What Is Telematics?
As a business owner or fleet manager, vehicle telematics can help you transform your fleet into a safer, more efficient operation. It can also empower you with the data you need to make better decisions about your business and provide your customers with the best possible service.
In this guide, we'll discuss what telematics is, how it works and why it is the right choice for your fleet.
Telematics refers to the transmission of electronically collected information over a long distance from a relevant point of interest — such as a vehicle — to an end-user. Vehicle telematics is a method of monitoring and gathering the logistics of a vehicle or fleet. Telematics technology utilizes computer systems that collect data in several key areas of operation, including driver location and behavior, fuel level and vehicle status, route tracking and more. You may have even encountered telematics in your personal life. For example, telematics technology in cars can help auto insurance companies gather data and analyze your driving habits. Telematics technology is also behind many modern-day car features, like active weather alerts.
Several industries and vehicles can utilize tracking via telematics technology, including:
- Personal vehicles, such as your car
- Truck fleets
- Boats — both personal and cargo
- School buses
- Travel trailers
- Heavy equipment
- Tow trucks
- HVAC and cable companies
Whether you manage a few vehicles or an entire fleet, any company that regularly transports assets can benefit from using a telematics system.
How Does Telematics Work?
Depending on the features and settings you use, telematics technology works to collect, transfer and help you make sense of important data from the vehicles in your fleet.
Here's how it works:
- A device captures relevant vehicle data: A telematics device is installed in each vehicle in your fleet, usually in a discreet location. Throughout the operation of each vehicle, this device will harvest information such as speed, acceleration, idle time and vehicle location.
- That data is transferred to the telematics provider: The installed telematics device will then transmit this information to a telematics provider via some form of wireless connection. If you choose a telematics system with Smart Tracking enabled, expect to receive updates whenever specific parameters are met, instead of being flooded with dozens or hundreds of unimportant information. For example, Smart Tracking will flag when the vehicle reaches a standstill or when it detects a change in the vehicle's power supply.
- The data is interpreted so you can analyze results: Once the data has been collected and transferred, it is then interpreted and sent to the end-user to be analyzed. Business owners and fleet managers can access this information via computer, smartphone or another internet-enabled device, or export it into a document or spreadsheet. You can then use this information to track patterns, trends and make a plan of action.
- Fleet location
- Travel speed
- Acceleration or frequent braking
- Idle and stop time
- Total distance or time traveled
- Total fuel consumption
- Engine and vehicle data
- Problems with the vehicle
- Reduced operational costs: Reduce operational costs by correcting behaviors and planning routes that minimize fuel waste. You can also avoid costly roadblocks or unexpected reroutes. Telematics reduces how much paperwork your drivers are responsible for, which saves money and time typically associated with things like time cards or reports. Finally, since telematics promotes safer driving, you may be able to reduce costs associated with high insurance, emergencies, accidents and more.
- Enhanced security: By monitoring and tracking your assets, you can help prevent after-hours use of vehicles, identify missing shipments, and monitor locations to ensure your assets are not stolen. Telematics also provides you with real-time status updates regarding your drivers and their cargo. For some industries, this enhanced security can offer ultimate peace of mind and help drivers feel safer while transporting valuable goods.
- Activity reporting:With truck activity reporting features, you can view, print or export reports and analyze the compiled information to make better business decisions. For example, you can compare trucks and their performance and flag any hazardous or money-wasting driving activity — such as excessive idling or speeding — as well as establish more efficient driving routes. Optional reports can also include things like total operational hours for each truck in your fleet, as well as the amount of time spent in a standstill. Have easy access to critical information, including map replay to set up alerts to verify truck locations and follow the exact route taken. Use this information to identify if a driver is accepting side work using your vehicles, or taking unauthroized down time.
- Promote safer driving habits: A telematics system allows you to evaluate driver performance by monitoring whether a driver is speeding or engaging in reckless driving. Driver performance reporting can you help you take corrective action and encourage safer driving among your team.
- Minimize contact with road hazards: By using past map tracking and live status updates, you can pre-plan your fleet route to help your drivers avoid road hazards like unsafe weather or road conditions.
- Utilize safety and vehicle alerts: Telematics software can let you know if something is wrong with your vehicle and if it needs servicing. By opting for a telematics system that alerts you to your fleet's needs, it's easier to stay on top of routine maintenance like oil changes and tire rotation to prevent costly break-downs or malfunctions. Awareness of these issues saves time and money but lets you address them before they jeopardize the safety of your drivers. In the event of an accident or break down, GPS monitoring systems can also help first responders quickly locate a vehicle.
- Develop an ongoing training program: Use driving data compiled by your telematics system to develop a smarter, more targeted training program for your team. You can also offer rewards and incentives for those who practice safe driving habits.
The data collected by the telematics varies, depending on the company you work with and the features you choose to track. Depending on your specific needs, you can filter which features you would like to manage, as well as which data is included in regular reports. Fleet managers and business owners can monitor things like:
Benefits of Telematics for Fleet Management
So, what kind of benefits can you expect when you implement a telematics solution into your operations? Some of the benefits of telematics systems include the ability to provide better customer service, operate more efficiently and promote driver safety:
1. Provide Better Customer Service
Offering quality customer service is an essential part of running your business. Occasional delays of arrival times are often unavoidable due to uncontrollable factors, such as road closures or inclement weather.
With a telematics monitoring system in place, you can provide your customers with better customer service by knowing where a customer's crew is throughout the entire process and keeping them informed about any changes in status or anticipated arrival time. If your drivers are delivering a shipment, you can also verify that assets are delivered to the right location.
2. Operate More Efficiently
With the right telematics system, you can operate more efficiently and reduce the amount of time and money it takes to operate your business. Here are just a few examples of how telematics devices can improve your operations:
3. Promote Driver Safety
As a fleet manager, the safety and wellbeing of your drivers — as well as the people they share the road with — is a top priority. Telematics can help keep your team and your shipment safe and sound. Here are a few of the ways telematics encourages driver safety:
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