Vehicle tracking and routing – telematics
Fleet tracking technology uses telematics, a technology that includes GPS navigation and geolocation, to confirm precisely where vehicles and other assets are at all times. Telematics relies on a series of sensors and transmitters, which can be installed and attached to truck components such as the engine. Other telematics devices include portable units operated by the driver. Telematics allows electronic vehicle tracking, which is helpful for security, ensuring that these resources are where they are supposed to be. The tracking function can aid in the recovery of property and help prevent unauthorized or off-hours movement.
The ability to locate vehicles in real time allows fleet managers or dispatchers to route vehicles on the move. Managers can respond to reports of traffic congestion, bad weather or other issues and redirect the vehicles, reducing or eliminating excess mileage or travel hours. Vehicle fleets that use telematics tracking and routing can realize much greater productivity through this intelligent route plotting.
Vehicle and equipment maintenance
Telematics enables drivers and fleet managers to operate vehicles under optimal conditions. Vehicle sensors monitor performance parameters such as engine temperature, tire pressure, engine idle time and fuel consumption. When these inputs are recorded and transmitted to the fleet manager, he or she can make the necessary adjustments, which includes responding to alerts when an engine breakdown is imminent. Prompt attention to these alerts can avert a costly breakdown and downtime.
Equipment monitoring helps the fleet manager develop a regular schedule of required maintenance that not only can prevent failures, it can increase the service life of these assets.
The cost of fuel is a major expense in vehicle fleets. With telematics, the advantages of efficient vehicle routing and engine monitoring can result in a significant reduction in fuel consumption and cost.
Driver monitoring and electronic logbooks
Commercial motor vehicle drivers in many job categories are required to keep track of their hours of service (driving and on-duty) time, in order to avoid exceeding limits specified by law. Fleet management includes ensuring that drivers maintain their hours of service within these limits.
Drivers maintain a record of their hours of service. In 2017, the Federal legislation requires these records to be on electronic logbooks, available for inspection by law enforcement and other government agencies.
In addition to ensuring that drivers comply with their hours of service restrictions, fleet managers use driver monitoring to help them identify driver behaviors such as excessive speed or hard braking. When the fleet managers recognize a pattern of these incidents they can institute additional training or other corrective measures.
In the United States and parts of Canada, commercial truckers participate in the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA), a system of taxation that simplifies the payment of required fuel taxes when operating across state lines. Fleet management includes compliance with IFTA regulations and maintenance of IFTA records.
Fleet management is a constantly evolving practice that benefits from advances in technology. Some professionals anticipate that the next addition to fleet management will include over-the-air (OTA) security and control using unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly known as drones.