By Andrew Overton, CEO at fleet technology and connected vehicle solutions provider, Connexas Group.
From onboard sensors monitoring the temperature inside a refrigerated container to GPS speed or location monitoring, access to real-time data has become a vital management tool for the tech-savvy fleet manager. But are they making the most of the available data?
The latest telematics systems have been designed with ease of use in mind, operating via a single box, which receives data from a host of onboard sensors and other equipment. The volume of data received by these systems has grown exponentially in recent years, making it increasingly difficult for operators to access the information they need to drive performance. To address this problem, they are increasingly calling upon tech partners to develop solutions that are customised according to their KPIs.
To help operators to make the right decisions at the right moment, in order to improve their efficiency and/or safety performance, the most advanced telematics systems are capable of gathering data at a rate of 2 Hz per second, much faster than earlier systems. They also make use of custom-developed algorithms and machine learning to help sift and analyse the available data, before communicating it to the fleet manager.
One area where access to real-time data plays a critical role in service delivery is the cold chain market. When transporting perishable food products, or other temperature-sensitive goods such as pharmaceuticals, use of a reliable onboard temperature monitoring system is vital to ensure that they have been stored in a temperature-controlled environment during transit. Equipped with the latest connected vehicle technologies, managers are able to monitor and control the air temperature inside the container remotely, sending alerts if it dips below a safe level.
Other vehicle and driver data can be harnessed to deliver value to the operator in other ways. For example, onboard camera systems and CCTV can be trained to help managers to improve safety standards by predicting and preventing at-fault accidents. Making visual data available via the same single-box telematics system, which is integrated with AR, face recognition and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), means it is possible to detect lane departure or send attention alerts to the driver and their manager simultaneously, minimising the risk of the driver falling asleep at the wheel.
Similarly, camera technology can identify if a driver is using a mobile phone or other hand-held device, so corrective action can be taken immediately. In the event of an accident, footage taken prior to and after the accident can be replayed in real-time in order to provide the insurance company with information or to inform driver behaviour training.
Already being piloted in the UK, the most advanced telematics systems are capable of detecting a seemingly limitless amount of data - the speed a vehicle is travelling, the engine’s RPM, accelerator use, what gear the vehicle is in, tyre pressure, engine temperature, oil and water levels and much more. Sifting this data in order to get the right information to the relevant manager is key to harnessing its value. For example, if a tyre is losing pressure, sending an alert to the transport manager in real-time could help to prevent a blowout.
Similarly, if a driver starts the engine of a vehicle without entering a tacho card into the onboard reader, or an alcohol interlock device indicates they have given a sample that is close to, or over, the legal alcohol limit, sending an alert to the compliance manager could help to minimise the risk of prosecution and prevent a potential accident.
The latest telematics systems have become a live management tool that businesses can be pre-set to support them in achieving their objectives. By harnessing the power of data and using it to inform their real-time decision-making, operators can improve operational efficiency and safety performance across their entire fleet.