Vehicle Telematics

Telematics is a combination of two words: telecommunications and informatics. It is often defined as, the blending of computers and wireless telecommunications technologies, to efficiently convey information over vast networks to improve a variety of services.

Telematics systems perform a range of functions by gathering vehicle location and activity data and turning this into business insight. Telematics works by:

  • Capturing vehicle location data via a GPS-enabled device installed in a vehicle.
  • Transmitting data captured over secure cellular networks
  • Using a web-based software platform to present and visualize vehicle location and driver activity data

Telematics has been widely adopted in a wide variety of industries since the turn of the millennium and has provided businesses with previously unobtainable information into both vehicle and driver performance. This has drastically simplified fleet management processes and enabled significant improvements in efficiency and productivity.

How telematics systems works?

Telematics systems work by connecting a device, such as a GPS tracker or other data logging tool, to an asset. Then, the tool collects key performance data about the asset. Once collected, the device will send the information to a data center where it can be collated, interpreted, and analyzed.

How does this technology work in simple steps:

  • Satellite – The vehicle’s position is provided by the GPS satellite to the telematics device fitted into the vehicle or equipment.
  • Vehicle – The information is transmitted between the vehicle and the telecommunications company via a wireless cellular connection.
  • Telco – The telecommunications company manages the communication between the vehicle and the securely hosted service center.
  • Internet – The internet provides the means of transferring information from the securely hosted service center to your computer.
  • You – Via a web browser, you’re able to access the information in real-time.

Once the telematics device is installed and hard-wired into the vehicles, the technology can capture both automated (such as locations and date/time) as well as driver captured (login, fatigue status) data and automatically transmits the information straight to the back-office via an online platform that interprets and displays it in an easy-to-understand format.

Telematics data can give fleet managers an extremely detailed view of the way their drivers conduct themselves while on the road. This, in turn, can highlight a wide range of driver safety concerns, alerting fleet managers to the need to devise a plan for addressing them. However, just having this data alone cannot deliver improvements in driver safety. 

One of the key advantages of telematics is that it provides fleet managers with the hard data they need to develop training programs tailored to the needs of individual drivers, addressing specific areas of concern.

Benifits of telematics systems

  • Decreased fuel costs: Telematics can help identify areas of waste, such as vehicle idling or fuel slippage, and allow fleet managers to address them promptly, which positively impacts fuel efficiency and the bottom line.
  • Improved safety: Continuous feedback regarding driving style and driving behavior lets fleet managers coach drivers and 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 data, drivers can help avoid traffic delays and plan for inclement weather. Back-office managers can quickly and easily attribute any new or additional site visits to the nearest vehicle and instruct them on the most efficient route to get there.
  • Improve Driver Productivity: Employees will often drive and work more efficiently when they know their vehicle is being monitored; they know that their fleet manager can see if they’re idling too long in one location, taking longer than usual to complete a job, or going off route.

Which industries are using telematics?

Telematics is being used across many industries, and its usage continues to expand into new ones, such as boat and jet ski rentals and many more:

  • Government. Improving snow and ice management, trash collection, street cleaning, and more.
  • Heavy Equipment. Keeping heavy equipment fleets well-maintained and preventing theft.
  • Public Safety. Monitoring the location of emergency vehicles to improve response rates and officer safety.
  • Truck Fleets. Monitoring fleets to ensure shipments are delivered to their destination safely and on time.
  • Construction. Reporting on performance diagnostics, fuel usage, and maintenance schedule. 
  • Oil & Gas. Monitoring oil and gas extraction and transportation activities to increase efficiency and worker safety. 
  • Refrigeration. Monitoring the temperature of cold- or heat-sensitive products to ensure safety and reduce spoilage.
  • Mobile Service Providers. Monitoring vehicles and employees working for internet, electric, and other service providers as they move from one property to another.

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.

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