In the first of a new panel discussion, we ask our experts their views on how telematics have shaped and driven change within the fleet management profession, and why reluctance to use fleet technology still exists within some organisations
Fleet managers are increasingly looking at how the wider scope of telematics could help them to cut fuel bills. Colin Ferguson, managing director at Trakm8, talks about the key trends in telematics which will develop throughout 2017.
From simple “track ‘n’ trace”, telematics has evolved into a much broader offering, ranging from driver behaviour, dashboard cameras, and mobile phone blockers, to route optimisation, vehicle diagnostics and fleet scheduling.
With pump prices hitting a two-year high in January, controlling expenditure on fuel is once again a top priority. Fleet managers are increasingly looking at how the wider scope of telematics could help them to cut fuel bills. At Trakm8, we believe that this will manifest itself as five key trends in telematics, which will develop throughout 2017.
We expect to see an increase in the number of telematics apps for smart phones, offered as an alternative to, or to accompany, the ubiquitous “black box”. These will broadly fall into two categories: driver apps and fleet apps.
A good system for drivers should offer on-the-go feedback for driving behaviour, with a live dashboard. Drivers should also be able to analyse how their driving habits contribute to overall driving scores and their effect on fuel consumption; to view previous routes taken and to get alerts on vehicle health faults.
Fleet management apps will make the Smartphone the fleet manager’s primary way to access his telematics data. These will include real-time location data, vehicle status, and geofencing; as well as driver score analysis, configurable reports, and vehicle health alerts.
Now that most Fleets are using telematics to drive down their operating costs, fleet optimisation will become an essential tool to further maximise fleet efficiency.
Trakm8 acquired Route Monkey in December 2015 because we recognised that fleet optimisation was a technology whose time has come. The ability, at the click of a mouse, to plan all fleet activities in the most cost-effective way is a powerful tool. National retailer Iceland Foods reported a 30% increase in productivity and a 10% reduction in fuel costs through the use of our optimisation tools.
Route planning is a crucial part of the fleet management process – but with the right tools, you can save hours compared to manual planning. A good solution will include both route optimisation and fleet scheduling software functionality.
Fleets which use all the telematics tools in the box are the exception rather than the rule. Some only have basic systems, others may have certain functions turned off or simply don’t use them.
Keeping fuel expenditure down in the face of rising pump prices will see many fleet managers revisit the available options. For example, if you only use telematics you may wish to invest in other cost-saving solutions such as driver behaviour systems, or vehicle diagnostics that help prevent downtime and schedule disruptions.
A key trend for 2017 will be the rise of integrated products, combining the benefits of two or more elements of telematics. For example, Trakm8 Optimisation combined with our SWIFT web-based telematics offers marked productivity improvements. With one system, users can pull jobs from the back office software, schedule them in the most efficient manner and push them out to a PDA or mobile app for drivers.
Trakm8 will also release its first telematics 4G camera, the RoadHawk - 600. This will combine forward and rear-facing camera capabilities with a full suite of telematics features in one device, including driver behaviour monitoring, location data and vehicle health alerts. Trakm8’s driver behaviour algorithms, which monitor speeding, harsh acceleration, braking and cornering, will now be augmented by high-definition video footage.
Single Source Solution
If the journey involves adding more functions and better integration, then the destination must surely be a single source solution. There are obvious opportunities for an end-to-end solution with a single log-in, and a clear, simple dashboard. Trakm8 has worked hard to develop, bring together and enhance some of the best technologies in the fields of telematics, dash cams and optimisation. Fleet managers increasingly demand complex and powerful systems that are extremely user-friendly. Our goal is to fulfil that demand, empowering fleet managers to exceed their targets.
Colin Ferguson is the Managing Director of Fleet and Optimisation at Trakm8, a leading provider of telematics, dash cam and route optimisation solutions.