To simplify and better manage your telematics, focus on these 4 key areas of data points
By Ted Lee, Head of Business Development and Product Innovation, Magellan GPS
It’s an iconic early scene from a famous Stephen Spielberg movie. When Indiana Jones steals a golden idol from a temple, he triggers a trap that starts a landslide inside a cave. To survive, the world’s most famous adventurer must first outrun an enormous boulder bearing down on him.
To fleet managers, it can seem as if Big Data is their big boulder. Yes, there’s gold for the taking in that mountain of telematics data your company collects, but there’s also risk.
How Big is Big Data?
Telematics is the branch of information technology that deals with the long-distance transmission of computerized information. In practice, a telematics solution transmits real-time information from fleet vehicles to fleet operators, enabling a company to assert better oversight and control over their fleets.
More than 50 percent of all automotive vehicles to be manufactured in 2020 are expected to include telematics solutions; and by 2022, more than half of all vehicles on U.S. roads will be capable of sending and receiving data via internet connectivity.
As a result of this data avalanche, the incoming data, whether raw or applied, stand-alone or integrated, can be complicated and become overwhelming. And if you’re overseeing, say, a 500-unit fleet, the flood of data can be intimidating to the point of paralysis. You might lack the time and resources and perhaps even the training to squeeze actionable knowledge out of these relentless data streams.
Above all, you want and need that data in order to make informed decisions. To avoid getting crushed by Big Data, here are four areas your fleet company will want to pay attention to and can build on through its telematics: Route Management, Driver Safety, Vehicle Care and Salt Utilization.
Thanks to advanced GPS technology and route digitization, telematics can tell you where your vehicles are at all times, as well as identify the best routes for your drivers. Digitizing your routes enables drivers to discard paper maps and focus on driving.
An additional benefit of digitization is that new and temporary drivers can be trusted to complete their stops in the correct order. Route completion no longer depends upon a driver’s familiarity with the route.
The real beauty of digitization, however, is that the routes can be updated at any point and in real-time. Changes in weather or road conditions, for example, can be automatically shared with the back office and with other drivers in the field, making following routes safer and more efficient. Stops are not missed and streets get cleaned on time.
Telematics can tell you which of your drivers are driving too fast or using poor braking techniques or not leaving enough distance between their vehicle and others. Hard acceleration and deceleration are known indicators of risky driving behavior. Addressing such improper driving with additional training and coaching can reduce the occurrence of fleet accidents and lower insurance premiums. With training, fuel consumption can be optimized and the lifespan of tires and brakes expanded.
Telematics can also tell you which drivers run red lights, which drivers don’t wear their seat belts and so on. A video camera on the dashboard can spot if a driver is struggling to stay awake or if the driver is distracted, giving you a chance to alert the driver before an incident occurs.
Look to your telematics data to ensure timely vehicle maintenance and parts availability. Vehicle odometer forecasting can predict when and where vehicles will need to be serviced or repaired. The data can also tell you which assets will be down for maintenance and for how long.
Other vehicle care metrics such as fuel consumption and engine life, diagnostic codes, trouble codes, inspection defects and vehicle location can be tracked and acted on.
Fleet companies will be able to ensure their cars aren’t being misused or abused by drivers, which will lower upkeep costs over time.
For fleet companies responsible for clearing streets during snowy and icy conditions, a useful telematics system can determine how much salt to spread each season. Back-to-back snow events can result in price increases of up to 30 percent, and it can take a month or more to refill the market need for road salt.
The safest solution is to not need a late-season refill. And that’s where telematics can help, through its long-range weather forecasting capabilities and precise usage of existing salt inventories.
Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s second habit of highly effective people is to start with the end in mind. To a fleet manager, the end is to make their fleet more productive and cost-effective. The best way to reach that destination is by focusing on actionable data that empowers you to better manage your drivers and assets.
A lot of knowledge can be a powerful thing.
Ted Lee is the Head of Business Development and Innovation for Magellan GPS, a provider of innovative GPS navigation devices since 1986, offering products in multiple categories including auto, RV, outdoor, mobile, fleet, and auto OEM. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.