A telematics solution is a powerfully tool that provides unparalleled visibility into operations boosting safety, maintaining service level agreements, decreasing costs, and more.

Though the initial cost may seem prohibitive, the costs savings of implementing a telematics solution are enormous.

How does telematics work?

A telematics solution includes a vehicle tracking device installed that allows the sending, receiving and storing of telemetry data. It connects via the vehicle’s own onboard diagnostics (ODBII) or CAN-BUS port with a SIM card, and an onboard modem enables communication through a wireless network.

The device collects GPS data as well as an array of other vehicle-specific data and transmits it via GPRS and cellular network or satellite communication to a centralized server. The server interprets the data and enables it to be displayed for end users via secure websites and apps optimized for smartphones.

The telematics data captured can include location, speed, idling time, harsh acceleration or braking, fuel consumption, vehicle faults, and more. When analyzed for particular events and patterns, this information can provide in-depth insights across an entire fleet.

How can fleet use telematics systems?

Vehicle tracking: Vehicles can be tracked using a combination of GPS satellites and receivers, GPRS networks and cloud computing. A GPS receiver downloads information from GPS satellites and processes it for use with applications such as driver GPS navigation systems. It also transmits that information via GPRS to the web servers used by office-based staff, where it can be used to dispatch the nearest driver to a new job.

Trailer and asset tracking: Fleets can attach GPS trackers to trailers and other non-motorized assets to ensure they don’t go missing, as well as use them to route drivers directly to stationary trailers. Drivers can tag locations in their GPS unit when unhitching a trailer, and those coordinates can be easily passed on, allowing them to route directly to the trailer. The system can also be set up so that an instant alert is sent to a mobile device should a trailer or asset be moved without authorization.

Maintenance improvements: Vehicle maintenance and asset lifecycle management can be improved by using fleet telematics to track hours-of-use records and schedule preventative maintenance, as well as help keep tabs on warranty recovery, engine hour tracking and service records tracking. Companies can decrease expenses and keep vehicles in safe operating condition by staying on top of engine diagnostics.

Safety tracking: Companies can use fleet telematics to monitor vehicle speed and location, as well as harsh driving events and seat belt use. Telematics provides a digital blueprint of every aspect of a vehicle’s operation, helping to understand where improvements can be made in accident prevention measures and driver safety standards.

What are the benefits of telematics in fleet management?

Telematics technology can help fleets achieve operational improvements in key areas:

Decreased fuel costs: Telematics can help identify areas of waste, such as vehicle idling or fuel slippage, and allow companies to address them promptly, which positively impacts fuel efficiency and the bottom line. It also can help management plan the most efficient route for each driver to reduce unnecessary mileage.

Improved safety: Continuous feedback regarding driving style and driving behavior lets companies reduce unwanted driving habits such as speeding or harsh braking. Improvements can be made based on actionable, data-based reports that highlight driver performance and support new safety targets.

Elevated productivity: With near real-time GPS system data, drivers can help avoid traffic delays and congestion.

The future of telematics

Telematics is poised for exponential growth as new applications are developed to take advantage of modern GPS units and the widespread use of mobile devices. More fleets are recognizing the need to monitor fleet activity to control costs, boost productivity, improve accountability, and maintain full compliance with government regulations.

As companies look beyond the basic needs in order to achieve “increasing integrations into the broader scope of the enterprise, including with mobile workforce management, ERP software, and business management software,” telematics is becoming an integral component of all modern fleet operations.