The Internet of Things (IoT) will link billions of smart devices — smart homes, medical devices, thermostats, cars, machinery — to the Internet and enable unprecedented levels of remote visibility and control. While the IoT is still in its nascent stages in many industries, fleet operators have been using similar technology for decades to manage expensive assets. The IoT is now poised to take fleet management to the next level of visibility and productivity.
Traditional fleet management solutions primarily focused on location — owners wanted to know where their assets were. As these solutions evolved, they also enabled visibility and control of driver behavior. By using data from the vehicle, owners could monitor speed, harsh braking, accident status, and even received maintenance reminders based on mileage. But the IoT can further expand these capabilities, roping in more sensors and systems on the vehicle and combining those inputs with data from other sources (traffic, weather, customer information, etc.) to further optimize operations.
Consider these three important advantages that IoT-enabled fleet management can bring to operators:
The IoT enables efficient route planning, even during traffic incidents or bad weather. Fleet management solutions provide location data that can then be combined with traffic and weather information via a route optimization engine to provide on-the-fly scheduling. Stops can be re-assigned in real-time based on new information. This not only helps save time and fuel, it also improves customer service. Route restrictions, such as required for hazardous materials or oversized vehicles, are taken into consideration.
You can see where drivers are at any time. Without automated fleet visibility, you have to rely on drivers to phone in their status and location. If there is a last-minute change to the schedule or a customer emergency, your staff will waste time on the phone trying to track down the nearest available driver or technician. IoT-based fleet management helps find the closest available vehicle and driver.
IoT systems can also be used to track items contents while on route or at delivery, This includes tracking returnable assets, such as bakery trays, pallets, shipping containers or even entire trailers.
The IoT can even improve space utilization. The majority of trucks on the highway are transporting empty space. That’s because while most companies know the weight of the goods they are carrying, insight into size and volume has been difficult to obtain. Emerging solutions that can sense all of these attributes — weight, size, and volume — can be analyzed to make sure every inch of space in a truck is utilized productively. This can help unlock new revenue streams and improve efficiency.
Solutions such as Zebra VC6090, an in-vehicle fixed mount mobile computer, can help maximize productivity by keeping drivers and their vehicles connected to network devices via wireless WAN (WWAN), wireless LAN (WLAN) , Bluetooth, GPS and telematics. Cost Savings
The IoT can also boost fleet management cost savings. With sensors providing data on vehicle operations and driver behavior, fleets can reduce fuel-wasting behaviors like excessive idling and speeding, while also reducing drive times through route optimization.
By automating many of the manual tasks associated with tracking and managing vehicle fleets, companies will also save time and labor hours that can be put toward more value-added or customer-focused activities.
Visibility makes it easier to see how the fleet is being used and where your money is going. Do you have too few trucks serving a given area, or too many? IoT-enabled fleet management will give you an instant, graphical representation of your asset utilization patterns, enabling you to shrink or expand the size of the fleet based on usage and demand.
Fleet management solutions also make it easier to take care of regulation compliance, hours of service (HoS) or fuel tax reporting in an automated fashion, saving countless hours of manual record-keeping for both drivers and administrative staff.
Optimize Shipment Conditions
For shippers and carriers, damage to goods can result in financial losses and erode customer confidence. This is especially true when it comes to perishable goods. The United Nations, in fact, estimates that one-third of all food spoils or is lost in transit.
IoT-enabled fleet management leverages on-board sensors to provide real-time temperature visibility and control. Companies can be alerted ahead of time if a shipment is in peril of falling outside of require temperature parameters and then instruct the driver to remedy the situation.
Sensors for vibration, humidity, and other conditions can help companies better monitor shipment status and provide an auditable record that can help protect the driver or fleet operator if damage is reported upon completion of a shipment.
An experienced solution integrator, such a Quest Solution, is required to tie in the hardware, software, infrastructure, security, services, data management, device management and operations so that all components work together for optimizing your enterprise, from design to deployment to ongoing performance.
The IoT is not just a vision for the future. Fleet operators are leveraging it now to facilitate management, save money and ensure products arrive in good condition. Companies that embrace this approach can improve fleet performance, optimize costs, gain new visibility, and enhance their customer service.