Fleet technology and innovation is being driven by both regulatory mandates and the need for greater visibility and efficiency. The heart of the connected truck is the telematics system that monitors location, speed, hours of service, and data that drives predictive analytics for companies.
From an electronic logging device (ELD) standpoint, the telematics system provides compliance to the new ELD Mandate. It’s the basic building block for the connected vehicle. Beyond telematics devices, several other advanced technology devices are available that improve driver safety and fleet efficiency. These include video monitoring systems, automated manual transmissions, and roll stability control.
Vehicles can also be equipped with forward looking radar and collision mitigation systems that give vehicles the ability to greatly reduce the severity of, or even avoid an accident when road conditions suddenly change. Additionally, lane departure systems provide much needed information where blind spots may exist on a commercial vehicle. The combination of these devices are essential in driving safety for all drivers and passengers on the roads.
For the future state of the industry, this new technology and resulting connectivity is the basis for advanced fuel systems such as v, as well as autonomous vehicles. Just as these pioneering vehicles offer enticing environmental and economic benefits, they also promote the integration of connectivity through additional monitoring of subsystems like the engine or trailer.
Connected trucks have the ability to provide a plethora of data, but it doesn’t translate into business intelligence and key predictive analytics unless you have the right people utilizing it. The data provided through these new, innovative devices can be used to determine the condition of the vehicle, where goods are, how to manage exceptions, and develop new business strategies.
On a basic level, the data can tell fleet managers location information in real time, what speed the vehicle is traveling, and how long a vehicle has been in a specific position. Fleet managers can also determine if drivers are accelerating erratically or making abrupt stops. This data is key to understanding how efficiently the asset is being used. The fact of the matter is, a vehicle’s purpose is to distribute goods. If it isn’t moving, than it is not achieving its purpose. Therefore, fleet managers want to know when it’s not being utilized, or even when the engine is idle.
Truck connectivity extends much beyond the total vehicle to some of the subsystems such as the engine and trailers. Engines today are increasingly complex, and the connected technology allows drivers and fleet managers to know the operating condition of the engine.
This includes fault code elements that trigger check engine lights or service indicators. Because of connectivity, data, and analytics, these fault codes can alert fleet managers and drivers to operating conditions that could lead to a breakdown or out of service event, which could cause major downtime for the vehicle.
There are additional elements, which may be critical as well. For example, in the food and beverage industry, the Food Safety Modernization Act has changed the standards when it comes to refrigeration systems and transporting foods. The new standards require extremely clear cold chain tracking and accountability. While these new mandates don’t require a telematics system, it has become an industry best practice to use one.
The connectivity allows fleet managers and their customers to monitor the temperature of the vehicle where the goods are being stored, and ensures they are within the approved range for the product. This gives proof of clear custody and control of the product if questions surround the quality of it.
When it comes to connectivity, there are going to be multiple users of the data when you think about the fleet and supply chain universe. A company’s clients can use certain elements of the data to know where their delivery is in real time, how to schedule staff to receive and distribute the delivery, and to inform their customers about the availability of goods. This gives them better visibility of the goods they’ve ordered and makes the carrier an integral part in their value chain.
Service centers and technicians gain better visibility into the performance of the vehicle, the engine, and integrated systems. They can then plan for the maintenance activities dynamically because of the data. Safety departments will have visibility to data they can use to tailor specific training for drivers and dispatchers. The procurement department will be able to better plan the best place to purchase and refuel the vehicles, based upon the routes the company is operating. This drives both cost and efficiency, by having the driver fuel at the most optimal location.
Additional stakeholders can be seen when moving to greater sharing of information at a much higher level. City planners can use it to look at traffic flows and continue to build connected cities. The advertising industry can use it to determine when and where to communicate best with a certain demographic, such as drivers, further tying buyers and sellers together.
Much like with smart phones and computers, as new and innovative technology emerges, the transportation environment continues to see a push every two to three years for the next iteration of vehicle performance and efficiency. This is creating an environment where fleets are going from a steady state in their processes, and how they operate, to needing to be more flexible in trying to absorb how these technologies fit in their operations.
There are so many different areas of need and opportunities when it comes to technology and innovation that a company’s fleet strategy comes down to how it aligns with the core values of the business. For example, if a company is more focused on manufacturing a certain product and that’s where their core competencies are, their capabilities around vehicle maintenance or fleet planning and management may no longer align with their core strategy.
They would either need to look to investing in training, technology, and management, or outsourcing their fleet to a partner who has those capabilities. With the proliferation of advanced vehicle technology, leasing is a great tool to help mitigate risk of the unknowns around the new technologies that are being embedded in the vehicles. The complexity requires a very specialized skill set for drivers, technicians, and fleet managers that may not be as easy to scale. Many companies are already finding it difficult to bridge that gap.
However, leasing a fleet creates an environment that minimizes the exposure to the unknowns around reliability, uptime, operating costs, and residual values that are changing dramatically in these cycles from generation to generation. These transitions are smooth and designed to mitigate risks for companies because lease providers, like Ryder, take on the burden of the transition.