What if you could wave a magic wand and get rid of all the things that slow down your fleet. The things that make your drivers work harder and longer and cut into your company’s profits? Imagine rolling a truck into a repair bay before a tire blows out or the brakes fail. Imagine drivers being automatically guided to the most affordable fuel and best route. Imagine if the industry didn’t have to spend 51 million hours a year reviewing and storing paper logbooks. These and similar problems can take a serious bite out ofproductivity and profits. Fleet telematics is becoming the go-to solution for these and a host of other fleet-management challenges.
Telematics: A Definition
Telematics is simply an information system that tells people how well their machines and drivers are working. The system is usually comprised of GPS tracking, communications systems between driver and dispatch, sensors & diagnostics to monitor vehicle performance, on-board safety systems, cameras to relay road conditions, and wireless network connectivity to enable dispatchers and drivers to respond to real-time weather, road conditions, and vehicle systems.
Depending on a number of factors, companies can implement fleet telematics either by purchasing hardware and/or software directly from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or from a third-party provider. As with so many technologies that can be cloud-enabled, implementation can be surprisingly affordable since it requires very little capital expense and the system itself can be acquired via subscription model. For such low CapEx and OpEx, you can get significant returns on efficiency, driver satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and profitability.
Good News For Drivers
Telematics can deliver value in two ways. First, on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis, it can provide the kind of real-time information that can serve customers faster, safer, for less money, with fewer hours on the road. Across the fleet, telematics data can improve routing, alert the company to recurring equipment issues, and provide data on individual driver’s habits.
For drivers, operating equipment fitted with telematics can mean everything from safer and less time on the road, to reduction in unanticipated equipment failures and more efficient use of fuel. Some drivers may understandably balk at the idea of having their work monitored, but when the end goal is to improve efficiency, safety, and profitability, all parties benefit by the results.
A driver’s ability to control his or her daily routines is a major indicator of job satisfaction. Telematics enable drivers to see how much longer they have left on their route, better coordinate future runs with dispatcher, and have a measure of comfort knowing that their vehicle’s mechanical and electrical systems are being monitored to prevent time-delaying repairs and potential accidents en route.
With digital tracking in place, drivers no longer have to spend so much time updating their logs and doing other paperwork. And they can rest assured knowing the company has their back should they run into trouble and be unable to communicate with dispatch.
Good News For Companies, Too
Companies that use telematics to monitor individual vehicles are better able to maximize that vehicle’s efficiency and longevity. When they aggregate telematics data, they can optimize the productivity of an entire fleet and potentially delay or remove the need to purchase additional stock.
Companies can reduce operating costs by using telematics data to educate drivers about the expense and risks of unnecessary idling, speeding, braking, and failing to use seat belts. They can provide drivers with real-time coaching, and work with drivers to avoid unsafe driving, weather, or road conditions that could lead to more accidents and insurance rate increases.
Good Data Promotes Private Profits And Public Good
Telematics can increase safety, efficiency, and profitability by fully generating data that can help companies gain a deeper understanding of the key elements of a single truck route:
- The driver’s behavior
- The route
- The needs of the load
- The condition of the vehicle
- The weather, and
- What is actually happening on the road
Now multiply that times all of the vehicles in a fleet and all the fleets sharing the road. Telematics can lead to significant savings in equipment costs, fuel, and customer and driver satisfaction. It can help companies and governments learn about the specific behaviors and roadways that play an outsized role in injuries to drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and other vehicle operators.
We are now firmly inside the Internet of Things, in which devices communicate more and more with each other. The days of an individual toaster or front door or a very expensive tractor-trailer operating in a vacuum are over. Connectivity is the watchword for the 21st Century. And why not? As long as companies remain sensitive about balancing the need for privacy with the drive toward efficiency, the data available through the use of telematics can make everyone’s life easier and safer. Imagine that!