system installed and ascertain whether it could be reinstated. We quickly confirmed that we were able to reactivate the system to track the stolen bike and reacted quickly to the Police request. By re-enabling the tracker we were able to direct the police to the exact location of the stolen vehicle, where they were able to recover it quickly.” 

Ian goes on to say, “The tracker demonstrated its capabilities perfectly and impressed both the Officers involved in the quad’s recovery and the private owner – who has now purchased the system for the rest of their fleet of vehicles. Rural vehicle crime is on the rise and it’s great to know our system can support prevention and help to minimise crime by supporting tracking and vehicle retrieval which hopefully leads to subsequent criminal proceedings. In the past few years we have helped the police on a number of occasions and often finding one stolen vehicle leads to the location of quite a few more.” 

The private owner Helen, who has since gone on to purchase a range of Simplytrak tracking kits said, “Without having the Simplytrak tracker installed on our quad bike, we would have faced huge costs plus the price rise on insurance and the total inconvenience of having to replace the equipment. Thanks to Simplytrak we recovered the quad bike within around 12 hours of it being stolen.”

Helen explained: “The yard break-in was frighteningly well-organised, we believe the thieves used drones to stake out the area and plan entry and exit points in advance. Within a 15 minute window they had cut down our fences, broken into our shed and wheeled the quad to a waiting horse trailer before making a quick getaway. We reported the crime to the Police but with no officers immediately available, or clues to go off it was looking incredibly unlikely that we would recover the quad. We remembered that the previous owner had a tracker fitted but we hadn’t re-activated it in our name.The next morning we were able to get Simplytrak’s details from the previous owner, and pass these on to the Police. Simplytrak immediately accessed the tracker and within a matter of minutes told the Police it’s precise location. Officers were able to recover the quad that same day.

We are so thrilled to have got our quad bike back. Recovery would not have been possible without Simplytrak. We have already re-registered the tracker in our name and purchased several more units for all our other machines! We couldn’t be more grateful for the fantastic service from Simplytrak.”

Simplytrak’s vehicle tracking systems enable fleet management operators to drive down costs and improve efficiency. With capabilities including live turn-by-turn tracking, geofencing and alerts the tracking solution allows companies to know exactly where their vehicles are at all times. The modular system also offers immobilisation features and witness and/or security cameras to further increase vehicle and driver security.

The growing team at SAAS Global enjoyed an agency-wide day out at the horse races on Tuesday 21st September in recognition of their hard work and collective success over the last 18 months.

Staff from Forward & Thinking, Simplytrak and Wold Outdoor downed tools for the day to enjoy a team reward at Beverley Racecourse thanks to the Group’s Directors, husband and wife team Alison and Andrew Johnson.

The Johnson’s wanted to recognise and reward the team’s hard work over the past year and half. Talking about the staff social, Andrew said: “We wanted to say a big thank you for everybody’s hard work and to celebrate the Group’s success during such a challenging time. It’s important for us to show how much we think of every member of the team. The race day and Group-wide share option scheme are just two of a number of ways that we show our appreciation.” Andrew goes on to say: “Building a great company is hard. But if you have outperformers across the board then results are almost inevitable and deserve recognition”.

Alison added: “We had a fantastic company day out – it was wonderful to have everybody together again for a day of fun and laughter! Our pockets may have ended up empty and there were some sore feet and heads, but a great time was had by all.”

In total 23 members of staff attended the company day out swapping their workwear for horse racing finery. The team enjoyed a lavish meal and plenty of drinks as part of the racecourse’s hospitality package.

Lydia Empson, Content Producer (SAAS) commented: “After joining SAAS Global during lockdown, my first team event was definitely one to remember! It was lovely to see everybody together outside of the office.” 

Darren Clewes, Group Sales Director (SAAS), added: “We all enjoyed a superb day out with colleagues old and new. A really strong company culture is incredibly important and we do what we can to protect that at all costs. We’re successful because of the people we have and it’s great to be able to work and play together”.

SAAS Global’s sister companies have gone from strength to strength during lockdown, winning new clients and securing repeat and additional business alongside growing the teams by developing new roles and taking on new hires.

It looks like 2021 will be a record year for Forward & Thinking, Simplytrak and Wold Outdoor with projections indicating increasing profits for all of the companies.

Talking about the Group’s success Andrew said: “2020 was definitely the most challenging year since the 2008 financial crisis. However, our policy of hiring great candidates that possess the skills demanded by a role, but more importantly demonstrate the right attitude and culture fit has paid dividends across all teams. Every member of staff has been outstanding and we are coming out of lockdown much stronger than we went into it, not just financially but with personal and professional attainments under our belts.” 

Hi Patrick! Thanks for agreeing to take part in our blog. We can’t wait to hear about your time at the 2021 Fleet Summit. Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi, yes. I’m Patrick Hewitt. Simplytrak’s Business Development Manager. I’ve been with the Simplytrak team since April 2021.

So, tell us! How was your first ever Fleet Summit? Was it as expected?

It was actually better than expected! I had interesting conversations with everybody that visited the stand. You’re able to meet with direct potential customers – who want to do business with you, they’re looking for the solutions Simplytrak have. It was interesting.

The event was also really organised. The team did an amazing job ensuring both exhibitors and those visiting the stand were kept safe. So, well done to those guys!

During your time at the Fleet Summit, did you find the requirements of the fleet industry had changed due to the Pandemic?

Not necessarily. The world is continually evolving and therefore the telematics industry needs to too. The brilliant thing about Simplytrak is that we’re always two steps ahead. Always. Hence SimplySecure.

Ah, Simplytrak’s newest solution. Can you tell us more?

Sure! SimplySecure has been designed with the world’s largest courier operator. It’s the solution the courier industry has been searching for. Designed to prevent vehicle theft, SimplySecure stops the driver ever leaving the keys in the ignition. Whenever the driver’s door is opened with the keys in the ignition, the horn will sound, hazard lights will flash, and the vehicle is instantly immobilised. The vehicle cannot be stolen.

It’s something I would recommend to anybody in the courier industry.

It would be great to know what conversations you had during your time at the summit. Is there anything memorable you can share with us?

I had some really, really good conversations. G45 was particularly interesting. What they were looking for was completely niche. But something Simplytrak can nevertheless deliver. Quite honestly, all the conversations were interesting. I spoke to the likes of John Lewis, East Riding Council, Chichester District Council, Amey…the list goes on.

All were looking for a range of different solutions and features, but I found one of the biggest and unique selling points that Simplytrak were able to offer was our driver training feature on the Simplytrak Scorecard. We were able to show them how to save on their fuel consumption, create safer and better driving environments for their drivers etc. They all seemed to be very interested.

From the conversations had, how do you believe Simplytrak can help the fleet industry?

Trust in Simplytrak! Our solutions come with standard features that are anything but standard. We aren’t here just to track your assets. By partnering with Simplytrak, you’re protecting your future.

Interested in learning more about Simplytrak’s solutions? Download our July 2021 eBook here: