Fleet Management

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Future of Fleet Management

The internet of things (IoT) is not the future — it’s now. Think of the IoT as a network where each device on it can share data with each other. The devices are not physically connected but are linked by the internet and are capable of receiving and supplying information from the network. There are basically two parts:

  • The IoT-based sensor that collects data
  • The proprietary software that stores, manages, and analyzes that data

According to a new report by Research and Markets, the IoT fleet management market is projected to reach $8.28 billion by 2021. Of all the industries trying to benefit from the power of internet-connected devices, logistics and transportation have the most immediate benefits. In fact, the transportation and logistics field is in the top three industries that are forecasted to benefit the most from IoT technology. 

What Can Connected Devices Do for Fleet Management?

The IoT allows for easier collection of data such as fuel consumption, speed tracking and vehicle utilization. Information such as driver behavior allows fleet managers to make better-informed decisions for improved efficiency and intelligent fuel consumption. 

Depending on the type of data a fleet manager wants to analyze, they would need to equip their trucks with the appropriate hardware sensors. This can include:

  • Maintenance. Fleets with embedded sensors can send signals when monitored parts are close to failure or are in need of a tune-up. 
  • Driver behavior. IoT devices can monitor driving behavior like braking habits. 
  • Fuel efficiency. Fuel use is connected to idle time, acceleration and deceleration, average speed and more. 

How does IoT Benefit Fleet Management?

By using connected IoT technology such as telematics, managers and owners can keep track of fleet productivity and gain valuable insight into driving behavior and vehicle performance. Safety — always a top priority — is easier to manage when you know what is happening on the road. 

Connected devices ensure that drivers obey the law, accelerate and slow down accurately, adhere to speed limits and more. Safety is also important because of insurance costs. Being connected can often save you money on insurance premiums and by avoiding tickets and penalties, you prevent your rates from going up.

Efficiency, routing, remote diagnostics and predictive scheduled maintenance are all benefits of having a connected vehicle video camera system.

Maintaining Your Fleet

Predictive maintenance is easier when you can accurately predict failure. With machine learning and the data being collected with your IoT devices, you will know always know what’s happening. The data collected by these sensors is automatically uploaded to the cloud, where it can then be converted into useful analytics. 

Sensor-equipped vehicles send alerts when monitored parts need maintenance or are close to failure. There are also alerts for low battery, coolant temperature, engine maintenance, low tire pressure, and more — all factors that help vehicles run safely for a longer duration. Here is how it works:

  • First, data is collected from IoT devices.
  • It’s then processed, cleaned up and safely stored in the cloud.
  • Finally, the data is crunched and analyzed using a platform-based suite of machine-learning tools. 

What Does the Future Hold for the Fleet Management Industry?

Fleet management, like many industries, has been affected by technological disruption. IoT technology will continually advance to improve productivity and ROI. It will be implemented in almost every aspect of your fleet business and once the world is 5G-enabled, connected devices will be faster and smarter. 

Self-Driving Vehicles: Most accidents are caused by human error. Although the idea of a self-driving or autonomous vehicle can seem downright scary, this technology is actually paving the way to safety. Autonomous vehicles are intuitive when it comes to driving decisions. With autonomous vehicles, road congestion can be reduced by about 25 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Autonomous trucks can link together using an electrical coupling and direct vehicle to vehicle communications. This enables them to simultaneously brake and accelerate together, which is known as vehicle platooning. This prevents inconsistent speeds from causing traffic. 

Self-driving trucks can also streamline drivers’ routes by communicating real-time road conditions. For example, if there is emergency highway construction that results in lane closures, the driver that hits it first can alert other drivers so they can automatically redirect to a different route, saving time and fuel.

With the help of autonomous mobile vehicle video cameras and adaptive cruise control, drivers can improve fuel economy up to as much as 10 percent, according to RAND Corporation.

How close are we to autonomous freight and the hauling of goods? We are already there. The self-driving truck startup Plus.ai completed what is being called the first commercial freight cross-country trip by an autonomous truck. In December 2019, the self-driving semi drove 2,800-miles in three days from California to Pennsylvania, hauling a refrigerated load of 40,000 pounds of butter. 

Shared Vehicles: Despite vastly publicized advantages, U.S. commercial fleets are not running to adopt vehicle-sharing. One reason for the lag is that unlike government fleets, commercial fleets usually don’t pool their vehicles. Instead, trucks are generally categorically assigned to one driver using commercial fleet gps tracking.

In this environment, taking away assigned vehicles in exchange for access to a pool can cause some friction. Aside from being a cultural change, a commercial fleet manager might be fearful of losing top drivers.

But turning to the sharing economy can increase a company’s revenue by making better use of underutilized resources and lowering transaction costs. Industry estimates indicate that approximately 25% of fleet vehicles in the U.S. are not used at least one day per week, excluding weekends. 

Underutilized vehicles are those that drive less than 5,000 miles or 500 engine hours per year. These vehicles are costing companies in terms of registration, depreciation, maintenance, and more. The “truck-as-a-service” is already catching on in the U.K. Instead of the operator owning a truck, it’s a pay-per-use model.

No one knows what the future holds but it will absolutely be steeped in technological advances.