Telematics technology is becoming more and more important to the trucking industry. And it could soon become the default standard for heavy trucks with hardware included, as discussed by panelists at the Technology and Maintenance Council of American Trucking Associations’ October event in Philadelphia. For this to happen, manufacturers will have to agree on a common data bus so that telematics providers can make sure their software functions in sync with all trucks.
Part of what is driving the move towards universal adoption is simply the usefulness of these systems. Telematics improves maintenance and repairs, fuel efficiency, security, road safety, communication, and navigation. The other aspect is the upcoming regulation that will require electronic logging of hours of service (HOS).
Once adoption approaches universality, other benefits will surface that can be applied to the entire industry. These benefits include the collection of data from every connected truck that can be pooled and used by manufacturers to design improved trucks with streamlined maintenance procedures, better suited to the actual way that truckers drive.
Standardization of basic hardware will not mean a standardization of service, however. In the future, as now, there will probably be many different telematics providers, each offering a somewhat different approach with features that can make the lives of both drivers and fleet managers easier.
As federal compliance fluctuates, a telematics system that includes an HOS solution can make record-keeping efficient and more reliable for drivers. No more getting dinged for non-compliance just because of a lost form. Two-way communication can take the guesswork out of handing unexpected situations on the road, such as bad weather or a major traffic jam. Turn by turn directions help drivers detour around construction efficiently instead of wasting time caught in traffic.
Meanwhile, GPS tracking and alerts let fleet managers keep track of all vehicles at all times, an especially important feature if a truck is stolen or damaged. Safety Analytics helps managers identify which drivers are practicing safe driving habits, and which drivers need additional training—thus increasing the fuel efficiency and safety of the entire fleet for substantial cost savings.
And of course, what is good for the driver is good for the carrier. Stress-free, high performing drivers tend to stay committed to their employer, helping reduce turnover and training costs of new drivers.
Telematics is proving to be important to not only a vehicle’s health and performance, but the well-being and efficiency of businesses as well.
*About the author- Kim Alexander is a member of Teletrac’s support team serving as the Major Account Manager for Ryder System Inc.