Fleet management | Telematics

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Telematics features

Live location tracking
CAN data
Temperature sensors and alerts
Tachograph data
Real-time vehicle diagnostics
Dashcams & multi-channel cameras
Plant & asset trackers
OBD plug-ins

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The right telematics solution makes fleet management easy

telematics solution

With a good telematics platform you can work smarter, not harder. Make informed decisions based on clear report screens with all the data you need. Want to check the temperature inside an artic? See drowsy driving and prevent accidents? Make first notification of loss after a collision, with video footage of exactly what happened? It’s all on your screen with telematics.

What to look for when choosing a telematics system

telematics system

Find providers with the widest range of hardware products and brands possible
A provider you can count on for the long haul will keep up with new technology and offer a range of hardware to meet your needs, no matter how your company evolves.

Look for flexibility, with report screens you can customise
Instead of working around a ‘one-size-fits-all’ software design, choose a telematics platform with report screens that can be designed around you and your business.

Expert telephone support and training
Look for lifetime hardware warrantees, telephone support and good technical after-sales care. Training should be offered if you need it.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Telematics and vehicle tracking are fundamentally the same thing. Most people use the term vehicle tracking, or vehicle tracker, to describe the more basic end of the product range, and telematics for systems with more complex functionality. With no widely accepted definitions, people tend to decide for themselves where exactly to draw the line between which software platforms to call telematics and which to call vehicle tracking and many people use the two words interchangeably.

All systems use transmitting devices fitted in vehicles (or moving assets like trailers) and software that interprets the signal into useful information which is presented to them in an app or browser.

The term “vehicle tracking” usually refers to a GPS vehicle tracker which may also have an accelerometer, which can give more accurate data on the speed of the vehicle. These systems may also support data from a dash cam.

The word “telematics” is more often used to describe the more sophisticated platforms which can also process and display data from multi-channel cameras, and devices which can connect to the CAN bus for vehicle diagnostics and precise data from the fuel feed, rev counter and almost anything else.

The short answer is yes, definitely. Every business is different, but companies that try telematics almost never want to go back to working without it.

The benefits of using telematics do not relate to the size of a company or fleet. They do not always fully correlate to the amount of time vehicles spend driving on the road each day, either. The amount of cash a business can save through using telematics to cut costs will definitely vary depending how much of the functionality it uses.

Let’s look at some examples.

If using your telematics system shows that your drivers are taking unauthorised breaks, you can add up the total you are paying them during those breaks over the course of one month. In most cases, it turns out to be more than the cost of the telematics system for the month. This means that using telematics to stamp out the unauthorised breaks is a financial win.

A telematics system with an accelerometer can highlight and measure driving behaviours that waste fuel and put vehicles out of action more often, needing repairs for wear and tear or crash damage. These systems start from around £80 per month. If you add up how many times your business has had a vehicle off the road, and what it cost in payments to the mechanic plus hiring a replacement vehicle, chances are the telematics system can save much more money than it costs. When you add on the cost of lost business and a hike in your fleet insurance price the following year, the financial benefits of using telematics keep growing.

Stamping out risky driving by using a telematics system has the second benefit of reducing your number of insurance claims. This can reduce fleet insurance premiums by as much as 30% if the driving standards and habits are safer across the whole fleet for three years in a row.

Simply using the telematics software functionality that counts up engine idling can save a lot of money spent on fuel. An idling 3.5 tonne vehicle gets through anything from 2 to 5 litres of diesel every hour. Even leaving a small van idling for half an hour a day will waste a full tank of fuel every two months.

So, when is telematics not worth it? It may not bring financial rewards or practical benefits to small companies which very much trust the people who drive their vehicles, already pay low fleet insurance and are working at maximum efficiency in deploying the workforce to get the job done.

Driver monitoring or in-vehicle monitoring systems (IVMS) are a function of telematics that track how carefully a driver handles the vehicle. This is an area where the industry is investing in research, so rapid technological advances are likely in the future.

The system may film the driver to check his attention levels, using AI to check for a wandering gaze or the frequency of his blinking, which can indicate tiredness.

An older and currently more reliable form of driver monitoring may record the frequency of over-revving, harsh braking and sudden cornering. These habits, and others, increase wear and tear on parts of the engine, brakes and drive train, and they can waste fuel – in an HGV the costs mount up alarmingly. Using telematics means a manager can identify these habits, see data on exactly how much fuel each habit wastes, and save money by putting a stop to them.

A hardware device connected to the vehicle’s CAN bus or Engine Control Unit (ECU) can detect information on how the vehicle is being driven and handled. This is one of the elements of driver monitoring using telematics. The data is transmitted via a SIM card to a cloud-based telematics platform. The fleet manager can then view it from any internet-connected PC.

For example, data from the rev counter can be correlated with the vehicle speed, which can highlight a tendency to over-rev and therefore damage the engine as well as wasting fuel. Other types of data include harsh braking, and other habits that waste fuel or increase wear and tear on specific components of the vehicle.

Another type of driver monitoring uses cameras. A dual camera is a tube with a camera at either end, one looking at the road and transmitting footage of the driver’s eye view whilst the other camera looks at the driver and monitors his behaviour. This might be his or her eyes drifting away from the road or other signs of tiredness, or behaviours known to cause distracted driving including smoking or using a phone. Some cameras can also record sound and capture conversations.

Newer technology uses artificial intelligence in driver monitoring. One example is software continuously analysing the driver’s face to detect the signs of drowsy driving and thus protect the driver and others from possible risk.

Dashboard cameras can be installed in vehicles, as part of a telematics system, and record what the driver sees. They are hard-wired to the vehicle.

Telematics cameras for driver monitoring are connected to a device that live streams their footage to a telematics platform, where the manager can see it using an internet-connected computer or, with some platforms, a mobile device. They will send an alert and footage from the camera if the driver applies the brakes very suddenly, or if the vehicle stops abruptly which suggests there has been an impact. The video footage shows the fleet manager exactly what happened, and can also be used as evidence if there are insurance claims or disputes about whose fault the crash was.

Types of vehicle camera to increase safety are installed with a screen in the cab for a driver. They work as an alternative to mirrors and can be a lot more useful if, say, a driver of an HGV is reversing and can see three different views around the vehicle at the same time: he or she can watch three images on a screen in his cab, whereas he could not watch three different mirrors at ones, located in different spots on either side of the vehicle. Cameras can also show the view directly behind a large vehicle, which it is impossible to show using mirrors.

The newest use of driver-monitoring cameras combine safety with driver monitoring. They can be installed inside the cab to keep the driver on camera. The most sophisticated types of in-vehicle telematics cameras use facial recognition technology. They trigger alerts if the driver is drowsy, which is shown by longer times spent blinking and other indications around the eyes, or by not looking at the road ahead but getting distracted and looking elsewhere. These telematics cameras are used in vehicles carrying explosive chemicals, for example, where the consequences of having a crash could be catastrophic. Simpler versions of these in-vehicle camera systems can be used as evidence to show if the driver is wearing a seat belt, using a mobile phone, smoking or doing other things that could jeopardise safety.

The CAN bus of a vehicle is also known as the Engine Control Unit (ECU). This is essentially the “brain” of the vehicle which consists of all the electronic circuitry that nowadays controls and monitors most important parts of the vehicle, ranging from the engine and fuel gauge to the door locks and window positions.

CAN data can be tapped by a telematics system to transmit all this information to a software platform remotely. A fleet manager can then see all the CAN bus data on a screen to get remote vehicle diagnostics. This can include, for example, the fuel usage as measured through the flow meter and the miles per gallon of a vehicle. It can show if the vehicle has developed a fault or broken down, and check how the vehicle is being driven - for example, if the driver is over-revving the engine.

A tachograph is used in goods and passenger vehicles that weigh more than 3.5 tonnes for checking that drivers and employers follow the rules on drivers’ working hours. Drivers are not allowed to work shifts longer than a set number of hours, or work continuously without prescribed breaks.

Information from digital tachographs is saved on smart cards so it can be checked later. From some tachograph systems, it can be checked remotely. Since the information is used for proving that companies and drivers have obeyed the law, the tachograph data or “tacho” output is read by an independent agency, not by the owner of the vehicle.

There are different types of tachograph card for drivers and haulage companies. Driver cards are used by drivers to record driving, rest and activity information. Control cards are used by law enforcement agencies to retrieve data from the tachograph.

To use a tachograph, the driver inserts his “digi card” card into the reader, and the tachograph records details of all that happens to the vehicle.

The vehicle unit of a tachograph is installed in the driver’s area of the cabin and displays specific tachograph symbols, and there is also a motion or speed sensor on the gearbox. The vehicle unit collects signals from the speed sensor, and records the following data: date, vehicle speed, single or co-driver, number of times a driver card is inserted each day, distance travelled by the driver, driver activity (driving, rest, breaks and other activities) and the date and time of each activity change, events such as speeding, driving without a driver card and attempts to tamper with the tachograph, and details of tachograph calibrations.

The data is regularly checked to make sure that the driving times and driver’s breaks comply with the hours prescribed for safety by EU and UK law.