What Are "Telematics"?
Fleetmatics.com defines Telematics as "any integrated use of telecommunications with information and communications technology. It is the technology of sending, receiving and storing information relating to remote objects – like vehicles – via telecommunication devices". This is often achieved through a combination of a GPS receiver and an electronic GSM device that use software to communicate vehicle data to another location.
So what information can telematics technology track and relay? According to Telematics.com, here are some of the most common types of data tracked by fleets:
Driving Patterns – These can be tracked to ensure that each driver is driving to optimum standards and fuel efficiency. It will also expose dangerous or careless drivers.
Traffic And Congestion – By becoming aware of traffic delays and congestion, fleet controllers can give updates on delays to customers and maintain deadlines.
Geofencing – This can make sure that fleet drivers keep to selected areas and routes which are chosen for their efficiency. If a driver veers off from the route, the fleet controller will be alerted and can contact the driver.
CO2 Emissions – These can be monitored to ensure they comply with governmental standards.
Servicing and Maintenance – You can plan your servicing and general upkeep of fleet vehicles by having specific data as to their exact mileage and usage.
Telematics Mapping – this allows you to replay a drivers movements and driving as if you were the driver, noting speed, braking and idling habits.
Benefits of Fleet Telematics
Fleets' desire for increased efficiency has fueled advances in telematics technology. Some of the most common objectives cited for its use include:
•Reduced Fuel Costs
•Improved Customer Service
•Increased Fleet Safety & Security
•Reduced Operating Expenses
•Preventing Unauthorized Vehicle Use
Some notable case studies that help demonstrate these claims include the UPS claim it reduced its preventative maintenance by 50% over five years, while increasing the reliability of its vehicles. Or how Toromont CAT reported that telematics helped to increase its fleet size by about 18% while the company's fuel expenditures dropped 4%, despite the cost of fuel rising that year by 22%.
But What Are The Challenges?
But what about the downsides? One of the biggest issues in regards to implementing telematics into commercial vehicle operation is fleet resistance, arguing that such high-tech tracking mechanisms invade privacy and encourage companies to micro-manage employees. To help counteract this attitude, many experts agree that employee communication is the most important tool to help get them on board. According to Matt Curtis of TomTom Business Solutions, "today's drivers have a lot to keep track of, and any tool that helps them do so more safely is welcome once it is understood".
But how to do that? We will explore this topic in more depth in our next blog post about Transparency in Implementing Fleet Telematics Solutions, to be published later this week.