Photo: Unsplash/Chuttersnap

Photo: Unsplash/Chuttersnap

When most people think of telematics, GPS tracking is the first thing that comes to mind.

While there are many benefits of location tracking, fleet managers can use telematics for far more than real-time location data. Fleet intelligence technology delivers actionable insights to optimize multiple aspects of government fleet safety, service, and savings. It provides fleet managers with peace of mind knowing they have the right technology to protect their people and make data-driven decisions.

Here are seven ways fleet intelligence improves operations beyond vehicle location tracking.

1. Manage fleet utilization to extend vehicle life

Fleets represent one of the most capital-intensive aspects of any operation, and keeping vehicles and equipment well maintained and fully operational is no easy task. After investing in a new truck, cherry-picker, backhoe, or other costly vehicle, it’s vital that departments maximize their investment by extending its life as long as possible. The good news is that by implementing a telematics solution, fleet operations can gain the most out of their assets by turning their data into actionable insights to improve operations.

Fleet intelligence solutions help prolong vehicle life by monitoring usage hours, driving habits and more, turning this data into insights that can improve key operational factors and deliver more effective lifecycle management. For instance, government fleets can identify vehicles with higher mileage and alternate them out with lesser or even under-utilized assets, ensuring a more even usage distribution over time. As a result, managers can determine the right time to buy and how long to retain an asset before selling, maximizing operational efficiency at the job site and resale price at auction.

2. Monitor and promote safer driving behavior

For any fleet, driver safety is always paramount. A fleet intelligence solution will ensure employees operate vehicles and equipment in a way that promotes a safe environment for the entire crew and surrounding community.

Fleet managers will immediately know if employees are operating vehicles and equipment recklessly or at an excessive speed. An integrated telematics platform delivers dynamic alerts and historical reporting, allowing managers to provide in-vehicle coaching to identify risky behavior, provide near real-time feedback, and use trend reports to identify when drivers need additional training. Fleet intelligence empowers organizations to create a culture of accountability and to take action to prevent harm to people and property.

3. Reduce fuel and maintenance spending

Fuel and maintenance costs play a significant role in calculating the total cost of ownership (TCO). Lack of visibility into how vehicles are operated and maintained only leads to higher TCO, and poor fuel economy that can often indicate unreported maintenance issues in vehicles.

By integrating a fleet intelligence solution, government fleets can monitor vehicle fuel economy and engine idling, reducing fuel costs. At any given time, drivers can get stuck in heavy traffic or park their trucks with engines running without thinking about the fuel they’re burning. If an employee is idling for an extended period or is wasting fuel by traveling at high speeds or braking and accelerating harshly, fleet managers have the information to address it proactively.

As technology advances, more companies are using intelligent telematics solutions to determine their exact fleet maintenance needs. Government fleets can program advanced engine diagnostic alerts for different vehicle groups that require maintenance based on engine hours or distance traveled. If a vehicle displays a fault code — such as a check engine light — fleet managers can be notified, enabling them to proactively manage minor repairs before they become a major cost.

Not only will government operations save money, but they’ll be ensuring the vehicles and equipment that their fleets count on remain in the field instead of at a repair facility. Greater insight into fuel and maintenance means greater productivity and a healthier bottom line.

4. Combat theft and improve stolen vehicle recovery

A costly problem that has affected nearly every fleet is lost or stolen vehicles and equipment. Missing assets are expensive to replace, not to mention the costly project delays with not having the necessary tools or equipment on-site to complete the job.

Fleet intelligence solutions can provide government fleets with necessary insight into the location of any company asset, from vehicles to drills. Most of these solutions feature an alert or notification system that reports any unauthorized use or movement outside of set geofences created for fleets. Understanding the precise location of vehicles and equipment makes the recovery process more likely and less difficult if and when something is stolen.

5. Protect against false insurance claims in cases of accidents or collisions

Fleet intelligence solutions can not only provide a vehicle’s location but also its speed. In the event of an accident, telematics data can help insurance companies and legal teams determine whether a government agency is liable and help protect a its most valuable asset — its employees.

Consider a snowplow driver who hits a passenger car while working to clear the roads during an ice storm. If the driver of the passenger car makes a fraudulent claim and accuses the fleet driver of speeding, telematics data can be used to exonerate drivers by determining whether the snowplow was traveling above the posted speed limit. In another world without GPS tracking, the driver would likely have been suspended — or worse. Thanks to fleet intelligence, government agencies can confirm drivers’ innocence, protect jobs, and save cities a potentially costly legal statement.

6. Improve communication about municipal services for residents

For utility fleets, real-time visibility into the location of each vehicle ensures faster response times during critical weather events. Fleet intelligence solutions allow managers to display the location data for an entire fleet and in popular third-party outage management applications, and vice versa. If there’s a downed power line, operators can quickly determine a vehicle’s location in real-time and dispatch drivers nearby accordingly.

If a city leader calls and expresses the desire to make an impromptu visit of a crew repairing potholes or replacing a broken sewer line, operators can send the exact location almost immediately. These solutions help fleet managers ensure the right vehicles are in the right place at the right time.

7. Optimize disaster preparedness and response

Fleet intelligence helps managers turn disaster response from reactive to proactive. Each summer, government fleets in many states have the daunting task of preparing for peak hurricane season. For these situations, it’s best to be prepared. Fleet intelligence solutions allow companies to pre-position vehicles ahead of storms to guarantee coverage countywide if (and when) roads and bridges become impassable.

Alternatively, an unexpected snowstorm can present dangerous road conditions. The same fleet intelligence solution can increase the visibility of fleet operations to better manage snow trucks and optimize smaller snowplow fleets to cover more roads and reduce overlap in plowing routes.

From the Sun Belt to the snow belt, fleet intelligence provides fleet managers with the real-time information they need to keep performance at its peak under all conditions when it matters most.

The bottom line is that intelligent telematics solutions provide fleets with so much more than basic dots on a map for vehicle tracking. With access to critical information such as vehicle faults, trouble codes, fuel usage, and driver behavior data like speeding, cruise control, and idling, organizations can quickly identify cost-saving opportunities and deploy programs including driver coaching and maintenance to take corrective action where needed.

About the Author: 
Bill Westerman is vice president of product management at CalAmp, a connected intelligence company helping businesses and people track, monitor, and recover assets with real-time visibility and insights.