Factory-installed telematics offer a range of possibilities.
The recent integration of Fleet Complete with Ford Data Services in Canada and other OEMs is particularly significant due to the pandemic.
“There’s been an increased amount of focus on fleets to optimize fleet utilization,” says Sandeep Kar, Chief Strategy Officer, Fleet Complete. “In the last four to five months, there’s a demand for uptime maximization, as well as maximizing safety, reducing downtime and emissions, and overall increase in fleet productivity.”
Therefore, it’s ideal to have a solution that is available without the need to keep the vehicle scheduled for hardware fitment. “In the past, you would outfit your vehicle with telematics,” explains Kar. “You would have to schedule installation, and that takes time. With telematics already factory-installed, we just flip a switch and the telematics are turned on.”
It’s also a touchless, contactless solution, which is even more important in this time of social distancing and enhanced health and safety regulations.
With the pandemic, e-commerce and last mile delivery has seen a dramatic uptick. “The moment you buy something on e-commerce, it comes with a promise that you can track and trace your freight,” says Kar. “What enables that? Telematics.”
But it’s the ability to maximize utilization where telematics can really shine. “With the data we’re getting from Ford and General Motors vehicles, we’re getting much richer data and can offer more vehicle maintenance modules and diagnostic solutions,” says Kar. “We enable predictive maintenance that reduces equipment downtime, and driver behaviour analytics to increase safety.”
The richer data makes it possible to diagnose problems as soon as they happen, and eventually prognosticating some of these problems. “Prognosticating means you can identify when a vehicle may have impending failure even before the failure has happened, so you can reduce unscheduled downtime,” says Kar. “Downtime is the biggest enemy of a fleet manager.”
As more vehicles are manufactured with factory installed telematics, there are various implications. “The more partnerships you have with OEMs, the more future-proof your business will be,” says Kar. Fleet Complete has partnerships with Cummins, Ford, General Motors, Mitsubishi Australia and Toyota, among others.
Telematics can also be used in reducing insurance premiums for consumers, by monitoring driver behaviour and providing incentives for safe driving. “It provides visibility on the handling of freight,” says Kar. “How it’s been handled, if the vehicle that’s operating it is functioning optimally. If it’s a long haul, does the driver have enough service remaining in that truck to drive it?”
And as more vehicles are connected, they will not only talk to their home base, but also to each other. “Right now, autonomous vehicles rely on lidar technology, which is a visual processing system,” says Kar. “But if cars are talking to a common cloud continuously, collisions may be mitigated.”
Industry research indicates that 80 to 85 percent of all new vehicles sold in North America are factory-fitted with telematics. “I see the evolution and growth of autonomous vehicle technology being turbocharged by telematics in the not too distant future.”