In Part I of our series on Fleet Management and IoT, we examined trends and challenges the industry must address, including logistical issues related to online shopping, driver shortages, driver safety and productivity, and fuel price volatility. In Part II, we will look at how IoT is helping to address these challenges.
The challenge: Online shopping
The IoT solution: Vehicle tracking and diagnostics
IoT-based vehicle tracking can solve a wide array of transportation and supply chain issues, including high demand generated by the boom in online shopping. Tracking devices are installed on vehicles, which then transmit locational and diagnostic data to the system via a cellular data connection so that Fleet Managers know exactly where their vehicles are at all times. By monitoring the vehicle’s location in real time, Fleet Managers can more accurately predict the estimated time of arrival, quickly devise new routes while juggling the impact of real-time trends in traffic and weather, and plan for other downstream supply chain activities.
Some businesses are also using tracking solutions to better communicate with customers and improve shopping experiences. Amazon, for example, recently announced its Map Tracking feature, which shares the real-time location of its delivery drivers with customers. This informs shoppers of how many stops the driver will make before reaching them, enabling buyers to more appropriately plan when they need to be home to receive packages.
The challenge: Driver shortages/safety and productivity
The solution: Driver monitoring
While IoT cannot shrink the gap of available drivers, it can help make sure the drivers you do have are safer, thus keeping them on the road and working. IoT applications help Fleet Managers track driving habits – such as speed, blinker usage, and braking time – and identify areas where their drivers can be safer and more productive. Fleet Managers can set rules and alerts for when drivers exceed speed maximums, brake too hard, drive too many hours, or do not follow the prescribed routes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) now mandates the driver’s smartphone, tablet, or rugged handheld, be used for data capture and transmittal, tying into the Fleet business’s larger IoT platform and helping to ensure safety and compliance. It is another way that digital technology is solving an analog problem. IoT-enabled solutions not only keep drivers safer, but make their jobs easier, enhancing employee satisfaction.
The challenge: Fuel price volatility
The solution: Fuel sensors
Fuel price is a constant challenge for today’s Fleet Managers. To help manage costs, despite market fluctuations, IoT devices can collect data on how long vehicles idle, average speed, and gas mileage; providing a holistic view of vehicle fuel efficiency. That information can be used to determine the timing and level of required maintenance or vehicle upgrades. In addition, technology-based route optimization capabilities help maximize efficiencies and further reduce fuel consumption.
Using IoT, Fleet Managers are gaining deeper insight into a wide range of important factors related to their businesses, giving greater visibility into what is currently going on, versus what was planned or anticipated.