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Interview: Barney Goffer on Teletrac Navman’s work to help fleets go electric

Barney Goffer, UK product manager at Teletrac Navman UK, speaks to Natalie Middleton about the firm’s new AI-powered TN360 telematics solution and its tools to help fleets optimise electric vehicles.

Barney Goffer, UK product manager at Teletrac Navman

It’s a year since Teletrac Navman launched its next-generation TN360 telematics solution and a lot has happened in those 12 months.

From major announcements on the ICE ban, and government plans for EVS and charging, to the ongoing disruption from the pandemic and a switch to more efficient ways of running, it’s been a tumultuous year for fleet operators and the industry at large. To put it mildly.

It’s certainly put the focus on more intelligent ways of working, as fleets switch to data-led approaches to running operations and assessing planned changes.

This is where Teletrac Navman can help, based on the new TN360 telematics platform, according to Barney Goffer, UK product manager.

TN360 is powered by artificial intelligence and provides businesses with simplified, smart, predictive and actionable insights. Importantly, TN360 uses a scalable cloud ecosystem that connects data from sensors, cameras, mobile and third-party applications in real-time and translates raw signals into context.

Explaining the solution and its background, Goffer says: “The focus is really around not forgetting the original reasons and motivations as to why people invested in tracking, because that’s still core and a fundamental staple of any business that it makes its investment here.

“What we want to do with this product is to make getting to critical bits of information a lot quicker; a lot more user-friendly, so that fleets can make instantaneous decisions. And that’s really what are our tools are for behind the product.”

A platform to enable EV adoption

It’s also about enabling fleets to see how they can go electric – based again on accurate and real-time data.

“We have built tools around leveraging our data to allow businesses to analyse the true data and the information that we give them, and allow them to make decisions on how and when to electrify their fleet,” outlines Goffer.

“So it’s all about using the data that’s already there about the way your business is running today and being able to pretty much know, within 24 hours, which vehicles you can switch today. Which ones you should definitely not bother with. What the total cost of ownership looks like in terms of cost savings over a five-year period. What chargers you need to deploy within the space and the regions that your vehicles work in.

“And instead of having to go through a consultation process – spending 6 to 9 or even 12 months’ worth of time analysing that data yourself – we’ve built a solution that does it all for you. So that’s super exciting from our perspective.”

When asked who it’s aimed at, Goffer says: “It’s really focused and targeted on van fleets. And on car fleets. It’s not really designed to support the HGV space at the moment, but that’s largely because there aren’t many electric HGVs out there and we can quickly pivot to that. But for now it’s very much focused on the car and van fleets that are already switching.”

He adds: “I think the 2030 ban on internal combustion engine cars and vans is really going to drive that adoption [of TN360]. In terms of its initial launch, we have got great engagement through social media and it’s driven a lot of interest towards the website. So is our core products. And, I’d say, 70% of our sales are now on that platform as well. So within a short space of time, it’s really taken hold.”

The fact that it’s aimed at fleets across the board is also bringing great traction for the product.

Goffer continues: “I never want to say it’s aimed at anyone and everyone. But in reality it is. It is a horizontal platform that you can use within small fleets, within companies that have got maybe 5-10 vehicles. But typically the people that will see the most benefit are those who are probably running fleets of 20-200, but we’ve got big blue chip organisations on our books that have been using the platform and some that are imminently signing up to it as well.

“Basically, any organisation that hasn’t invested in this type of technology yet and wants to go digital. Or maybe you’re a business that does use tracking today, but it’s perhaps not moved with the times. Where you’ve got solutions that allow you to use apps, for example, that allow you to draw conclusions immediately from data through the AI tools that we have, and then use it, making things paperless as well. There seems to be a big clamour for that at the moment from businesses that are using traditional methods of sending workflow and job sheets out to people.

“Well, this is all about taking that away and automating those processes, and ensuring that you can send work immediately through it, through a tablet, through a device that’s in-cab. And then at the back end, the transport manager can actually view and see instantaneously what’s happening with when that work is completed.”

A tool for compliance

But it’s not about streamlining processes and making operations more efficient, it’s also ensuring they remain compliant with omnipresent health and safety requirements.

Barney goes on: “The other really important thing is that the [need for] safety and compliance hasn’t gone away. That’s still vital to a fleet manager and an organisation. They still want to know that their drivers are driving sensibly, that they’re being efficient with their time, and that they’re compliant as well. And for anything above 7.5 tonnes where you need tachographs, we have the tools to support that.

“We’re seeing a shift from businesses that just want to see a dot on a map to businesses that want to see end-to-end workflow of what’s happening with that job. Where is it on the road today? Is it going to meet its delivery time slot? What’s the impact if it doesn’t mean that delivery time slot? Do I need to get into the back on the road to fulfil that work for the day? Or can I kind stand that 10-15 minute delay on the basis that they’ll catch up later on? So that’s really the beauty of it. And having access to that data immediately to be able to make those decisions.”

The technology behind the platform has also been designed to be future-proofed.

Goffer explains: “It uses super-scalable, cloud-based solutions that we can upscale, we can integrate into really, really quickly. To give you an example, if you’re a customer that had a specific TMS system, for example, that you wanted to embed within our platform, we’ve got the capabilities to build that and stand that up in really quick time and release that product.

“And that’s really where we see the industry going. We don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves into a situation where we only have our tracking system to sell. Businesses are using technology that much further akin to route optimisation and back office software that they need to manage their warehouse and their delivery schedules with.

“Well, if you integrate that into a platform like telematics as well, you literally have a cradle-to-grave system that can manage, manage and monitor everything from the minute a customer phones up to say, ‘I want my password delivered’, right the way through to the point that it is delivered, and then you’re getting satisfaction notes from the customer and so on.”

Asked if it’s completely future-proofed, Goffer continues: “Absolutely. A lot of the future proofing tends to come from the architecture, the way we design the platform, which is probably the boring bit in fairness. But it’s important that we do that as a business so that we’re ready for what changes come. Those changes that are coming, they’re rectification for sure. That is a fundamental.

“And the other thing as well is AI technology around camera technology. Cameras play a huge part within in the telematics space now as well, again, related to compliance driver performance, driver safety, first notification of loss; we still see the issues around cash to crash claims. So having the ability to immediately know whether you were at fault or, perhaps most importantly, that you weren’t at fault is pivotal to a business.

“And that’s really a big growth space at the moment at the moment, the video telematics market is starting to really take hold. You know, there’s a lot of vehicles out there that have standard cameras on them. But there’s now a bit of a shift towards proactive devices that measure driver drowsiness and distracted driving. And you want to be able to alert the driver to the fact that it’s not safe to do that.

“Demand is significant and high for it. But this kind of space has really taken off in the last three years. And now we’re seeing the technology that they’re using within the camera market change. So that’s where we’ve built the solution so we were ready to cater for that space as well.”

He continues: “One of the things that I’ve not mentioned about this tool, and TN360 generally speaking, is that it’s the iPhone equivalent of telematics, if you like. So it’s really easy to use an iPhone. That’s what these tools are designed to do. So you don’t need to be a rocket scientist, you don’t need to have an in-depth knowledge or understanding of telematics, as long as we set it up for you correctly, in the first instance, it’s literally like a plug & play solution. You can start gaining value from it really, really quickly.”

A core focus on optimised fleet efficiency

Future developments will see the TN360 solution extend its application, says Goffer – in particularly helping fleets maximise EVs.

He continues: “Route planning and route optimisation around electrification is the next big-ticket item that we’re starting to see take hold across with fleets. And electrification and internal combustion engine fleets are going to have to work together in the short term and there’s a layer of complexity that’s going to be added in to transport management. So, again, having access to data in terms of how those devices, those assets are used and driven, is going to be really, really important to manage your fleet and make sure that you’re maximising the efficiency of it as well.

“Range anxiety seems to be a really big thing out there, for a lot of people. I think there’s a bit of myth busting to be done around that, to be honest with you, because we’ve looked at data on this and typically people drive 30-40 miles in the average journey. Now there’s not one electric vehicle that can’t cover that distance in any day.

“It gets more complex when you’re doing multi-drop deliveries, when you’re maybe doing 300-400 miles per day, and you’re going to have to recharge at some point. So having access to data there is essential for planning and scheduling. And that’s where the integration piece comes into TN360 and what we can do around managing and planning and ensuring that the job gets done ultimately.”

And when asked how ready fleets are to go electric, Goffer outlines: “This is really fascinating, actually, because there’s some people who are really sort of pioneering their processes. The councils in particular, but they’ve been driven by government to do so because of the strict targets for decarbonisation. They’re at the forefront of this and they’re investing already.

“And then there’s the late adopters and he people who literally don’t know where to start with it. Those people, those organisations that don’t know where to start with, that could really advance and accelerate their switch with getting rid of their old internal combustion engine vehicles and using our tool to get ready for this.

“It’s just not something that you can just do overnight, either. If you go and hire a consultant, it will take months for them to come in and analyse your fleet and understand where to go with it. This tool will do it and within 48 hours. You will derive meaningful insights in terms of where and how to make those changes.

“My advice to any business that’s considering it is just, don’t delay. Don’t catch a cold and wait another five years, because this will be an ongoing process for a prolonged period of time. Not all of your vehicles will be able to switch on day one; the capital expenditure of doing it could be astronomical for some businesses.

“You’re going to need to think about how you relate that into what your lease cycle looks like, or what your capital expenditure was with your old vehicles. Many questions will need to be answered. But we can help you do that. It’s all data-driven. And it’s all it’s based on facts and not lengthy, lengthy conversations and guesswork. So it’s about making the right decision at the right time with the EDR tool. And that’s what it’s designed to do.”

Finally, how disparate are fleets in their approaches to electrification?

“One of the things that I’ve spent a lot of time doing over the last six months is literally just picking up the phone and speaking to businesses, and asking them questions about their strategy for electrification.

“Interestingly enough, for the people who have made that journey, or are just starting out on it, the biggest challenge for the industry is actually charging infrastructure. And knowing that you’ve got the right capacity to actually deploy a charging network within a depot, for example, or whether you’re going to do home charging; all the costs that are associated with that. It is a phenomenal task for some businesses.

“Which is really why we’re trying to say, ‘Don’t wait to start thinking about this. We all should be looking at this right now today and starting to consider how we take small steps to get ready for that switch.’

“It is coming. It’s probably the biggest evolution in transport that I’ve ever seen. And certainly since probably the advent of the car in fairness.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.