Mon, 15 April 2019
Telematics means remotely tracking the location and activities of vehicles and moving assets. As with vehicle tracking, telematics consists of devices in the vehicle transmitting data, plus software that shows you information on the vehicle. Telematics, however, provides much more detailed information and with greater precision.
This page is for people who already understand vehicle tracking systems, and want to know how telematics is different.
If you are not familiar with vehicle tracking, you may want to read our 5 Minute Guide to Vehicle Tracking before returning to this page.
|Primary source of data||
Collects data from its own measuring devices,
e.g. GPS locator and accelerometer
Obtains information direct from the vehicle and its own sources
e.g. Engine Control Unit (ECU)/CAN bus and GPS locator and accelerometer
Key information only, headline figures in user-friendly format
Much richer information, with customisable reports and very detailed analysis
|Accuracy||Provides usually accurate information, estimated and calculated by software algorithms||Provides 100% accurate and reliable information, taken from the vehicle’s ECU system|
|Additional devices supported||Dash cams, Driver ID fob keys||Dash cams, dual cameras, multi-channel cameras, driver ID fob keys, tachograph with remote download, temperature sensors, PTO relay switch|
|Cost||Lower cost||Higher cost|
|Type of user||Suitable for commercial vans and cars||Suitable for commercial vans and HGVs, other large vehicles and special purpose assets including construction vehicles, ambulances, bin wagons, animal transporters etc|
Telematics systems can read and analyse information from many types of device. For example:
We discuss some of this functionality below.
If you think a more economical and easy-to-use vehicle tracking system sounds more suitable for you, please see our 5 Minute Guide to Vehicle Tracking.
Telematics is used primarily in HGVs and other large or complex working vehicles that need to be monitored in various says. Special purpose assets including construction vehicles, ambulances, bin wagons, animal transporters. Telematics systems can also be fitted to boats, trailers, cranes and many other assets.
Simple vehicle tracking systems are not suitable for these vehicles for a multitude of reasons.
Telematics devices takes and transmits a direct data feed from the following devices:
In other words, telematics gets relevant information from the tracking device and uses direct information from the vehicle, rather than a device that measures movements and then depends on an algorithm to interpret it. This is why telematics data is far more reliable and precise than data from a more basic vehicle tracking system.
As a free comparison site, iCompario can help you find the right system for the right price.
The following devices are some of the options supported by telematics systems:
This is the ultimate benefit for most businesses. Telematics provides a clear insight into your operational performance and measures the exact impact of improvements.
One example could be a particular driver with fuel-wasting habits. Telematics can measure how much fuel each habit wastes. You can compare the driver to the average driver in the company, or against specific goals you set him. The telematics software quantifies exactly how much fuel you will save each month then he reaches his targets and how much he saves week by week, habit by habit. With a full telematics system, the actual impact on fuel consumption is measured precisely in real time, whereas a more economical vehicle tracking system really only hints at what you are doing so the exact impact becomes apparent over the course of time.
With this added visibility, you can properly access your operational costs and make measurable improvements to routes, schedules, resource allocation and many other operational variables.
Telematics systems calculate miles per gallon differently from the way cheaper vehicle tracking systems can operate.
With a vehicle tracking system, you get purchasing data from a fuel card provider which gives information on how much fuel has been used. The software compares fuel purchased against miles driven, and calculates the miles per gallon from that. This relies on using the same fuel card every time the vehicle is topped up with fuel.
A telematics system tracks the fuel burnt through the flow meter, which is captured by the vehicle’s ECU. This shows the actual mpg in a way that you can measure over time and see the genuine saving you can make with better driving. A telematics system will map the fuel used against the activity of the vehicle, second by second. This means it can generate a report that shows how much fuel was used by idling, how much by over-revving and so on. It gives clear measurements of wasteful activities and clear pointers on what habits the driver needs to change to avoid fuel wastage.
Fuel consumption will vary depending on the weight of the load, the type of road being driven up and other factors beyond the driver’s control. On the other hand, some factors can be controlled by the driver. A telematics system can distinguish between these, in order to give much more useful data.
When you consider that HGVs do about 8 or 9 miles per gallon whereas a van can do about 30, it is clear that this mpg data has the potential for very significant savings for HGV fleets, even those without a particularly high mileage.
Telematics will detect deceleration or “harsh braking” from the ECU. Unlike vehicle tracking, telematics does not obtain this data from the accelerometer. This means there is no risk of getting false readings from going over a pothole. If you go over a bump in the road or drive over a pothole, the accelerometer in a vehicle tracker may give a false reading. The software may interpret this as sudden braking.
In an HGV or other heavy and slow asset, sudden acceleration is not really an issue, but over-revving is. This harmful habit wastes fuel and can inflict costly damage on an HGV. A telematics system will report and record exact revs taken from the vehicle’s rev counter.
By contrast, a simpler vehicle tracking system will use its accelerometer to measure the axis and movement and deduce harsh acceleration from these measurements. This works in a van or car but not an HGV, where harsh acceleration cannot really happen.
Being able to see the location of every vehicle in real time, anytime and anywhere provides immediate operational and service customers benefits. The fleet manager can see where vehicles are and whether they are on schedule and on route. Most systems can automatically generate notifications, by email or in the user app to alert fleet managers or customers of expected arrival times.
Unlike simple vehicle tracking software, telematics platforms can take a feed direct from the tachograph and display the data and current driver’s status. A tachograph is a device installed in HGVs to record working and driving time, periods of availability and rest time. This is to ensure that employers and their employees abide by the laws relating to drivers’ hours, specifically those regarding minimum rest periods and maximum driving hours per day, per week and in a continuous stretch. The telematics software can extract the data and guarantee it as evidence that the driver and company has complied with the law.
Fuel consumption can be reduced considerably through improved driving. Telematics can identify drivers who waste fuel through their driving style and break down the exact factors causing this waste. This makes it easy to set them targets for improvement and see their progress in each category.
You should be able to reduce CO2 and other harmful emissions by optimising routes to reduce unnecessary mileage. Telematics data will provide real data on journeys allowing you to re-access planned routes, schedules and territories.
Telematics systems can track purchases from multiple fuel cards and correlate them to the location of the relevant vehicle when the purchase was made, highlighting discrepancies.
The telematics box can also detect if there has been a sudden drop in the fuel level, indicating that fuel has been siphoned out of the vehicle’s tank.
Telematics software can integrate with a device that sends a signal to a diesel pump, activating it to fill a vehicle that it therefore “recognises”. This means the driver does not need any form of payment, as this is transmitted automatically to the provider of the fuel for later invoicing. This system can be used with a depot’s own diesel tank to help it track fuel usage by vehicle.
As far as cloud usage and data transmission is concerned, your telematics data is as secure as the data on your mobile phone. Telematics data is stored on secure servers with high data protection standards and UK data protection legislation.
You will normally be able to set up login access levels. Users are permitted to view their data, and their precise level of access, with the appropriate login. It is important to establish a clear password policy to make sure telematics data is kept secure within the company.
Telematics hardware includes tamper-proof connections and automated power-loss alerts. This type of notification will send a message as soon as a device is disconnected from a batter or other electric power supply.
Cameras connected to telematics offer remote download of film footage. This means that if, for example, a driver has caused an accident and wants to destroy the film evidence by taking the SD card out of the camera, he will be too late because the film is already backed up in the cloud and accessible from the telematics provider’s servers.
It is very important to choose a telematics supplier that is and will remain financially secure; ideally part of a large and long-established company, with the resources and financial back-up you need. You normally get into long-term relationships with a telematics provider. Typical contracts last five years, partly to avoid the inconvenience and cost of switching providers, so it makes sense to choose carefully.
Ask potential providers about professional accreditations they hold or awards they have won. This will reassure you they have the expertise you need. For example, a FORS accredited supplier or a CLOCs recognised system will be able to equip your vehicle in the right way to obtain certification.
Find out about the range of devices that the system can support and what the provider stocks. You will design a system that works for you today, but in a few years your needs may have evolved. You need a provider who can future-proof your telematics by offering to upgrade or modify your installed devices.
Consider other complementary products that your provider may offer. These could include fuel management systems, fleet insurance and other products that can interact with telematics.
Telematics can give you a bird’s eye view of your fleet at all times, making it quick and easy to manage all your drivers. You can deal with breakdowns or accidents immediately and even check the driver dashcam footage or speeding incidents from your mobile phone.
As a free comparison site, iCompario can help you find the right system for the right price.