Fleet management and the Internet of Things (IoT) – how do they relate to each other, and how can they help your business? Let’s find out
According to a report by tech giant Ericsson, the number of devices connected to the IoT is expected to reach 16 billion globally by 2021.
So what impact does this growth have on the vehicle tracking and fleet management market?
The McKinsey Global Institute reports that the total value of the IoT is expected to reach a staggering $6.2 trillion by 2025. The transportation sector will contribute just over $254 billion to that value – that covers the data collected by vehicle trackers, driving sensors, and self-parking cars. So what can you take away from this?
The IoT is a lucrative concept, but it’s a simple one that showcases just how valuable data collection can be. It means that fleet management won’t just help you run your fleet more efficiently – it’ll help you to save money and make money. Read on to find out how.
Curious to find out how much a fleet management system would cost your business? Fill in our form with a few details about your fleet, and the suppliers that best match your requirements will be in touch!
What is the Internet of Things?
Let’s start from the beginning. ‘The IoT’ is a term that consistently crops up across the web – but what actually is it?
Well... it’s not as abstract as it first seems. Let’s break it up.
As we all know, the internet is a global communication system. Devices can be connected to it via cable, wifi, or cellular network.
‘Things’ simply refers to the devices that connect to the internet – this includes computers, cell phones, and data collecting devices such as trackers.
Put these two terms together, and the IoT is essentially a system that consists of a bunch of devices that are all connected to the internet. It’s as simple as that!
What is Fleet Management?
A fleet management system is formed of two parts:
1. Fleet management hardware
2. Fleet management software
Fleet management hardware consists of tracking devices that send data back to a software program or data center via the internet. This is how vehicle tracking devices form part of the Internet of Things.
Vehicle tracking devices either sit on the dashboard, or plug into the vehicle diagnostics. They then deliver data through the cellular network to your fleet management software, which can be hosted on your computer or cell phone.
Fleet management software is usually hosted on drivers’ cell phones, and allows them to input data regarding job completions, vehicle faults, and driving hours.
You’ll be able to see all of this data on a central interface, which you’ll usually be able to access using your own cell phone, a tablet, and/or a computer. Indeed, it’s this interface that’ll enable you to make smarter business decisions when it comes to managing your fleet.
Find out how fleet management and the Internet of Things work together in the video below.
What are the Benefits of Fleet Management’s Connection to the IoT?
Fleet management is all about reaping that ROI. But how can its devices and software help you save money and increase your profits?
Gain Data Insight
Data collected from vehicle trackers and engine diagnostics will help you to make smarter business decisions. The data may reveal that you can reduce fuel costs by training your employees to drive more efficiently, reduce vehicle idle time, or you may even find out your drivers aren’t taking the most direct routes.
Fleet management software will give you the means to input, log, and keep track of jobs or deliveries. Drivers can record when they’ve finished a job, look up job details, and even generate instant quotes or invoices.
Any inputted information is relayed back to your central management system via cellular connection. Combined with GPS data, you’ll have all the information you need to assign new jobs, move employees around, and run your business more efficiently day to day.
Keep on Top of Maintenance
Fleet management devices will continuously collect usage and run-time data from your vehicles, allowing you to set limits and alerts for maintenance checks. For example, you could set up alerts to check tyres and brake discs, or even have the entire vehicle serviced.
This proactive approach to vehicle maintenance will lower the chances of you having to pay out extortionate amounts of money to fix issues which may have got out of hand.
Active Versus Passive Data Collection
Thanks to the Internet of Things, the majority of vehicle tracking data collection is active. This means data is collected in real-time and sent automatically via the internet to your data collection center (your software).
This near-instant process makes it easier for you for you to better manage your fleet and make informed business decisions based on what's happening right now.
Although passive data collection is useful, you’ll find you’re always one step behind, rather than ahead of the game. Passive vehicle tracking is more suited to smaller companies, where the only data needed is a record of where a vehicle has travelled over a period of time.
The only real positive to a passive vehicle tracking system is that you don’t have to pay a monthly fee to use the cellular network.
Should You Invest in Fleet Management?
A fleet management system really is the perfect solution for any company looking to benefit from a bird’s eye view of its fleet.
GPS tracking devices and driver behavior sensors are ideal for all companies, while larger scale systems can include dash cams, rear view cameras, and digital thermometers.
The graph below shows the percentage of businesses that typically achieve their goals after investing in a fleet management system:
With improved customer service, improved productivity, and improved routing at the top of the achievement list, you can see why many businesses start to see a return on investment fairly swiftly.
As it happens, it’s compulsory that all commercial vehicles are fitted with an Electronic Logging Device (ELD). This device collects data on driver hours, ensuring that your drivers don’t surpass the maximum amount of time they’re allowed to spend behind the wheel.
Most fleet management systems are ELD compliant, which means you don’t need to worry about purchasing a separate device. Thanks to the IoT, an ELD automatically logs and sends data back to your software, which makes it super-easy for you to adhere to the hours of service (HOS) regulations and stay free of fines. .
Essentially, the ELD regulation means that fleet owners have no choice but to invest in some kind of fleet management system, whether it be a device that solely tracks working hours, or a more sophisticated system.
Below, we’ve provided you with a case study that showcases just how tailored to an industry a fleet management system can be.
Which Vehicle Tracking Devices Connect to the IoT?
All of the devices below can form part of a fleet management system. They connect to the Internet of Things via the cellular network, then send information back to a data center (your fleet management software).
Most fleet management GPS trackers plug directly into the engine management system. These devices will track your drivers’ locations, send you geofence alerts if a vehicle enters or leaves a certain area, and let you view historical locations.
On board cameras
Thanks to the Internet of Things, dash cam technology is advancing. You can now invest in on board cameras that live stream footage from the cab of your vehicle back to a central viewing platform. This means you can ensure that your field staff are driving safely and efficiently at all times, and be safe in the knowledge that, if a road incident happens, there’ll be footage to prove who’s at fault.
Thermostats are legally required if you’re transporting temperature-controlled goods, such as food. You can buy digital thermometers that integrate with your fleet management system, sending data via the internet to your software at programmed intervals.
Driver behavior sensors
Driver behavior sensors monitor things like braking force, acceleration, and speed, then score your drivers based on their performance. You can use this data to work out where someone could drive more efficiently (saving fuel), and how they could drive safer.
Your cell phone also forms part of a fleet management system. Your staff can download the fleet management app, and use it to record things like job completion and fuel expenditure. View all of your fleet data on the app, and use it to make informed decisions.
The Best Fleet Management Systems
Which suppliers deliver the best fleet management systems? Discover the top three below.
Best for small fleets
✔ Collect data on harsh driving
✔ Connects to a temperature probe
✔ Measures vehicle idle time
✔ Can tell when a driver goes above the speed limit
Best for medium-sized fleets
✔ Increase productivity
✔ Stay on top of vehicle maintenance
✔ Keep tabs on your field staff
✔ Analyze fleet performance
3.OmnitracsBest for large fleets
✔ All-in-one solution
✔ Good for trucking companies
✔ Covers driver management
There’s no doubt that the Internet of Things and fleet management are heavily intertwined. Fleet management wouldn’t be half as effective, and the range of solutions would be nowhere near as innovative, without internet connectivity.
The wonderful invention of the internet has opened up a whole world of data sharing potential. In an age where we rely heavily on stats and patterns to make decisions, fleet management and the Internet of Things is and will continue to be relied upon for informative decision making.
If you believe that your business would benefit from a fleet management system, why not request some quotes to compare? Fill in our form with a few details about your requirements, and our system will match you with the best suppliers.