Telematics is a term that contains two different words – telecommunications and informatics. Broadly defined, it means an integrated use of telecommunications and information technologies to store, receive and transmit information with the use of telecommunications equipment to remote objects through a network.
It must be noted that this is a vast discipline that may encompass such areas as telecommunications, wireless connectivity, electrical engineering, IT, and road transport.
With the use of communication equipment, telematics enables us to store, send and receive information to control distant objects, in particular vehicles in motion, owing to the integration of GPS technologies with the capabilities of mobile devices.
Given the broad spectrum of applications of telematics in the automotive industry, the term is often narrowed down specifically to this sector only. However, we must remember that this term can also be used in relation to all kinds of network-enabled devices.
New research conducted has shown that the primary reason why a company adopts telematics is 'to locate vehicles'.
There is a definite bias towards adopting the technology for larger fleets, with just 17% of those with fewer than ten vehicles using telematics compared to 47% of those with 10-49 and 56% of those with more than 50 cars and vans.
Telematics remains a hot topic among fleets and, as its cost has fallen in recent years, we have seen quite a dramatic increase in usage. Certainly, we aren't surprised to see around one in three fleets now using it. However, what is more, interesting is that the majority of fleets mentioned the top five reasons for using telematics, showing that there is probably no single reason that businesses start to use the technology. Instead, the driving force behind telematics adoption appears to be a basket of benefits related to safety, cost and efficiency, and it is all these things together than makes telematics such a strong proposition."
Frequently Asked Questions
A need to keep track of their fleet at all times, optimise fuel consumption, reduce pilferage and ensure driver safety has led to the mainstreaming of vehicle telematics solutions in fleet operations.
Telematics control unit (TCU) is the embedded onboard system that controls wireless tracking, diagnostics and communication to and from the vehicle. These systems can be used in eCall crash notification, electronic tolling and vehicle tracking, among many others.
Telematics can be integrated with all types of vehicles and vehicle fleets in a variety of ways; the three primary capabilities of telematics include wireless communication, location services and GPS location tracking, and a computing platform for system control and interface to automotive electronic systems.
Why Companies Are Adopting A Telematics System For Fleets
Companies that are looking for a viable solution to better manage their fleet are now adopting telematics systems. Telematics solutions offer a range of services that meet workplace health and safety needs and can reduce organizational overheads. More-and-more companies are now looking to adopt telematics to support them in tracking improvements and identifying opportunities for change.
Let's take a closer look at the improvements that companies can achieve:
- Increased Safety
- Reduced fuel costs
- Minimize Insurance Costs
- Decreased Maintenance Costs
- Increased Productivity
Safety is a key priority for fleet managers. With workplace health and safety being an obligation all companies now need to abide by, telematics supports them in meeting their duty of care for lone and remote at-risk employees. Companies must include a plan in case emergency strikes, but more importantly, provide their employees with the peace of mind that they are going home to their loved ones once their work is done.
In crisis situations, it is important that fleet managers are able to check in on their employees as quickly as possible. This can be easily done through a telematics system that connects an organization's operating systems and will notify the correct contacts when any distress alerts have been activated.
Telematics also allows organizations to measure and benchmark driver behaviour to ensure that those using their vehicles are doing so safely. They are reducing risks to staff in what is one of the most dangerous workplace environments they are exposed to.
Finally, lone worker duress devices allow staff working on their own in an at-risk role to discreetly send alerts so that even when in a confrontational situation, they have the ability to call for support without situational escalation.
Reduced Fuel Costs
Telematics can significantly reduce fuel costs through a reduction in the overall consumption by your fleet. By tracking your fleets driving behaviour, organizations can identify the key areas that are contributing to inflated costs and inefficiencies. Drivers with aggressive driving styles will on average spend 10.9% more fuel while experienced drivers can use up to 30% less fuel than a conventional driver.
Companies can also save money through improved fleet routing. Identifying inefficient routes and dispatching of more local vehicles reduces the overall distance and/or time to complete a particular route, improving staff productivity and reducing operational costs.
Minimize Insurance Costs
Telematics systems have become increasingly popular for companies that have own non-powered assets and are looking for a means of reducing their insurance costs via self-insuring or improving the likelihood of asset recovery to reduce insurance premiums and excess.
This can be achieved by:
- Tracking lower value equipment from theft. This is equipment that may not be cost-effective to cover through insurance; however, in case of theft would result in financial and operational costs that need to be offset or minimized.
- Improve vehicle and asset recovery rates when stolen. Some organizations have leveraged non-powered asset tracking as a form of self-insuring that avoids the costs of insurance premiums whilst improving the speed and likelihood of recovery.
Decreased maintenance costs
Maintenance costs can pile up if there are issues on the road or your fleet isn't being serviced at appropriate intervals. However, these costs can be prevented and reduced through a proactive maintenance approach. Monitoring vehicle usage to remotely identify service intervals and service schedules is one of the ways companies are leveraging telematics to support the proactive maintenance of their fleet – reducing the overall maintenance costs. Monitoring vehicle mileage assists fleet managers by providing real-time information so that they can proactively organize servicing and prevent any build-up of issues that may result in further spending. This can save the company on overall operating costs as vehicles will avoid unexpected breakdowns impacting on operations.
Regularly maintaining your vehicle with simple tasks like checking tyre pressure once a month can potentially improve your fuel usage by 3% and regular oil changes can also improve fuel efficiency by 1-2%. Other benefits of proactive maintenance include improved safety for your drivers and fleet.
Introducing a telematics system to the business will provide important information that fleet managers can monitor. Information like driver behaviour, driver hours and details of routes taken are all recorded meaning that there is a feedback system which allows room for improvement within the company.
New methods of motivation for workers through gamification are viable solutions; fleet managers have also been adopting. Creating leaderboards for fleet driver performance can encourage safety and aligns personal objectives with company productivity and safety levels. Research has shown that the use of gamification can result in an 84% decrease in fleet accidents and 50% improvement in safe driving behaviours.
How Does It Actually Work?
At the early stages of development of this field, telematics data was collected only by telematics equipment and onboard computers (OBDI and OBDII). However, with the growing popularity of mobile phones – especially smartphones – data such as vehicle malfunctions, engine details and fuel efficiency were combined with information obtained from our phones, including primarily GPS location, driving behaviour (braking, accelerating, exceeding speed limits) and mileage.
Afterwards, all this information collected by various sensors in your phone and in your vehicle is transmitted to the specially designed platforms where it is processed. Additionally, as technology progressed, telematics systems ceased being closed platforms, which enabled their integration with other software and mobile applications. This integration made it viable to combine the data from your phone/vehicle with such information as weather alerts or information from various types of cameras or tachographs. This enabled even deeper and more accurate insight into business operations and driver behaviour.
The users can browse and export data and generate business-critical information (such as the ten top-scoring drivers or the number of dangerous incidents related to a driver's inappropriate driving behaviour) using a dedicated application. Certain insurers cut their annual premiums by as much as 30% for those drivers who decide to provide their telematics data. That is because those insurance companies can easily determine whose insureds pose the highest risk, and identify the drivers who are likely to cause or will be involved in an accident by monitoring the time of use, speeding and other parameters of driver behaviour.
Features Of A Telematics System In Cars
Most telematics systems come with a set of common features that are available with basic subscription packages.
Automatic Collision Notification
Drivers with telematics in cars can have the peace of mind of knowing that if they are ever in a crash, help is on the way. The telematics system can automatically detect the collision and summon help. The modem is protected and crash-resistant, so it will work even in the event of a severe accident. The antenna signal is typically stronger than that of a mobile phone, which means the system can reach the call centre in most areas.
A telematics system features an SOS button that can be used to get help for an emergency that isn't related to a crash. This is a powerful security measure in case you need medical assistance or witness a crime unfolding. The communication system will allow you to reach the appropriate emergency service personnel for immediate assistance.
Good Samaritan Assistance
The SOS button can also help you assist others in need. If you witness an accident or other emergency, you can press the button to send emergency assistance to the scene.
You'll never be stranded on the road due to mechanical failure if you use a telematics system. The SOS button can summon help in the event of a flat tire or breakdown or if you run out of fuel. Using GPS technology, assistance can find you quickly.
This feature allows you to receive a monthly email report on the condition of your car. You can choose to have diagnostics run at any time and sent to your car dealer. This capability helps to prevent breakdowns and helps dealers and customers save money.
Additional Telematics Features
Gas Price Finder
Use a telematics system to help you find great fuel savings. Navigation features will find local gas stations, list the prices and direct you there.
Telematics can include the same types of apps you may find on your smartphone, like Yelp or Google Local Search. You can use this feature to find local attractions like restaurants, hotels, malls, nightspots and more with reviews at the ready.
You may choose to equip your telematics system with a news app that delivers news alerts or weather information. This pairs well with satellite radio options and can be set to automatically use your preferred channel for news broadcasts.
While most vehicles can connect to streaming services using Bluetooth to communicate with a cellphone, in some cases, your telematics system will have an application to stream music from applications like Pandora.
Text Message Display
Text message and email display can eliminate the temptation to engage in unsafe behaviours behind the wheel. A telematics system can read incoming texts and emails and offer the option to send a dictated response. Some vehicle manufacturers will allow for a text display in addition to audio, while others don't enable this feature.
Enhanced Automatic Crash Notification (E-ACN)
E-ACN systems use data collected from sensors to analyze the extent of damage done to the vehicle and assess the likelihood of severe injury to passengers. This can save lives and further injury by informing passengers of their need to be careful and summoning medical care directly to the scene.