What is telematics and how can it benefit my fleet?

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The term “telematics” has been around for decades, but it’s seen a lot of interest in recent years, especially among tech-savvy fleet managers. But just what is telematics? More importantly, is adopting telematics technology the right move for your fleet?

To help you decide, let’s take a close look at telematics and the benefits related solutions can offer small business fleets.

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What is telematics & how does it work?

Telematics technology combines onboard vehicle diagnostics tools and GPS vehicle-tracking capabilities to monitor fleet assets and equipment. A telematics system provides users access to real-time location data via a digitized map that users can access, usually on their phone or computer. 

Additionally, the technology provides diagnostics data—relayed in diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs)—to fleet managers so they can monitor each vehicle’s condition. 

Some of the vehicle performance data that a telematics system can provide include:

How telematics works:

First, you install the telematics device in the vehicle you want to track. The device plugs into the onboard diagnostics port (OBD-II port). Once installed, the device will begin gathering and recording vehicle data. The system communicates with fleet management software using mediums like satellite networks, a cellular connection, or trunked radio transmissions.

After the data has been uploaded to your software, you can review and analyze it to guide decision-making processes, reviewing data for individual vehicles or your entire fleet.

For instance, you can identify which vehicles are due for preventive maintenance (PM) or determine which drivers do the best job of following the speed limit.

Benefits of telematics systems 

There are significant benefits associated with installing telematics systems in your fleet vehicles. By installing a telematics system in your fleet vehicles, you can:

Reduce fuel consumption

One of the biggest perks of telematics devices is that they help boost fuel efficiency. You can track driver speed and see which employees subject your vehicles to unnecessary wear. In addition to monitoring average speed, you can also track how many idle hours each driver logs during a given week.

Idling and speeding can both decrease fuel efficiency. If all of your fleet vehicles are consuming excess fuel, you could incur thousands in unnecessary expenses.

See how Force can save you money with our free idling calculator.

Monitor driver behavior

Every time one of your employees leaves your facility in a fleet vehicle, you take on a huge amount of risk. A single at-fault accident could lead to a major insurance claim and expose your business to substantial civil liability. 

Fleet telematics technology can help you mitigate this risk by allowing you to monitor driver behavior. You can generate detailed reports about speed, acceleration, idle time, and more.

If a driver is constantly breaking the speed limit or accelerating with reckless abandon, you’ll know about it. You can then address the issue before their behavior threatens your company’s reputation.

Learn more about how Force improves driver safety.

Improve vehicle maintenance processes 

Missing PM appointments can negatively impact vehicle lifespan and raise your operating expenses. Conversely, adhering to a tight PM schedule can help you keep vehicle maintenance costs in check and reduce asset downtime.

Leading fleet telematics platforms allow you to monitor vehicle mileage and overall performance. When a vehicle’s onboard diagnostics system detects an issue, your telematics solution will notify you so you can schedule necessary repairs.

Get instant notifications with Force’s vehicle health monitoring solutions.

Enhance transparency with vehicle tracking systems

Vehicle tracking system” is a broad term used to describe any platform that allows business owners to monitor the locations of their vehicles in real-time. It may be used interchangeably with “telematics system.” Users access this data through an intuitive interface, which can be viewed from a desktop or mobile device.

As an all-in-one solution, telematics systems include highly reliable vehicle tracking capabilities. These features facilitate superior fleet transparency, as you can access up-to-the-minute information about the location of all fleet assets.

You can use this information to monitor delivery schedules and provide updates to customers if a driver is running behind.

Challenges of telematics technology

When implementing telematics technology into your fleet-management strategy, you may encounter hurdles such as:

Data overload

Telematics systems gather tons of data. While all this information can support your fleet-management processes, it can sometimes be tough to know what data to pay attention to.

You can avoid data overload by choosing a solution with an intuitive, user-friendly interface, like Force Fleet Tracking. It’s specifically built for small business owners as a no-frills yet powerful solution to improve fleet tracking processes. 

The ideal platform for your business will be organized and easy to operate. You also want to make sure the software allows you to generate custom reports so you can prioritize the information that’s most important to your goals. 

System fatigue

System fatigue occurs when you rely on multiple systems to gather telematics data.

For instance, let’s say that you adopted separate GPS, diagnostics, and maintenance-management tools for your fleet. Learning one new system is relatively straightforward. However, juggling several different platforms can be a nightmare.

Fortunately, there are plenty of all-in-one telematics solutions out there that combine PM, GPS, and diagnostics data into a unified interface.

Before committing to a telematics platform, schedule a free trial to verify that it includes all the necessary tools and features.

Not sure which GPS tracking solution is right for your business? Get a free, no-obligations demo from Force Fleet Tracking.

A lack of driver buy-in

Sometimes, employees can be resistant to change, especially if they don’t understand the “why” behind your decision. You might get some push-back from your drivers when they find out that you intend to monitor their behavior with telematics technology.

As such, you should take steps to optimize driver buy-in before rolling out your new technology. Let them know what your plans are and explain the benefits it promises. If you really want to get your team on board, consider implementing a bonus program that rewards top-performing drivers.

Emerging trends and technologies in telematics

Telematics systems are already delivering exceptional value for fleet managers worldwide. However, several new technologies and trends have the potential to reshape the future of telematics.

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools can assist with driver behavior analysis and fleet performance optimization. AI software can also facilitate route optimization, reducing fuel consumption and minimizing vehicle wear and tear. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is also impacting the telematics space. The IoT includes internet-connected devices embedded with sensors and capable of processing information. Plug-and-play telematics devices are a part of the Internet of Things, as they share information online.

A third technology influencing the telematics space is blockchain. While blockchain is typically associated with cryptocurrency, this tech can be used to document vehicle and driver performance.

By creating and storing fleet data on the blockchain, businesses can offer regulatory authorities an incorruptible, auditable record to demonstrate compliance.  

Embrace the power of telematics data with Force Fleet Tracking

Force Fleet Tracking provides your fleet managers access to actionable telematics data via our robust vehicle tracking systems.

Our telematics systems not only allow you to monitor the locations of your fleet vehicles but also facilitate onboard diagnostics and driver behavior monitoring. Our devices are both robust and cost-effective, making them the ideal addition to your fleet.

Ready to learn more? Sign up for a free, no-obligation trial of our fleet management software so you can leverage the power of telematics systems.

Published May 18, 2023