Telematics refers to the technologies that connect vehicles to other vehicles, remote locations, systems, or networks via wireless communications. Telematics solutions include:
- GPS navigation devices
- Vehicle tracking systems
- Fleet management and safety
- Driver behavior monitoring
- Crash notification and reconstruction
- Remote diagnostic and vehicle maintenance functionalities
Fleet businesses can deploy telematics solutions on trains, buses, boats, cars, trucks, motorcycles, and planes. These solutions collect real-time information from vehicles, including fuel consumption, vehicle location, speed, and direction, and send that data to a central location. Some systems may also alert drivers about potential problems before they occur and notify fleet owners of maintenance needs.
Companies can monitor and manage their fleet 24/7, track vehicle performance, and send real-time data to drivers (like traffic congestion ahead). This allows them to improve fleet operations, reduce expenses, and enhance safety.
In this article, we’ll delve into how these systems work and share examples from our own telematics solution, CalAmp.
How do telematic solutions work?
“Telematics” means using Edge IoT devices, communication networks, platforms and applications to send/transfer and share or display information that enhances fleet management services and operations. Telematics is a combination of two words: telecommunication and informatics.
There are three parts to a telematics solution:
- A telematics device
- A technology to connect the device to the cloud
- A cloud platform or software application
A telematics device allows you to gather and transmit data. You can purchase an add-on telematics device and plug it into a vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBD-II) port or wire it to the vehicle’s CAN bus interface to track the vehicle.
Devices made for commercial fleets may also contain additional parts, like GPS receivers, SIM cards, central processing units (CPUs), gyroscopes or other sensors, and buzzers for audio-based in-cab notifications.
Many devices also come with electronic logging device (ELD) abilities for tracking driver operating hours and built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth that connects to cameras and sensors.
Technologies like cellular networks and GPS satellites are used to track vehicle/fleet locations and movements. These technologies connect the telematic device to the cloud and display the data from the vehicle in a software-powered dashboard.
You can also connect the device to a vehicle’s engine control module (ECM) to measure and monitor various data points, such as:
- Fuel usage
- State of the vehicle
- Tire temperatures
- Harsh driving behaviors
This data is measured by a telematics device and sent to the cloud, where it’s processed and sent to a fleet management app like CalAmp. From there, you can see which vehicles are scheduled for maintenance, review driving behaviors for your drivers, and more.
The CalAmp LMU-3040™ Edge device is a powerful fleet tracker with GPS tracking, impact and motion sensors, an accelerometer, and more. With an LTE connection, you can gather various data points in real time, and a fleet manager can easily see a vehicle’s status and location. CalAmp’s LMU-3240 Edge device adds WiFi capabilities.
For example, in the image above, you can see that one vehicle is being towed, and another one is being parked. The manager can use this information to assign the available vehicle to another task.
Telematic solutions: evolution, use cases, and examples
In the early 1960s, the United States government developed global positioning system (GPS) technology to safeguard national security. Intelligence and military services began widely using this technology.
By the 2000s, web-based fleet management systems were using telematics to get real-time data from remote networks.
After this came cloud and machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions, which improved GPS technology. From there, telematics adopted the Internet of Things (IoT) and improved its data management feature sets.
United Parcel Service (UPS) was one of the initial adopters of M2M (they installed IoT sensors on their vehicles) for fleet management, and many other companies have since followed suit.
Here are a few use cases for telematic solutions:
- Construction: Check vehicle schedules, see performance metrics, and enable asset lifecycle management.
- Cold storage/food and beverage: Check temperature levels so that temperature-sensitive foods stay safe.
- Transportation and logistics: Help drivers pinpoint the right trailer in a fleet, help managers understand who is driving which vehicle, and use Bluetooth LE smart tags to locate goods in a warehouse.
- Towing companies: Deploy towing fleets efficiently by seeing which vehicles are towing and which ones are available.
- School buses: Easily handle stop-level bus substitutions, monitor route compliance, send location-based alerts to parents, and ensure timely bus departures.
- Public sector: Safe, smart, and efficient government fleet operations, enhanced driver safety and visibility, improved fire and EMS services, law enforcement, and snow operations.
- Commercial fleets: Know more about asset types, status, distance traveled, and driver safety, and receive alerts on traffic and weather conditions, unplanned deviations, and accidents.
- Truck fleets: Get predictive maintenance recommendations based on battery voltage and engine fault codes, and use wheel end temperature sensing (WETS) technology to alert drivers when wheels are overheating to protect the wheels from separating or setting the trailer on fire.
- Courier companies: Optimize routes, help drivers get weather updates, share live locations with customers, and suggest an estimated time of arrival (ETA) to improve customer satisfaction.
- Car rental companies: Transmit the real-time locations of cars, check driver behaviors, and track car diagnostics so that they run in optimal conditions.
- HVAC services: Track idling time to better utilize an HVAC fleet, use live GPS tracking to let customers know about a technician’s delay, and manage dispatching jobs more efficiently.
- Generator telematics: Track generator conditions and raise alerts when battery levels are too low.
- Emergency services: Improve ambulance response times, monitor real-time locations on the map so that emergency services teams can find the fastest route to the emergency’s location. Schedule vehicle maintenance reminders so vehicles are ready for a quick response in critical situations.
7 benefits of telematic solutions and how CalAmp can help
Telematics is booming; the telematics solutions market is projected to reach $62.6 billion by 2025 from an estimated $29.9 billion in 2020. That’s because telematics comes with numerous benefits. We’ll cover seven of them below.
Improve fleet safety
Telematics help detect problems before they occur and prevent costly breakdowns.
With CalAmp Application, you can create on-demand reports where you can check maintenance issues and assess overall fleet health. You can also check health and safety scores (with colors allocated for different levels of severity). You can then manage repairs quickly and avoid unscheduled downtime.
CalAmp’s features can improve safety for a cargo owner in the following ways:
- CalAmp’s transparent monitoring lets you track real-time environmental conditions to check the cargo’s health and status
- CalAmp’s app comes with volume sensing so you can separate overweight trailers and avoid violations and delays
- CalAmp’s app can notify you immediately if a trailer halts suddenly, a door opens at the wrong location, or a package has been opened
Reduce fuel costs
Telematic solutions gather data about vehicle performance, fuel economy, mileage, and idling times. For example, they can automatically check and adjust engine settings and maximize vehicle efficiency.
Aggressive driving can increase fuel costs. Telematics can alert you about rash driving behavior so that you can train your drivers to drive sensibly.
Some solutions can also detect fuel theft and help you plan smarter and shorter routes to reduce fuel usage.
CalAmp provides a full fuel usage report that includes comprehensive info on fuel purchases, usage, idling time, energy efficiency, mileage summaries, and more.
CalAmp’s reporting options give you actionable insights into asset history, fuel usage, idle times, and other vital metrics so that you can efficiently plan your costs.
For example, with CalAmp Application, you can quickly validate material expenses to avoid material wastage. Our solution comes with a spreader monitoring system that collects and transmits data on the amount of material dispersed (salt, sand, etc.). As a result, you don’t have to rely on operator-managed data and can track material usage to reduce wastage.
Check driver behavior
Telematics can log accidents, violations, distracted driving, and more so that you can track driver behavior. You can monitor drivers’ locations and see when drivers are going above speed limits or breaking signals.
Having this information can help reduce collisions. Telematics also enables you to ensure that drivers are adhering to safe driving practices, as specified in your company policies.
With CalAmp, you can evaluate fleet and driver performance with a Driver Scorecard, which gives you at-a-glance data on violations and driver scores (like those seen in the image above). Plus, CalAmp’s advanced AI technology helps you detect harsh driving behaviors and violations, so you can coach drivers to improve those behaviors.
Improve fleet security
Many telematics solutions come with geofencing abilities and anti-theft alerts. They can also let you know if any part of your vehicle needs repair.
CalAmp’s geofencing feature alerts you when an asset crosses a border. This can help facilitate proof of service and aid theft/recovery needs. Plus, CalAmp alerts you if tire pressure or temperature isn’t normal, if a battery is low, or if a trailer door is open.
You can also choose to receive email and text notifications when a vehicle generates a malfunction indicator light or a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) via the onboard diagnostic system (OBD).
Streamline communication and provide better customer service
With telematics, you can facilitate proper communication between staff and drivers. For example, CalAmp’s fleet management dashboards let you check analytics on asset types, status, and distance traveled. You can also view in-depth data on trips covered, geofence activity, exception events, KPIs, and more.
Streamlined communication also helps improve customer service. For example, customer service agents can know where a vehicle is located by using real-time location data and inform customers about estimated delivery times.
Not following federal regulations can attract hefty fines and put drivers’ credibility at stake.
CalAmp Application comes with a fully integrated ELD solution that’s certified to comply with U.S., Canadian, and Mexican regulations. More specifically, you can get the following:
- Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR): Pre and post-trip information to validate that the vehicle is safe and that any necessary repairs are made promptly.
- Hours of Service (HoS) Data: Track critical (HoS) information for every driver in your fleet and stay in compliance with federal guidelines.
- IFTA Fuel Tax Report: Automate state mileage and fuel receipts and easily create IFTA reports.
A brief note on video telematic solutions
Video telematics is a step further than traditional telematics solutions and can be very helpful in avoiding collisions and accidents. Video installations in fleets and vehicles have surged and are projected to reach 6.3 million by 2026. What’s the reason for this huge growth? Video telematics comes with a lot of advantages for fleet managers.
With CalAmp’s video-based safety features, you can:
- Detect incidents like acceleration, braking, and cornering (ABC); tailgating; and lane departures
- See video clips before, during, and after events
- Alert cab drivers on audio if they are speeding (and immediately ask them for the reason they’re speeding or whether they need a break)
- Use video clips as lessons for drivers that demonstrate what to do and what not to do in different situations
- Get visual proof during accidents to exonerate drivers from liability
Read more about CalAmp’s video telematics solution in this free ebook.
Explore CalAmp telematics
Fleet telematics is on the rise — the industry reached a market size of $7.7 billion in 2022.
And it’s no wonder because telematic solutions allow fleet businesses to track vehicles, support drivers, improve navigation systems, and help maintain vehicle health.
CalAmp’s telematic solutions can help you track definite data points such as speed, maintain safe driving behaviors, increase fuel performance, and lower maintenance costs.
Request a demo with our team to see CalAmp Application in action.