It may seem a bit “Big Brother” but the reality surrounding fleet management and telematics is that they both help businesses address common pain points that go along with managing vehicles. The key benefits are improving driver safety, lowering fuel consumption, providing near-real time updates for vehicles on the road and fleet analytics that increase users’ visibility into the business, all while improving vehicle maintenance, customer satisfaction and route planning.
Maintaining and keeping a fleet fully operational is essential. “Fleet managers walk a tightrope of thoroughly maintaining equipment while allowing for maximum utilization for the road, which is why fleet management software is designed specifically to make this challenging job as seamless as possible,” says Kevin Aries, head of global product success, Verizon Connect. “Thanks to today’s technological advancements, advanced fleet management solutions can be easily integrated with a maintenance management system that is easy to install across fleets of any size.”
In today’s environment, inventory management and asset tracking technology can help fleet managers and business owners understand how their assets are being used alongside their fleet of vehicles. “The COVID-19 pandemic has strained business supply chain’s worldwide with increased demand for essential goods and services,” says Aries. “The ability to easily track and monitor vehicles, assets, employees and the work being done has become more critical than ever. While fleet management technology is not new, it has helped businesses manage fleets remotely, decreasing office time and in-person contact through mobile tools and tracking.”
To help mobile businesses improve visibility and provide fleet managers with additional context leading up to harsh driving events, Verizon Connect has launched driver-facing dashcam, which captures the in-cab driver perspective to help promote safety, mitigate risk and improve driver behavior. The driver-facing dashcam provides a single, integrated platform inclusive of telematics, dual video and artificial intelligence enhanced with machine learning to help businesses improve driver behavior and better understand details of specific driving events.
“We are not currently using any video features but we do monitor driver behavior through the standard trackable data points such as hard braking, hard acceleration, speeding, etc.,” says Brian Fisher, director of supply chain, McKinstry, a Seattle-based mechanical contractor.
According to Fisher, incorporates ARI Insights for fleet management; the system is able to examine fleet mix, fleet service and fuel usage. “This offers real-time visibility to fleet metrics we can use to make better business decisions from driver safety to financial considerations,” says Fisher.
For telematics, McKinstry uses FleetLocate by Spireon, which offers simple GPS vehicle tracking to affordable electronic logging device (ELD) compliance. “At the time we selected this tool, it was the most comprehensive in terms of maintenance reports and driver behavior metrics, and it featured the most user-friendly interface,” says Fisher.
Of the many benefits of fleet management, some of the main reasons for McKinstry’s implementation is that it provides logistics for larger deliveries and transportation of people, tools and materials to and from various jobsites for its light duty trucks and vans. Fortunately, McKinstry has not had much need to track missing or stolen vehicles, says Fisher. “The primary benefit for McKinstry is in understanding driver behavior to inform fleet cycling and the potential to electrify our fleet. Carbon neutrality is a very important long-term strategy for McKinstry.”
For a company like Boston-area’s J.C. Cannistraro, LLC, which uses its leasing company’s platform, “The benefits are simply the support for maintenance and replacement of vehicles, as well as fuel management,” says Bill Brady, fleet manager, Cannistraro.
Technology Up Close
At Lytx (stemming from the word “analytics”), a provider of video telematics, analytics, safety and productivity solutions for commercial and public sector fleets, researchers have developed a suite of MV+AI technologies, built specifically for commercial-driving applications. Machine vision (MV) confers the ability to see and recognize objects and human behavior using images, and artificial intelligence (AI) includes all types of machine intelligence such as collision detection, risky driving behavior detection, and voice recognition. Lytx is rapidly developing MV+AI technologies that can detect when a driver is using a cell phone or is distracted by another handheld device, eating or drinking, smoking or not wearing his or her seat belt. With 750,000 Ltyx solutions utilized in vehicles around the world today, the goal is to empower drivers and enhance vehicles with a suite of cloud-connected dash cams, sensors, telematics, which help fleets improve worker safety, and to advance operational efficiencies.
With the Lytx system, a manager has visibility when something risky occurs and the driver can look at an app to check his/her own performances, which can lead to an educational process and subsequent self-coaching. Lytx allows a business owner to pull video and maps to find out why a tech didn’t make a scheduled service call, for example. Why did the tech go down the wrong road or answer a cell phone call? In these cases, an audio alert is sent to the driver through an in-cab alert. “The Lytx system acts as a customer service tool and allows a business to operate more efficiently,” says Del Lisk, vice president of safety services, Lytx.
Lytx captures an estimated 1 billion miles of driving data every 10 days, which translates to 1.5 billion miles of driving data every month, two million miles every hour, 30,000 miles every minute and 580 miles every second. “We can marry our data with others to see a more holistic view,” says Lisk.
Before the system is even installed, says Lisk, companies should look at what they like to call the “3 Ws.” 1) What is this? What is the technology and what can it and can’t it do? 2) Why is the organization going in this direction? Mistakes happen and there is a tremendous cost and liability. 3) What’s in it for them? How does it benefit them? If a crash occurs, company can defend the employee and exonerate them if not at fault. “It eliminates the he said/she said,” says Lisk.
Verizon Connect’s latest driver-facing dashcam solution is an extension of its Integrated Video solution. The new driver-facing dashcam captures the driver’s perspective leading up to a harsh driving event such as harsh cornering, hard braking or an accident to effectively promote safety, mitigate risk and improve driver behavior.
“Fleet managers want context around the moments leading up to harsh driving events like harsh braking and hard cornering to help protect themselves against false claims and coach drivers accordingly,” says Erin Cave, director of product management, Verizon Connect.
As an extension of Verizon Connect’s road-facing Integrated Video, the dashcam views work in tandem and pulls video data into the Verizon Connect Reveal fleet management solution, which provides a single, integrated platform for fleet managers to effectively manage their fleet of vehicles and drivers for advanced safety. The solutions take the best of telematics, dual video and artificial intelligence enhanced by machine learning to provide businesses the context needed to better manage driving behavior and defend themselves against false claims from road accidents that run up costs.
“Our new video solution uses the best of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help fleet managers save time and use the video data effectively. Only when harsh driving events occur will video collection be triggered, as opposed to other solutions that constantly monitor, saving hours of time sifting through video footage. It then uses AI and machine learning to classify each event by severity, while alerting managers a new video is available to review, helping teams better understand the situation and act proactively in dangerous driving events,” says Aries.
Verizon Connect’s fleet management solution also allows for managers to create vehicle service plans to perform routine maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations or simple check-ups. The intuitive feature seamlessly updates users through metrics like time since its last check up, engine hours or distance traveled as indicators. The system also allows users to create a custom milestone such as buying or leasing new replacement vehicles to conduct long-term fleet maintenance planning
Advantage Fleet Management
According to Aries, fleet management technology effectively delivers operational efficiencies through digitization to deliver seamless scheduling, on-demand alerts on road conditions and required fleet maintenance, and ease of communications with drivers to keep track of assets in the field.
Fleet management technology can ultimately help lower the costs of fleet operations and business risks that have monetary implications. For instance, the technology provides owners additional tools and insights into the fleet maintenance level that can save costly repairs in the future, helps a business track driver behavior so problems can be proactively addressed. It can also help lower fuel costs through effective route planning among other measures.
This technology helps a business focus on the customer experience and enhance the level of service they are providing. “Few things can mean more to a business than strong customer service. In the age of online customer reviews, happy customers aren’t just a nice-to-have; they are essential. Technology is an important tool that business owners can use to help keep customers happy and is an important consideration as customers are increasingly using digital tools in their daily life,” says Aries.