Telematics technology for the trucking industry has been around for decades, but until recent years, the focus on telematics was primarily used for tracking, mapping/route optimization, and dispatching functions. While these are certainly important aspects of fleet management, advances in truck specifications and design and telematics technology are unlocking a whole new level of fleet management. These advancements are changing the industry’s perspective on the definition of fleet management. Specifically, the application and use of the vehicle network and data collected by the Engine Control Module (ECM).
Today, a fleet that is not utilizing technology to optimize truck and driver performance is losing thousands of dollars a year per truck. Recognizing that 60% - 80% of the truck operating costs (primarily maintenance and fuel) are associated to the truck itself, it is important to ask the questions: Has your truck specification and configuration been updated with new technology to reduce maintenance cost, improve fuel economy and enhance its future resale value? Are you monitoring the performance of the truck in order to identify poor performance and identify root causes in order to take corrective actions?
The advancement of the technology provides a wealth of data that when transformed into meaningful formats and analyzed correctly, provides actionable and critical insight into what is actually happening with the truck and its associated performance and cost. While this data has been available for years, the struggle has been how to provide it in a meaningful and understandable format. While many have attempted, few have succeeded. When a fleet finds the right partner who can provide that information and guide a fleet in optimizing its performance, it has dramatic impact in reducing costs while adding a new dimension to the historical definition of fleet management. This information impacts every aspect of the vehicle operation including mpg performance, maintenance and repair, safety, fleet sustainability and vehicle lifecycles.
When fleets are looking for the best telematics technology partner(s), the selection criteria should go beyond the amount of data that can be collected. The selection criteria should be heavily weighted on how intuitive the data is presented and whether it is analyzed to offer and present actionable business intelligence to optimize the fleet’s performance. History has taught us that data is one thing; however, how you interpret and act on data is another thing– it demonstrates the value in the overall data equation.
Today, there is a plethora of data available from the engine ECM. Everyone from the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM’s) to the fleet managers can achieve substantial value and savings from utilizing the right business intelligence tools to understand what the data is telling them. The questions that every fleet manager and every CFO should be asking themselves is, “Are we looking at the right cost elements to optimally manage our fleet as well as are we lagging behind on the recent advancements and still using out-of-date practices of the past?” If you can’t answer those questions with confidence, you are probably missing out on an opportunity to reduce your operating costs by as much as 10-15% per truck.