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How IoT can benefit fleet management—now and down the road

Your fleet can succeed in a competitive landscape using the latest IoT technology

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Like every industry and vertical in our connected world, big data is transforming how we work. In fact, leading businesses are accelerating their adoption of technology, boosting business continuity to adapt and mitigate disruptions. Fleet management is no exception. Already the industry is changing as officially third-party certified* ELDs became mandatory in January 2023.

Fleet management used to centre on tracking vehicle location, dispatching and operations, and reducing or preventing theft. GPS tracking and geofencing, powered by 2G (AKA GSM) connectivity, were the primary technologies supporting these objectives. We’ve moved well beyond 2G, however; LTE-M and other technology advances such as 5G are contributing to the broad infrastructure support that will see the Internet of Things (IoT) reach its incredible potential.

This potential is crucial for fleet management professionals preparing for the future of work by moving their organizations away from simple inventorying and location-tracking towards more complex requirements. For fleet managers and others responsible for ensuring fleet operations run smoothly, IoT offers a more sophisticated approach—by providing access to real-time data and fleet usage trends over time, both of which can increase safety, reduce costs while ramping up efficiencies, and meet industry rules and regulations.

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Fleet management practices are changing as businesses evolve

As technology has changed, so too have fleet management requirements. Old technologies are no longer adequate to meet this evolving industry’s current and future needs.

As discussed in ForbesIoT use in the supply chain isn’t new but the amount of valuable data it produces is growing exponentially—and this is changing how fleet management companies use this proliferating information. IoT-driven capabilities are quickly becoming must-haves for organizations running a large and dispersed fleet. Here are some thoughts on how:

Increasing safety

Using IoT technology to monitor driver behaviour and vehicle use can significantly improve driver safety and reduce accidents, resulting in reduced associated repair and insurance costs.

Over 30% of fatal crashes result from aggressive driving; but even minor accidents resulting from poor driving can result in personal injury to drivers and other road users, not to mention damage a company’s goods and vehicles. Using driver safety solutions, such as in-cabin interactive alerts, video event recordings and video-based coaching, you can improve both your overall safety record and transport efficiency. How?

It can provide real-time insight into whether drivers are running late, early, on time or idle; let you know when they’re speeding, braking too hard, or driving poorly in some other way; and log details like time, location and the nature and extent of vehicle damage when accidents occur. Such information can identify where critical training initiatives are needed across your fleet.

Lowering costs, maximizing efficiencies and preventing breakdowns

Using IoT technology to track road surface and weather conditions can also help reduce spend. Over 40% of accidents in Canada are caused by poor weather. To mitigate such risks, IoT sensors coupled with predictive analytics can provide accurate forecasts about factors such as road surface and conditions below the surface that may undermine safety.

Such up-to-date information can help fleet operators provide drivers with alternate routes, plus speed and other real-time safety warnings. In-transit adjustments can also reduce weather-related incidents and fuel consumption (which comprises 22% of operating costs)—and therefore lower insurance costs and premiums.

Vehicle usage monitoring and diagnostics can also support IoT-driven preventative maintenance across your fleet. Big data analytics can predict breakdowns and push out repair alerts using data points like historical maintenance, driver behaviour and vehicle use patterns. IoT can also synchronize operations around the labour, tools and equipment required for such repairs. All these activities can help prevent vehicle breakdowns that lead to delivery delays or product spoilage.

Complying with industry regulations

Alongside improving driver behavior and vehicle maintenance monitoring, organizations must adhere to evolving regulatory requirements. Electronic logging devices (ELDs), which automatically track a driver’s hours of service (HOS) and capture engine data and miles driven, can help add transparency and accountability to every driver’s actions while on duty, as well as keeping them and your company on the right side of industry regulations.

Not only have regulations for both Canadian and U.S. fleet companies recently changed, but Canadian vehicles crossing the border must also comply with both countries’ rules, which can differ significantly.

IoT-enabled ELDs can automatically collect and process drivers’ HOS as part of a more comprehensive plan for meeting industry-specific regulations. Greater adherence means fewer fines, reduced holdups at the borders, and better vehicle and cargo tracking, to name just a few possibilities.

HOS aren’t the only fleet management rules IoT can help companies follow. IoT can also give you better control over cold chain integrity and compliance, from inventory tracking and condition monitoring to spoilage, theft and electronic proof of delivery.

It’s time to consider how IoT can benefit your organization’s fleet management practices

In a highly competitive and rapidly changing marketplace, IoT technology can help you build a solid and scalable data infrastructure for your company to be ready for the new world of work. It provides you with actionable insights, both in real time and over time, to modernize fleet operations for safety, transparency, economy and compliance.

* A third-party certification body with the ISO/IEC 17065 standard required by Transport Canada to test and certify ELD