Autosphere » Fleet » DIY vs. FMC

Do-it-yourself may be inexpensive, but consider the ROI!

While “plug-and-play” telematics can target low hanging fruit, a fleet management company can help make the most of these devices.

“It’s really not as simple as plugging in a device and getting data,” says Don Woods, Director of Client Information Systems at ARI. “You really have to look for the value and continually develop those cases to find the value in the data. By using our fleet knowledge and additional data, we can make good recommendations to help our customers better manage their fleets.”

Making sense of the data requires individuals who are adept at being able to read it, and then make decisions with it. “We’ve cracked that nut,” says Woods. “We have a template. In the end, it’s much more cost-effective–even for smaller companies.”

Central database

Keeping vehicles on the road is crucial to fleet managers. ARI has a network of garages throughout North America. “When one of the vehicles that are on our telematics program drives into a garage, we get an indication,” says Woods. “We start a clock ticking to start measuring downtime.”

Sometimes, the plug-and-play devices can literally fall out. “The drivers know they’re there, and sometimes the drivers don’t like being monitored via telematics, and you find a lot of instances where the driver will take the device out of the vehicle.

“That’s a big concern in the industry. We either have the OEM installed or the aftermarket installed devices wired into the onboard dash,” says Woods. “You’re guaranteed you’re going to get the full breadth of data.”

Since the scenery in telematics is changing so rapidly, it’s good to be “agnostic.” “We deal with 25 different telematics providers,” notes Woods. “We care more about the data and the use of the data. If a customer wants to switch from one to another or split their fleet, we can normalize it, so everything looks the same, and provide the analytics.

“We’re in a position where we have a central database, so all we need to do is continue to add new fields when something new comes along. With our infrastructure, we can tie information such as fuel, maintenance, registration entitling, etc., all together.”

New opportunities

“We help fleets sort through the noise,” says Kimberly Clark, Telematics Product Leader at Element Fleet Management. “We use vehicle information to help them smooth out the bumps in the logistics processes as well as help them enrich the analytics of how they keep their fleets connected and all the maintenance that goes into that.”

Logistics are one piece of a fleet management company’s toolbox, but there’s also the rich data available to them. “We have maintenance, fuel data, life cycle data and more,” says Clark. “How do we combine that with telematics data? How do we enrich and enhance the way that they’re viewing replacement cycles of their vehicles? Using the connected data and fleet data that we have, we can integrate that to create new opportunities for them.”

Telematics providers market and develop state-of-the-art products, but they don’t provide post-implementation experience. “That’s where we fill the gap,” says Clark. “That’s where the synergies work well in the industry, where we’re both using our strengths.”

It also depends on what the client wants to accomplish. “Some clients’ needs are more a la carte,” notes Clark. “Other clients may need the full menu of technology. That’s where cost considerations come into play, coupled with what level of consulting they need.”

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