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What are Telematics Device? How does it works for Fleet Management
Simran Kaur
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Published on 4th Jun 22
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What are Telematics Device? How does it works for Fleet Management

Are you a fleet manager? If yes, you might have a long wish list for your business. Your list may include things such as meeting compliance standards, reducing fuel costs across your whole fleet, and improving your fleet’s safety record. The good news is that you can accomplish all these goals with telematics.

There is no doubt that a fleet of vehicles plays an important role in the day-to-day operations of many organizations, and that successful fleet management is crucial. Of course, if a vehicle is not available when somebody needs it, that person will not really be able to perform their job. You should also keep in mind that operating a fleet involves considerable costs, like fuel expenses. This technology helps improve the safety and reliability of transport systems, and also optimizes cargo motion routes while reducing costs.

Given its significance and the immense costs involved, many organizations hand the reins over to a fleet manager. This is why a fleet manager is responsible for reducing costs while delivering high availability of a reliable and safe fleet of vehicles.

Telematics systems are primarily used by companies or service providers in the automotive or fleet management industry to offer vehicle tracking and communication services. Vehicle Telematics is what makes Real-Time monitoring of vehicles possible. A feature credited for revolutionizing the transportation industry by making the operations more transparent and technology-driven.

Telematics: Meaning and Definition

Telematics definition can be understood as a nexus between telecommunication, i.e., how communication occurs over long distances, and informatics, making data and information communicable between computers and humans. In simple terms, if one is looking for an appropriate telematics definition, a telematics system makes it possible for vehicular data to be collected and communicated to the end-user through a monitoring software of sorts.

An excellent example for us to understand how telematics system works is through ride-sharing or e-taxi applications like Uber, Ola, etc. They use an advanced vehicle telematics system to track and communicate real-time location, speed, estimated time, and other information to both the customers and their team for all the vehicles in their fleet.

How does telematics work?

Contrary to popular belief, telematics is more than just GPS or navigation. It is an entire system for communicating every practical detail regarding the vehicle in the most efficient way. To understand how it works, we need to break it down into a list of its components.

Basics of telematics systems

The foundation of telematics is the commercialization of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the internet, making satellite data more accessible for both private and commercial use.

The advancement in GPS technology allows for more accurate location and vehicle-related data to be collected. At the same time, the internet and machine-to-machine communication technology makes it possible for that data to be communicated into helpful insight and shared across to the end-user.

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Components of telematics systems

The most crucial component of a telematics system is a telematics device, popularly called a Black Box. A black box is fitted in the vehicle and can collect and transfer essential information regarding the car and driver to the telematics system, some of which include,

  1. GPS location
  2. Speed
  3. Mileage
  4. Trip recordings
  5. Drive times
  6. Time on location
  7. Fuel usage
  8. Driving related behavior (in case of harsh driving)
  9. Other data related to vehicle utility & Driver-related details

More data is collected based on the kind of black box installed. In case of accidents, the black box is very crucial for insurance claims. Opening up another avenue for telematics called insurance telematics. Additional information like,

  1. Engine load
  2. Engine temperature
  3. Errors
  4. Seatbelt use
  5. Cruise control
  6. Status of the door (open or close)

And others can also be gathered, providing additional analysis related to driver maintenance, sustainability, etc.

Functions of telematics systems

The black box can connect to various ports, including CAN-bus, OBD-port, or native sensors like ignition, fuel gauge, door sensors, etc., to gather data. The internal algorithm makes sense of this data and creates pre-formatted information.

This data is transmitted to an external platform or software in real-time through the standard cellular network using the internal SIM card. From there, the end-user can access and analyze all these metrics from a single dashboard.

Why do we need telematics technology?

Telematics has carved out an essential role for its use in various industries and businesses. Whether it is ride-sharing apps or public transport, or, to a particular extent, logistics & fleet management services, some companies wouldn't exist without an efficient telematics system.

Vehicle telematics in private & public transportation

For private and public transportation, a telematics system helps the business or the user by providing real-time information regarding the vehicle's location. It does so by using GPS technology to offer navigation, routing, fleet monitoring, which has become an integral part of the way we use public and private transport today.

Today, if we can,

  1. Navigate our cars to the required destination without asking for directions from bystanders
  2. Track and enquire about the location of the bus or train in real-time
  3. Monitor the status of our food delivery through our phone screens
  4. Get an estimated time for us to reach our destination in a ride-sharing taxi,

And so much more, we have a highly efficient and technological driven vehicle telematics to thank!

Vehicle Telematics in Industry and Fleet Management

Automotive telematics has revolutionized the logistics industry in more than one way. Tracking logistics operations with thousands of vehicles in their fleet was impossible until a couple of years ago.

The entire process of logistics & transportation of goods was riddled with inefficiencies due to the lack of transparency in the fleet movement. Fleet managers were dependent on drivers for updates through phones. In remote areas, poor signal strength meant a complete lack of communication.

The lack of foresight resulted in inefficiencies like theft of goods, high operational costs resulting from poor route planning & navigation, delayed shipments, loss of revenue, and countless others, which incurred heavy financial and operational burdens of businesses. Today, with the introduction of automotive telematics, companies and fleet managers can,

  • Monitor and track the location of each vehicle in their fleet through a centralized system,
  • Plan and navigate through the most efficient route for each trip,
  • Save cost by employing telematic-based fuel management systems to monitor fuel usage,
  • Manage and schedule fleet maintenance and breakdowns,
  • And so much more. Telematics has brought in much-needed transparency to logistics operations required for optimal performance.

Truck telematics for construction vehicles

A use case for construction vehicles would be mixing transport trucks which uses a revolving drum attached to the vehicle for mixing materials such as cement. A Telematics system for such vehicles involves a drum rotation sensor that detects rotations at a location. Integrating such sensors with a telematics system could help companies accurately monitor drum rotations by measuring rotating speed, total drum operation time, number of starts, temperature, among others. These metrics can be transmitted to the server and made available to the user via their fleet management software on their phone or computer. By accurately measuring such metrics companies can improve their operational efficiency and improve the life of the vehicle as well.

Another use case for truck telematics for construction vehicles could be preventing cargo theft and unwanted cargo drop-offs which are quite common with construction vehicles like dumpers while loading and unloading. Dumper vehicles fitted with sensors like tilt sensor, load dump proximity sensor integrated with telematics system offer complete transparency in loading-unloading operation, avoid blind spots, and monitor the tilt angle while loading and unloading which helps the operator keep track of the load, avoid breakdowns, and mishaps.

Let’s Sum Up: What are the top 5 benefits of using telematics for commercial operations?

It is a no-brainer that a wide array of users uses telematics technology. They can range from taxi-aggregators like Ola, Uber, and large-scale fleet service providers or logistics companies. However, telematics offers benefits that every user can realize regardless of their use case or industry despite the various use cases and drives.

Let's look at some of the key benefits companies get by employing telematics technology in their operations.

  1. Telematics systems offer complete transparency in operations to business owners.
  2. Telematics systems improve accountability and safety
  3. Telematics systems improve productivity and overall operational efficiency.
  4. Telematics systems enhance route planning and fleet optimization for better performance.
  5. Telematics systems offer better compliance and seamless integration.

Should your business use a telematics system for better fleet management?

The logistics industry is rapidly evolving to becoming more technology-centric; however, there is still a need for widespread acceptance in day-to-day operations.

There are people who are still struggling with questions, and some of the most common problems like:

  • How do I cut down operational costs for my fleet?
  • How to reduce fuel consumption and engine idling?
  • How to check if my driver is speeding or rash driving?
  • How do I prevent theft of goods in on-route vehicles?
  • How to keep track of all the cars in my fleet?
  • How can I avoid challans for expired Eway bills?

On a closer analysis of these questions, one can conclude that most of the problems mentioned above can be resolved by equipping the fleet with an advanced telematics system. Whether the fleet is small or large, operation intra-city or pan-country, companies, in general, have greatly benefitted from employing telematics systems in their operations.

What the Future Holds?

While telematics is a novel field that has emerged comparatively recently, there is no doubt that it will only continue to develop and improve as technology advances. We may, in particular, see more innovative developments coming out in relation to big data that can really shape the future of telematics. Keep in mind that as technological wonders, such as self-driving cars, start to see more deployment, fleet tracking and management can play a bigger role in the IoT (Internet of Things).

We can say that the rising popularity of fleet tracking, especially in the automotive sector, has certainly been a big turning point for fleet safety and efficiency. And as it continues gaining momentum, there are some emerging technology trends you have to keep an eye on. We know that data is at the center of any robust telematics platform. However, understanding that particular data and then actually acting on it can often be challenging.

This is why you see many GPS tracking and management solutions present their customers with intelligent tools that can help weed through the raw data.

Sensors, cameras, as well as more advanced GPS, have definitely led to better self-driving cars. Also, it is worth noting that the unseating of many 4G cellular networks is a key trend that will likely see a significant rise as most providers in the country connect to much faster 5G and LTE networks.

While the human element will certainly remain prominent, note that autonomous cars, coupled with advanced telematics, have the immense potential to considerably reduce operating costs, automate mundane tasks and increase hours of service. The world is advancing, are you?

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