Advanced features need to have a purpose for your fleet. Otherwise, they could just be a drain on your bottom line.
Not even the Jetsons could have predicted the fancy technologies that come on today’s vehicles. But is it all worth it for fleets?
“The advances in technology just in the last five years far outweigh anything in the 50 years before it,” says Basil Marcus, Director of Business Development and Marketing at Foss National Leasing.
“Safety features like adaptive cruise control, back-up sensors, and lane departure warning can greatly reduce accident rates, resulting in less downtime and more productivity.”
Many safety features will be mandated down the line, and Marcus predicts they will help with residual costs. “However, the most important thing is to have a fit-for-purpose vehicle, which should be any organization’s first consideration,” he says.
“While it would be great to have a full electric fleet, if your drivers are doing high kilometres or visiting rural areas without the proper infrastructure to support these vehicles, it wouldn’t be prudent.”
Michael Stallone feels that the rapid pace and commoditization of technology have made it much more cost effective. “Five years ago, telematics was a very expensive proposition,” says the Director of Application Development at ARI.
“Now it’s pretty mainstream. Even the OEMs are putting it into vehicles because they want to capture all this information. But like anything else, you need to really invest in these products with a purpose and a problem to solve.”
Everyone’s talking about big data and artificial intelligence, but what is their place in fleet management? “We believe that customer expectations for service are changing, so we’re focusing a lot of time and resources to understand how the market is changing,” says Stallone.
When you install devices like telematics, video telematics or other cab devices, it results in more information. “The cost of it might be more manpower than anything else,” Stallone points out.
“We just put in live chat for some of our customers. And now there’s a whole new stream of interacting with customers that may have never called before, so we’ve actually taken on more work.
“So when you add these technologies, you might incur more cost in trying to understand the problem at hand and how to solve those problems.”
How do you make smarter decisions with all that data? “The challenge with using this new information is how to use it to solve problems differently,” says Stallone. “You might not want to get caught up in everything that’s going on around you.”
For example, he talks about blockchain, digital twins, virtual reality and augmented reality. “These are not as mature as telematics hardware,” says Stallone. “These technologies are still in the early adopter stages, so you’re going to pay a lot of money to learn.”
Technology needs purpose
People are investing time and money in technology that Stallone feels is still in the early stages. “There are driver simulators that are virtual reality based, and it’s very costly,” says Stallone. “We still don’t know definitively how well this kind of training works.”
With telematics, when the driver knows that what he does can be seen, they tend to drive better. “These are investments that you can make, that we know for a fact will change the way your fleet operates,” notes Stallone.
Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in something everyone else is doing. “You have to have a purpose for the technology,” says Stallone. “Work with a company that can help prove or disprove the benefits of certain programs or technologies.
Over the next few years, there will be a more prolific use of technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence. We’re spending a lot of time and focus to determine how it can solve problems differently than what we did in the past.”