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Q&A: John Watkins, executive chairman of Trakm8

By / 5 years ago / Interview / No Comments

John Watkins, executive chairman of Trakm8, on developments within the group and the broader telematics marketplace.

John Watkins, executive chairman of Trakm8

John Watkins, executive chairman of Trakm8

What are the plans for the Trakm8 group following its recent acquisitions of Route Monkey and RoadHawk?

Trakm8 is currently embedding the Route Monkey optimisation algorithms and services into SWIFT Trakm8’s core fleet management system. Once the complete solution is ready, our customers will be able to run a fully integrated route optimisation, journey download, schedule monitoring, tracking, driver behaviour and ePOD system. A one-stop shop for the entire requirement to manage and monitor their vehicle fleet.

The RoadHawk camera product line is being developed to provide better quality video and integration into our telematics solutions. The next development will be an integrated forward and into the cab camera with telematics functionality embedded. The 4G device will transmit high quality video data in real time. The product will also integrate into Trakm8’s telematics driver profiling algorithms for risk and economy.


Are smaller fleets realising the benefits of telematics?

Yes. Smaller fleets are increasingly finding the benefits in driver profiling and education to reduce fuel and claims. The complexity of telematics solutions is reducing from an ease-of-use point of view with mobile apps and although the solutions themselves are increasingly complex, this ease of use and the value that the data provides make even smaller vehicle fleet operators embrace the technology.

Trakm8 has identified the challenges posed by managing smaller fleets and recently developed Trakm8prime. This will allow fleets of up to 75 vehicles to harness the benefits currently supplied to our corporate clients. Its features include real-time tracking, driver behaviour scoring, vehicle health and P11D mileage returns.


How can fleets help avoid ‘data overload’?

Data collected is now so much more than it was. Data can be collected at one second intervals and can now include the CANbus data for driver profiling and vehicle service needs; it includes the accelerometer and in some case gyro data for crash detection and driver behaviour analysis. It includes integration into digital tachographs for driver hours and compliance.

Some customers can absorb raw data and turn this into useful management information as they have good in-house analytical skills so our job is to provide the best quality data possible. Other customers need us to turn data into quick-to-assimilate information in order to modify their operational behaviour as a result and improve their efficiency. It is both the quality of these insights and the ease in which they are presented that is key to not providing ‘data overload’.

When selecting the telematics supplier, the fleet manager needs to be sure that the working system is installed satisfactorily whilst ensuring that those insights are properly delivered and the financial gains achieved.


What can we expect from future telematics technology?

Telematics technology is becoming less expensive to implement with lower cost hardware, communications and the elimination of installation cost through the use of self-fit devices. The data derived delivers ever better insights into the operational efficiency of fleets. I expect these trends to continue, with fully integrated cameras becoming commonplace.

The growth of telematics implementation will enable better predictions around the vehicle repair requirements. Trakm8 already has an exceptionally accurate algorithm for predicting starter battery failures before they happen, with the service gains that brings. Using the automotive expertise within our engineering team, we’re working on an array of predictive service requirements using vehicle and diagnostic data. After fuel efficiency gains from better optimisation of loads, journeys and driver behaviour, the risk and crash detection gains, vehicle service and maintenance gains will be the third major derived benefit.


How much should data hacking be of concern?

Trakm8 takes hacking extremely seriously. We are privy to personal data and must take every possible precaution to protect it. There is also a need to protect devices connected to the CANbus against exploitation. Trakm8 operates to ISO 27001 standards and has had external analysis of the company’s systems to ensure that we remain secure as the threat landscape evolves. While concerns exist, the telematics supplier should have them under control so that the fleet operator need not worry!

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 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. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.