The world learned a lot about the importance of telematics and transportation technology in 2020. Even those outside of the industry saw how important accurately tracking assets through the transportation process is to ensure smooth and timely delivery. They also realized the benefits that precise data through technology solutions provide. The world saw up-close and personal the vital work that fleet managers and drivers do to keep things moving and that we, as a society and an economy, can’t function properly without these important people.
Because of this, telematics and transportation technology will see a boost in adoption across the board in 2021 including in the construction sector. Some new and exciting technology solutions will be implemented including artificial intelligence (AI) integration with the use of predictive analytics and advancements in asset tracking and employee safety. Here are our top three predictions for telematics and transportation technology in the construction sector in 2021:
1. Business intelligence through AI
Fleet managers want to make the best decisions possible. Part of making these informed decisions is having the right data and the ability to process it for business intelligence insights. In 2021 we’ll see fleet managers taking advantage of new AI features to not only help them collect and process data but to predict the future and drive business decisions. Managing a fleet is incredibly detailed work, and AI can help by guiding fleet managers to smart choices about which equipment to send where, what route to take and how to assess costs ahead of real-time needs. AI-based platforms such as Teletrac Navman TN360 will be offered as software-as-a-service (SaaS) through telematics companies, and it will improve business intelligence with one centralized solution.
AI-based SaaS solutions will enable business operations to recognize patterns of efficiency in order to highlight opportunities in areas such as route planning, logistic workflows, maintenance schedules and needs, driver behavior, compliance and fuel management. Business intelligence through AI is quickly scalable as fleets grow. A huge bonus is that AI can often be integrated with already installed third-party monitoring systems to provide fleet managers with the best insights without having to change out processes or hardware which are already in place. Easy-to-use and intuitive software features make this an easy add that delivers results. Here are a few benefits of AI integration:
- Spotting mechanical problems before they arise and tracking regularly scheduled maintenance
- Recommending secure routes to avoid road hazards
- Monitoring driver fatigue and encouraging rest when needed
- Facilitating accurate scheduling to keep drivers from being overextended and keeping work site occupancy at appropriate levels during social distancing measures
- Smart routing and quoting that is auto-calculated according to likely future resources and logistics including traffic patterns, rough routes and road construction
- Predicted fuel usage based on multiple data sets, including driver behaviors, altitudes and vehicle condition
- Holding drivers accountable by comparing their delivery times to other metrics
- Directing drivers to the closest assets for movement
2. Smart asset tracking
In addition to keeping track of vehicles, fleet managers are also tasked with keeping track of and managing other mobile assets. While these may have been manually tracked before, small asset and equipment trackers can provide real-time location for non-powered assets such as trailers, containers and other construction equipment like jackhammers, cement mixers and more. These systems, including some that are solar-powered, are GPS devices that provide around-the-clock coverage of a fleet’s valuable non-mobile assets. These devices are incredibly resilient, even rated for inclement weather, which is important as these types of assets are often left overnight outside on construction sites.
This type of small asset tracker will be a key operations tool in 2021 that will enable fleet and asset managers to use data collected for more accurate invoicing, to know what assets are available and to know which assets are closest to the job site so that drivers can move the best options from location to location.
Once the asset is tracked, that information can integrate with other telematics systems to provide a complete picture to the back office. Details, such as the mechanical status of the mobile assets, can help companies monitor the bottom line by saving dollars in transportation costs, ensuring accurate billing to maximize revenue and scheduling regular maintenance to keep mobile assets in good working order.
Safety and compliance
A fleet manager’s most important responsibility is to his or her drivers and equipment operators. AI systems will be able to help fleet managers keep employees safe through a variety of data sets and predictive insights. Not only has the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration linked vehicles equipped with telematics software to safer driving patterns, but an AI system can help drivers avoid threats on the road and identify driver fatigue behaviors, directing the driver to take a break before an accident may occur. Additionally, the GPS system will be able to analyze traffic patterns, re-routing drivers to avoid potential hazards such as road construction or clearing accidents.
As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping a close eye on construction site occupancy is vital as the number of workers on a job site are often limited to maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of the virus. In order to comply with these occupancy safety regulations, crews sometimes have to work in staggered shifts, so they don’t all converge on the job site at the same time. If properly managed, AI-enabled telematics can make sure driver arrivals and departures are properly coordinated, alerting drivers in real-time if delays have taken place, and ensuring they arrive when the site can safely accommodate them.
Finally, AI systems can be used to monitor the trucks themselves, safeguarding that regularly scheduled maintenance takes place, as well as predicting other service needs before mechanical failure. By keeping trucks in good working order, fleet managers will reduce potential mechanical issues which could lead to a dangerous situation on the road. By ensuring that these potential issues can be inspected and addressed ahead of time, it will not only save the shipment from being damaged in an accident, but it most importantly saves the lives of drivers.
Technology is trending in 2021
As we jump into 2021, telematics and transportation technology will see an increase in adoption, particularly in those solutions that integrate AI data collection and predictive analytics. Being able to “see the future” and make informed decisions based on accurate data will drive business intelligence for fleet managers in the construction space. Tracking non-mobile assets will also help fleet managers make the best decisions possible in invoicing, and asset movement especially as construction starts to pick up throughout the year. Most importantly, we’ll be able to tap AI solutions to keep drivers safe in numerous ways including recommending safe routes, alerting drivers to fatigue and ensuring that the fleet is well-maintained and monitoring potential mechanical issues.