Telematics is a business intelligence software that has a range of applications for fleet management. It centralises information about vehicle location, other data relating to vehicle activity, and information from connected technology and software.
While vehicle tracking is one important attribute of telematics systems, telematics performs a range of other functions as well. Besides its vehicle tracker capabilities, there are three main areas where telematics systems can deliver real improvements. These are enhancing and simplifying communication, raising standards of driver behaviour, and facilitating better workflow through technology and software integration.
Q: What can telematics systems do to simplify communication?
A: Ongoing communication between vehicle units and fleet operator headquarters is essential to fleet management. Operators need to keep in touch with drivers not just to keep track of their location, but also to assign jobs, provide in-vehicle feedback, and so on. But drivers, at the same time, need to be free to do their work – being contacted by phone or text, for example, is a distraction they could do without. Telematics technology helps to rationalise much of this communication, so that operators can provide automated messages, keeping drivers up to date without distracting them from their jobs. This helps to enhance both productivity and road safety.
Q: What insights does telematics give us into driver behaviour?
A: Telematics systems provide fleet managers with exceptionally detailed insights into the way their drivers behave when behind the wheel. In particular, telematics systems can highlight particular instances and patterns of bad behaviour while driving. Dangerous driving conduct such as tailgating, excessive speeding, rough cornering and harsh braking can all be flagged up to managers by telematics systems. In this way, telematics can support ongoing training programmes and serves as an invaluable tool to support continuous improvement.
Q: How can this telematics data be used to improve road safety and change driver behaviour?
A: Because telematics data provides finely detailed insights into driver behaviour, it also enables fleet managers to devise training and development programmes tailored to address the particular shortcomings of individual drivers. So, for example, if a driver demonstrates a persistent tendency to brake harshly, their managers can alter their ongoing development programme to include training in this specific area. Fleet operators can also use driver telematics data to encourage a degree of healthy competition among the workforce. One way of doing this would be to set up a league table, with the safest drivers rewarded for their efforts. Additional rewards could be offered to those drivers who have made the biggest improvements with regard to safety. Schemes such as this should help to create good-natured competition while simultaneously providing an attractive incentive for better behaviour on the roads. This is all part of the wider task of creating a culture of good road safety.
Telematics also helps to enhance road safety through technology integration. Teletrac Navman’s DRIVE app comes equipped with a comprehensive range of in-vehicle tools to connect the field with the office, including instant two-way messaging, job dispatch (with navigation, driver ID, driver feedback, proof of delivery and workflow management. In addition, telematics is a living system, allowing fleet managers to manage operations by exception, creating standard work processes and highlighting activity which breaks this mould.
Q: What is freight exchange and how can telematics help?
A: Freight exchange platforms allow fleet operators (and owner-operator sole traders) to trade spare vehicle capacity, which helps them to maximise productivity and reduce excess capacity. These platforms connect users and enable fleet managers to put any spare capacity they might have to more efficient use. Telematics systems can help to facilitate this kind of freight exchange by providing instant alerts when a new load has become available and sharing status updates with exchange partners, as well as using GPS data to match vehicles with available loads in their general vicinity. Telematics also helps to simplify the management of workflows and increase job despatch accuracy. Teletrac Navman also offers a range of other integrations through its Connect+ app hub, including with Fleet Check (allowing users to access fuel card data, for example) and Maxoptra for scheduling and optimisation.
Q: How can telematics simplify scheduling and routing?
A: Telematics systems greatly simplify scheduling and routing by integrating them with vehicle tracking and driver performance. As well as allowing for more efficient scheduling, telematics systems provide fleet managers with real-time information on vehicles’ progress, and allow for reactive re-routing where necessary – for example, where disruption is anticipated on the roads, telematics systems can provide an alternative route and instantly notify the driver. This also means better standards of customer service, as it helps to make sure that deliveries reach clients sooner than they otherwise would. In addition, telematics also allows for enhanced maintenance scheduling. Odometer-based service alerts enable managers to ensure that vehicle maintenance tasks are completed according to schedule.