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How to take advantage of telematics for your fleet

By Julie White November 30, 2021

What is telematics?

It’s actually a convergence of telecommunications and information processing — telecommunication meets informatics. The data captured by a telematics system can include vehicle location, speed, idling time, harsh acceleration or braking, fuel consumption, vehicle faults and more. 

How can organizations take advantage of all that telematics can offer? 

The data analyzed can show events and patterns that provide in-depth insights across the entire fleet, helping you better understand how to improve efficiency, driver performance and fuel consumption, all while lowering overall operating costs.

The benefits of telematics technology

With the right telematics system, fleet owners can monitor their entire fleet of vehicles, regardless of their location, and have access to an entire dashboard of near real-time updates directly from a computer or mobile app. This visibility into the fleet allows supervisors to react quickly to incidents like hard braking, harsh cornering, and idling, and to put into place proactive solutions that help maintain vehicle performance and operational efficiency at a high level.

Thanks to telematics solutions, fleet managers can have increased oversight of their drivers without becoming overly invasive or micromanaging them. Vehicle monitoring helps to prioritize driver safety, which can lead to a decrease in moving violations. By reducing the risk of accidents and violations, fleet telematics can potentially lower insurance premiums, in addition to creating better driving habits on the road.

Streamlining dispatching and optimizing routes

Your fleet is a representation of your company, and the behavior of your drivers reflects on you. That's why it's so important that drivers behave appropriately behind the wheel. With increased oversight into driving behavior, managers and business owners can rest easier knowing that they are informed about their drivers’ behavior and fleet vehicle activity.

With routing optimization, fleet managers have access to details about where their vehicles are and where they’re headed. This way managers and business owners are able to send the closest vehicle via the most direct route to the destination. As a result of more efficient dispatching, businesses reduce the number of miles driven and prevent unnecessary wear and tear. When trucks can cut down on mileage, fleet owners may be able to save on fuel costs and potentially extend the life of their vehicles.

Improving fleet maintenance

There are two kinds of maintenance — planned and unplanned. Telematics can help with both. Telematics automates the tracking of vehicle maintenance and allows fleet managers to schedule planned maintenance activities at a time that has the least impact on productive work.

Alerts can be scheduled to perform regular maintenance activities, and fleet managers can proactively track vehicle health in near real time around oil temperatures, fluid levels, tire pressure, the presence of water in diesel and more. In this way, problems can often be diagnosed before a more expensive situation occurs.

Telematics can also signal when a vehicle issue arises outside of planned maintenance, and alerts can be sent to warn if a vehicle is operating outside of usual parameters.

Right-sizing fuel consumption

Fuel is one of the largest fleet operating expenses. With a telematics solution, fleet managers can gain detailed insight and visibility into a number of key areas that have a big impact on fuel use.

  • Speeding: According to fueleconomy.gov at the time of publication, every 5 mph driven over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon of fuel.1 That adds up quickly when you multiply that by any size fleet over the course of the year.
  • Idling: Unproductive idling is another gas guzzler. According to fueleconomy.gov, “Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner (AC) use.”1
  • Tire pressure: According to fueleconomy.gov, “Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires.”2

Unauthorized use: Unauthorized vehicle use equals unauthorized fuel use. Corporate fuel cards can be tied to specific vehicles via telematics to identify if a fuel card has been used without an accompanying work vehicle.

Improving ELD compliance 

There are a number of compliance mandates that can impact fleet operations. Telematics can help fleets simplify compliance, including around the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.

Hours of service (HOS) reporting requires drivers to keep track of, and drive within, certain time limits. The ELD mandate was put forth by Congress, and the ELD final rule was created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help reduce HOS errors and improve the overall logging of hours. Using an FMCSA-approved ELD device in conjunction with fleet tracking technology can help improve fleet performance.

Increasing fleet visibility with integrated dashcams 

For fleets, dashcams can be particularly useful in promoting safety and protecting a company’s bottom line. When integrated into an overall telematics solution, the benefits multiply. In particular, integrated video for fleet dashcams can help:

  • Clarify context around a harsh driving event or accident
  • Provide video evidence to thwart false claims
  • Provide a record of weather events and driver surroundings
  • Let fleet managers know if an event was a near miss or actual collision 
  • Provide footage to use for ongoing safety and driver training 

Weighing the cost of telematics

Is a telematics solution expensive? It depends on the solution. Bare-bones GPS tracking on a map is a relatively cheap option but provides very little actionable insight. Coupling a fully integrated telematics solution with other technologies such as ELDs, dashcams, smart route planning, and advanced driver management costs more up front but provides a much bigger ROI. 

Better fleet visibility helps managers take stock of what a fleet has and how it’s being used. Customizable dashboards can make it easy to review progress toward KPIs or budgets, with near real-time fleet analytics provided by the fleet tracking system. In the long term, GPS fleet tracking can help uncover hidden costs while revealing potential for greater productivity and efficiency throughout an entire organization, making it well worth the investment.

To learn more about how telematics can help you achieve your fleet optimization goals, download our eBook What is Telematics?

1 https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/driveHabits.jsp

2 https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/maintain.jsp

Julie White

Julie is an experienced product management professional with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry in a variety of customer-facing and technical roles. She is skilled in product management, business analysis, product ownership, enabling sales and customer support management.

Tags: Cost control, Customer Service, Routing

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