Unlike what most people would like to believe, the transportation business can be a profitable one. Yes, trucking is a harder business than others, but healthy management and cost-effective techniques can help one cross that line as well. It is also one of the fastest-growing industries in the modern economy, which means that there is so much scope to reach new business heights and achieve goals to build a larger, more efficient operation.
One of the most noteworthy habits that a business owner can inculcate and apply is to be on top of the new developments that are showing up in the industry. A considerably large amount is spent by companies in conducting research and development in their respective fields. The fruit of all this labor is the technology that renders businesses efficient and profitable, which obviate burdensome tasks and reduce administrative loopholes; this makes for more lucrative business and happier customers.
In the trucking business, one such fairly recent advancement has been Artificial Intelligence-powered navigation systems and other communications and informatics-based solutions for transportation companies. All these have been bunched under the umbrella term Telematics.
What is Telematics?
A portmanteau of ‘telecommunications’ and ‘informatics’, the term telematics has only recently gained traction as IT firms have come up with smart, AI-based navigation and tracking solutions to cater to transportation needs.
Wireless telematics gear, which is used widely for effective fleet management, has been rightly termed the “black box” of road transportation. It records and stores for further analysis data as simple as the distance traveled and time is taken to highly specialized metadata such as driver behavior, the number of times the brakes were hit, their intensity, and much more. This data is cloud-stored and is accessible for analysis, such as driver and vehicle performance, and to schedule vehicle maintenance.
It is a simple enough system, where the GPS tracking system connects to the vehicles on-board diagnostics system and transmits data related to location, time, ETA, vehicle condition straight to the directed computer via General Packet Radio Service, or GPRS.
This data is then used by the system and management for analysis and further workings.
Telematics and the Accounts Books
Fleet managers are always on the lookout for instances where money can be saved. Smart telematics can be called, taking the metaphor forward, the lens via which it has become easier to spot such opportunities.
The real advantage of telematics is how the data it collects is assembled and analyzed later to highlight key areas where efficiency can be achieved and expenses saved. Listed below are some of the ways in which advanced fleet management software are helping transportation companies earn more:
1. Route Optimization
Perhaps the main course of the feast, route optimization with the help of GPS and the Internet of Things, can be of great help. The GPS, which earlier only assisted in navigation, now summons the powers of the omniscient internet and uses logic and machine learning to quickly analyze the topography and come up with the fastest and safest route among the many.
GPS tracking systems possess the power to use the internet to not only see which way is the shortest, but also scan through news articles and public domain websites to factor in any possible hindrance that the driver might encounter in the way, such as road construction, or a diversion. This can also be done mid-way, and the system will automatically suggest to the driver a change of route.
Two major pecuniary benefits accrue from using this technology. Time and money on fuel, areas of concern for all fleets, are efficiently put to use. Managers get to save on fuel by using the fastest routes, and faster deliveries result in happy customers as well as the capacity to take in more orders.
2. Saving on Maintenance
Fleet vehicles travel long miles, and although built for heavy-duty use, everyone needs a break, and our machine friends are no different. Long travel entails a lot of braking, revving, start-and-stop action, which can take a toll on the vehicle, and left unchecked, can have disastrous consequences.
PdM or predictive maintenance is one of the many functions that AI-based telematics performs. Managers of most transportation firms either neglect vehicle workups or pay a lot of attention to them, and both of these practices result in heavy expenditure.
The right way to maintain a vehicle is to know the right time when a workup is needed. GPS tracking systems save terabytes worth of vehicular metadata on cloud computing. This historical data, the vehicle’s travel history, and even the driver’s behavior are used to analyze when a workup is needed.
This condition-based, rather than intuition-based approach, is much more cost-efficient.
3. Compliance, Insurance, and Safety
Recent laws, the Electronic Logging Devices mandate, for instance, have pushed the digital envelope forward. Most fleet vehicle makers now offer pre-installed GPS tracking systems, which is in accordance with such statutes. This makes the compliance rigmarole paper and tension-free and allows managers and drivers to focus more on their work.
Other than than, insurance makers offer a premium discount to fleet operators using telematics. This discount is based on the safety that such systems ensure.
GPS tracking systems record driver behavior behind the wheel, such as hard braking, excessive lane changing, and speeding. Drivers are more cautious when they know their activities are being recorded, and thus, GPS systems prevent the potential costs of damage from accidents that could’ve occurred.
Moreover, in the case of vehicle thefts, those equipped with GPS tracking systems are much more likely to be recovered than those who are not.
All in All
So at the end of the day, telematics solutions do tip the scales in the company’s favor. Smart analysis and route optimization help save the bucks on fuel and maintenance while allowing a more comfortable driving schedule for drivers. Such systems also improve truck safety while also supporting come several variants suited to the budget and needs of small, medium, or large businesses.
Samsara is one of the leading brands in telematics solutions and fleet management.