Modern communication has reached warp speeds. It’s never been easier or faster to get information from one place to another, whether it’s from person to person or vehicle to dispatch. For fleets, telematics systems have revolutionized this data exchange. As a result, the days of sharing updates via landline phone calls and paper logbooks are fading into the sunset.
But is telematics technology really worth the investment? How can your fleet benefit from it, aside from automating some previously manual tasks? In this article, we’ll break down the most important information to know about telematics systems so you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth adopting for your fleet.
What Is a Telematics System?
Telematics technology has come a long way. Original versions of telematics provided basic location data from vehicles, but the latest-and-greatest products are much more sophisticated. In the simplest terms, telematics is a variety of systems that collect, compute and report vehicle-related data. Fleet companies generally rely on these types of telematics data:
- Engine Control Monitoring: Speed, odometer readings, brake use, engine oil pressure, engine temperature, diagnostic trouble codes
- GPS Fleet Tracking: Vehicle location and speed
- Video Recording: Driver reactions before and after an unsafe incident, road conditions, nearby vehicle behavior, cargo status
- Driver Safety: Distance from other vehicles and objects, lane departures, risky driving behaviors
- Electronic Logging: Date/time/location, engine hours, miles driven, driver identification, authentications
This flood of data points is collected moment by moment, weaving together a rich tapestry of information about the vehicle and driver. The information is electronically transmitted from the vehicle to the “brain” of the telematics system.
Why Telematics Systems Are Important
Numbers don’t lie…in fact, they’re truth-tellers. Fleet managers use telematics systems to make decisions based on factual data versus guesstimates. The information contains clues on how to make things better, faster and more affordable in every area, from operations and safety to customer service.
Not as exciting, but perhaps more important, basic telematics are legally required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). As of December 2017, fleets must be compliant with the FMCSA’s electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. ELDs are used to electronically record a driver’s hours of service (HOS) to ensure the requirements related to them are met.
Getting the Most from Your Telematics System
Telematics provide a lot of rich data, but if you don’t use that data, it’s wasted. You can get the most out of your telematics system when you leverage the information it provides to:
1) Run Tighter Operations
Telematics technology can help your fleet find better routes with real-time communication and GPS, adding valuable time to drivers’ hours of service. You also can track deliveries and cargo in real-time, and the data can help fleets improve efficiency on everything from to fleet operations as a whole.
2) Keep Vehicles In Top Shape
Drivers and managers can use telematics to stay ahead of vehicle maintenance and repairs. Telematics systems signal when a vehicle is having engine problems or diagnostic issues and inform routing centers when a vehicle is out of service. You won’t ever run a truck on its last legs again.
3) Keep Drivers Happy
Use data from telematics systems to incentivize and who achieve efficiency or safety goals. Telematics technology provides data and video that fleets can use to coach drivers, enhance their skills and positively reinforce exceptional performance. Together, it all helps boost driver morale, engagement and retention.
4) Put Safety First
In giving fleet managers more control over the safety of their fleets, telematics systems offer insight into unsafe driving habits that can burn fuel quickly, lead to drowsy, aggressive or distracted actions and even cause a collision or near-collision. When a collision or near-miss happens, the data and video footage captured by telematics systems can help make it crystal clear what caused an incident, who was involved and why it happened. The data can also be used to help fleets improve their safety practices or exonerate commercial drivers who aren’t at fault, saving fleets substantial litigation costs.
5) Save Money
Every benefit and use of telematics translates into bottom-line savings. Telematics data reveals ways you can operate more efficiently and safely, avoid litigation and retain top drivers. This becomes one of your company’s most powerful tools to reduce cost and increase profit.
The full breadth of what telematics systems can do is advancing rapidly, particularly with video telematics. The technology is becoming more useful, if not essential, for fleets as they evolve operations to keep up with industry and customer demands.
If you’re wondering whether your company is getting everything it can from your telematics system, contact us and we can help you find out.