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What Is Telematics?

Telematics is a powerful technology that makes it possible to monitor a wide range of assets. This could include cars, trucks, heavy equipment, fleet vehicles, and more through the use of GPS and onboard diagnostics. Many types of companies are using telematics today. To get a better understanding of what telematics is, let’s look into the history.

The word telematics is a combination of two words, and essentially two types of technology. It combines telecommunication and informatics and it is based on the word “télématique”, which is French and was first used in the 1970s. However, the combination of these two sciences occurred in the 1960s in the United States when GPS was first used. The government was using it to track assets and to better military communication and it proved to be effective.

Over the years, telematics has grown and the technologies have been significantly improved. The largest telematics market is North America, and the fastest-growing market is the Asia Pacific market according to Mordor Intelligence. Those interested in using telematics will want to have at least a basic understanding of the systems before making a platform choice.

Table of Contents

Telematics Systems: What Are They and How Do They Work?

What Types of Companies Are Using Telematics?

The Major Benefits of Using Telematics

Tracking Vehicles and Equipment

Improve Customer Service

Improve Safety

Preventative Maintenance and Repairs

Reduce the Fuel Costs

Why Metrics Are Vital to Fleets?

Is Getting Telematics Worth It?

Telematics Are Becoming Essential

Telematics Systems: What Are They and How Do They Work?

In many telematics devices, you will find several main components. This includes the GPS receiver, an engine interface, SIM card, accelerometer, buzzer, and an input/output interface. The devices can report and record a wide range of activities or actions that happen with the equipment and assets.

For example, for heavy equipment or trucks used for a construction company, it could record speed and idling, the amount of fuel being used, location, tire pressure, etc. Many different elements could be tracked and recorded depending on the system chosen.

Telematics devices can be added to your vehicle or other assets in several ways. Often, they are small removable devices that can be plugged into the CAN-BUS port or the OBD II port. However, there are other options for installation. In some cases, a vehicle or piece of equipment might have a telematics device preinstalled. Other times, it can be installed and integrated into the asset later. The devices could be battery-powered, or they might use the vehicle’s battery as a source of power.

Something to consider with the battery-powered devices is that they can be installed just about anywhere on the vehicle or asset since they do not rely on a connection to the asset’s internal battery. Of course, this will not work for all types of equipment. When you opt to use a battery-powered device, you will have to remember to change out the batteries when the power gets low. Otherwise, they will cease to function and will not provide you with the data you need.

The SIM card and modem in the device allow it to communicate using the cellular network. The device receives data from the vehicle including things like location using the GPS and speed. All of the information that is gathered is then sent to the cloud. The information is then decoded and available in the fleet management software application. This allows users to have near real-time information about the asset including things like the speed, positions, fault codes, battery voltage for equipment that uses batteries, idling time, etc.

The users can check out all of the necessary information, create reports, and more. Typically, accessing the software can be done on a computer or a smartphone. According to Fortune Business Insights, smartphones are now the main source of connectivity. It makes sense that many who track their fleet and equipment are using smartphones rather than desktops or laptops. After all, they are more likely to have their phones with them at any given time.

Today, many different types of integrations could be added to telematics to help make them even more useful. This includes things like weather alerts, route optimization, mobile forms, electronic logging, and dash cameras. There are even options for remote diagnostics. It is possible to find platforms and options that can work well for nearly any need.

What Types of Companies Are Using Telematics?

You will find that there are many types of businesses that are already using telematics, and many have been for years. Contractor and service companies have found that telematics can help them to better manage their fleet assets thanks to real-time locations. This could include plumbing companies, electrical companies, and cable companies, for example.

The construction industry is making great use of telematics, as well. The machinery used in construction is often expensive. Telematics helps the industry when it comes to tracking vehicle location and theft prevention. Many government fleets are using telematics for the various vehicles that are being used. This can include everything from emergency vehicles to public work vehicles. Car rental companies will often use some type of basic version of telematics on their vehicles for tracking, as well.

Of course, this is just a small sample of the many different types of businesses that are using telematics for their vehicles and equipment today. You can expect that in the future, there will be even more companies that are using these types of tools. There are plenty of uses and a range of benefits, as you will see below.

The Major Benefits of Using Telematics

When you have many assets and/or vehicles that need to be tracked, telematics could help immensely. Consider some of the ways that using telematics for your fleet management could help.

What are some of the biggest benefits of using telematics today? You will find that there are quite a few reasons that companies of all types are starting to use these systems today.

Tracking Vehicles and Equipment

A good system can offer vehicle tracking thanks to the GPS satellites and receivers. It will be easy for you to know where all of your assets are located at any given time. Devices could be attached to heavy equipment, trailers, and other types of assets. This can provide you with a range of advantages. You will know if the assets are where they are supposed to be day or night. This can help to alert you if someone has stolen a piece of equipment, as well. Knowing about a theft early could help to increase the chance of getting the equipment back quickly.

Improve Customer Service

In cases where vehicles are being used to reach job sites, it’s a good idea to track the location of the vehicle. This will allow you to let the clients know how far away the vehicles or equipment are and how long it will take to reach the site. This can also help to make fleets more productive. The managers can add or remove visits if needed. Another benefit is that the managers can help drivers find the best and most efficient route to reach their destination. This could also help with fuel consumption, which is another benefit discussed below.

Improve Safety

When it comes to fleet vehicles, you will likely want to know as much about them as possible. You want to be sure that they are being driven properly and safely. Some of the telematics devices available today can let you know if seatbelts are being used or not. They can also alert you of the speed of the vehicle and whether there is harsh braking or acceleration.

Essentially, it provides you with a better look at what’s happening with the fleet and the people who are driving and using the equipment. If you notice there are issues with the way they are handling the equipment, you can talk with them about the behaviors, so it is corrected.

Preventative Maintenance and Repairs

You will also find that since you can get a better idea of how, where, and when different assets are being used, it is easier to schedule preventive maintenance. It can also give you a way to keep track of the engine hours, service records, and more. Knowing when assets should be serviced will help to repair issues and reduce expenses.

These are just some of the ways that telematics technology could be used for fleets. Consider the ways that it could be used to help your company.

Reduce the Fuel Costs

When it comes to tracking vehicles and equipment that uses fuel, you will find that telematics can help to track just how much is being used. This can allow you to locate areas where waste could be happening. For example, is the vehicle left idling for long periods? This could be wasting far more fuel than you realize, particularly if several assets are doing this. It can also let you know if one of the vehicles is using more fuel than another, which could indicate it needs to be looked at by a mechanic.

Reducing fuel waste, as well as unnecessary mileage will help you to cut costs. Not only will you be able to save money on the cost of the fuel, but you can also identify inefficient vehicles.

Why Metrics Are Vital to Fleets?

When choosing a telematics platform to use, it’s important to ensure that you can track all of the metrics needed for your business. Regardless of the types of equipment that you need to track, whether it’s heavy equipment, trucks, or other assets, being able to track certain metrics will help to provide you with better knowledge of what is happening with each of those assets.

The exact types of metrics that need to be tracked will naturally vary from one business to the next. Be sure that the system you choose can provide you with the information you will need. Below are some of the different types of metrics that you might want to keep track of with your assets.

  • Inspection results
  • Preventative maintenance practices
  • Repair frequency, parts, and inventory
  • Odometer readings for vehicles
  • Fuel management

Of course, these are just a few of the potential areas that you might want to track with your assets. Different assets will require different types of metrics. Determine what’s needed for your fleet and assets and then make a choice.

Is Getting Telematics Worth It?

The answer will depend on several factors. First, it will depend on the type of business that you are running. If you have even a small fleet of vehicles and pieces of equipment that need to be tracked, then telematics is a good solution. The price can vary based on the type and platform used, as well as what types of features you will need. Still, given the benefits that telematics offers, it is often considered to be well worth the cost.

When looking for a solution, business owners will need to think about their specific needs. Are they only looking for a simple solution that can provide them with real-time GPS locations of their assets? Do they instead need to have a system that can provide them with more actionable intelligence on their equipment? Will they need to integrate telematics with other technologies, such as dashcams?

Only when you take the time to consider all of the different elements you will need in the telematics solution will you be able to find a platform that will work for you. The benefits and the improved visibility of your assets will often be worth it, even though the initial costs might seem high. Think about the various ways that using telematics could help to make your business more efficient and more profitable while helping to improve safety and reduce theft. Often, it will be worth the investment.

Telematics Are Becoming Essential

The future of telematics is bright. Many industries are using telematics today, and the technology is getting better and better. It is becoming easier to use and more affordable, as well. Everyone from plumbing companies with fleets of vehicles to shipping companies, construction and heavy equipment companies, and more are using telematics to some degree. The benefits of using these types of systems are plain to see. Far more companies will likely be following suit in the coming years.

 

About the Author

As the CEO of Foresight Intelligence and Fleet Intelligence, Dale helps organizations utilize their critical data in a seamless and painless manner. With an electrical engineering degree from Cornell University, Dale knew that he wanted to focus on using technology to help people improve the efficiency of their businesses and organizations, rather than focusing on pushing the boundaries of the technology itself. As such he created results-driven businesses that are focused on revolutionary solutions not evolutionary bells and whistles; including the only telematics company that features no-touch options.

For over ten years, Foresight Intelligence has helped many companies become more efficient; saving time, money and precious resources. While others sell technology, Dale delivers results. His companies were created following his personal motto “SPIRIT” … they provide the best service to clients, are passionate about what they do, proceed with integrity, ensure they provide a rockstar performance, work with an innovative mindset, and always use teamwork to do what is best for clients.

When he is away from work, Dale enjoys spending quality time with his wife and four children in sunny Scottsdale, AZ.  As the lights of his life, he is resolute in making sure they receive all the love and care they need to become successful.

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