Telematics – What it is (and isn’t)

Written by Integrated Skills

Jun 15, 2015

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Telematics, the combination of telecommunications and informatics, enables data to be collected, sent, received and stored regarding a remote object, such as a device, but more typically a vehicle.
Telematics also incorporates GPS technology on trackers, mobile devices and computers. The term is often misused to define only the tracking of vehicles using GPS. The varying definitions of telematics do not, or should not, include route planning or GIS based route optimisation: Telematics concerns the data of operational vehicles and devices whereas route planning is only about the plan (but it is worth noting the interplay between GPS tracking and planning for ‘plan versus actual’ analysis).
Fleet Telematics and their Benefits

Fleet telematics, specifically those which use GPS allow a fleet’s location, movement, status and behaviour to be monitored using a GPS receiver and a device installed in each vehicle in the fleet.
However, fleet telematics systems don’t only provide location data; they also provide a vehicle list, along with the individual status of each. Whether a vehicle is idling, over revving or being started up, in addition to the speed of a vehicle and its locations are all things that a fleet telematics system can provide.
This type of information continues to help companies to reduce their labour costs, improve customer service, increase productivity, control fuel costs and increase the safety and security of the fleet. It also helps companies to reduce their operating expenses, as well as drastically reduce incidences of unauthorised use of fleet vehicles.
Incidents, Accidents and Claims

There is also a benefit where incidents occur while a driver is on the road. For example, if a fleet member is driving down the motorway, gets into an accident and is accused of speeding, headquarters can use telematics information to corroborate the details. Instead of choosing which party to believe, a company can see exactly where a vehicle was at the time of the accident and what it was doing.
False vehicle damage claims can also be thwarted with the use of telematics. The ability to instantly prove where a vehicle was during a certain time is priceless in situations where the other party may be looking for compensation.
Theft Abatement

When a fleet is fitted with a telematics system companies can track and recover stolen vehicles, sometimes in minutes. By creating geo-fences in the telematics software (the allocation of geographical boundaries beyond which vehicles must not go) companies can receive immediate alerts of possible theft which can be relayed to the police in a matter of seconds. The notification on a vehicle’s exterior that a telematics system is in use can also help to deter vehicle theft.
Maintenance and Fuel

Telematics can also assist with fleet maintenance. Instead of guessing when each vehicle is ready for an oil change or relying on vehicle operators to notify headquarters, the system sends a report when oil changes and other maintenance are due.
The cost of fuel is also being minimised with the use of telematics. Many drivers may leave their vehicles idling, which costs money. Telematics can inform mangers of the worst drivers enabling them to inform, educate and retrain potentially saving a company thousands per year in fuel costs, not to mention help everyone breathe easier!
In the UK telematics is a mature market with numerous suppliers and most fleet managers are fully aware of the many benefits it provides. Other European countries have mature telematics markets – Sweden, Germany and France being examples. The more east a country is in Europe the least mature the market with Poland, Czech Republic and Bulgaria being examples. Surprisingly the US market is not as mature as that of Western Europe.

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