Fleet Telematics Makes Managing Vehicles Easier Than Ever

May 12, 2022 - Emily Newton

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.

Over the past few years, fleet telematics has become an essential tool for the trucking and transportation industry. With telematics and fleet management software, it becomes much easier to make informed decisions on fleet scheduling, operations and maintenance.

Changing market conditions, an ongoing labor shortage and new technology may all help to make telematics even more valuable. 

As fleet telematics changes and the digital transformation of industry continues, the technology could help to transform fleet management.

How Do Fleet Telematics Systems Work?

Telematics systems collect vehicle information and transmit it over long distances. Fleet telematics systems usually collect a variety of data related to fleet vehicles, their location, their performance and driver behavior. 

The specific technology used in a fleet telematics system may vary from solution to solution, but most systems have a few of the same components — typically a GPS tracker, devices that will collect information from the vehicle’s CAN bus port, sensors and a device that will connect the system to the internet. 

Specific sensors may include accelerometers, fuel monitors and devices that can track idling time.

The GPS tracker is one of the most important components in a fleet telematics system. By continuously tracking and reporting the location of a vehicle, the GPS provides managers with constant information about the position and activity of all fleet vehicles. 

The telematics system also connects each fleet vehicle’s onboard diagnostics to the web. Modern vehicles already collect a great deal of information on things like engine performance, air tire pressure and gas tank pressure. By sending this information directly to fleet managers and technicians, the system ensures a deeper understanding of current fleet vehicle health. 

Other sensors provide additional information that can complement both the GPS tracking data and diagnostic codes. Accelerometers and engine monitoring systems, for example, can help managers identify dangerous driver behavior or excessive idling. 

More complex systems may employ a wider variety and number of additional sensors to provide extra information to fleet managers.

Each of these different sensing components sends data to a device that transmits telematic information to the internet. Collected data is usually both transmitted to management software, which can present the information in an easy-to-understand format for managers, and stored in the cloud for later use. 

How Do Businesses Use Fleet Telematics?

In general, telematics systems provide businesses with the information they need to make more informed decisions.

Fleet managers often use real-time information from a telematics system to more effectively monitor, schedule and manage their drivers. The stored information can help businesses audit their fleets and identify bad driver habits, management inefficiencies and similar long-term problems.

This information may also be used in conjunction with data from other networked information-gathering systems. For example, a logistics company may use IoT and RFID devices to track the shipping conditions of individual items or containers. 

Another business may use fuel monitor data and transaction data from fuel cards to determine how much fuel their vehicles need and how often drivers will refuel their vehicles. The same data could also be used to limit fraudulent spending. 

A combination of telematics and shipment tracking data can help the business to successfully ship goods, provide better information to clients and identify equipment malfunctions before they become serious issues.

Predictive and Preventive Maintenance

One of the most valuable uses for fleet telematics can be in improving maintenance. With better data on vehicle performance and real-time reporting of diagnostic trouble codes, fleet technicians can have a better sense of what maintenance fleet vehicles need. 

The right telematics solution can help a business catch developing problems sooner, keep up with basic maintenance and even prevent serious issues. As a result, telematics can help reduce downtime and maintenance costs, making drivers more productive and fleet vehicles much cheaper to own.

With enough data, businesses may also be able to implement a new kind of AI-powered maintenance strategy, called predictive maintenance. 

Predictive maintenance uses cloud data on vehicle health and performance to create an AI algorithm that can detect subtle correlations between how a vehicle is operating and its maintenance needs. The AI can pick up on how slight changes in gas consumption, vehicle temperature or engine timing may signal that a component has failed or will fail soon. 

The algorithm can then alert management and maintenance staff, allowing them to quickly schedule emergency repairs or maintenance checks. By investigating potential problems sooner, businesses can avoid small issues from turning into more significant ones — potentially driving down maintenance costs even further.

While predictive maintenance is still experimental, and potentially out of reach for many businesses, AI is becoming an increasingly common feature in a variety of digital industrial solutions. In the near future, providers of telematics solutions may begin offering predictive maintenance tools and similar features that will help businesses see vehicle issues coming.

Benefits and Challenges of Fleet Telematics

The specific advantages (and risks) of a fleet telematics system will differ depending on the end-user’s market and how they apply the technology. However, most fleet telematics systems will provide a few of the same benefits.

1. Simplify Fuel Tracking and Consumption Monitoing

Telematics systems can make it easier for fleet managers to monitor fuel consumption and refeuling of fleet vehicles. 

Data from telematics systems can also allow managers to determine the fuel efficiency of individual vehicles, specific drivers or their entire fleet. This data can help managers pinpoint certain behaviors, maintenance problems or practices that may be making vehicles less fuel-efficient.

2. Enhance Vehicle and Driver Safety

Many modern telematics systems are configured by default to track dangerous driver behavior like speeding, harsh braking and harsh turning. When a system detects dangerous behaviors, it can automatically alert managers, allowing them to take action to improve drivers’ habits. 

The same system can also alert drivers when it detects vehicle issues that need an immediate response, preventing breakdowns.

3. Streamline Dispatching and Scheduling

With telematics, fleet owners know where all of their vehicles are at any given moment. 

Modern scheduling systems often come with tools that can use information like fleet vehicle location and job status to automate or streamline scheduling and dispatching, ensuring that available vehicles are directed to tasks as efficiently as possible.

4. Enable New Maintenance Strategies

Real-time monitoring can make it much easier for businesses to maintain their vehicles, or implement specific maintenance strategies like preventive maintenance. 

The telematics system can automatically alert technicians to issues like falling gas tank pressure, new diagnostic trouble codes or performance issues. 

In the near future, new technology may also enable predictive maintenance strategies that will allow businesses to prevent some significant issues.

Risks of Telematics Systems

With these benefits, however, also come potential cybersecurity challenges. Telematics systems can be vulnerable to cyberattack, especially if they’re not properly secured or supported by a business IT team. 

Owners of telematics systems will need to rely on good cybersecurity practices — like the use of secure devices, regular update schedules and restricted device access — to prevent their telematics system from becoming a vector of attack.

Emerging Technology May Enable New Telematics Solutions

In the near future, industry’s ongoing digital transformation may help to make telematics even more useful for fleet managers.

Future telematics systems could integrate directly with automation solutions and self-driving vehicle technology to streamline work — and, in some cases, entirely automated fleet operations.

Self-driving trucks and other vehicles could transport goods entirely on their own, while telematics systems could provide technicians and managers with real-time data on how the self-driving technology is performing. 

How Fleet Telematics Can Transform Fleet Management and Maintenance

Telematics is a powerful tool for fleet managers who want to more easily and effectively track fleet vehicles. In practice, the technology can help to increase the amount of fleet data available to managers, streamline scheduling and improve maintenance operations.

In the near future, new technology may help to make fleet telematics even more effective. AI and big data analysis, for example, could use data from fleet telematics systems to enable predictive maintenance systems capable of predicting vehicle maintenance issues before they arise.

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.


Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist and the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She manages the sites publishing schedule, SEO optimization and content strategy. Emily enjoys writing and researching articles about how technology is changing every industry. When she isn't working, Emily enjoys playing video games or curling up with a good book.

Leave a Comment