Davra Storms MQ
Telematics for fleet vehicle management applications can trace its roots back to companies wanting to track their fleet’s location in order to better monitor the fleet and get a clearer picture of what their vehicles were doing in the field. This was made possible with the introduction of cost-effective civilian GPS technology in the 1990s. Originally GPS systems were only accurate to about 100 meters (328 feet) which limited its usefulness. Also, the cost was a prohibiting factor in transmitting large amounts of data over cellular networks so the data had to be stored locally and retrieved when the vehicle returned to the central authority. However, in 2000 a more accurate signal was developed for civilian use which allowed GPS systems to be accurate to about 15 meters (49 feet). Later on, improved cellular technology and lower costs provided better connectivity to the Internet of Things in transportation. These improvements in technology opened the door to one of the most sought after functions of fleet management, real-time vehicle tracking. Over the years, further improvement in technology and the lowering of costs have allowed other features to be implemented such as vehicle diagnostics, vehicle performance, and driver behavior. Nowadays, GPS technology is no longer required for live vehicle tracking as cellular triangulation technology has also vastly improved; however, it is still not as accurate as GPS.
How it works: Typically, a vehicle is connected to the Internet via an Internet of Things (IoT) gateway, which allows the vehicle to transmit data. In most fleet applications, the gateway is plugged into the Onboard Diagnostics Port (OBD) on the vehicle where the gateway can communicate with the vehicle’s Controller Area Network (CAN-BUS) to retrieve data. The gateway can also be connected to various sensors on the vehicle to retrieve additional data. The data is then received by a central authority, usually the dispatch.
Benefits: Implementing Telematics in fleet management has various benefits; these benefits include but are not limited to: real-time vehicle tracking, reduced maintenance costs, increased fuel efficiency, going ‘Green’, and increased safety.
Going Green: United States President Barack Obama has pledged that the United States will cut its Carbon Emissions by as much as 28% over the next decade. In order to meet this goal companies will all have to do their part in reducing their carbon footprint. Fleet telematics will be of great assistance to companies maintaining fleets of vehicles.
Real-Time Vehicle Tracking: Active vehicle tracking solutions are extremely beneficial to entities that maintain a fleet of vehicles. With live vehicle location data, dispatchers can monitor a vehicle’s moves and ensure that the vehicle is where it is supposed to be at the time. Live vehicle tracking will also discourage unauthorized use of a vehicle and it will discourage drivers from deviating from an assigned path or going into forbidden areas.
Reduced Maintenance Costs: Engine monitoring solutions can retrieve fault codes and engine performance data; this information can then be transmitted immediately back to the central authority. This allows the problem to be addressed immediately. For example, it is estimated that 1 out of 10 cars on the road currently have a malfunction indicator lamp on and more than half of these drivers have ignored the light for 3 months or more. Chances are these vehicles have increased fuel consumption and higher emission rates due to faulty components. The longer these problems are ignored, the more it will cost in the long run. If these problems are spotted and addressed immediately, costs can be minimized.
Increased Fuel Efficiency: Fleets using a fuel monitoring solution can save a significant amount in fuel costs. For example, unnecessary idling such as during times of receiving and discharging loads, wastes a significant amount of fuel and can increase operating costs. A vehicle’s idle time can be monitored; by monitoring a vehicle idle time, it would encourage drivers to not waste fuel idling. Necessary steps can then be taken against offending drivers. According to the California Energy Commission, drivers can save up to 20% of their fuel by reducing the time their cars spent idling. Take, for example, a vehicle with a 400-mile cruising range, excessive idling can reduce its cruising range to 320 miles.
Increased Safety: Fleet managers that actively monitor driver behavior on the road can drastically improve the fleet’s safety. When asked about fleet telematics, UPS director of automotive engineering Dale Spencer said, “We have the driver data; we know how fast they’re driving, how hard they’re stopping; the driver will change bad habits before it costs us money”. This illustrates the fact that if a driver is actively monitored to ensure safety, they are less likely to take risks or engage in reckless driving. This increases the overall safety of the fleet.’
As long as large fleets of vehicles stay on the road, real-time vehicle tracking will become the norm while maintenance costs, fuel costs, and driver safety will always be of concern to fleet managers. At the same time, fleets will continue to be pushed to reduce their carbon footprint and go green. Vehicle telematics and access to the Internet of Things (IoT) will make real-time tracking of vehicles easier while minimizing concerns related to maintenance costs, fuel costs, and driver safety while at the same time, reduce costs for the company and help the fleets go green.
Brian McGlynn, Davra, COO