The importance of IoT (Internet of Things) in today’s era cannot be overstated. Enterprise leaders have realized the necessity, if not inevitability, of such digital technologies in this age of automation. Technically speaking, IoT refers to a network of devices, connected via the internet, which has the ability to collect and transmit data over a secure network. The continuous feedback that an IoT system delivers facilitates enterprise owners in real-time, leading to a sound decision-making process.
The power of IoT is being harnessed across all major industries such as automotive, fleet management, healthcare, manufacturing and energy, to name a few. This upsurge in the adoption of IoT platforms in businesses has enabled them to gain a competitive edge, as well as deliver better customer experience. In the fleet management space, in particular, IoT based solutions are flourishing and as per statistics, by 2021, the IoT fleet management market is projected to touch $8.28 billion.
Tracking data, including fuel efficiency and maintenance costs, is easy for a personal vehicle. But for fleet managers, who are responsible for hundreds of vehicles, tracking critical metrics manually can be tedious, if not downright impossible. Annual maintenance and operational costs can turn out to be significant for fleet owners, unless they figure out ways to track and improve metrics around fuel consumption, driver performance management, route management and compliance.
Modern fleet management is the efficient management of all these factors, and optimising performance by using data-driven insights. IoT helps here, by keeping track of all these in real-time. IoT enabled fleets continually share such data through sensors, automatically detect anomalies, and let fleet managers make decisions based on actionable analytics.
IoT and Fleet Management
IoT in fleet management functions through three major technologies – GPS (Global Positioning Systems), OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) and RFID (Radio Frequency ID). While the first two technologies provide vital data and statistics about vehicles in real-time, the latter aids in tracking and managing assets.
These sensors enable critical data collection from vehicles even in remote locations – data around speed, location, engine health, fuel economy, tire pressure and more. This data is transmitted through a local gateway periodically while the vehicle is still in motion, and uploaded securely to a cloud-based centralised database. Web services sitting on top of these databases automatically generate reports and alerts for fleet managers, enabling management by measurement in real-time.
The efficiency of fleet management is optimized through the implementation of IoT-enabled solutions in the following ways:
Fuel Cost Optimization
Fleet managers with the help of IoT can now easily collect vital fuel-related data like usage, refill levels, fuel tank capacity, etc. through embedded sensors present in the fuel tank. Data from OBD, g-sensors and dashcams provides a real-time view of vehicle and driver performance. A holistic analysis of all of these data streams can help surface the correlations that most affect fuel economy, for the fleet manager to act upon.
The use of IoT in fleet operations can drastically reduce costs by enabling the optimal use of resources. Inefficient driving practices like over speeding, excessive idling time, etc., hurt fleets in multiple ways, from increased risk of accidents and higher premiums to higher fuel and maintenance bills. With IoT, it is now feasible to collect, share and analyze data on both vehicles and drivers in real-time. Fleet managers use such information to quickly identify problems and take corrective action, thus improving the fleets bottom line in a world where every dollar saved is an edge over the competition.
A number of accidents could be prevented if fleet managers had access to insightful data like over-speeding, adherence to traffic laws, idling time, driver behaviour, vehicle performance etc. The implementation of IoT provides a central pane for fleet managers to get a unified view of all critical aspects of their operations.
From intelligent automated routing algorithms that take into account factors like traffic, weather and type and size of vehicle, to solutions that take care of compliance requirements, IoT is driving digitization and automation of processes that used to be time-consuming and labour-intensive till now.
Managing operations of hundreds of fleets implies handling a large amount of data. Before implementation of IoT, fleet managers had to collect essential data like vehicle utilization, speed tracking, miles logged, fuel consumption and much more, manually. Most of the time, considerable lags in collecting data resulted in delayed actions. However, with IoT, the game has changed completely. Now vehicles, drivers and back-office are connected in real-time enabling timely collection of data, its analysis, and prompt actions.
Besides rendering crucial data about day-to-day operations of the fleet, IoT-enabled solutions also help predict future downtime due to maintenance. Downtime leads to decreased asset utilization and has a direct impact on the fleets top-line. With IoT, fleet managers now receive service alerts for coolant temperature, battery status, engine disruption and other inspection reminders about their vehicles, much in advance of these leading to critical breakdowns. They can then take preventive maintenance measures, enabling the smooth functioning of their fleet for a longer time.
The critical role of IoT in modern fleet management is apparent. The integration of IoT into fleet management has not only been rewarding for fleet operators but also drivers, supply chain managers and customers.
The interconnectivity that IoT provides has contributed towards making fleet operations cost-effective, safer and even greener. This opens the door to new opportunities and innovations in business operations. Unsurprisingly then, as per IoT forecasts, logistics and transportation will emerge to be among the leaders in IoT investments.
In the near future, IoT-enabled technologies are projected to grow and be more easily accessible to fleets of all sizes. The data and analytics capabilities of IoT will transform from ‘recommended’ to ‘needed’ for even smaller fleets. The investments will be minimal while the cost-saving benefits turn out to be tremendous.
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Author bio: This article was written by the team at LightMetrics.