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What are telematics and how can it help your fleet

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    Today we'll be explaining what telematics is and how telematics solutions are critical to successfully managing a commercial fleet.

    Telematics is the meeting of several scientific disciplines, mainly telecommunications, or the communication of information across phone lines, cables, and now in the cloud; and computer processing or data synthesis.

    As defined by Gartner, telematics refers to the use of wireless devices and black box technologies to transmit data in real-time back to an organization. Typically the word "telematics" is used in the context of commercial vehicle fleets, where a sensor collects and transmits data on vehicle use, maintenance requirements, and more.

    Put simply, telematics refers to the collection, transmission, and processing of data from real-world machines like trucks and trailers and other assets, and almost always refers to commercial fleet solutions.

    So here's how it works.

    First, data is collected from a vehicle or asset either using an aftermarket sensor or embedded or factory-built solutions. The data collected includes GPS location data, and information about the vehicle's use, like speeding, harsh braking and turning, and vehicle diagnostics.

    With Forum Group, this data is then sent directly to the cloud, where it can be processed and translated in real-time, and then viewed in a digestible format on a website or a dashboard.

    By collecting, transmitting, and synthesizing data, telematics solutions give fleet managers access to real-time information about what's happening to their fleet out on the road. These solutions help capture important information about your operations, driver behaviour and safety, and vehicle health.

    We talk about the ways that telematics solutions pay for themselves by allowing businesses to increase operational efficiency by radically improving their visibility into their operations with realtime data, and uncovering new ways to save money and time.

    They also improve customer service by using up-to-the-second information about day-to-day fleet movement in the cloud, so the back office can investigate customer questions without disrupting drivers.

    Telematic solutions also allow businesses to protect their drivers with safety programs and coaching based on real fleet and driver performance information.

    And finally, telematics solutions allow businesses to stay compliant with regulations for logging hours of service, completion of vehicle inspection reports, and more.

    So is your business looking for a vehicle tracking solution that can provide real-time data for your fleet? Samsara brings the technological experience of Google and Apple engineering to GPS fleet-tracking with a telematic solution that provides fleet managers greater visibility into their operations.

    To learn more about Forum Groups' telematics solution and how we can help your business reach out to us.

    We spoke to a UK insurer on how they use telematics in the insurance space.

    Telematics is really the use of devices to monitor and see how devices are being used in real life. So that could be a box in a car telling us how the car's been driven, or it could be devices in the home telling us how the home monitoring systems are working. Or it could be a collar on a dog to tell us how much exercise the dog is getting and how much activity it's getting. So use of devices to get data on how something has been used or how much activity's been undertaken.

    The big inroads that telematics has made to date have been in the car insurance space.

    And in the UK that's primarily in the young driver space. So probably 30 to 40% of all new young drivers will buy a product with telematics, with a box or a device that will monitor how they drive.

    But what the device allows is it allows insurers to give feedback to the drivers as to how they're driving, tips and hints on how to drive better. They incentivize them. So they'll give them cashback if they do drive well. And sometimes we might give them a little tap on the shoulder, a phone call to say, "Actually, you were going a bit fast there. Yesterday on such and such a road, do you know what the speed limit is?" And we'll try and encourage people to drive safely.

    Telematics products that have got a level of monitoring attached to it will not be for everyone. And that's fine. So there are some people who don't want it. That's absolutely fine. We make it clear that that's part of our proposition. And for the people who do want it, we just have to be really clear about what benefit they get from the product.

    I actually think there are lots and lots of examples in our life where we trade personal information for some benefit. Barely a day will go past and something will pop up on your mobile phone and it will say, "Do you want to share your location data with this app?" And we all make snap judgements around, "Well, no, I don't want to because actually I've got no value there." Or, "Yes, I will. I can see the benefit in doing that. I'll get some value back."

    And in the same way, we're asking people to share their driving data with us. And then they're making the judgment that, actually, is that good for them? Are they going to get something back? And for the ones that do then, that's great.

    What is telematics?

    As quoted by Teletrac, Telematics is the technology used to monitor a wide range of information relating to an individual vehicle or an entire fleet. Telematics systems gather data including vehicle location, driver behaviour, engine diagnostics and vehicle activity, and visualise this data on software platforms that help fleet operators manage their resources.

    The word ‘telematics’ is a compound term. It combines ‘tele’ – a prefix denoting remote communications (the prefix is derived from the Greek for ‘far off’, or ‘at a distance’) – and ‘informatics’, a discipline incorporating the practice of information processing. Hence, this is what telematics is about: transmitting information over long distances. It is used for a variety of commercial and non-commercial purposes, but when this technology is used in fleet management, it is most commonly utilised to manage vehicles or other assets remotely and to provide an overview of a range of information relating to them.

    In recent years, telematics has changed the face of a number of industries, with its driving a major transformation in transport and construction. Businesses across a huge range of sectors have come to adopt telematics, which has helped to improve reliability, boost customer service standards, increase efficiency and enhance the bottom line.

    How Does it Benefit Fleets?

    A combination of the words telecommunications and informatics, it was the joining of these two sciences that resulted in the field of telematics.

    In its broadest sense telematics actually includes the internet itself, since it combines telecommunications (phone lines, cables, etc.) with informatics (such as computer systems). However, the term is now more commonly used to apply to vehicle telematics, where vehicle location information is used in different business applications to ultimately help business owners better manage a fleet-based workforce.

    The technology allows the sending, receiving and storing of information relating to remote objects (in this case, the vehicle) via telecommunication devices that plugs into the OBD II or CAN-BUS port, with a SIM card and onboard modem enabling communication through a mobile network. This smart device, also known as a ‘black box’ then records and reports on various points of available data. There are many who believe, however, that telematics simply shows GPS vehicle location – this does not begin to cover the breadth of actionable intelligence that telematics provides.

    But, before we get into the details of what telematics can really do, let’s quickly look at how it came about in the first place.

    telematics and fleet gps asset tracking

    The early days of telematics

    Telematics developed alongside the internet. As computers became smaller and more widespread, the need for an easy way to exchange data grew. This is when telecommunication technology was used to connect computers with each other as well as other devices and thus telematics was born.

    (Quick fact: The actual term ‘telematics’ was coined back in 1978 by Simon Nora and Alain Minc in their report titled ‘L'Informatisation de la société’ – which was prepared for the French Prime Minister in response to the development of computer technology and the dawning of the information age).

    Since that time, computer processors have become smaller and more ubiquitous, while telecommunication networks have become widespread and effective in transferring larger amounts of data, regardless of where the computer is located. Whether it's on a truck driving through the remotest parts of the Nullabor or a delivery van in Sydney CBD, telematics can transfer near real-time data to central offices to help business owners better manage their fleet.

    How does a telematics system work?

    At the core of a telematics system is a vehicle tracking device. It collects GPS data as well as a huge range of vehicle-specific data from the vehicle’s ODBII port and transmits it via either GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), 4G mobile data or satellite communication to a centralised server that then interprets the data and enables it’s displayed to end-users.

    There is a multitude of data collected by the telematics device, which when decoded, can provide in-depth vehicle information such as location, speed, idling time, harsh acceleration or braking (measured by an internal accelerometer), fuel consumption, vehicle faults and much more.

    All this data is then layered over a map in our fleet management software in near real-time and can be viewed via secure websites and apps optimised for smartphones and tablets.

    So what can telematics really do?

    Today there is practically no limit to the different applications for telematics. The world is becoming more connected every day as more devices are networked into the internet of things (IoT) and new ways to use location-based information are being developed constantly.

    Yet still there is an ongoing misconception by many that vehicle telematics just shows GPS vehicle location – a simple dot on the map as it were. This doesn’t even scratch the surface.

    With this telematics data, you can then determine when a driver is speeding, check the idling status of each vehicle in your fleet and send near real-time alerts to drivers to show them the fastest, most efficient routes to take. Further to this, you can also monitor fuel consumption, individual driving behaviour, time spent at (and outside of) specific locations and whether your vehicles require urgent maintenance.

    The use of telematics is growing in Australia and worldwide. According to a study, "the number of fleet management systems in active use in Australia and New Zealand is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 16.4 percent from almost 0.8 million units at the end of 2017 to nearly 1.7 million by 2022.” 1

    Find the right solution for your business with our Fleet Management Services

    Simply having telematics, however, is not enough. Not all telematics solutions are created equal and in order for you to make the most out of the intelligence available, you need to find one that’s right for your business.

    How to make the most of telematics

    Adopting a telematics solution is crucial for truly efficient and effective fleet management and there are a number of significant advantages that implementing an intelligent telematics solution will bring to your business.

    For starters, who wouldn’t want a complete picture of their entire fleet at their fingertips, via intuitive and easy-to-use dashboards delivered through a mobile app?

    Here are six fundamental ways telematics-adopting companies are enhancing the potential of their fleets:

    1. Decreased fuel costs: Tracking driver behaviour could help you to identify areas of waste and act upon them accordingly, which ultimately helps towards reducing your fuel bill. Also, with the right fleet management solution, you’ll be able to plan the most efficient route for each of your drivers at the touch of a button. This helps to reduce any unnecessary mileage.
    2. Improved safety: Because feedback on driving style and behaviours are continuous, fleet managers are in the best position to coach drivers about their bad habits (speeding, late or harsh braking) and also acknowledge those who perform well. Whilst your drivers are likely to have good intentions and don’t set out to jeopardise the safety of other road users, they are only human and can easily slip into bad habits. With a telematics solution, you can closely monitor these bad habits and produce reports, or league tables, which highlight your drivers’ behaviour and help to implement new safety targets.
    3. Boosted productivity: With near real-time GPS data, your drivers can lessen traffic delays, as well as giving you the ability to quickly and easily attribute any new or additional site visits to the nearest vehicle and instruct them on the most efficient route to get there.
    4. Better payroll management: By tracking the precise time a vehicle starts at the beginning of the day to the moment it shuts down at the end, a fleet tracking solution provides an accurate, automated record of how long an employee worked and where. By automating payroll, business owners not only help ensure their employees are paid accurately for the hours they have worked, but they can also take back the time currently spent manually matching up timesheets and job tickets.
    5. Reduce unauthorised use: One-way fleet owners could lower the risk of accidents is to verify that your fleet vehicles are only on the road when they need to be, during business hours. However, are you certain none of your vehicles are used in a driver’s own time without consent? With a telematics solution, you can monitor when a vehicle is used out of hours as well as having the option to geofence certain areas so that your vehicles are where you expect them to be at all times.
    6. Lower maintenance costs: Fleet telematics can be set-up to deliver alerts based on mileage, engine use or time. Couple this with information on driving behaviour and you can monitor the wear and tear on your company vehicles in order to plan and carry out preventative maintenance. Furthermore, a comprehensive solution can alert you of diagnostic trouble codes such as engine warning lights, removing the need to rely on the driver to report faults and enabling you to resolve the issue quickly, reducing ongoing damage.

    Find the right telematics solution for your business

    So, how do you know which solution is right for you and your business?

    There are many telematics service providers out there but few are flexible enough to offer the right mix of features to ensure you receive the maximum benefits of tracking your fleet. The best of the bunch will give you simple usability, easy-to-understand technology and financial clarity from start to finish. What’s more, GPS tracking systems are only becoming better at integrating with your existing business applications so it’s the perfect time to consider one for your business.

    Forum Connect provides solutions to help solve all of your biggest fleet management challenges. If you want to explore this or you have more questions regarding telematics, why not schedule a short demonstration?

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