What is Telematics?

Telematics essentially combines the sciences of telecommunications and informatics. Combining the hardware and communication technology of telecommunications and the data processing analytics of informatics, put it on a map, and you have modern-day GPS based telematics.

telematics gps

Some industries benefit from telematics more than others. That comes down to how the system is used and the use case for each specific organization. Here is a quick list of different industries that benefit from using Telematics.

Field Services – HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Landscaping…

Construction – General Contractors, Cement, Grading, Hauling, Paving, etc.

Sector Industry – Oil drilling, Oil/Water Transport, Mining, Commodity Transport.

Emergency Services – Ambulance, Patient Transport, Fire, Police, Emergency Towing.

Government – City, County, State Level Fleet Monitoring. Police and Fire Departments, Parks and Recreation, Schools, Public Safety, Public Works, etc.

What are the Benefits of Using Telematics?

Telematic systems can benefit many different types of organizations. From small businesses to large corporations, non-profit organizations, and even government entities can greatly benefit from using telematics. Here are a few key areas organizations can see rapid results.

Productivity – Monitoring fleet usage, real time traffic conditions, trip reporting, real time dispatching, and route optimization helps organizations streamline their operations.

Safety – Real-time driver behavior alerts help with driver coaching. Identify problem driving behavior, speeding, harsh braking, not using seat belts, among others.

Accountability – See where your employees are at in real-time. Shows the entire day’s activity; determine if your drivers are taking the optimal routes, spending the proper amount of time at job sites, etc. Fit in an extra job per day.

Lower Fuel Costs – See how your fuel is being used. Too much speeding? Idling? Longer routes? Telematics can help you analyze and determine a course of action to save quite a bit on fuel.

Optimization – See which vehicles or assets are being used and how often. Find underused assets to maximize their revenue for your organization. Maintenance program included also helps maintain regular maintenance across your fleet easily.

telematics for trucks

Maintenance – Keep maintenance schedules automatically for your vehicle and asset fleet. Get real-time alerts when a service is coming due—schedule maintenance by Date, Mileage, or Engine Hours. Track vehicle warranties, service records, and get reminded for vehicle registrations. Save money by keeping your fleet in top shape.

Compliance – Electronic Logging Devices, Hours of Service, IFTA reporting, temperature monitoring. Some industries REQUIRE telematics now.

Insurance – Some insurance companies require, and most encourage using a telematics solution. This may help decrease your insurance premium by showing the insurance company you are taking proactive steps to be safe with your fleet. Some savings as much as 20% off their yearly premiums.

Integrations – Robust integration suite. Connect ELD, inCab Camera Solution, Accounting software, show live buses on the city’s website, etc.

Payroll Management – By determining when exactly the fleet was moving, how long it worked, when it arrived at different job sites, your operations team can easily validate and correct payroll issues. No more he said/she said to settle disputes, just data.

How Does Telematics Work?

Telematic solutions include a few parts. Most require a GPS enabled tracking device to be installed into a vehicle or asset. The GPS device itself is the brains of the operation. The computer processes all the vehicle’s information obtained via the onboard diagnostics (OBD2; JBUS) port and sends the information via a cell network.

The data is sent via the cellular network to your telematics provider’s centralized server. The main difference between companies is how their software processes the raw data to make it actionable. The respective servers interpret the data received from the onboard GPS unit and display a clean version to the end-user via a secure website login portal.

The data captured from these onboard GPS devices can include location, speed, fuel usage, rapid acceleration or harsh braking, engine trouble codes, mileage, engine hours, days/months utilized, etc. All this data, configured to your specific needs based on the conversation you will have with your Fleet Consultant, can provide your organization with invaluable insights and actionable data across the fleet so you can see results.

How are Telematics Devices Installed?

Aftermarket telematics solutions can be installed in several ways, depending on the vehicle/asset type. Most light-duty (LD) cars, vans, and trucks typically use the OBD2 port to connect. Heavy Duty (HD) trucks will use the J-BUS port.

Depending on different manufacturers, different cable connectors such as HINO and Volvo use different connector ports. Vehicles that do not have those engine data ports can have a GPS unit hardwired into the Ground, Power, and Constant. It will track the same things except for engine diagnostics.

Asset tracking devices can be bolted or even glued on a trailer; other device types are hardwired into machinery for engine hours and such. Your fleet consultant and Installation Coordinator will help with this process and take all the guesswork out.

Does Telematics Cost a Lot?

Depending on the scope of your project, including any add-on product and services such as safety cameras, ELD, temperature monitoring, etc. Some bare bone GPS solutions out there are pretty cheap, but you may also not get actionable data to base business decisions on.

Having fleet visibility and the ability to dive into trends and history will make it easy for your organization to achieve a large return on your investment. In the short term, a telematics solution can solve immediate headaches and issues and bring a calming peace of mind by simply knowing.

In the long term, telematics solutions can help identify trends and help uncover hidden costs within your operation. This, coupled with the potential of greater productivity, efficiency, and accountability across the board, the returns far outweigh the investment.

Telematics, Tomorrow?

GPS fleet telematics has exploded in growth and needs in the past 10 years. In the old days, GPS 1.0, tracking was the main focus. With the current iteration, data analytics and actionable data are becoming high priorities and differentiators in the space.

More fleets now than ever are recognizing the need for telematics. Using these systems to monitor overall fleet activity, better manage costs, improve productivity, increase accountability, increase revenue, and maintain compliance with federal and state government regulations.

Telematic solutions are becoming more and more integrated with operational software. Accounting, customer management, and workforce management software are some of the key integrations or additional feature/service add-ons that will become more common in the coming years.

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