Everything you need to know about telematics technology 

Here at Collision Management Systems (CMS) we talk a lot about telematics, telematics data and how organisations can make better use of the data they are already getting from their existing telematics systems.

What do we mean by telematics?

The word telematics is an Americanisation of the French wort télématique.

It describes the technology that transmits information from multiple remote sources, such as vehicles, off site plant & machinery and individuals. To a central point for management information purposes.

As such telematics technology is used in a wide range of industries, and is commonly associated with and used in the transport and insurance industries.

Telematics has been around since the late 70’s.

But, as a reliable and commonly useable technology, Telematics really took off with the rise of the internet, and the capability of cellular and mobile networks to transfer lots of data, from lots of sources, in real time. 

Once sent, this data is stored in servers that are accessed for tracking, reporting, analysis and insight via the internet.  

A leading use of this capability is fleet management, allowing users to monitor individual vehicles up to an entire fleet.

Telematics systems in the vehicles gather data including vehicle activity & location, driver behaviour, and engine performance, presenting this information to help fleet managers do their job more effectively and efficiently.

Through adopting telematics for their fleets, many organisations have improved their reliability, boosted customer service standards, increased efficiency and through this delivered savings to their bottom line.

At CMS we take this telematics functionality further.

By using existing telematics data, we evolve the capability of fleet managers, operators and insurers to better manage the insight they get from their telematics and take control of the broader tasks of fleet and driver risk management. 

Row of  telematics equipped trucks at a container port

How does telematics work?

Modern telematics systems gather a huge amount of data from GPS, in vehicle sensors and vehicle engine data. This is combined to provide fleet managers with information to manage their fleet. 

GPS provides real time information about the vehicle’s location, its speed, including being stationary, and from these, movement over time.

Vehicle sensors capture data on how the driver is driving and other information about the vehicle. This includes fast acceleration, harsh braking and hard cornering.

Also, the sensors can monitor other in-vehicle activity such as when doors are opened, vehicle internal temperatures (e.g. for refrigerated vans) and impacts, be they hitting a pothole through to actual collisions.

Engine performance information pulls data directly from the vehicle’s diagnostics system. This gathers live data on fuel efficiency, mileage, engine temperature, idling, malfunction, etc. Information that is then used to plan scheduled maintenance and highlight issues outside of these schedules. 

All this data is gathered into the onboard telematics device in each vehicle and transmitted over mobile phone networks to a central data hub.

From there the information is provided to fleet managers via software that helps them visualise, plan and optimise their operations. 

As you can imagine this is a huge amount of data and is growing over time as more sensors are added to vehicles.

This data ocean is causing issues in itself in that there is too much data, too much noise, and the key information and insight is often drowned out.

Too much data is the situation that CMS addresses.

Taking in disparate data sources from multiple systems and different vendors, CMS aggregates the data, standardises and normalises the telematics data, removing the irrelevant false positives, to provide just the information the fleet managers need on the incidents they need to react to.

Person using laptop to access telematics reports - close up shot

Why use telematics?

The old adage, if you can measure then you can manage, is what telematics is all about.

Fleet managers using telematics-based fleet management systems can manage fleets of all sizes and gain valuable savings and improvements.

The main benefits are built around more efficient route planning and delivery scheduling, and expand out from there:

Fuel savings

Fuel is probably the single biggest cost facing fleets managers. Being able to identify and reduce wasteful fuel use is a big step forward in overall cost efficiency. Telematics supports this through better route planning, reducing miles driven, reducing delivery wait times and cutting engine idling by avoiding traffic problems.

Maintenance costs

With telematics fleet managers are warned about mechanical issues in their vehicles, allowing them to address the problems sooner and thereby reduce the danger of major issues while keeping vehicle off the road time down to a minimum. Scheduled maintenance is also simpler to arrange and plan as it’s based on live mileage data, which again helps minimise vehicle off the road time.

Improved driver to fleet manager communications

Before telematics keeping in touch and upto date with drivers was a hit and miss affair. Telematics has simplified this by automating the updating of location, timings, etc reducing the need for fleet managers and drivers to check in and report back. As well as ensuring that managers have access to the data they need faster, this allows both drivers and managers to spend more time concentrating directly on the job in hand.

Improved customer service.

Co-ordinators can make constant route adjustments, responding to traffic, vehicle’s available and even weather, by knowing the location of every vehicle in the fleet at any time. Resources can be switched around to ensure deliveries and collections happen when customers need them. Additionally, they can keep clients informed of the situation, which increases customer satisfaction.

Reduced admin costs.

Regulatory compliance and the related administration is greatly simplified through telematics using digital tachograph data.

Enhanced safety.

A crucial consideration for organisations operating fleets of vehicles is driver safety. Telematics can improve driver safety by monitoring both driver behaviour and vehicle performance. Unsafe driving, incidents and collisions can be detected and addressed quicker. 

This last point, driver safety, is where CMS very much comes into play. Our technology aggregates the driver and vehicle data, eliminates the many false positives that can plague telematics (e.g. alerting a collision when in fact the driver has hit a pot hole), and provides clear and simple alerts to the incidents that really matter and fleet managers should act on.

Further, we can combine this information with other organisational information about the driver (HR & training records, driving violations etc) to produce a 360-degree view of the driver’s risk profile. With this fleet managers can focus their attention on those drivers who are a greater risk, helping them to reduce that risk with training and reviews. That is, they can manage the 20% of drivers which cause 80% of the issues and thereby be more efficient in the use of their time and other resources. 

Illustration of a computer

What are the problems?

Telematics and the data associated with it have made great improvements in the profession of fleet management. However, it has brought issues with it as well.

Data overload

An article in Fleetworld highlighted that the amount of data being created by telematics was leading to data overwhelm or analysis paralysis for many fleet managers. A potential issue of this, with major consequences, could be a driver incident leading to a criminal prosecution. If the telematics data showed that the driver had a history of risky driving and that the organisation had not acted on it, then the legal ramifications could be far reaching.

False alerts

While telematics uses many sensors to gather information, these sensors can often record an incident incorrectly due to calibration or sensitivity settings. For example, a hard slam of a boot lid can be in recorded as a rear end impact on the vehicle. These false positives are fed through to the fleet managers and are either reacted to, diverting time to checking out something that is false, or after a while of investigating these sort of things, simply ignored. Meaning that when a real incident happens that needs attention, the fleet managers are in a cycle where they doubt the information and ignore it.

Not a complete picture

While telematics provides all the in-vehicle data and insight that the fleet manager and operator can use (and in many cases too much data), it does not have the out of vehicle data on the driver.

Such as their training records, last management review, driving and traffic violations, etc.

Without this other half of the data, the full 360-degree picture of the driver’s risk profile is missing.

Meaning that management resources may not be targeted as precisely as possible, leading to a blanket rather than individualised training cycle and risks being missed.

So, while telematics and the data provided have made a huge difference in fleet management capabilities, it hasn’t come without complications.

Row of telematics equipped white vans

How does CMS work with telematics?

The starting point for CMS’ work is that the growth in disparate data sources from telematics devices, connected in vehicle cameras, and other connected vehicle technologies is adding to the management challenge. As the amount of data generated drowns out the value of the clear insight it is designed to deliver.

CMS’ connected-data SaaS platform, aggregates the data, references, standardises and normalises it.

No matter the source(s), providing clear actionable information, insight and alerts.

It does this in a technology agnostic way, allowing users to aggregate and process data from any of their existing or future connected sources.

This includes connected cameras, mobile apps, telematics black boxes, video data, employee information, training records, traffic offences, etc.

Once aggregated, proprietary methods standardise and normalise the disparate sources. So that all data is both comparable and consistent in the moment and over time.

With this methodology, time critical incident alerts are notified in real time, without needing to sift through the mass of data noise.

Additionally, and importantly, users are able to access a simple, single view of their fleet, driver, and remote worker risk profiles and behaviours. 

What are the benefits of CMS working with your telematics?

In terms of results, CMS’ platform has delivered a 400% ROI and a close to 20% reduction in near miss and collision frequencies.

It also allows fleet operators to answer these four principal questions:

How is my organisation’s risk profile changing? 

What behaviours are causing this change? 

Which employees or drivers are the biggest contributors to my risk profile? 

What incidents are occurring right now that need a response?

With this fleet operators are able to:

Reduce incident frequency

through assessing not only the on-road risk, but all occupational road-risk contributing factors, by incorporating corporate, employee, legal, and other related data into your risk management programme.

Reduce claims severity and total claims spend

by enabling incidents to be responded to faster and with more data.

Ensure duty of care compliance

by identifying drivers who are at a higher risk of an incident occurring.

Enhance driver training

by better targeting of management and training resources to risk-profiled drivers.

Have a robust fleet risk management process

in place to support company and brand reputation.

To find out more about how CMS’ platform can help your organisation, please watch this video.
Watch our video
And If you would like to discuss how CMS’ can help your organisation,
with its fleet and risk management data please get in touch here.

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