How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Fleet Managers

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Guillaume Poudrier is President of Geothentic, Amir Sayegh is Associate Vice President at Geotab, and François-Alexandre Tremblay is an AI expert at Baseline. Credits: Geothentic, Geotab, and Baseline

According to experts, artificial intelligence will change the way fleet managers operate on a daily basis. However, it is also understood that most managers are unaware of the extent of possibilities and changes brought about by the arrival of AI.

“In terms of change management, our biggest challenge is helping the fleet industry understand what exists and what is coming in terms of artificial intelligence. We are still in the awareness phase, but this is true for all industries looking to adopt AI,” emphasizes Amir Sayegh, Associate Vice President at Geotab.

The challenge for many managers, faced with an abundance of available information and the possibilities offered by AI, is understanding how to derive useful meaning for decision-making, especially regarding maintenance.

“The biggest mistake would be not to take an interest in what artificial intelligence can do for management,” says François-Alexandre Tremblay, an AI expert at Baseline. “It’s important to understand the utility of the data generated today and know how to analyze these information flows; ultimately, they will help optimize fleet performance, reduce energy consumption, and decrease the carbon footprint.” Reducing breakdowns due to lack of maintenance is also a factor that can be considered.

A relationship to develop

Even though managers do not need to understand the intricate details of how artificial intelligence or code lines work, they still need to familiarize themselves with existing or potential solutions that can help improve their performance.

“Ideally, managers and AI specialists work together to quickly find the best solution; together, we identify the most interesting theories and then use existing generic model bases to test the hypotheses,” explains Guillaume Poudrier, President of Geothentic.

Experts remain aware that their systems are imperfect and can make mistakes. This is why Geotab focuses on transparency and aims to show its clients the logic used by AI to put a system into action.

“We keep humans in the loop, so instead of talking about artificial intelligence, we talk about augmented intelligence: we help fleet managers be more efficient, but they remain the experts in the field and, when faced with certain data, have the necessary experience to judge its relevance,” says Amir Sayegh.

Generative AI to find the needle in the haystack

Generative AI is artificial intelligence accessible to everyone. Applications like ChatGPT or others allow anyone to create new content autonomously from simple requests.

“With generative AI, change management becomes less necessary,” explains Sayegh. “As a fleet manager, you only need to ask your questions in natural language: this not only allows you to be more productive but also to obtain information that was previously impossible to find. You can now find the needle in the haystack!”

The possibilities of questions to ask are endless, especially regarding maintenance, assure the experts. For example:

  • Which vehicles consume too much fuel?
  • Which vehicles consume too much fuel due to poor driving behaviour?
  • Which vehicles are unsafe?
  • Which vehicles are unsafe on Tuesdays?

“The possibilities are limitless because generative AI takes your question, codes it, and sends that code to the database. It’s like having a data analyst by your side with infinite patience and time to answer all your questions,” concludes Sayegh.

Three major trends

In terms of fleet management and artificial intelligence, François-Alexandre Tremblay identifies at least three major trends that will change the way vehicle fleets are managed:

  • Within five years, maybe 10 years, we will likely have autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles on our roads; these advances will bring a host of new issues in terms of recruitment, collective agreements, and legal responsibility;
  • It is still difficult today to determine the ideal time to renew a vehicle or how to maximize its useful life; in a few years, AI will be able to help managers determine the remaining useful life of their vehicles by identifying the factors that will influence a vehicle’s degradation;
  • The life of a fleet manager is punctuated by many secondary activities such as managing paperwork, entering invoices, or preparing purchase orders. Soon, with AI, all these related administrative tasks will be automated.


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