Data gold mine
By Matt Reinhart02 April 2020
Telematics systems log important fleet data. But this information is relatively static when it isn’t incorporated into a larger system that allows for reporting and analytics. Integrating your telematics data with a comprehensive fleet management system allows fleet managers to turn static data into actionable information.
If you are using a telematics system to track fleet performance and are concerned you are not making proper use of that data, you are not alone. Fleet Cost & Care’s Senior Technical Product Manager David Thornton explained that telematics systems can solve some problems, but there are some they cannot solve.
Centralized fleet management systems are essential in transforming data into action, he said. Telematics can help with the management of equipment across multiple jobsites and multiple regions.
“Currently, there are many GPS providers that enable fleet managers to track their units across jobsites, projects and regions,” he said. “And, some have started working towards a more granular approach by incorporating unit components. This is being achieved through a variety of technologies including Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Long-Term Evolution (we all know it as the 4G standard – LTE). These smaller, long-life battery powered systems enable fleet managers to track their non-motorized components with accuracy.
Measuring asset utilization
Fleet management software acts as a hub for this data, integrating unit and personnel information for scheduling, inventory tracking and maintenance. It allows you to measure asset utilization versus cost, Thornton said.
Telematics data can also help with service and preventative maintenance.
“Most providers offer some form of maintenance tracking, but they do not have or support a full maintenance system,” he said. “For example, one provider may offer a solution for identifying a deficiency through their Daily Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR); however, this information is relatively static and still requires verbal communication or active monitoring of a web application to identify and resolve.”
A comprehensive fleet management system should offer end-to-end maintenance tracking solutions, from deficiency identification, automated communication back to a work order system, work order generation and labor and cost tracking. Some systems are even introducing interfaces with ELD providers’ DVIR features for integrated solutions.
Telematics data, used effectively, can offer reduced costs through improved transparency such as fuel and driver safety.
“Keeping up with preventative maintenance can save a lot of money on repairs and extend the life of a unit, so that’s a big one,” said Thornton. “Increased revenue margins will certainly come as a second order effect of reduced costs. Comprehensive reports from an integrated system will bring telematics data and all fleet costs under one umbrella.”
“You can automatically have telematics data integrated and incorporate it with other costs to get a full picture of a fleet profitability,” Thornton said. “This full picture enables informed decision making on future capital investments and market diversification.”
This data can provide insight into employee performance, work duration and safety. In most fleet management software, users can see on-the-job schedules; how much time is remaining for cycle time; driving time and on-duty time each day; and maintain historical records of services for law enforcement. There are also e-tickets and checklists that users can access on a smartphone or tablet.
Telematics providers are constantly coming up with new ways to track data, including Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) levels, engine diagnostics, seat occupation, use of seat belts and video camera captures.
“As these concepts become more widely adopted, I suspect we will see their data points coming into a centralized management,” said Thornton. “There they can be tracked and reported in a multitude of ways to inform management on employee evaluations, capital investment and other critical business decisions.”
Fleet management systems shine when they are integrated with telematics systems, bringing together critical data for improving productivity and reducing operational costs.