Technology such as telematics is perpetually changing and evolving, and this shift alters the way we perceive the world and how we do tasks that are both simple and complex.
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Twenty years ago, tracking your fleet vehicles consisted of recording mileage and depending on the honest nature of your drivers. Five years ago, we could invest in GPS trackers, but collecting the information required manual recording.
Today, telematics is taking that technology to the next level. So, what is telematics, and what are the benefits of installing it on modern fleet vehicles?
What Are Telematics?
Telematics is a swiftly evolving technology that uses GPS and onboard diagnostics to monitor fleet vehicles in real-time. You may also see it called fleet tracking or vehicle tracking, but they all describe the same thing.
Modern vehicles are already equipped with dozens of sensors, all controlled by a central computer. Until recently, accessing that information required specialized tools or a trip to the mechanic. Telematics gives fleet owners and operators all the tools they need to monitor the health and location of their vehicles from the comfort of their computer or mobile devices.
There are six primary components of your average telematics device, including:
- A receiver that connects to orbiting GPS satellites and tracks the vehicle’s location.
- Engine interface connecting the telematics device to the engine control module (ECM).
- An input/output interface in case you need to manually connect to the device for upgrades or to download data.
- A SIM card that allows the device to connect to mobile internet and cell phone networks to facilitate real-time monitoring of the fleet.
- An accelerometer to track the speed and acceleration of the vehicle.
- A buzzer to alert the driver if there are any issues that could affect vehicle performance.
Telematics works by collecting the massive amount of data that each vehicle generates, and sends it up to the cloud. From there, software algorithms can process the data and turn it into something usable for fleet management.
Maintaining Your Fleet
Everything we do behind the wheel affects the health of our vehicles. Heavy acceleration affects fuel economy. Harsh braking puts undue wear and tear on the brake pads. Idling for long periods burns up unnecessary fuel. Telematics lets you use all the information your fleet vehicle already generates to help monitor and maintain each car, truck, or van.
This technology is also beneficial for maintenance purposes. We’ve already mentioned the fleet of sensors on each vehicle that monitor everything from oil levels to temperature and tire pressure.
These sensors constantly collect data, even if they’re not throwing an alert or illuminating a warning light on your dashboard. You can see in real-time when a component starts to fail, or a vehicle needs to head into the shop. It can become an invaluable tool for preventive maintenance, making it easier to keep your fleet on the road and out of the shop.
In the long run, you can also use telematics to monitor your drivers and identify who might potentially cause a problem because of unsafe driving habits. Even if your driver doesn’t get into an accident, things like speeding, aggressive driving, or texting behind the wheel all increase their chances of an incident.
The telematics data you’re collecting can help you decide if extra training or corrective action is necessary to protect your fleet, your drivers, and others on the road. Insurance companies can even use the data you’ve collected to carry out risk assessments.
Benefits of Telematics
While driver safety and fleet management are important, what are some of the other benefits of investing in telematics for your fleet?
For one thing, they help to improve efficiency and productivity. When your drivers know they’re being monitored, they’re less likely to waste time or idle in a parking lot somewhere. You can also use this information, paired with traffic patterns, to better plan delivery routes to avoid things like construction delays and traffic jams. This, in turn, helps reduce fuel waste because your drivers aren’t spending valuable time stuck in traffic.
You may even be able to use this information to provide delivery time estimates to your client, based on traffic conditions and the exact location of your fleet vehicle.
It’s also a useful tool for payroll management if mileage is part of your payroll calculations. It calculates how far each vehicle gets driven automatically, so there’s no need for manual reporting or monitoring. If your driver does end up in an accident and the incident goes to court, you may also be able to submit your telematics data to help support their testimony.
Is It Worth the Investment?
The idea of telematics isn’t a new one, but our technology has finally caught up with our imagination and we’re able to make it work the way we want it to. If you haven’t adopted it yet, and are weighing whether it’s worth the investment, the answer is yes. Telematics has a number of uses and benefits, all of which culminate in a tool that helps you increase productivity, improve maintenance efficiency, and keep your drivers safe on the road.
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Last Updated on May 21, 2021.