From telematics to driver safety to regulatory compliance, one industry expert shares how to reduce downtime so your vehicles stay on the road
Business is changing, and this includes the way we approach shipping, delivery and vehicles. The accelerated adoption of advanced solutions and the rollout of 5G connectivity are ushering in new possibilities in telematics, driver safety, regulatory compliance and more. And these changes mean the advantages of advanced fleet management are no longer the sole purview of large corporations. We sat down with Sandeep Kar, Chief Strategy Officer at Fleet Complete, one of the fastest-growing providers of connected fleet technologies globally, to discuss what’s on the horizon.
If there’s one thing that keeps managers of fleet-based companies up at night, it’s vehicle downtime. “Consider a fleet of five vehicles; if just one of those vehicles gets into an accident, that’s 20% of your capacity wiped out right there,” says Sandeep.
On the bright side, new fleet management trends that help mitigate downtime are gaining momentum, and the business world is turning to technology to help ensure business continuity during unplanned disruptions. “To ensure your vehicle is running safely, we need to look at available technologies—and telematics is one such technology enabling safer operations,” explains Sandeep. “To understand the opportunity: the biggest wave of telematics production right now is happening in small- to mid-sized businesses, most with less than 20 vehicles.”
From telematics to driver safety to regulatory compliance, Sandeep shares his perspective on three industry trends and how they can help keep fleets of all sizes moving forward.
Product as a Service
“Recent surveys of CEOs across Fortune 500 companies have revealed product-as-a-service as the most disruptive trend for many businesses,” says Sandeep. Product-as-a-service is the concept of selling ongoing services alongside a product. The product is now positioned a full-suite solution instead of just an item. In the case of a delivery vehicle, you no longer position the sale as just a car, truck or van. Instead you are selling the ability to make deliveries on time, with cargo in optimal condition—often with additional services that add value for the purchaser. “The relationship between the manufacturer and the buyer no longer ends when the vehicle is sold. Rather, it continues through the ownership cycle of the vehicle.”
The shift to product-as-a-service has changed the way fleet owners view their vehicles and is uncovering new opportunities to tackle ongoing industry challenges. “Commercial vehicle users and operators are now viewing their trucks, buses, vans, cars and even trailers as solutions to challenges like regulatory compliance, reducing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), safety, and optimizing vehicle utilization,” explains Sandeep.
Sandeep suggests that this business model transformation is fueled by the proliferation of advanced electronics in vehicles. “Telematics is the digital infrastructure within vehicles, connecting the vehicle and its operator to the outside world and vice versa. In doing so they are enabling better visibility, analysis and delivery of services and solutions to fleet owners.”
The introduction of new technologies is accelerating the product-as-a-service model and use cases are already in the market “Connected vehicle applications, enabled by telematics, are driving this change. This, in turn, drives higher effectiveness, safety, efficiency and utilization of commercial vehicles, which is ultimately benefiting freight- and people-mobility.”
“For example,” he continues, “commercial vehicles today are augmented with solutions to enable government regulation compliance, to help match loads to vehicles with additional capacity, to help increase safety on the road and reduce downtime with prognostics and remote diagnostics.”
Rise of E-commerce
Changes across the industry are also being fueled by external factors and customer behaviour. They are not only changing business operations, but also customer expectations. As Sandeep explains, “the rise of e-commerce is greatly empowering consumers and triggering tectonic changes in supply chains and logistics industries. Consumers, shippers and brokers now demand visibility of their freight and the vehicle, including its safety, regulatory compliance, uptime status and so on.”
The expectation of end-to-end visibility of goods and services has grown with the expansion of e-commerce. Coupled with continual regulatory changes on vehicle freight and driver safety, the market shift to telematics is a necessary evolution. “Vehicle manufacturers are now offering factory-installed connectivity options, allowing end-users to leverage the power of telematics for accelerating and expediting e-commerce,” observes Sandeep. And, the possibilities of telematics are expected to expand with the coming of 5G connectivity.
“The penetration of connected vehicle technologies now creates the foundation for rapid proliferation of mobile resource management solutions,” says Sandeep. Connectivity is driving the highest levels of vehicle and operator utilization, uptime and safety, while also lowering fuel consumption, emissions, and TCO. “All of these changes benefit the e-commerce consumers and the service providers, including shippers, carriers, fleets and so on—as well as fleets in adjacent industries.”
From Descriptive to Prescriptive Analytics
Sandeep also sees the evolution of telematics-enabled data analytics as a key benefit for businesses that employ or engage with fleet vehicles. “The advent and adoption of big data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) models, together with cloud computing, are now driving massive improvements in the nature of the information and insights available to fleet managers.”
Telematics-driven insights are now helping predict vehicle health needs and possible downtime, as well as driver performance, freight and task availability patterns. This, ultimately, affects TCO, and many other key parameters that have a direct impact on the top and bottom lines of any business with vehicles. With the advent of 5G, the amount of data available for analysis will rise exponentially. “AI and machine learning technologies are being applied to create prescriptive, analytics-driven insights and recommendations,” says Sandeep. “This, in turn, will drive the highest levels of mobile resource efficiencies and effectiveness, impacting all corners of the commercial vehicle industry.”
Connected vehicle technologies offer more visibility and control than ever before. “The first wave of telematics technologies was about knowing if a vehicle was in the right place at the right time, but a new demand pattern is emerging in the market,” Sandeep predicts. “The need is not only where the truck is, but how is it being treated? Who's driving it? Is the truck’s engine running optimally and safely? Is the truck performing at maximum uptime potential and how can we keep it that way to limit downtime to an absolute minimum?”
All these inputs combined are making it much easier for fleet companies to manage their operations and keep their business moving forward, no matter what the future brings.