Looking ahead to a future of efficiency: The new era of fleet management
After a difficult couple of years, when we saw an unprecedented dependance on fleets and drivers to deliver essential goods, we’re now looking ahead to the post-pandemic future of fleet management. Although businesses with fleets of vehicles face driver shortages, regulation changes, and increased costs, we’re confident these challenges will be overcome thanks to advances in technology. In particular, telematics solutions are paving the way for improved fleet management, helping businesses better utilize their key resources to become more efficient and more productive.
At its most basic, telematics is the long-distance transmission of data via wireless cloud-based technology. Telematics fleet management solutions use hardware devices installed in vehicles to transmit location and condition data to the cloud, which is accessible anytime via online portals. GPS technology provides the location data while Internet of Things (IoT) sensors enable fleet managers to gain visibility into everything from the temperature and humidity inside their trailers to the cargo position and door status. Many telematics solutions also incorporate fleet dashcams and Electronic Logging Devices to give fleet managers full visibility into what’s happening on the road.
The customization of solution components and, by extension, the data that is being transmitted gives businesses the ability to tailor the solutions to their specific needs. Whether the pain points are driver behavior, under-utilized vehicles, inefficient scheduling, or cargo safety, telematics solutions can provide a window for fleet managers to understand what’s happening in real-time and react quickly to solve any issues. This can help businesses better utilize vehicles, optimize routes and delivery processes, improve driver safety, and reduce operational costs.
Connectivity is key for any telematics solution since the transmission of real-time data is dependent on a consistent cellular connection. Cellular technology has made huge strides in recent years and we’re now seeing 5G, which stands for 5th generation of cellular network, become more mainstream. One of the biggest benefits of 5G is that it provides low latency transmissions. Latency is the amount of time it takes for data to travel from one point to another. The lower the latency, the faster the data transfer, which is critical for businesses that need real-time information. Although 5G isn’t in full swing yet, 4G is proving to be much more dependable than older cellular technologies, many of which are slowly being discontinued by cellular carriers. For fleet managers implementing telematics solutions, the latest cellular technologies are exciting because they will help to support real-time visibility into fleet operations.
The use of artificial intelligence in the transportation and logistics industry is expected to grow by 60% over a five-year period, from 2019 to 2024, with AI-enabled fleet tracking likely to be a big part of that growth.[i] Some fleet dashcam solutions, for example, already use advanced AI sensor technology to monitor the road and inside the cab (when driver-facing cameras are installed). The AI sensors continually monitor the surroundings and automatically flag any behavior or incidents that could be problematic. Automatic alerts notify fleet managers so the incidents can be reviewed and addressed quickly, or through additional driver coaching. This level of predictive data can help businesses mitigate risks, improve drivers and public safety, and keep important resources and cargo safe.
An efficient future is in sight
If the last couple of years have shown us anything, it’s that it is time for businesses to make the most of their resources. The only way for fleet managers to do that is to know where their drivers and vehicles are, and how they are performing, at all times. According to Forbes, although only about 40% of businesses are currently using a telematics fleet management solution, 66% of businesses that have invested in the technology have already recouped their investment.[ii] This stands as a solid testament to the way fleet management solutions help businesses improve operational efficiency, and it’s only a matter of time before more businesses jump on board.