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Sensors and other telematics: How data collection informs good business decisions

Telematics is wide in scope, but most commonly associated with the transport industry — an area of business that is forever looking to be more efficient and maximize the quality of service.

Information collected via telematics covers a lot of ground, whether we’re talking about sensors capturing a vehicle’s fuel usage, instrumentation outlining variables and diagnostic inputs, or even wireless communications facilitating the seamless transition of data.

In this article, we dissect the wide-ranging uses of telematics.

We will be exploring how businesses in the transport industry are using this data to make smart decisions:

  • Improving fuel efficiency using data collected by fuel cards
  • Identifying gaps in driver training using built-in sensors
  • Optimizing vehicle performance and GPS routes using wireless tracking

Read on as we explore how any business in the transport industry (big or small) can improve operational efficiency, service quality, and driver safety via telematics, without hanging around for a futuristic driverless truck.

Improving vehicle fuel efficiency using data collection
Telematics help transport businesses of any size by improving company-wide visibility, revealing any blindspots where efficiency levels go unmonitored.

As outlined by iCompario, telematics systems track drivers and vehicles out on the open road, helping managers identify where their operation is losing money or underperforming — and while accidents certainly raise your insurance premiums, fuel wastage is a major hidden cost that flies under the radar without proper data tracking in place.

Fuel prices chop and change in tandem with the world economy, which is a violent fluctuation likely felt more keenly when they go up by businesses that rely on transport to carry its operations. As such managers require more control over these costs and often telematics prove to be the solution.

Using instrumentations (a key aspect of any telematics system) you can essentially communicate with the vehicles in your fleet through a process of sharing variable and diagnostic inputs.

Sourcing data via instrumentations often reveals the following information related to fuel consumption:

  • Fuel economy
  • Vehicle mileage

You can use this information to inspect whether vehicles are performing as expected and if not you then pass on your findings to engineers who can pinpoint required repairs and get the vehicle operating at peak performance.

Identifying gaps in driver training using built-in sensors
Sensors are key components to any telemetry system, providing useful insight into how company vehicles are being used.

When capturing data through sensors, information is transferred to reporting software ready for you to interpret and use to inform any following decisions.

As discussed by IMS, there are many different types of sensors such as GPS (locational) and EDR (impacts and crashes), but many managers rely on MEMS — a sensor that records vehicle motion.

With MEMS you can monitor:

  • Average speed
  • Breaking harshness
  • Sudden steering changes
  • Sharp acceleration

All of which are indicators of reckless/unsafe driving.

Using MEMS you can observe the cause of dangerous driving in your company, identify gaps in training and address the issue.

Moreover, judging by the time of day these sensors trigger, you can root out any pressure that might be to blame for dangerous driving on the open road. For example, certain patterns might reveal contributing factors like fatigue or suggest drivers are under too much pressure to meet targets without enough support.

Optimizing performance using wireless tracking
Being able to track your fleet using telematics is essential, but this also extends to optimizing your routes and getting the most out of your newly efficient operation.

Some transport businesses have pushed the boat out when it comes to data collection, using all this information to improve operations down to the most minute of details.

One such example is On-Road Integrated Operation Navigation (otherwise known as ORION) — a highly intelligent GPS built by UPS using historical delivery data.

The ORION system uncovers optimum routes for UPS drivers to take on their delivery run.

Going far beyond highlighting traffic jams and roadworks like your average GPS, the transport giant uses ORION to inform much of the business’ delivery behavior such as removing turns into oncoming traffic because it takes too long and wastes fuel.

Although a system like ORION likely isn’t feasible for many smaller transport companies, seeing how effective it has been in boosting efficiency over at UPS goes to show the broad and actionable uses data collection has for informing good business decisions.

Whatever form of telematics we’re talking about, data collection performs a vital service, helping transport businesses become more economical, streamline operations, and identify ways of doing things better.

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