Article provided by Netstar
The word ‘telematics’ looks and sounds more complicated than it is. At its root, ‘telematics’ is a combination of ‘telecommunication’ and ‘informatics’. In most circles, it’s simply known as fleet tracking or GPS vehicle tracking. But no matter what you call it, there can be no denying its value and usefulness.
What is a telematics device?
At its most simple form, a telematics device consists of a GPS tracking unit combined with other on-board sensors & diagnostics tools that work together to give vehicle owners more data and a better view of their vehicle’s overall status and activities.
This type of device can be used to track and monitor vehicles, vans, trucks, equipment and other assets – providing unprecedented visibility into a fleet’s comings and goings.
In the last few years, many small-to-medium businesses covering various fields have begun implementing telematics solutions into their fleet operations. This has helped them to increase productivity, improve safety & security, and enhanced customer service. As a result of these improvements, these businesses have seen a marked improvement in their bottom line and strengthening of their competitive advantage.
How telematics works
The way a telematics device works is not much different from how other smart devices like a smartphone function. The telematics device built into each fleet vehicle collects data generated by the vehicle and sends it up to the cloud via a cellular connection.
A huge amount of data can be collected, processed and analysed using a telematics solution, including but not limited to:
• Vehicle position & speed
• Trip distance/time
• Idling time
• Harsh braking a& driving
• Impacts or other harsh G-force events
• Vehicle faults
• Battery voltage, and other engine data
Once all this data makes it to the cloud, it is decoded and presented to the user with the help of a fleet management software application. These software applications are usually web-based to allow universal access, and are used daily to manage vehicles, analyse collected data and export reports to assist with critical decision-making.
A few uses of telematics
- Telematics for private vehicles
Telematics devices offer vehicle owners the convenience of remote vehicle tracking and monitoring. More advanced systems may also include the ability to monitor specific driver behaviour like speeding, harsh braking, etc.
- Telematics for fleet management
An area where telematics technology can probably add the most value is fleet management. By recording and monitoring vehicle location, driver behaviour, vehicle performance & utilisation, and other factors, fleet managers can optimise vehicle usage, fuel efficiency and make more informed decisions about where the business can save money.
- Telematics for insurance
Telematics devices are also very useful when it comes to the insurance industry. Having access to driver behaviour data allows insurers to not only offer rewards for great driving, but in some cases can also result in lower insurance premiums.
The benefits of telematics & how it can save you money
The real value of a telematics solution is not merely in the data it provides, but rather how this data and the insights gained from it can inform better decision-making and highlight areas in need of improvement.
When telematics devices first came to market, its main benefit was the ability to locate vehicles. Today, it has evolved to offer many valuable features that work to increase fleet efficiency, improve overall safety, and most importantly, save the business money.
Some ways that fleet operations use telematics systems and data to save money, include:
- By monitoring driver behaviour, bad habits can be corrected, which improves fleet safety and reduces cost related to accidents and unscheduled maintenance.
- With the ability to do better route planning, overall fleet efficiency can be improved, and fuel wastage reduced.
- As first and foremost a vehicle tracking and recovery device, a telematics solution can reduce fleet losses by helping to counter vehicle & cargo theft.
- With the addition of temperature sensors, a telematics device can protect temperature-sensitive cargo by providing immediate alerts when a change is detected.
- A fleet telematics system can also provide a significant return on investment (ROI) by keeping drivers on schedule and thus improving customer service and retention.
- And lastly, the mere presence of a telematics solution can result in savings on insurance premiums.
Which industries are using telematics?
Today, telematics solutions are used across a range of industries, including:
- Logistics: Monitoring fleet vehicles/trucks to ensure consignments are delivered safely and on time.
- Mining/Heavy Equipment: Keeping heavy equipment fleets operating and well-maintained.
- Government: Monitoring and improving trash collection, street cleaning, and other services.
- Public Safety: Monitoring the location of emergency vehicles in order to improve response times.
- Refrigeration: Monitoring temperature-sensitive products to reduce spoilage.
- Mobile Service Providers: Monitoring vehicles and employees to give customers better ETAs.
The future of telematics and fleet tracking
While it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the world of fleet telematics will go next, a few trends have already begun to reveal themselves.
The concept of a connected future – and all the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technologies comprising it – has certainly transitioned from our homes to our vehicles. Constant communication between nearby vehicles is already achievable through some telematics solutions. This ability of vehicles to be ‘aware’ of others around them holds many safety advantages, to name just a single aspect.
The increasing use of video solutions and artificial intelligence is also clear. Fleet telematics provider, Netstar, recently introduced an AI camera solution that can be added to their fleet management offerings. In addition to providing better visibility of fleet and driver activities, these cameras also employ the latest artificial intelligence algorithms to help predict and discourage potentially dangerous behaviour.
In the future, it is envisaged that telematics technologies like these will continue to evolve and improve – all in the name of safer and more cost-effective fleets.