Fleet Telematics Integration Will Bolster Operations
Running a trucking company is more complex than most of us realize. From vehicle dispatch, maintenance, and operation to driver support, vendor payment, and fuel efficiencies, trucking companies face more challenges than most. The good news is, technology is here help bolster operations, and fleet telematics is at the forefront of it all.
What is telematics and what does it mean for trucking? In a word, telematics is telecommunications, and to be more specific, it is telecommunications and fleet software used in monitoring and tracking vehicles. Telematics can be used in several ways, a few of which most of us are already familiar with. They include the following:
- Vehicle tracking
- Trailer tracking
- Container tracking
- Fleet management
- Satellite navigation
- Mobile data
- Wireless vehicle safety communications
- Emergency warning systems for vehicles
- Artificial intelligence vehicle technologies
- Usage-based insurance
Clearly, the practical applications of fleet telematics can be beneficial beyond location services. Telematics software can be integrated into almost every aspect of fleet management and fleet software, giving fleet managers complete control and providing drivers ease, access, and safety.
Examples of Fleet Telematics Software Integration Capabilities
- Accounting systems
- Asset management
- Brokerage/3pl/shipper load management
- Camera systems
- Dispatch and fuel optimization
- Driver coaching
- Driver Hours of Service management and compliance
- Driver safety solutions
- Fuel purchase
- Fuel tax reporting
- Instructional videos and gamification
- Navigation/mapping services
- OEM vehicle monitoring and support
- On-board weigh scale systems
- Tire pressure and temperature monitoring
- TMS, or transportation management systems
- Vehicle management and maintenance systems
- Weigh station bypass services
Fleet payment leader EFS relies on fleet telematics to help collect meaningful data that enables fleet managers and owners to make smart decisions faster. This data can provide insights that can bolster existing fleet software and stimulate growth, which is why fleet telematics is becoming not only an advantage but also a necessity for successful operations.
Telematics leader Geotab has outlined three powerful examples of how the technology and the data can be used to support the trucking industry.
1. Transportation management systems (TMS) integration with telematics
For carriers, transportation management system (TMS) software is critical in organizing complex business operations. A TMS acts as an accounting, dispatch, and operations hub for transportation companies, helping managers track and optimize a wide number of activities such as load and freight planning, dispatching, customer service, payables, billing, and customer orders. All types of carriers benefit from TMS, from less than truckload (LTL) carriers to truckload, intermodal, and brokerage operations.
TMS systems utilize telematics information, including vehicle GPS location, drivers’ Hours of Service information (for load planning purposes) and vehicle information.
2. IFTA fuel tax and telematics system integration
The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) is a fuel tax collection and sharing agreement among 48 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces for fuel tax redistribution paid by interstate commercial carriers (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia). Carriers obtain an IFTA license and decals for their trucks, then keep records on miles and fuel tax purchases, then file quarterly tax returns. Learn everything there is to know about IFTA reporting in our IFTA overview.
Fuel tax reporting protects you from tax and penalty assessments by providing the following services:
- Timely, accurate trip compilation
- Prompt filing of IFTA
- Mileage tax returns
- Refund applications
- Management reports that enhance your fleet controls
- Assistance with state audits
In this respect, a telematics company such as Geotab can collect and provide the appropriate GPS travel data that IFTA tax reporting services use to analyze and calculate the necessary fees for fuel transactions per state. IFTA partners collect this information in a near real-time fashion, providing time to accurately report data fees for our mutual customers.
3. Combining vehicle maintenance and fleet telematics
Tracking vehicle maintenance is important for any type of fleet. Maintenance can be scheduled at certain time intervals or after a certain number of miles driven (meter-based). Records of maintenance are verified and kept as a history of service and help determine a vehicle’s resale value. Fleets can maintain their information about maintenance in computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS or CMMIS).
It has become clear that integrating fleet telematics into trucking operations is showing tangible benefits, from staying on top of compliance and regulations to fuel management, insurance, and safety. Telematics is part of a bigger whole helping to change driver behavior in every aspect of day-to-day operations. Some of those benefits include:
- Drivers get trip-by-trip feedback and insights on driving behavior and performance (including at-risk speeding, phone distraction, hard braking, and more) to spark improvements.
- Telematics can “gamify” safe driving to motivate individual drivers and teams to compete for better scores, badges, prizes, and bonuses.
- Advanced analytics and machine learning technology capture and convert risky driving activities into actionable insights, scores, and performance feedback.
Fleet telematics has come a long way since it was first developed to monitor and improve driver performance. And, while we should not take for granted the thousands of lives saved in the process, it has also helped to provide transparency in business operations needed to foster growth and drive the industry forward in many ways.