What is Telematics for Fleet Truck Management?

Fleet telematics. What can telematics do that benefits me as a fleet manager and helps my company’s bottom line? The Internet of Things (IoT) has allowed fleet managers to remotely monitor and track a whole host of data such as driver behavior, vehicle location, and mechanical performance.

Telematics is defined as using GPS and vehicle sensors to transmit information over long distances. Telematics combines telecommunications and informatics using computers and wireless cell or geostationary satellite communications technologies. Fleet telematics allows fleet managers to track their vehicles and other assets, as well as monitor functions such as speed, location, engine health, tire conditions and other variables. This is done by connecting vehicle and equipment ECM’s (Electronic Control Modules) to transmitting hardware and software that is readable by a fleet manager.

The communications technology used is 802.11, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) standard. Telematics is also referred to as WAVE (Wireless Access for the Vehicular Environment).

What Vehicles Use Telematics?

Telematics can be used to manage fleets of cars, buses, vans, medium trucks, over-the-road heavy trucks, trailers of all kinds including refrigerated trucks (reefers), marine shipping containers, off-road heavy equipment, and auxiliary equipment such as generators, mobile electronic signs or any large business equipment that can be moved.

What Does Fleet Telematics Do for Fleet Management?

Fleet telematics devices and software can help a fleet manager to :

  •       Mitigate additional contracting expenses
  •       Save time on conducting market research
  •       Reduce risky driving behaviors
  •       Comply with Electronic Logging Data (ELD) and Federal Automotive Statistical Tool (FAST) reporting requirements

The benefits of telematics to your fleet are that it makes your fleet more efficient, helps with government rules compliance, productivity, and safety. Most systems have expandability which future-proofs your investment.

Vehicle and accessory tracking monitor the location, movements, status and behavior of a vehicle or fleet of vehicles, including marine shipping containers. This is done by placing a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite (GNSS) receiver and an electronic device – usually comprising a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) modem or SMS (Short Message Service or texting) sender on your vehicle or assets such as generators, off-road heavy equipment, and trailer chassis. PC-based or Web (Internet) software takes this data and arranges it into an understandable format in a graphical dashboard that a fleet manager can see on any device.

Interesting Fact:

GPS tracking is usually accurate to around 10–20 meters (32.8 – 65.6 feet), but the European Space Agency has developed the EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) technology to provide accuracy to 1.5 meters (4.92 feet). 

Are you ready to learn more? Talk to a Fleet Advisor today.

What Does Fleet Telematics Monitor?

Location

Basic telematics can tell you where your trailer and its cargo are. Are they following the map directions that you stipulated at the beginning of the trip (the optimized route), or are they off course? If not you have decisions to make.

Speed

Telematics measures the speed at which a trailer or container is moving down the road. Excessive speed could be a sign that your trailer is in danger.

Temperature

The environment inside a refrigerated truck is critical for preserving the food and perishables that are inside of it. This can be critical for foods such as fish or medical supplies such as vaccines. Other temperature-sensitive goods such as electronics also need to be monitored. Telematics measure temperature and alert the fleet manager automatically.

Humidity

The humidity in climate-controlled containers and trailers is critical for goods such as electronics. Telematics measures humidity and can alert a fleet manager when limits are exceeded.

G-Forces

Rough handling of your cargo – from eggs to fragile electronics – is not acceptable. Fleet telematics can monitor the G-forces (gravitational force equivalent or gravity weight) your cargo is subjected to and alert you when things get too rough. You can then contact your shipper or even the driver and find out what is going on.

Axle Load

Each trailer has an upper limit of how much weight it can carry and this affects what the wheel axles can bear. Load limits are checked by truck weigh stations and may vary by road and by state. If a trailer is overweight then the fines that are levied for that could really affect your company’s bottom line. Knowing the axle load saves money.

Electronic Braking System

One option with a fleet telematics system is to monitor the EBS (Electronic Braking System) on a trailer. If the EBS is suddenly engaged you know that the driver had to make an emergency stop. Did this affect the load of cargo in the trailer? Could the sudden stop have damaged what the boxes contain? That is certainly something for a manager to follow up on.

Alerts, Reporting and Driver Safety

You can customize and automate reports and event-triggered alerts that notify a fleet manager that a truck has been involved in an accident, or that the driver is exceeding the speed limit, among other events. You can even integrate fuel cards to monitor spending. Telematics allows for vehicle health features like diagnostic reports, maintenance schedules, fuel performance reports and integrated fuel cards. You can check in on brakes, coolant, cruise control, ignition, oil pressure and other important issues.

Set Boundaries and Control Fleet Risk Management

Telematics can create what are called geofence boundaries. The fleet manager can tell the system to alert him or her when a vehicle or asset strays beyond a certain distance from home base. This helps in reducing the reaction time to possible thefts. Geofencing is customizable, invisible and reliable. With this dynamic tool, you can not only monitor your fleet’s whereabouts 24/7 but also maintain control of locations you’ve set as off-limits to your drivers. This safety feature cuts down on unauthorized use of company vehicles.

Arrival ETA’s

Another metric that is important to fleet managers and customers alike are ETA’s (estimated time of arrival) of the vehicle. Fleet management technology can transmit the time and date that a package or large delivery has been made. This saves the fleet manager time by eliminating the need for customers to call questioning the location of their goods.

All of this data and more help you create an audit trail that helps with customer relations, planning your budget, and creates actionable data for all levels in your company. There are other hardware and software modules that read additional metrics such as driver safety, performance, fuel usage, vehicle health and route optimization which are triggered through plug-and-play devices that can be added to your fleet telematics system.

History of How Telematics Came To Exist

The United States military created telematics in the 1960s. It combined telecommunications (a signal from a vehicle) with information processing (computers) to connect the Internet (also created by the U.S. military), GPS, and machine-to-machine communication.

The AEMP (Association of Equipment Management Professionals) brought together private commercial stakeholders such as Caterpillar, Volvo, Komatsu and John Deer in 2008 to discuss and plan the world’s first telematics data standard. Prior attempts by others starting in 2000 to use cellular data communication connecting vehicles and assets to fleet management failed.

A standards development subcommittee studied the matter through September 2010. The final product was the AEMP Telematics Data Standard V1.1. OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and their customers were quickly sold on telematics.

“Prior to the standard, end-users had few options for integrating this data into their reporting systems in a mixed-fleet environment consisting of multiple brands of machines and a mix of telematics-equipped machines and legacy machines.

Increase Your Market Competitiveness

Your competitors are using GPS, telematics and fleet management solutions right now. So why aren’t you? Is it the cost? Statistics show that asset tracking adds to the bottom line. ROI (Return On Investment) increases after the implementation of integrated fleet management systems. Across the telematics industry, fleet managers are finding that on average their companies achieve ROI between 3 to 6 months of installing the technology.

With the overwhelming majority of fleet managers integrating telematics systems into their fleet, those who have not soon realize that they are losing their competitive edge in markets where other companies are successfully implementing telematics.

How Do You Start Using Telematics For Your Fleet?

Contrast and compare the services of multiple telematics vendors. The important thing is to not start with cost because there are so many variables and offerings by competing vendors.

10 Basic Questions To Ask A Telematics Fleet Management Systems Vendor:

1) Get a detailed presentation on the data that a given fleet telematics system monitors.

2)   Does the vendor offer a visual dashboard with all of the data visible in one place? How easy is it to navigate?

3) What kind of training is offered and is there a cost? Some vendors do not charge for training.

4) Can your technicians self-install the hardware and make the necessary connections to the vehicle’s systems, or does the vendor do this for you? A few vendors charge nothing for installation.

5) What is the refresh rate of the vendor’s hardware? How often does the data update to the dashboard? Does the data refresh in “real-time” or every minute?

6) Does the vendor’s hardware have an open API that allow your vehicles’ ECM’s to integrate with other platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud, Google Maps, Fleetio, ServiceTitan, ProMiles, and LTE technology?

7) How will you be charged for telematics services? By the month, quarter or another way? Does the vendor charge a cancellation fee if you temporarily pause or cancel a telematics subscription?

8) Is there a contract and what are its terms?

9) Is there a lifetime guarantee on hardware?

10) What is the company’s record on customer service? Are you charged per call or is this included in the pricing?

Another important matter is the legality of telematics systems and the management of the data that they collect. For instance, some states prohibit dashcams or video recording of a driver without their consent. 

In an economy where everyone is looking to boost their productivity in order to get ahead, it is vital for you to invest in smart fleet management solutions. Using these will enable you to lower costs on fuel, cut back on unnecessary repairs, and eliminate inefficient driver routes. This is an easy decision to make by using the right vendor.

If you’d like to learn more about how GPS Trackit can help to improve safety, increase productivity and reduce costs for your business, speak with one of our knowledgeable Fleet Advisors at 866-320-5810 or get a quick Custom Quote.