Trucking Industry

Data Driven: Telematics Gives Commercial Carriers the Power of Connectivity

First, lets get something clear — telematics has nothing to do with the telephone or annoying sales calls. At its simplest, telematics is an electronic method to collect and use vehicle data and achieve a wide variety of tasks, from route optimization and delivery tracking to fuel management reports and maintenance alerts, that help keep fleets running smoothly and safely.

If you own a late model passenger vehicle, it’s likely it came equipped with a telematics system. You may have used OnStar to get directions or unlock your vehicle — that’s a perfect example of telematics. Hyundai’s BlueLink system utilizes telematics to track a car’s fuel economy and CO2 emissions, which are displayed, on an owners-only web site. Mercedes-Benz’s Embrace system even offers a service called Safe Ride that will contact a taxi company or help arrange other transportation if car owners feel they aren’t able to drive.

Telematics is also becoming an important feature within the trucking industry. According to the Technology and Maintenance Council of American Trucking Association, the technology could soon become the default standard for heavy-duty trucks. PACCAR already installs a PeopleNet telematics unit in Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks with PACCAR MX engines at the factory, and International LT Series, RH Series and LoneStar models using International or Cummins engines are factory equipped with Navistar’s OnCommand Connection diagnostics platform.

Counting the benefits of telematics — improved maintenance and repairs, fuel efficiency, security, road safety, communication, and navigation, it’s easy to see why there is a drive towards universal adoption. The other aspect is the new regulation requiring electronic logging of hours of service (HOS).

A recent FleetAnswers survey revealed that the top reason for fleet leaders using telematics is to monitor and improve driver behavior such as idling, speeding, miles driven, and unauthorized use of vehicles. Obtaining location information of units in real time and accessing accurate odometer and engine hours were the second and third most commonly cited reasons.

As commercial vehicle manufacturers incorporate telematics as part of their OEM packages, expect to see independent owner-operators and fleets running older equipment seeking an uncomplicated solution for the necessary ELD (electronic logging device). The  ELD — which you might call the heart of the system, ranges from stand-alone plug-n-play devices to BYOD (bring your own device) models that enable the driver to use their own smartphone or tablet.

The FMCSA provides a checklist for choosing an ELD (tinyurl.com/eldchecklist) and maintains a list of registered self-certified devices (csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/ELD/List). Key players in the aftermarket telematics/ELD market include Rand McNally, Omnitracs, PeopleNet, and Pegasus Transflo.

Most ELDs have the same basic features — obviously, logging HOS being the main one, but each provider offers its own menu of premium features. This is where you can really customize your ELD experience. Do you need fuel management, GPS tracking or matching?  Some systems even combine video-based coaching with predictive analytics to reduce the chances of collisions.

How about wireless weigh station bypass? Drivewyze PreClear is compatible with many ELDs (including those listed above) saving carriers time and money with the ability to bypass over 700 weigh stations and inspections sites nationwide and in Canada.

Drivewyze is proud to play a role in improving highway safety and helping fleets to run smarter. Telematics and PreClear reporting combine to give carriers valuable insights they can utilize to make data-driven decisions for growing their business.