Fleet telematics reveals all manner of useful insights when you’re managing a mobile workforce of employees or third-party contractors: where they are, how fast they’re driving, how long they spend at any given site or on any given route. But input monitoring provides an additional layer of fleet intelligence that can help managers increase accountability and boost efficiency.
The operation of any vehicle component or accessory that’s powered by the vehicle’s power takeoff (PTO) feature — the compactor of a garbage truck, the blade of a snow plow, the bucket of a utility truck, the bed of a dump truck or the lights and sirens of a police cruiser, for example — can be tracked via the same telematics device that contains the GPS sensor for location tracking. The electrical wire for the asset can be plugged into a port in the vehicle’s telematics device so that managers can know, via PTO usage reports in their fleet management software, exactly when the asset was used.
For government and municipal fleet managers, public works fleet managers and managers of utility crews, input monitoring means more insights into how, when and whether work is performed. Here are just a few use cases.
Input monitoring for more effective snow plow management
Municipal managers receive a lot of calls from impatient residents when snow starts to pile up on streets. The residents may claim that the plow hasn’t come yet, or that it drove by without clearing the road. Basic GPS tracking can confirm where the plow was but not whether the plow blade was engaged. That’s a job for input monitoring.
If the plow wasn’t down, the fleet manager can quickly follow up with the driver to find out why. Was he or she en route to some priority location? Was there an equipment malfunction or some other issue to be addressed?
Input monitoring is particularly useful for providing proof of service when third-party contractors are employed at taxpayer expense. When used in conjunction with other telematics data, it allows managers to not only confirm that contractors are operating for the full number of minutes per hour stipulated by their contract, but also determine how much of that time is spent actively plowing the roads.
In iOn, the History map layer shows managers where their plows have been. View all paths taken over a certain timeframe, or drill down into paths where the plow blade was engaged and see the duration of time the plow blade was in use.
Tracking the use of lights and sirens
In many jurisdictions, police vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances are permitted to go through a red light at an intersection or travel above the posted speed limit when flashing their emergency lights and/or operating with a siren. If the emergency vehicle is involved in a crash, data that proves the lights and sirens were activated could potentially limit liability in the event a claim is filed.
Tracking when sirens are switched on and off can also help managers monitor siren policy adherence. Are drivers abusing sirens to move through traffic faster in non-emergency situations?
For school bus fleet operators, input monitoring can be used to determine whether drivers are following laws that stipulate when red and yellow flashers must be activated.
Tow truck PTO monitoring for improved dispatching
During periods of inclement weather, a tow truck dispatcher may be tracking a dozen or more tow trucks to see which one is available to handle the next road incident. While GPS data shows the real-time location of each truck, it’s not always easy to determine which trucks are towing vehicles and which are en route to a pickup. With PTO tracking, managers can tell based on the winch engagement whether the truck is towing a vehicle. Knowing this information allows a manager to deploy the fleet more efficiently.
By reviewing historical input data, managers can determine how long it takes a driver to hook up a vehicle. Drivers who aren’t working efficiently may need additional training.
Tracking PTO on/off events can also help towing service companies verify authorized use of tow trucks.
Monitoring utility truck bucket use
Input monitoring is a valuable addition to utility fleet telematics. With PTO event reports, managers of utility crews can know exactly when the bucket boom was raised and lowered. This data serves multiple purposes. Tracking the use of auxiliary equipment helps drive effective preventive maintenance schedules. It lets managers distinguish between necessary and unnecessary engine idling. It also helps them gauge worker productivity.
When wires are down or need maintenance, how long does it take the crew to get the bucket up, and how much time do the workers spend in the bucket? Gaining a better understanding of how crews use their time can ultimately help utilities improve scheduling and provide better service to customers.
Data on PTO use could also be leveraged in the event a utility wants proof of the time spent maintaining or repairing lines.
For operators of government, municipal and commercial fleets, input monitoring is one more benefit of a comprehensive fleet management solution such as iOn, and one more effective way to increase productivity, accountability and safety.
Schedule a demo of CalAmp iOn™ to explore its many benefits, including input monitoring.