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Data overload

By / 7 years ago / Features / No Comments

Telematic systems, from the most basic vehicle tracking to an all-encompassing fleet management solution such as TomTom’s Worksmart, can save time and money. Simply knowing where vehicles are is a vital component of fleet management.

However as the technology has developed, suppliers have been able to add an increasingly complex array of reporting options and data streams. This of course allows fleet managers to do far more than simply track the location of their vehicles. Indeed the list of available features is often only regulated by the amount that you are prepared to spend.

But this ever-increasing flow of information can prove too much for a busy fleet manager. Though many are keen to adopt telematic systems, one of the biggest criticisms is that there can be just too much data, and it can be hard to drill down to the bits that are really useful for their operation.

‘To implement a truly effective telematics solution that doesn’t require hours of deciphering large amounts of data, needs a business to work closely with their telematics provider from the outset,’ says David Wilson, sales, service and marketing director at Tracker.

‘Taking a consultative approach allows the customer to identify the issues they need addressing in the business and then the telematics company can ensure it delivers the right elements of the product, with the correct combination of data.’

‘Different customers have different needs,’ agrees David Lee, head of customer experience at Hitachi Capital CV Solutions.

‘The data that comes out of a telematics system will be very different for a business offering company vans to essential users, as opposed to commercial vehicles that are critical to service delivery.

‘With the former, the focus of the data will be on driver behaviour, safety and fuel economy, whereas the latter could require a more sophisticated solution with additional functionality, incorporating job routing and scheduling, ancillary equipment monitoring and integration with office systems.

‘We partner with the RAC to provide our customers with a telematics product that is completely scalable, catering to their diverse needs. Our online system aggregates data from telematics hardware and other sources to give a complete picture of the fleet, which can be broken down by vehicle or driver.’

Telematics provider Masternaut is taking this a stage further by launching a Change Management Consultancy, to help businesses new to telematics or those upgrading systems to get the most from their implementation. Programmes are centered on risk management, fuel savings, fleet utilisation, process engineering, health & safety, emissions management and employee communication.

‘What's often overlooked by telematics providers is bringing employees on board and demonstrating that it isn’t a “big brother” exercise, but a programme that can help them and the business,’ says head of change management, Mike Hemming.

‘Telematics is no longer the preserve of the fleet manager or depot manager, the likes of HR, finance and the ceo want to see the benefits across the business, so preparing properly and following up post implementation is essential to ensure all parties get what they want out of the system.’

‘A key solution to this challenge can be found in the form of a professional services team,’ agrees John Cameron, general manager of Trimble Field Service Management.

‘Such a team offers their expertise to help businesses in the analysis and interpretation of the data from initial concept through to daily implementation. Information is only good if it helps you make the right decision and a professional services team helps to ensure businesses achieve this.’

‘Where data is concerned, accessibility is as important as accuracy,’ says Tim Eaves, commercial director at In-Car Cleverness.

‘For fleets with varied requirements, we believe that a customised approach is the most effective means to making successful changes to a fleet’s performance as requirements differ dramatically from fleet to fleet. 

‘Our interactive reporting facility enables fleet managers to utilise data effectively, and with the help of this accurate data, they can intervene in areas where they can be saving money and reducing their environmental impact.’

Despite these varying approaches to making data more accessible, most agree that the amount of information available to mangers will only increase going forwards.

‘The way we connect vehicles to other vehicles, the world around them and the people in it, in increasingly complex ways is much more likely to drive the mobility innovations of the future,’ says Trimble’s Cameron.

‘This means, applying smart technologies in ways we haven’t even thought of to make our journeys safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly. One thing is for sure, big data and the integration of technology will be at the centre.’

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Dan Gilkes

Dan has been a commercial vehicle and construction equipment journalist for almost 30 years. An automotive engineer and former fleet manager, he has driven almost every van, pickup and truck that has been launched in Europe over that time. As editor of VFW, his aim is to keep readers up to date with the latest developments in the light commercial world.