Inundated with more asset-tracking systems than ever, data overload has become a real problem for fleet enterprises. This is especially true for small to medium-sized ones, short on manual labor and needing the technology to compete with national enterprises.
And sure, connected vehicles generate gigabytes of valuable data hourly. But unless your whole fleet shares the same hardware and software (a rare occurrence), you must juggle separate platforms and user interfaces. This is the only way for many to get a big-picture view of their assets.
In this article, we’ll explain what data overload is and the challenges it presents to fleets. We’ll also look at how you can solve it.
What is data overload in fleet management?
In fleet management, data overload occurs when fleet owners and drivers struggle to manage their connected vehicle data across disparate business systems and platforms.
What is a connected vehicle?
A connected vehicle is a standard car, truck, or van equipped with fleet telematics technology. These are a series of connected devices and sensors that collect and transmit vehicle, asset, and driver data to the cloud. Permitted fleet owners and drivers can access this data over the web via various asset-tracking software solutions. Common connected devices include GPS for location tracking and onboard diagnostics, including Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), to monitor the health and status of vehicles, trailers, and cargo.
Fleet telematics can collect all kinds of vehicle and driver data depending on the type of connected hardware. These include vehicle faults, position, trip distance and time, harsh braking, fuel consumption, loading and unloading times, cargo movement, and more. Connected devices can also send real-time alerts to fleet owners and drivers, typically through Push notifications, SMS, and emails, which alert users to key events that may need further attention.
Why does data overload happen?
There are many reasons why data overload occurs.
One of the most common is that fleet enterprises gradually buy more fleets and trailers over time, often used and already equipped with specific asset-tracking hardware. Unless the fleet enterprise already uses that specific hardware, they then need to incorporate it (and the associated software) into their system. After a while, you end up with various devices with their own platform and user interface.
Furthermore, connected vehicles generate a lot of data, which can make it hard for fleet owners and drivers to prioritize their tasks. The constant barrage of real-time alerts blowing up their smart devices and desktop workstations only adds to the problem. Amidst the chaos, they may misinterpret a fault code — e.g., diagnose a minor issue as a major technical fault or vice versa — or miss one or more fault codes entirely.
Labor shortages can also contribute to data overload. Without enough people to manually review and act on fleet data, it takes longer for fleet enterprises to diagnose and resolve issues. This means they take longer to take preventative action and prevent unplanned disruptions to their business.
What are the challenges of data overload?
There are many challenges associated with data overload in fleet management. These range from reduced productivity and innovation to increased safety and compliance concerns.
Disorganized data can impact a fleet owner’s ability to make informed decisions, such as responding to emergencies, scheduling routine maintenance, and addressing driver underperformance.
Today’s connected vehicles are equipped with a range of GPS technology, onboard diagnostics, and data-transmitting sensors. These devices inform fleet owners and drivers of the health and status of their vehicles, trailers, and cargo. But, despite the wealth of valuable insights connected devices offer, real-time connectivity has its downsides.
One of the most notable is the potential impact on productivity. Fleet enterprises that manage fifty to a hundred or more vehicles, trailers, or assets have lots of data coming in from multiple sources. If the data is being presented to fleet owners in a raw, unfiltered state, they may struggle to sift through the noise and make sense of what actually matters to their fleet. They may misinterpret a fault code as a major issue, report it to the driver, and then reroute the driver to the nearest repair shop. Such a small mistake could cost a driver hours, slowing down their delivery times and frustrating clients.
Reduced innovation and competitiveness
Frustrated with real-time alerts and disorganized data, some fleet enterprises resort to doing things the old way.
What does this mean? Going back to manual procedures. Manually scheduling maintenance, manually reporting loading and unloading times, and manually reporting incidents. This response often comes from the false belief that the technology is the problem and not the way in which the technology is being used. As a result, the enterprise regresses, and they fail to take any measures to improve the way in which they use technology.
Another problem with rejecting new technology is the loss of a competitive edge. A regressive fleet enterprise may start to underperform relative to their technology-proficient competitors. They may fail to meet safety and compliance standards. And they may lose business with clients who look to more technologically advanced competitors for better results.
Increased safety and compliance concerns
Real-time monitoring of driver behavior is essential to keeping drivers safe, keeping the public safe, and keeping fleet enterprises’ reputations safe. Failure to do so can be catastrophic and lead to costly traffic violations and insurance claims, injuries that take drivers out of commission, and fatalities that destroy lives.
Unfortunately, data overload can compromise driver safety and compliance. The volume and complexity of the data are simply too great. This causes fleet owners, the key decision-makers, to become overwhelmed and unable to make informed, real-time choices. They may fail to address driver safety concerns, such as harsh braking and speeding, or they may fail to detect major vehicle faults, such as deflating tires or worn brake pads.
What are the advantages of solving data overload?
There are many advantages to solving data overload in fleet management.
On the surface, you may be able to achieve greater productivity, safety, and compliance. On a deeper level, though, you may be able to achieve less obvious but equally rewarding benefits, such as an improved Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score.
By lowering your CSA score, you may reduce your insurance premiums, receive fewer audits and roadside DOT (Department of Transport) inspections, and receive more lucrative shipping opportunities from higher-value clients.
Here are a few other ways that solving data overload can benefit your fleet enterprise.
Addressing data overload can help fleet owners and drivers be more productive. They’ll have an easier time understanding what their data is saying. They’ll know how to respond accordingly to different fault codes and reports. And they’ll know how to separate good data from bad data.
Many of these benefits can be achieved with data filtration, filtering data in a way that aligns with one’s fleet metrics and business growth goals. One way to do this is to break down data into categories, where each category represents a different threat level. Critical alerts are for high-risk events that require immediate attention; moderate alerts are for events that do not pose a threat right now but will need investigating; and minor events are for low-risk events that do not require investigating yet.
With data filtration, fleet owners can quickly identify fault codes, ensuring drivers are only notified of moderate to high-risk threats while they’re on the road. This means they can focus on the journey without the risk of being constantly interrupted by real-time alerts.
Measurable improvements in compliance
Compliance and risk management are vital to a successful fleet enterprise. Failing a roadside DOT inspection or receiving an Hours Of Service (HOS) violation can cost a fortune in fines and penalties. A roadside DOT inspection is an annual check-up on a commercial vehicle to ensure it is safe and compliant with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) standards. During the inspection, a qualified mechanic will inspect the fleet, reviewing all major internal and external components.
Fleet enterprises that solve data overload will be well-positioned to pass DOT inspections and meet other compliance requirements. They’re more likely to schedule and complete their routine service appointments on time than if they are drowning in fleet data. And they’re better positioned to respond early to vehicle diagnostic vaults, thus preventing minor or moderate threats from escalating to critical threats.
Seamless integration with existing systems
Enterprises that use a variety of different technology solutions to track and monitor their fleet insights often face data overload. Why? Because they’re juggling multiple logins, dashboards, alerts, and reports to monitor their fleet activity. This means they may take longer to process and action their data, and they may even miss crucial events.
One of the most effective ways to solve data overload is to consolidate all fleet data into a unified fleet management platform. A unified platform, such as the CalAmp Telematics Cloud, can aggregate fleet data from a variety of different sources and devices and present it in an easy-to-understand way via a front-end software application.
How to solve data overload in fleet management
Now that you understand the benefits of solving data overload, here are a few ways to transform your data into actionable insights.
Data consolidation is an effective way to solve the issue of balancing multiple logins, applications, and dashboards to monitor fleet activity.
CalAmp’s fleet telematics and trucking telematics consolidate all fleet data into a single platform. Fleet owners gain a bird’s eye view of their entire organization, allowing for precise and accurate monitoring of all vehicles, trailers, and cargo.
To promote driver safety, CalAmp features built-in benchmarking tools, advanced driver scoring, performance reports, and in-depth analytics. Fleet owners can use these features to set a clear benchmark for drivers to follow. They can then quickly address unsafe driving habits, including speeding, harsh braking, and seatbelt violations. AI-powered fleet dashcam footage is stored in the CalAmp platform, ensuring video footage of critical events is stored in a safe, secure environment for later reference.
Align data collection process with business goals
When investing in a unified fleet management platform, have a clear strategy in place. Make sure that your data collection strategy aligns with your business goals.
Want to reduce vehicle breakdowns by 25% within six months? Make routine maintenance and early fault detection a priority. Use CalAmp’s fleet telematics platform to automate maintenance scheduling, remotely diagnose vehicle, trailer, and cargo faults, and identify the nearest service center.
Want to streamline and simplify compliance? Use the CalAmp ELD, powered by assured Techmatics, to ensure adherence to US, Canadian, and industry-specific regulations. The LMU-3640 gateway accurately captures various driver inputs — e.g., speed, GPS, odometer readings — and offers real-time alerts to quickly address erratic driving and other violation-triggering events.
Regardless of your fleet metrics and business goals, choose a telematics solution that suits your fleet enterprise. It should integrate seamlessly with your existing technology stack while enabling you to scale up and down as needed.
Solving data overload with CalAmp
Data overload is a huge problem for fleet enterprises. And the growing use of connected vehicles means it will only get worse. Fortunately, with advanced fleet management solutions coming out, fleet owners can regain control of their vehicles.
CalAmp’s powerful fleet software can consolidate all your fleet data into one platform. No matter how large your fleet or how many telematics devices you use, we can help consolidate your fleet data into a single dashboard, making it easy for drivers and fleet managers to automate maintenance, bolster vehicle and driver safety, streamline compliance and legal obligations, and improve operational efficiency.
Request a demo to learn how CalAmp can help you get the most out of your fleet data.