What Is Telematics And Why Do You Need To Know About It?

The modern transportation business is advancing rapidly, and if you wish to stay in the game, you’ll have to adapt quickly. Any business setup relying on outdated methods and obsolete practices is bound to be replaced by new, more adaptable ones.

Telematics has gained much acclaim in recent years but was relatively unknown only a few years back. This modern fleet management system integrates all aspects of modern communication and mapping tools to help your fleet be on time, always, without fail.

As a manager or business owner, you will have more control over your vehicles through telematics and will be able to make the whole process much more transparent as well.

You can better monitor the staff and come up with ways to optimize your business protocol to make it more efficient and profitable!

Defining Telematics

An oversimplified definition of telematics would be the fusion of telecommunications and informatics, but it goes much beyond this. It involves transmitting information across miles but making it look like you’re in the vehicle’s passenger seat being monitored.

So strong is the potential of telematics that distances seem meaningless before its might.

It finds use even in non-commercial settings, but it shows its real muscle when used in the commercial sector. Move a few years back in time, and you wouldn’t even have heard this name, and today, it is all that fleet operators talk about.

The most important catalyst in this change was the rise of the internet, which brought unprecedented progress in communication by sealing miles in seconds. As data transfer became easier and easier, advancement in positioning technologies was bound to become better.

Telematics contributes vastly to any relevant business’s success by improving supervisors’ monitoring capabilities, promoting communications, and allowing for smart strategy execution. The biggest reason people are turning to this system is that it brings to the table and is still pretty affordable.

Telematics offers:

  • More visibility and transparency to business owners who can remotely manage their fleets
  • Enhanced productivity and efficiency in the business protocol
  • Protection against vehicle theft
  • More accurate delivery time estimates to share with clients (better not to keep them waiting)
  • The satisfaction of customers who value on-time results
  • Statistically significant savings

Telematics Systems Help With Fleet Management & Tracking Drivers

Sensors, GPS, and diagnostic facilities present on-board are the trio that gives rise to the telematics system in any fleet management scenario. Managing a large or even a medium-sized fleet can be a torturous process if you use outdated communication facilities.

In the modern business world, every second count.

If your driver is late, it will send a negative message to the client even in a couple of minutes. All businesses are based on the owner’s reputation, and if you can’t impress your clients will punctuality and a systemic approach, you’re not going to add anything to your reputation.

The best part about telematics is that you don’t have to be on-board to manage everything like a clockwork ship. You will have complete access to all input from your vehicles and will be able to manage all affairs remotely. Imagine being at multiple places at once, and it’s almost like that except that you don’t have to leave the office.

Fleet telematics system comprises of two components which work in unison to yield their effects:

  • A tracking device that uses GPS to transmit the vehicle’s position
  • Software that tracks these signals and lets you visualize the position of your fleet vehicles

These components allow the managers and owners (like you) to stay completely aware of all the progress made in a venture. You’ll be able to monitor even the slightest details about your fleet vehicles and strategize accordingly.

The information is not limited only to the positioning data but also encompasses:

  • Bringing up any maintenance problems demanding your attention.
  • Usage of your fleet vehicles.
  • Questions like how much fuel has been consumed (notify the driver when the tank is low).
  • Informing you of any reckless driving incidences such as pressing down on the accelerator or hitting the brakes harshly (meaning that the car had to be stopped abruptly while going fast).
  • Letting you know when/if the driver over-speeds or if the vehicle is running idly.

Such detailed and thorough information allows you to monitor your drivers’ progress closely and communicate whenever you feel like something is not right. The success of a business is more or less based on transparency. The more you know about the general progress, the better you’ll make the necessary changes.

You can also monitor your fleet vehicles’ state and even warn the drivers of any impending risk, such as a dire maintenance need that should be prioritized. This system also helps you save up on fuel by monitoring its usage and ensuring that none of it is wasted.

Just a side note, conserving fuel is a financially rewarding and moral duty for us all as the inhabitants of this planet, who suffers from fossil fuels’ over-use.

Back to the topic, telematics systems can help you monitor every aspect of your fleet’s performance and work, using first-hand data on improving stuff.

Working Principal & Installation Of Telematics In Fleet Cars

How does a telematics system work? How does it do all the stuff we mentioned earlier?

The device is integrated with a SIM card and is linked directly with the on-board diagnostics system. A modem linked with this device allows the system to transmit data using a high-frequency wireless signal – much like how the internet works, which is then received by the server.

The telematics services provider owns this central server. It processes the received data, gives it a readable format, and then transmits it to the client’s mobile or computer via a secure network connection.

The client will then proceed according to the situation, and if need be, may communicate with the driver, using the same channel, only in the opposite direction.

The installation process varies from device to device, and some require a proper setup while others are simply plug and play type. In either case, these devices are not demanding, and they may either be fueled by batteries or draw in power from the electrical source of the car.

The power requirements are not particularly high either, but they do vary from device to device.

Benefits Of Using A Telematics System

Managers and business owners can ace fleet management, an otherwise challenging task, with relative ease. These systems’ advanced technological potential allows users to act smartly, simplify the whole process, and save up money wherever possible.

In this section, we will discuss the benefits of using telematics systems:

1.     Enhanced Productivity

The whole concept behind installing a telematics system is to boost the productivity of your business. You can get more done when you’re in direct control of what’s happening and can track your drivers’ progress. GPS can help with pointing out where your fleet cars are at the moment and help you map out their location history.

Based on location histories and available knowledge, you can plot out better routes for your fleet and ensure on-time arrival at your client’s doorstep and save your driver from the hassles of a traffic-laden route. Some software even uses algorithms to plot the most suitable and efficient course – a process known as route optimization, allowing you to spend your energies on getting things done.

You can also save up fuel costs by adopting a shorter and smoother course. The money can be put to better use in promoting your business.

2.     More Efficient In Terms Of Saving Money

As mentioned earlier, smarter routes save time and effort and your fuel spending. You can also save up by ensuring that there is little or no vehicle idling. If you do notice an idling fleet car, you have the option to communicate with the driver immediately and to let them know that it’s not okay.

Some advanced software goes as far as pointing out the vehicle used for each driver. You can compare the stats and see if someone’s been wasting fuel. Some coaching will be enough to get them back on track, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the fleet management software pointing out such minute details.

If you’re feeling a bit annoyed by how many times we’ve mentioned fuel in this discussion, then do note that fuel eats up a major portion of the fleet business finances. Putting down operational expenditures is vital for ensuring more profitability and more success for your business.

3.     More Accurate Payroll Calculations

Payroll management is tough, especially when you’re working with estimates rather than actual data. But that won’t be the case if you hook up with a fleet management software that provides precise stats for each employee, virtually automating the whole process and making payroll much easier.

This also eliminates the chance of error from your side and ensures that your judgment is fair. When you know exactly how much a car has traveled, the calculations become factual rather than speculative, as they would’ve been otherwise (even your best guess is still a guess).

4.     Safety Prioritized

Whether you own a massive fleet or a couple of cars, safety can never be put on the backburner. It should be a top-most priority. Telematics systems ensure that it stays so by delivering live data from all of your cars, allowing you to communicate with your driver over any concerns of road safety.

Accidents are not only traumatic, but they are also very costly, more so if your driver is at fault. It is important from a humanitarian, civic, and financial standing that you ensure the strictest adhesion to road safety principles from all of your fleet car drivers.

This, you can do much better with a telematics system to assist you as it constantly updates you about your drivers’ behavioral patterns. If you notice that one of your folks is driving a bit too fast and is harshly pressing on the brakes now and then, communicate immediately.

Conduct regular one-on-one talks with your drivers, keeping those stats in hand, and let them know that you will have none of it – no compromise on road safety. Reward drivers with the best performance, encouraging those with flawed records to do better.

Of course, all of this won’t be much of a deal without those facts and stats on hand.

You can even go one step further with some telematics systems which employ dash cams to record the driver’s progress. This way, your argument will have more weightage, and your driver will lack deniability if he is at fault.

5.     Helpful For Exonerating Not-Guilty Licensed Drivers

But what about the other way around? What if an accident happens and it turns out that your best driver was involved. He swears that it was not his fault, and you have a good reason to believe him, considering his spotless records.

But how do you prove he is not at fault?

Most states follow the ‘at-fault- statute for accident reimbursements, meaning that the party who caused the accident will have to pay the sufferer. But if your driver is not responsible for the accident, you’ll be well in your rights to defend him before a court of law.

The maximum weightage in such scenarios is given to evidence, even more so than testimonies. It has been proven that in truck-car accidents, mostly, the car drivers are at fault. Keeping this in mind, advanced telematics systems install dashcams in your fleet cars to record everything.

If your driver is innocent in the matter, the dashcam recordings will prove it, exonerating the accused of his blame.

Any judge will allow you to present videos from these dashcams, and they can save you from some serious fines.

A small investment with huge paybacks, won’t you say?

6.     Helps In Vehicle Maintenance

Without proper maintenance, your fleet will never be the best it can be. You need to keep a vigilant eye on this stuff, but it is impossible to dig into every little tiny detail on your own. This is where telematics makes the difference once again.

They send over diagnostic reports pointing out maintenance issues, helping you take the much-needed measures timely, and preempt any bigger issues. You can also set up an automated schedule for regular maintenance to prevent any problems on the road.

That’s the best you can do on your part to ensure that the ride goes on smoothly.

Catching maintenance issues before they become any bigger a problem than they already are is also very cost-effective. You will also save yourself from violating road safety laws and maintaining a decent CSA score through timely action, and all made possible by telematics.

7.     Helpful For IFTA Calculations

Don’t you hate that time of the year – the one with all the tax calculations?

IFTA fuel tax calculations are no walk in the park. They can easily eat away hours from your already hectic schedule. While paying the taxes is a legal obligation, and there is no excuse for dodging them, the calculations are the worst!

Luckily, telematics come to the rescue yet again! These systems keep track of your entire fleet, the distance traveled, fuel consumption, and so on. With such details made available easily, the rest is pretty straightforward.

You can save hours, precious hours, which will be much more rewarding if put to better use, such as planning your business expansion or training your drivers to be more responsible on the road.

8.     Promotes Communication

The success of any business is hindered only by a lack of communication. Unless you stay in touch with your team on every turn of the business, you will distance yourself from them and your goals. Fleet management software can help you cover the distance through instant wireless communication.

If you’re noticing some unacceptable activities on your drivers’ part, let them know immediately that this is not okay at all. Such streamlined communication will keep your drivers within professional bounds and ensure that your business flows smoothly.

You also have to keep the customer’s expectations in the loop, so if there’s a sudden change in plans, communicate ASAP with the driver to ask them to proceed accordingly. In such a competitive business world, effective communication will make all the difference for you.

Cost Estimates Of A Telematics System

Now that we’ve discussed the merits for telematics in great length, why not dedicate some time to put a value on the thing. How much does a telematics system cost? This is not as simple a question as first pops the mind; instead, it is composed of multiple steps.

You must consider the device cost, installation fee, and monthly rent/subscriptions. Let’s explore what affects them:

1.     Device Cost

To start, we must account for the cost of the device itself. ELDs (electronic logging devices) have variable features and capacities. Your device’s cost will be primarily determined by how advanced it is. For instance, some devices transmit live data, while others do so after regular intervals.

The two are not equal. While the former allows you to keep an ever-observant eye on whatever is happening, the latter will only update you from time to time. If you’re running low on budget, then you may not have a choice, but if you can choose, always go for the one with a live stream.

Why?

It will drastically improve your fleet management capabilities and manage fleet operations with more control. Of course, it will also be costlier in comparison.

Then there are some devices with dashcams while others lack them.

Quality demands money, this much is certain, but you can save up on a bulk order – given that you have a big enough fleet to equip so many devices.

2.     Installation Costs

In some cases, you won’t even have to pay an installation fee. Some devices are plug and play, so that’s pretty much all you have to do. No installation is involved. But in other cases, the device must be set up by trained professionals.

Depending on the labor involved, the installation fee may vary. For instance, hard-wired devices will demand more effort, and hence setting them up will cost more.

3.     Subscription

The costliest aspect of this deal, in the long run, will be the subscription or monthly rent. You will find several cheap service providers dotted all around you. Still, a few bucks saved from the monthly bill will not compare to the statistically significant savings you can expect to make from valuable data.

Cheaper packages will exclude some of the most crucial details that make telematics an alluring deal. If you manage to pay a bit more, you can secure excellent features and detailed stats about every aspect of your car fleet, including the driver’s behavior.

With this information, you will be better equipped to face your business’s challenges and focus on expanding them further.

Fleetr Offers The Best Telematics Solutions!

As of 2020, we, at Fleetr, are serving over 20,000 vehicles throughout the US. We are part of a well-reputed telematics and fleet management services company that prides itself on its attention to customer expectations and delivery beyond them.

We will not toss you into any delays, complications, or annoying contracts.

For as little as $12.99 per month, you can track the progress of a car while seated comfortably in your office. Even small business owners can maximize their profitability through our ingenious fleet management package.

Just contact us, and we’ll show it how we can make a difference for you!