By Janice Sutton
We recently had the opportunity to interview Kfir Lavi, Senior Vice President at ERM Advanced Telematics, during which we asked him to give us an overview of the company and a view of the innovative telematics solutions they are offering their fleet management service providers.
Kfir, please give us some background on ERM Advanced Telematics and an overview of your telematics product line.
ERM is a provider of device-based telematics solutions. Over the years, we have developed an extensive portfolio of innovative solutions that support a growing range of telematics and fleet management services.
Our flagship product is our StarLink line of tracking devices. We have designed StarLink as a modular solution that can easily be configured to support nearly any business or operational requirement. It is also important to highlight that StarLink can be integrated with any of our add-on accessories at any time.
We create partnerships with fleet management service (FMS) providers, who in turn, develop applications for their customers on our Starlink platform. We are based in Israel, and we have been in this business for over 30 years. Today, we have partners in more than 65 countries. Our devices have been installed in more than 1.5m vehicles worldwide.
How can an FMS provider differentiate its telematics offerings?
This is a very important question and the answer starts with recommending that FMS providers should diversify their solutions portfolio. Most focus on tracking and location-based services. By adding value added services, they can better satisfy the needs of their customers and improve customer benefits. On the other side of the equation, that value added can build customer loyalty and create important new revenue streams.
To enjoy these benefits, The FMS provider first must have the correct technology infrastructure in place. This means that the telematics devices must be flexible and highly configurable, thus enabling our partner to quickly pursue new market opportunities with a short time-to-market for defining and launching new services for their customers. Our partners must understand the needs of the customer and provide solutions that deliver real value. Many fleet management initiatives fail because the service provider only gives its customers raw data, which has limited value and at times can even be useless.
What new, value-added services are FMS providers looking to implement?
Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) support and driver behavior monitoring solutions are relatively new services in this space. The goal is to improve driver and passenger safety as well as avoid costs associated with collisions and unnecessary maintenance.
We have recently implemented a number of interesting driver behavior monitoring solutions that require high levels of integration.
For some time, FMS providers have been offering vehicle diagnostics services, such as fuel monitoring, tire pressure monitoring and other types of sensors. For these services to be valuable for the fleet manager and fleet owner, they must be fully integrated into the fleet management processes and not be just stand-alone systems for the driver only. Many of the vehicle diagnostic services require direct integration with a vehicle’s CANBUS. Both of these are areas in which we excel.
There are alternatives available for many of these new services; for example, driver behavior monitoring. What is unique about your approach?
Yes, this is certainly true. We researched this extensively as we designed our driver behavior monitoring solution. From what we have learned, most driver behavior monitoring systems on the market today are based on what can be called one-size-fits-all devices. The drawback here is that these devices provide only generic, out-of-the-box functionality with limited ranges of monitoring.
With this in mind, we designed our solution – which we call eSafe – with a straightforward approach that is easy to implement and manage. We provide eSafe with predefined profiles of more than 35 vehicle types. We have profiles for heavy duty trucks, different types of public transportation vehicles, road and off-road vehicles, small passenger cars, vans and more. Each profile understands the behaviors and characteristics of each vehicle type. Each profile also contains definitions for over 20 maneuver types, which are fine-tuned to the specific vehicle type. This approach creates a high-level differentiation among vehicle profiles and maneuver types and produces highly accurate results in a very straightforward installation process.
Another important point is that with each profile we provide embedded analysis of the monitored data. Our approach includes built-in thresholds for each vehicle profile and provides black box data that can be used to recreate the driving scenario that led up to an accident and determine responsibility. This information can be shared with an insurance company or other third parties as needed.
How are your partners responding to these services?
The relationships that we have with our FMS partners are a source of pride for us. We see ourselves as partners in their success. Most of our engagements are long term and have grown over the years. This is a result of both our innovative product line and our partnership approach. We listen to our partners and we are constantly developing new solutions and applications that meet their specific operational needs and support their specific business requirements.
We like nothing more than the challenge of designing solutions with complex requirements for our partners. For instance, one of our US partners has a car leasing customer. Recently, this leasing company understood that a significant number of past due customers managed to disconnect the GPS tracking device installed on the leased vehicles. These tracking devices were configured to prevent them from being disconnected by the end-user.
These tracking devices were also installed with our patent-pending parking habits solution, which helped the leasing company predict where these missing cars would be at certain times. Within two weeks, the leasing company recovered all these missing cars and, in the process, avoided losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This shows that fleet management is much more than just tracking.
Another example is FlexGPS, a partner that provides FMS to customers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and many other countries across Central and South America. Its customers are mostly large trucking and logistics companies and our solutions are installed in all the vehicle fleets they are monitoring. This includes heavy duty trucks, detachable trailers, construction vehicles, and even industrial equipment. With our solutions, FlexGPS offers core location-based tracking services as well as a range of value added diagnostics and driver monitoring services. With our technology, FlexGPS is constantly adding new services to help its customers and grow its business.
What’s next for ERM?
We are constantly developing new tools and solution for our FMS provider partners to give their customers added value and create additional revenue channels. Many of these applications enable our partners to pursue niche market opportunities. For example, we recently developed a solution for a partner to provide monitoring of the location and operation of cement mixers.
We are currently enhancing some of the vehicle diagnostic solutions that monitor driving patterns and alert on the wear-and-tear of specific vehicle components. This solution can be provided as part of an OEM for a car manufacturer to extend its reach into the aftermarket or an FMS partner to monitor the vehicle for needed maintenance.
Another area that we are moving into is wireless connectivity. We are currently rolling out full-featured 4G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled devices. The idea is to add services to the drivers through applications, such as mobile phone integration and so on.
Cybersecurity is also an important issue that we are addressing. The cybersecurity vulnerabilities associated with IoT and connected car technologies are well known and widely documented. There are many new services FMS providers can offer that rely on these technologies and involve V2x communications. Our eConnect anti-jamming solution is an example of this. With our technologies, we are positioning our FMS partners and their customers to securely benefit from these new services.
Kfir Lavi is the Senior Vice President at ERM Advanced Telematics. Kfir is responsible for the company’s overall business strategy and operations. He can be contacted at email@example.com.