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The Revolution Of Driving Data, The Rise Of Telematics

Posted by Christopher Starkie on Aug 25, 2017 2:59:50 PM
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There has been a telematic transformation in recent years and, with the development of black boxes for insurance use and OEM in-built tracking in modern cars, the wealth of data produced from vehicles has never been so abundant. Major car manufacturers adoption of these systems is on the rise, both at consumer and the commercial levels, and more and more vehicles will be coming off the production line shortly with advanced onboard telematics systems as standard.

Telematics is a method of using either a GPS system, Motion sensor, SIM card or Computer software with onboard diagnostics to map and record not only the location of the vehicle and how fast it's travelling but also evaluate how the car is performing internally. Examples of data recording are as follows;

  • GPS system which tells us where and when you drive, and the classification of the road you are on
  • Motion sensor (or accelerometer) which provides information about impact on the car – this could be from heavy braking or even an accident
  •  SIM card which sends the information to our database
  • Computer software which controls how the information is analysed and transmitted

THE BENEFITS OF VEHICLE TELEMATICS FOR FLEET MANAGERS

The rich data produced from telematics can create a range of benefits for fleet managers and the information gathered can be utilised not only internally but externally to procure a range discounts and services from third party providers.

Insurance Benefits 

Reduced insurance costs are one of the main benefits of telematics in the public sector as more and more companies are offering premium discounts for those willing to install telematic boxes, commonly known as “Black Boxes," in their vehicle.

This applied discount has rolled out in recent times to the private sector allowing companies to reduce their overall fleets’ costs. The cost savings can be even more significant for companies whose operation depends hugely on transportation. The next development in the market is going to be ‘usage based insurance' policies.

Environmental impact

The environmental impact of company fleets is becoming an ever-increasing priority. Fuel efficiency and carbon foot print are easily changeable factors that can significantly improve a company impact.

Telematics can help improve fuel efficiency and reduce unauthorised use in a range of ways;

  • Improve route choices.
  • Eliminate excess consumption of fuel, unauthorised vehicle usage
  • Tracking and managing speed, aggressive driving, idling time.
  • Maintaining vehicle engine performance, notifying when problems occur.
  • Improve mileage reporting and accuracy.

Utilising telematics in line with electric vehicles can significantly reduce a company’s carbon output by tackling the range issues associated with electric vehicles. Analysing the range and use of current petrol and diesel vehicles within a current work day, a fleet manager can pinpoint the accessibility of charging stations within the pre-defined routes. Routes that are suitable could accommodate the introduction of plug in hybrid and pure electric vehicles. Fuel efficiency data can also empower consumers by validating the carbon emission and fuel efficiency claims of car manufacturers.

Location and Safety

There is one clear benefit with telematics- the ability to know the location of your fleet at all times. This can be highly beneficial for transport companies allowing them to communicate the location of a customer’s goods and provide an exact time of delivery for their goods. This can also benefit companies that rely on raw materials from various locations. GPS can be utilised to track and plan activities, allowing end users the ability to arrange production schedules accurately.

As in every aspect of business the security of vehicles, its content and the personnel driving them is paramount. Telematics can add an extra level of security to vehicles carrying expensive or valuable equipment; the software can monitor fundamental areas of security, including current vehicle location and status, also vehicle events such as rear doors being opened or left open over an allocated period of time. Any unplanned vehicle movements can also be tracked with automatic alarms raised, and the vehicle location pinpointed so the police can then be directed to its location. This feature can also be used to alert a manager if the vehicle is moved to a location it shouldn’t be in such as a congestion charging zone.

"Employees will drive more safely if they know they are being monitored" This statement sums up one of the main safety benefits from telematic tracking as it is often the case that people alter their actions and behaviour when they have an awareness of being observed. A range of telematics systems offers visual reminders to drivers that they are being monitored by having green, amber and red lights in the cab which give instant feedback to drivers on their performance.

Don't Miss Maintenance

Studies have shown that the majority of motor vehicle accidents are caused by driver errors. Nevertheless, an improperly maintained vehicle can be just as dangerous. One of the main causes of this is the fact that drivers often treat vehicles maintenance as one of their lowest priorities which leads to problems that could have been prevented if they were identified sooner. Modern Telematics helps tackle this issue through an automated process that pulls error codes from the vehicle as they occur and sends them to the fleet manager. This information allows the fleet manager the opportunity to prioritise repairs and deal with a pressing alert before it becomes a breakdown.

The Big data issue- who has access and cost of access?

The introduction of telematics into a company fleet was once dominated by third party providers offering black box integration. This has however changed with the technology development of OEM onboard tracking. The line was once clear on who has access and also has control of access to the telematic data- companies would pay a monthly subscription and, in turn, receive all their vehicle data.

As OEM telematics become common in contract hire and lease cars, the question has arisen on who should control access to vehicle data. A recent Fleet Technology Survey by the BVRLA (British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association) found that views on who has access to the data were mixed, with 62% of Lease companies and 19% of manufacturers feeling that they should control access. The study also found that 10% of fleet managers and 4% of drivers should have control. The uptake of driver control regarding data access seems low in comparison to their feeling about sharing driver behaviour or performance; the BVRLA study found that 44% of drivers didn't want to share any data.

Should fleet managers have to pay for access to manufacturers vehicle data? This has been a contested topic with the introduction of OEM Telematics. The study found that 86% of BVRLA members and fleets managers felt that they shouldn't have to pay for access. These findings may bring about a stalemate in data access as currently a range of OEM manufacturers offer access to data but at a monthly cost. With any data, there is always the protection aspect to take into consideration, and there was a consensus in the BVRLA study that anyone who handles the data should share responsibility for its protection including the lease company, manufacture and fleet manager.

Round Up

There are significant benefits to including OEM and plug in telematic systems in company fleets. The ability to reduce Co2 impact, track vehicle location to increase safety and efficiently plan vehicle maintenance is paramount to any business. Utilising aftermarket telematics systems does have cost implications. It, however, does challenge the OEM access issues, as you get what you pay for.

We are here to answer any questions or queries you may have regarding telematics within your fleet, get in touch.

Topics: Technology

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