Telematic systems remain an under-utilized tool in fleet efficiency

Sep 26, 2018

Transparency and efficiency. Two words that now dominate the freight ecosystem, but according to a new survey, while the majority of fleets now utilize telematics to accomplish this goal, most fall short of achieving the true potential of these solutions.

According to Teletrac Navman, despite 77% of fleets using telematics to track vehicles, most are still not utilizing all the benefits of the systems. The report, Telematics Benchmark Report: U.S. Edition, surveyed more than 2,400 fleet professionals.

The survey found that some areas of telematics use have actually decreased from last year’s survey. For instance, only 30% of those surveyed are now using telematics to track maintenance needs. That is down 10% from a year ago. Speed monitoring (down 18%) and harsh braking (down 12%) are also less in favor in 2018.

Forty-six percent of respondents said telematics are a top benefit when it comes to “peace of mind/knowing where vehicles are” followed by 32% that benefit from “more efficient routing and dispatching.” Still, many telematics solutions can assist in monitoring fuel usage – fleets’ second largest expense according to 36% of respondents – yet only 29% use telematics systems in this way.

“We’re seeing more companies invest in telematics, but unfortunately many are only doing so to check the compliance box, not making the most of the technology to better their businesses,” said Sid Nair, senior director of transport and compliance, Teletrac Navman. “That’s likely due to tech fatigue especially in the wake of regulations that demanded new technology, like ELDs, but in the long-term it will be a crippling hindrance, as we’re already seeing a widening gap between companies leveraging technology to drive fleet profitability and those who are merely reaping the benefits of the current high demand. Training everyone from drivers to fleet executives on how telematics data can boost operations is key, as the data alone won’t drive change.”

Only 43% use telematics systems to measure driver performance, yet more than 50% said rewarding driver performance directly related to reduced safety violations and 52% believe it improves driver retention.

The survey found that, in general, there is a lack of awareness of what benefits telematics solutions can provide. However, 25% said they plan to invest in driver warning/alerting technologies and 9% in fatigue monitoring technologies.

Across the survey, some interesting trends emerged. According to the results, 64% are using telematics solutions to comply with the ELD law, but 31% of respondents said they were still using paper logs. To help educate drivers on ELD usage, 42% of fleets required mandatory educational or information sessions, 29% sent emails, newsletters or other written materials, and 25% provided optional education/informational sessions. But, 21% of fleets provided no educational programs at all to drivers.

On the fleet side, 28% see a lower risk of compliance violations because of ELDs as the biggest benefit, with 20% seeing the elimination of manual processes the biggest benefit. Driver and public safety (11%) and greater transparency (7%) were other benefits.

Even here, some fleets are not seeing the benefits ELDs can provide, Teletrac Navman reported, with 28% saying that don’t see any benefit from the technology.

For those fleets using telematics, vehicle or equipment tracking is the most common use, with 77% of fleets using them for this. HOS compliance (70%), speed monitoring (60%), distance driven (49%), driving performance (45%), idling (43%) and harsh braking (33%) are other popular uses.

Only 15% of fleets are using the systems to reduce time or implement cost savings programs and only 7% are deriving fuel efficiency benefits. Even fewer, 5%, are reducing maintenance costs. In most cases, fleets see benefits related to vehicle tracking (46%), more efficient routing and dispatching (32%), meeting compliance requirements (32%), improving driver behavior (28%) and customer service (23%).

Teletrac Navman reported that 43% of respondents say telematics solutions have resulted in reduced fuel costs, with 3% reporting savings of between 21% and 30%.

The move to mobile is growing as well, with 76% of fleets either offering or planning to offer mobile technology to drivers within the next year. That is up 16% from last year’s survey.

Driver benchmark is a largely untapped area for telematics, the report found. “As organizations struggle to justify the cost of telematics, driver benchmarking may be answer. While the number declined significantly over 2017, still 43% of transportation companies using telematics say they are not currently evaluating driver behavior, despite having the tools to do so. Of those who are evaluating and benchmarking driver behavior, 43% do not reward drivers for their performance,” the report noted.


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