To optimize assets, fleets need to know how their equipment and drivers are performing. The best way to garner that information is by capitalizing on information technology (IT) provided by onboard vehicle systems linked to in-house software.
Maria Sotra, vice president of marketing for Geotab, notes the ways fleets can improve productivity and safety. “For example, MyGeotab gives fleets the ability to track fuel usage and idling trends, optimize routing and delve even deeper, comparing personal vs. business mileage. With mobile apps, add-ons and add-ins, small businesses all the way up to enterprise fleets can find a partner solution on the Geotab Marketplace that addresses appointment scheduling, mobile forms and e-signature, mobile workforce management, vehicle maintenance management, and more to increase productivity.
“Additionally,” she continues, “the Geotab Safety Driver Scorecard allows fleets to identify which drivers need training, measure driver performance against company goals, and integrate automated driver training and gamification through the Geotab Marketplace. A range of safety features are available, such as in-cab driver feedback tools [like Go Talk], seat belt detection, vehicle in-reverse detection, and accident detection and notification to improve driver behavior and ultimately the overall safety of their fleet.
“The next development in fleet management,” Sotra predicts, “is Big Data and predictive analytics. Partnering with an open platform telematics provider is a good first step. Geotab makes data open and easily integrated with other business systems such as your CRM, maintenance, or ERP software for added value—with the ability to collect over one billion points of data per day, which can be leveraged for greater productivity, safety and efficiency.”
“Fleetmatics solutions are designed to help manage a fleet of vehicles and improve productivity,” begins Todd Ewing, director of product marking for Fleetmatics. “Take, for instance, Fleetmatics Reveal, which leverages data to provide real-time visibility into field activity and actionable insight into driver behavior and workforce productivity allowing managers to make insightful decisions in real-time. What used to take hours, fleet managers can now do much more quickly and efficiently with Fleetmatics Routist. The intelligent routing optimization solution systematically builds the most cost-effective, customer-friendly routes for fleets. It seamlessly calculates and deploys route plans to drivers in the field, and features near real-time and historical data that gives users the most holistic view into routing performance. By optimizing routes, this improves timeliness which leads to happy customers. Additionally, dispatchers can know where drivers are at all times, allowing them to provide more accurate service windows to their customers.”
“When it comes to fuel, there are a lot of ways drivers can waste it,” Ewing continues. “If a driver is dispatched to a jobsite and isn’t sure how to get there, he or she may end up taking a more circuitous route. Or a driver may know exactly how to get there, but not know that a major accident just shut down that road and it would have been faster to go ‘the long way.’ Fuel cost can also be controlled with Fleetmatics solutions by sending managers alerts whenever drivers are speeding or idling too long. The software lets them take fast action and flag these fuel-wasting habits. By utilizing a fleet optimization tool, routes are going to be the most efficient possible, allowing for improved customer satisfaction and lower fuel costs.”
“Our solutions help fleets improve productivity in a number of ways,” says Ryan Driscoll, marketing director for GPS Insight. “First and foremost, telling drivers they are being tracked immediately changes driver behavior and improves productivity. Beyond that, seeing vehicles on a map and having the ability to easily dispatch drivers to the next job or find the nearest truck for the next job improves productivity immensely for drivers and for the dispatchers. Eliminating off hours and unauthorized usage can keep drivers on task and more productive each day. Fleets can also use GPS Insight to keep drivers on time, automatically sending messages to them when they have been on site for too long or break for too long. GPS Insight eliminates unnecessary paperwork from IFTA reporting, Hours of Service, time cards, maintenance and more. With GPS Insight, fleets integrate the GPS data into other platforms to get information in one place, which takes less administrative time and makes the office more productive.”
In addition, Driscoll says that GPS tracking is one of the best tools a fleet can invest in because is allows management can coach and correct driver behavior, which is easily identifiable with real-time alerts and on-demand reports. This can ultimately lead to a reduction in accidents and tickets.
“GPS Insight also helps improve vehicle maintenance execution,” he continues. “It’s tough to get accurate odometer readings and even more difficult to ensure every truck is serviced on time when done manually. GPS Insight offers a maintenance module and DVIR that allows maintenance staff to schedule maintenance for all vehicles, which automates reminders for the appropriate personnel. Reports can also be generated to see which services are overdue. This will keep trucks safe to operate on the roads.
“GPS Insight also has functionality for sending help in emergency situations with a panic button,” he continues. “This is a key fob worn on their person or keychain that can be pushed to notify dispatch of an emergency situation where they need help sent. The most basic safety play for GPS tracking platforms is also quick theft recovery. We work with our customers very closely to ensure they get the most benefit from our tracking solution. Our customer service plays a huge role in the success of our customers’ GPS tracking projects. We take a hands-on approach with customer account managers that interface with customers early and often, and support them in building a long-term solution that maximizes return on investment. We also provide a help center with on-demand articles, training videos, and information about the software for those who like self-help. We also offer technical support 24/7/365.”
Fleets can be extremely specific on the information they want to see in order to make it most meaningful to them. Driscoll says the GPS Insight Fleet Tracking and E-Log Solutions are a completely customizable technology that is powerful, flexible, and reliable.
“The ability to integrate our GPS data into just about any other backend software system streamlines fleet management,” he says. “We offer simple integration options such as APIs, web-hooks, and map overlays. We have an infrastructure that fleets can count on with an in-house development team that responds quickly to customer requests, our software is always up and running with virtually zero downtime, the data is secured at multiple levels, and we offer a simple upgrade path if a fleet outgrows the current solution.”
“Delivering on-time and keeping customers happy is a priority for any business, especially in industries like field sales and services, courier and delivery, and food and beverage,” Geotab’s Sotra says. “At the same time, managing fuel costs can be challenging due to fluctuating fuel prices and driver behaviors such as rapid acceleration, harsh braking and unnecessary idling.”
Safety and compliance
“Fleetmatics software collects all the important data needed to ensure that drivers are complying with safety practices when operating company vehicles,” Ewing says. “This includes information on things like speed, harsh breaking, and aggressive driving in general. Managers also can schedule maintenance reminders and get automatic alerts when vehicles are due for service, ensuring no vehicle goes too long without necessary repairs and is at risk of breakdowns or accidents.”
“To help our customers stay compliant and manage vehicle safety and their drivers,” says Mark Alsbrook, senior product manager at Omnitracs, “we have several applications offered on our various platforms: Hours of service is an electronic on-board recorder [EOBR] application that can helps our customers manage their compliance. It automatically creates driver logs that are fully compliant with the latest rules and regulations of the FMCSA. Our vehicle inspection report [VIR] application is a simple, cost-effective, closed-loop process for completing driver vehicle inspection reports [DVIRs]. It can help decrease costs, improve the accuracy of reports and focus on the critical inspection requirements identified by the FMCSA. Our critical event reporting [CER] is an application that allows fleet managers to monitor the safety behavior of drivers in near real-time, helping prevent accidents.
“To help our customers manage productivity we have the following applications: Analytics Manager Basic provides a core set of analytics and visual tools that turn data in actionable information to help improve safety, compliance, fuel management, overall efficiency and decision making; Performance Monitoring with Fuel Manager enables our customers to better manage truck fuel consumption by tracking vehicle and driver performance,” Alsbrook adds. “Electronic Forms allow drivers to capture, manage, and deliver critical information to the back-office. Driver Workflow automates functions such as load assignments, event triggers and work process forms, increasing the productivity of our customers.”
“Omnitracs’ analytics solutions provide countless opportunities to use Big Data effectively to optimize fleet performance,” Alsbrook continues. “We store telematics data, hours of service data, critical event data, performance monitoring data, and much more. Using this information, fleets can use Omnitracs’ predictive modeling, analytics, Big Data, real-time scoring, reporting, dashboards, and routing solutions. By using these solutions, fleets have gained productivity improvements, improved safety including major reductions in severe accidents, reduced voluntary turnover, and improved hiring and recruiting decisions.
“Omnitracs can uniquely incorporate both the OEM and human factor Big Data, which allows our Predictive Models to provide intelligence on both man and machine,” he adds. “The Omnitracs product portfolio includes a broad set of vehicle fleet management software and tools within six solution pillars: compliance, data and analytics, planning and delivery, productivity, safety and security, and transportation management systems. From truck dispatch software to EOBR systems and everything in between, Omnitracs offers easy-to-use, effective products to maximize fleets’ resources, monitor operations, ensure compliance with the latest industry regulations, and protect drivers.”
Beyond fault codes
“While other software solutions are limited to looking at just engine faults, our solution goes beyond that,” says Tom Dorazio, director of product management at PeopleNet. “In partnership with third parties, wet provide fault code monitoring and remote diagnostics. PeopleNet’s fault code monitoring works by collecting data from triggered fault code events and sending it to the back office. Work orders are then automatically created from the fault code data, and fleet managers receive reports alerting them of engine problems before they become an issue. We also power solutions such as Kenworth’s TruckTech+ and Peterbilt’s SmartLinq, which are available through the PACCAR Dashboard. Through these, fleets can maximize their uptime, stay on schedule and manage service events, among others.”
PeopleNet has a partnership with Navistar to provide visibility into a fleet’s vehicle health. The company’s Remote Diagnostics Link integrates with Navistar’s OnCommand Connection, which is open architecture diagnostics solution that provides real-time vehicle health reports, fault code action plans and recommendations based on severity, and call center dashboards with GPS mapping and a dealer directory.
Vusion, a division of PeopleNet, offers an MPG Analytics Dashboard that connects, interprets and depicts data from multiple sources—such as the engine control module, GPS, dispatch, vehicle and fuel purchases—to optimize performance and decision-making. The dashboard provides an integrated, flexible view on performance, summarizing results at the fleet, driver manager, driver and vehicle levels to ensure fleets are taking full advantage of their technology investment.
Dorazio also mentions that PeopleNet powers TMT Fleet Maintenance from TMW Systems.
“TMT Fleet Maintenance is a comprehensive, end-to-end maintenance management solution designed to help fleets better control costs while improving vehicle uptime,” explains Renaldo Adler, principal of asset maintenance for fleets and service centers with TMW Systems. “The software integrates management of all maintenance areas, including preventive maintenance [PM] schedules, parts inventory, fuel and tire usage, mechanic hours, billing, warranty recovery, and more. Available diagnostic resources enable users to quickly define OEM fault codes and perform comprehensive diagnoses and repairs. TMT Service Center is an end-to-end business management solution for independent repair and maintenance operations. In addition to a comprehensive set of shop management tools, the software empowers users to offer a superior customer experience through electronic invoicing, PM notice tracking, 24/7 access to vehicle history reports, online service reservations, and more. Available diagnostic resources enable users to quickly define and diagnose OEM fault codes and perform comprehensive diagnoses and repairs. Both TMT Fleet Maintenance and TMT Service Center are available with tightly integrated OEM diagnostic and repair modules that not only identify and define fault codes, but also guide the user in finding and correcting the problem, including identifying the required replacement part by OEM part number.”
“One of the most important features of our software is an optional warranty management capability that closes the loop on all warranties—for the truck, system, tire or other part—to reclaim revenue that’s too often lost due to record-keeping and time constraints,” Adler continues. “This module also enables users to access daily warranty reports and failed parts analyses and streamlines the process of filing warranty claims with each manufacturer. In addition, business intelligence has provided much more insight to chronic repairs, predictive maintenance, and measurement of shop, technician and equipment performance.
“We recognize that tracking accurate miles and engine hours is a key component to an effective preventative maintenance program,” says Scott McCollister, senior product manager for EROAD. “Taking that knowledge to the next level for fleets that drive under adverse road conditions such as logging or mining roads is important. They benefit from also knowing the time spent and miles driven on the rough terrain. By integrating the information, such as miles, hours, location collected by a robust telematics provider with maintenance software, fleets obtain a fleet-wide, holistic view of what’s happening with their equipment so that they can take appropriate, proactive action.”
“Today’s commercial trucks provide an abundance of information regarding diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs),” says Bob Magnant, vice president of product management and strategy at Vnomics. “The majority of fleets are getting these DTCs remotely in near real time via their telematics provider or an OE solution. The fleet then has several options to utilizing this information and coordinate repairs and shop time. OE solutions and third-party software providers will help prioritize urgent repairs with nearby shops that have capacity and parts available for potential issue.
“Fleets are continuously looking to reduce their costs and improve their profitability with analytics in many dimensions,” Magnant continues. “Everything from tractor downtime, asset utilization, driver workflow efficiency, scheduled maintenance and fuel consumption is being investigated and optimized with data. Vnomics focuses on fuel economy analytics, as it is one of two largest costs for any fleet, driver wages being the other. Most fleets have no shortage of data in all areas of their business but having data is not enough. We like to talk about actionable fuel analytics as the insight of what was the fuel consumption, why was that amount of fuel consumed, what can be done to change the amount of fuel consumed and how will that change impact my business’s bottom line.
Vnomics does this by focusing on the drivers’ behaviors and providing fleets their potential MPG or the maximum achievable fuel economy for each trip. This is much more actionable for a fleet than just understanding their MPG.”
Using ECU reprogramming, fleets have the ability to set software configurable parameters of each tractor for their given operations. “The goal is to match the tractor configuration to the required operations for optimal performance,” Magnant explains. “Configurable items include parameters around engine power, speed governor limit, transmission modes, and idle shutdown time among others. To reprogram the ECU, fleets must work with the OE, either having it done in the shop or getting access to the required tools and software. For good reasons, the OEs try to control the reprogramming to prevent tractor setups that would be out of the specifications the tractor was designed to. As the concept of connected vehicles is growing the ability to securely reprogram ECUs remotely is becoming a large topic of discussion.”