What Is Vehicle Telematics & How Does It Work?
Telematics is the perfect blend of telecommunication and informatics. Put simply, telematics is like seeing and communicating with your drivers as they do their job while sitting comfortably within your office. On your end, you’ll be constantly updated about the live location of your fleet vehicles and other stats, and you’ll be free to communicate whenever you feel that you should.
But how does all of this work?
It all comes together with a form of technology called the Global Positioning System, shortened as GPS, which can help you locate any traceable asset (if it has a tracker installed in it) from anywhere within the world. This is a ubiquitous technology and finds use in almost all modern gadgets, including mobile phones, for location sharing, navigation, and even for your fast food ordering apps.
But the real potential of GPS comes in the form of telematics fleet tracking, which goes beyond simply sharing locational updates. Instead, it creates a wholesome management experience for a fleet manager sitting remotely but connected with the drivers as if they were sitting in the passenger seat with every single one of them. This is no exaggeration. The details of telematics data and stats shared are so vivid that it is almost like watching the whole thing unfold before you.
The tracker, which is either hard-wired into the vehicle or simply plugged into the OBD panel, depending on its type, transmits wireless data to a network of satellites. These satellites then forward the signals to a server computer that is owned by the company that sells the said tracker, from where it is forwarded as a private wireless signal to the user connected with the said tracker via the company’s application.
As the location of the vehicle changes in real-time, so does that of the dot representing it on the phone’s screen on your end.
Plus, based on the information coming from the OBD panel, the app also shares input about the vehicle’s maintenance needs as they come. And it also monitors other things like the movements of the vehicle, i.e., if they are swift or unsafe, and extrinsic factors, such as traffic density on various routes.
You’ll be able to review all of this and more via telematics while sitting in your office.
Why Do You Need Vehicle Telematics System?
Now that we understand what telematics is let’s try and explore what it can do for you. We know already that vehicle telematics systems are much more than mere surveillance tools. They are a fleet management asset, but how will they make a difference for a small fleet? Well, in several ways, for instance, they can streamline communication, improve fuel usage efficiency, reduce operation costs, etc.
Here’s what fleet tracking can do for you:
Telematics is a tool for bridging the gap between the fleet managers sitting remotely and the drivers working on the roads. The idea is to unite the two without constantly interrupting the latter with phone calls about location updates.
A fleet manager must know where their drivers are if they’re to give precise orders and reroute some of their vehicles to adjust an emergency customer. The only way to do so is to give the fleet managers a couple of eyes in the sky, which is what telematics and GPS tracking do.
Knowing where the drivers are at a given moment, fleet managers can keep an eye on their progress and adherence to schedule and manage them if the plan changes. Transparency via telematics helps both the fleet manager and the drivers. After all, the latter will be assessed on merit, and thus hard work will not go unnoticed.
Plus, it also helps fleet managers ensure safety for their drivers by regulating their on-road behavior.
There is something about the feeling of being monitored that makes people outperform themselves. But telematics fleet tracking does much more than this in terms of boosting team efficiency. Through better route planning and asset management, fleet managers can ensure that they get the best out of their team every day without fail.
Remember that planning things ahead of time can cut costs and time needed to actually do those things, and when you can adjust the said plans on short notice without sacrificing the success of the rest of your endeavors, then we’re really talking. Plus, not having to constantly annoy the drivers with calls for updates will let them do their work with total peace of mind.
Thus, in every way imaginable, vehicle telematics systems make fleet management more fruitful.
Better Communication On Both Ends
Communication is a professional skill, but the craft is to know when to communicate and when to give your teammates the space they need to do their work. If you constantly bug them on the phone about their progress, they’re not likely to get much done. Of course, if you stay completely distant, they’ll lose the will to push themselves to their limits.
But how can you find the perfect balance?
Need – this should be your trigger.
Now that you can see where your fleet drivers are and where they are headed, you only have to contact them if you need to and not otherwise. This also applies if a customer calls for an ETA, you don’t have to call your driver for an estimate here because you yourself can give an appropriate answer to the client based on the data you’ve got on your screen.
Thus efficiency is assured in the communications department as well.
Minimizes Operation Costs
Telematics, apart from aiding fleet management, also ensures that the overall efficiency of the fleet vehicles also improves. Financial drains owing to fuel wastage, poor asset management, and overall inefficiency of the operations may not seem like much when you look at things one day at a time, but over time, the losses will be mounting.
You can and should put this money to good use rather than losing, and the way forward here is to cut down on anything that creates losses for your business. For instance, if it is fuel wastage, telematics will help you reduce idling and avoid taking longer than necessary routes for each stop.
This is one way you can hope to save some serious money in an ever-competitive business market.
As a fleet manager, part of your job is to make sure that your business is not spending more than it needs to get things done. Even the smallest possible fraction that can be saved must be conserved because the sum will multiply over time. Plus, you’ll have several drains eating away at the business profits at any given time, so all put together, you’ll save your business enough to make improvements, introduce incentives, and so on.
Creates Room For Growth
Lastly, you need to find ways to get the most out of your fleet business. Fleet managers can only do so much on their own. After all, managing many different vehicles can be challenging, and who would want more on their plate than they can barely consume at the moment?
This also applies to fleet managers. You can’t expect them to handle more than a couple of vehicles at a time, at least not without a vehicle telematics system. There is no other way for them to stay in the loop of all that’s happening on the road, i.e., your fleet management ambitions can only expand if you equip your managers with the tools they need to better communicate with everyone.
Plus, telematics makes everything simpler, i.e., a manager will easily be able to assess whether or not someone is adhering to the schedule and performing as well as they can.
Thus through better monitoring and effective teamwork via telematics, you’ll create room for your business to grow more than it would otherwise.
Features To Look For In A Telematics System?
Now that we’ve understood how telematics works and why it is important to make your business as good as possible let’s go into a little more detail about how it works, or more specifically, how it should work. What features set apart the decent vehicle telematics systems from the rest of the crowd, and how can you ensure that you end up with the perfect deal?
Well, it all lies in observation. You need to be on the lookout for the following:
Live Location Tracking
Live location tracking refers to the ability to follow the movements of your vehicles as they happen in real-time. You can find all such details by reading through the product descriptions of fleet tracking software. Make sure that such features have been mentioned in the descriptions to be able to judge the effectiveness of a product better.
The dots on your screen, a live map, will constantly move in correspondence to the actual displacement of your cars. The live location differs from interval-based updates, in which case the screen is refreshed after some time, i.e., a minute or half a minute, revealing the new location.
If you want to execute precise and informed decisions, you need precise data, which is only possible with live location tracking.
Idling & Maintenance Alerts
Idling is a constant source of fuel drain for your fleet vehicles. Normally, there is no guarantee for drivers that they’ll avoid getting stuck in traffic. Still, we know that this is possible with fleet tracking due to the highly effective route optimization feature.
Idling alerts will notify you immediately if one of your cars is running idle and wasting fuel, and you’ll be able to communicate with the driver to ask them to turn off the engine when they’re not on the move. There can be several instances where idling can become a problem, most prominently when drivers decide to keep their cars running during a delivery.
In any case, it needs to stop.
The same is true for maintenance issues; it is highly inconvenient to have your vehicle break down in the middle of the road when you were already running late for a delivery. This can mess up your entire schedule and much more than that.
Maintenance trouble can even invite accidents. Thus it is important to get things fixed before they become a nuisance or a possible safety risk. But regular maintenance checks can only do so much to reveal issues. Luckily, telematics comes to the rescue yet again.
Vehicle telematics systems have a built-in system for maintenance alerts that notify fleet managers of any upcoming issue to resolve in time. This telematics data comes from the OBD panel directly, so not everything will be covered, but for the most part, these alerts will help you avoid on-road trouble and ensure that you get all maintenance work done on time.
You also need to stay in the loop of all that is happening on the road. Your drivers’ behaviors will be considered as a reflection of your company policies. Failing to ensure complete safety for the public by insisting on prioritizing safe driving practices will have negative consequences.
The fleet business can be stressful enough to compel drivers to speed beyond the given limit or drive recklessly, but you must not allow this. Luckily, fleet tracking via telematics will let you observe whenever such a thing happens; you’ll be alerted of any unsafe driving behavior so that you can ask your driver to drive safely.
Remember, if your driver gets involved in an accident while driving the company vehicle, you’ll be in big trouble. The legal consequences can be overwhelming. Thus it is better to ensure safe driving practices to begin with rather than regretting not doing so later on.
PS, the detailed telematics data will also help you counter any false accusations if your driver did not cause an accident.
Next, you should be able to trace wherever your fleet vehicles traveled on any given day.
It is not possible to keep your eyes glued to the screen for the whole day. Fleet managers have many other things to deal with, but at the same time, you need to make sure that your fleet vehicles were only used for company work.
You can monitor the location history at the end of the day or whenever you feel comfortable doing so. The data will give you all the information you need to make long-term decisions, i.e., if someone is completely non-compliant.
You can also use these location histories to create even better routes if you feel that the current one is less efficient.
Fleet tracking software also helps you create automated daily performance reports, which will be a great replacement for your manual logs. Manual register entries are unreliable, and there is no way to verify whether the amount of work noted on the register has actually been done.
This is not to say that you should doubt the honesty of your workers. Instead, we suggest you stop relying on someone’s ability to remember details and report them accurately. Use fact-based telematics data instead that has not been subject to any tampering.
This way, you’ll be better able to assess the performance of your workers.
This is another area where telematics helps improve business efficiency for both small and large fleets. By selecting the most appropriate route based on distance, traffic density, possible delays, number of turns, complexity, and average travel times, you can ensure that your drivers will never run late for their stops.
Plus, if something ever happens that forces you to reroute your vehicles, you’ll be able to draw out a new optimized route via your vehicle telematics system in no time.
Mobile Phone Compatibility
In the ever-busy modern era, it is impossible to stay in front of your PC screen for the entire day – you’ve got other things to do. This should not come in the way of your fleet management endeavors, and thus mobile phone compatibility is a must for telematics applications.
This way, you’ll be able to track your vehicles on the go and respond to any emergencies as soon as they happen, owing to the notifications and alerts.
Fleetr Is The Perfect Vehicle Telematics Systems For Small Businesses
Telematics is all about creating a hub for communication and data analysis for fleet managers, i.e., the idea is to deliver everything they need to know on one screen. Despite the complexity of the algorithms that enables the features we discussed above, telematics is as simple as things get.
With just a couple of taps and clicks, you’ll be managing your fleet like it is nothing at all. As a fleet tracking company, we ensure this simplicity via its simple UI and easy acquisition and usage policy. All you have to do is sign up for a $9.99 per vehicle per month subscription to get started.
We won’t demand any commitments from you, neither will we ever ask for any hidden charges, initiation fees, or installation dues – the monthly rent will be all. The tracker is a plug-and-play device and will be shipped to your place free of cost.
Plus, you can cancel anytime.
Call us today for more information on how Fleetr can help you get the best out of your fleet!