By Ben Forgan, CEO, Hologram, Inc.
Managing fleets can be like juggling chainsaws – a bit stressful! It means balancing costs, keeping drivers and vehicles operating safely, and ensuring compliance. However, introducing IoT (or the Internet of Things) into the management mix can alleviate some of the challenges and risks that fleet managers face.
While the details can get complicated, the overall concept of IoT for fleet management is pretty straightforward: IoT is technology that enables hardware (telematics systems) and software (remote applications) to exchange information that helps fleet managers assess situations and make adjustments.
In simplest terms, what’s needed to employ IoT?
● Hardware are physical devices in each truck that sense and collect data called telematics devices, which usually include GPS receivers, engine interfaces, accelerometers, and other sensors.
● Firmware is the software that comes on an IoT device and allows it to send, receive, and process data.
● Connectivity is the final layer of IoT — it’s how the “things” talk to each other and stream data to a server or the cloud. For fleets, it’s typically cellular to ensure a constant connection across time zones.
A closer look
While IoT can be boiled down to the concepts above, as those fleets travel from California to New York and move through the time zones, in truth, it is a bit more complicated.
Specifically, each truck can stay connected via an eUICC (embedded universal integrated circuit card), which allows a SIM to enable more than one profile. A profile indicates that a device has an account and can work on cellular networks (like Verizon, AT&T, or hundreds of others). If a SIM card is eUICC-enabled, it can switch between cellular carrier providers without physically swapping out a card.
However, all of that must be combined with eUICC software that makes it possible. EUICC SIMs act as a digital wallet that lets fleet managers use several different “credit cards” (or subscriber profiles), all on the same eUICC SIM card.
That all may feel like alphabet soup, but the bottom line is it can save fleets money and time.
Preventing high fleet maintenance costs
A broken-down truck equals delivery delays, lost productivity, and possibly, expensive repairs.
While the answer may simply mean keeping on top of a maintenance schedule — that’s easier said than done, especially when tracking hundreds or thousands of vehicles. It’s clear that administrative tasks are time consuming, eat up resources, and can be a headache for fleet operators.
But giving fleet managers software to automate a maintenance schedule and send alerts allows fleet managers to focus on more critical tasks. By adding IoT devices and AI technology to a fleet’s technological mix, operators also can take advantage of predictive maintenance. IoT sensors on trucks can send real-time mechanical data, and AI technology can analyze vehicle use to predict when it will need maintenance and prevent potential downtime and costly repairs.
Making fleets more sustainable
According to a March 2022 Environmental Protection Agency announcement, fleets must reduce greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty trucks beginning in 2027.
Unfortunately, the reality of becoming more sustainable is complex. Alternative fuel vehicles are expensive and difficult for fleet managers to justify. Enter IoT, which can significantly reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by implementing route optimization, idling time monitoring, CO₂ emissions calculations, etc.
By using IoT devices, fleets can improve their sustainability and ensure they are compliant with new rules and regulations.
Wading through too much data
According to research from the World Economic Forum, by 2025, the amount of data generated daily will reach over 460 exabytes globally. (An exabyte is one billion gigabytes.) For perspective, McKinsey & Company reports that an average connected vehicle generates approximately twenty-five gigabytes of data every hour.
That’s a lot of data. And while fleet managers would only have to face a proportion of the 460 global exabytes, it’s still a challenge to wade through, process, and implement insights gained from data.
It’s why it is essential for the software used by fleet managers to provide actionable data and insights. For example, a dashboard that offers alerts only when action is required helps operators balance their workload.
What to Consider Before Implementing IoT
IoT can help alleviate pain points in fleet management, and while there are intricacies involved with implementing an IoT system in a fleet, some questions to address within your organization are:
● What is the goal of implementing IoT? Safety? Cost savings? Sustainability? Compliance? All of the above.
● How are you going to implement an IoT system? Who’s the point person? What’s the budget? What’s the timeframe?
● Will the current IT and infrastructure support change? What technology tools already exist, and what will be purchased?
● How will security be addressed?
● Is there a need to scale the IoT system as the business grows?
IoT in action
While IoT integration may seem overwhelming, fleet managers have successfully managed the process and prospered. For example:
● Fleetsu, a cloud-based fleet management software, allows fleet managers to monitor vehicles and drivers. The platform gathers data for everything from maintenance schedules to driver fatigue. Fleetsu is customizable and can include custom parameters such as seatbelt, handbrake, and door status.
● Fleetpin, a New Zealand-based company, provides a GPS tracking solution for fleet management. The company’s GPS devices offer real-time tracking, anti-theft alerts, and engine and movement reporting. From the Fleetpin platform, fleet managers can access maps that pinpoint vehicles and related information (i.e., speed, current street address location, and past route).
IoT may be the answer to whether a fleet needs support with safety, maintenance, or sustainability. And while Guinness World Record-holder Ian Stewart may find juggling chainsaws enjoyable, fleet managers (and others) likely prefer a little less excitement.
For additional information on using IoT, read Streamlining IoT connectivity for fleet management.