The global logistics industry is likely to be worth over $1.3 trillion by 2023. Although the business of transporting goods from one place to another has been in existence for several centuries, the advent of technology, particularly the Internet of things (IoT), has revolutionized the industry.
Every industry today considers data as an invaluable asset. The more data people have and the better analytics they perform on the data, the more information they get. How can fleet managers use this data to gain valuable insights and ideas for improving the business?
How is Data Collected?
Data is primarily collected using telematics systems in carriers and vehicles. A tracking device on the truck would collect data about the location, speed, temperature of the engine, and so on, transmit it through GPRS or the cellular network to a centralized server. The collected data can be sent to the client, fleet manager, or analyzed by the data team.
This interaction between devices is what has modernized the logistics business. The next time you buy GPS trackers for cars, you now know what goes on “behind the scenes.”
Nowadays, most truck and carrier manufacturers install tracking devices while as part of the manufacturing process. Logistics companies also hire agencies specializing in such technology to upgrade their old vehicles if needed.
What to Do With the Data?
Data is useless as such; only when processed, it becomes information. In the logistics business, the distribution manager handles all operations related to transportation, while the fleet manager handles the aspects of the vehicles and drivers. Here are a few ways in which trucking and fleet management businesses can break down and interpret the data.
1. Vehicle Tracking
A GPS (Global Positioning System) tracker uses satellite data to pinpoint the location of the vehicle or that of the asset. Apart from just the geographical location, the GPS trackers used in logistics industries today also come with speed sensors, which give additional information about the average speed of the vehicle, idle time, and state-wise split of the distance traveled.
Trackers can also suggest optimal routes for the drivers based on live traffic data in the area. Moreover, this technology could be the first of many that enable driver-less transportation in the future.
2. Effective Maintenance of Vehicles
If you ask anyone in the industry, “What is fleet management?” their answer will always refer to the purchase of vehicles, optimizing the usage schedule, and proper maintenance of the carriers. Data collected from vehicles assist fleet managers in scheduling maintenance cycles, preparing them to assign drivers and manage future deliveries efficiently.
Devices placed on the vehicle can monitor engine temperature, power-train malfunctions, and other technical issues. These inputs, when fed to an artificial intelligence system, can predict the optimal time for repair. Records regarding proper maintenance are crucial to get the best insurance deals for the vehicles.
Another related parameter for vehicle maintenance is fuel efficiency, which has a bearing on the vehicle’s longevity. Using data about idle time, road and weather conditions, and time in hand, managers can chart an effective route for the truck where the fuel usage is efficient.
3. Asset Tracking
While most of the telematics devices transmit data about the carrier, for certain types of goods, it is critical to monitor the asset that the truck transport continually as well. For example, if a truck transports frozen foods or perishable products, a temperature or humidity sensor should track the conditions within the container. In case the parameters cross a threshold, they should send an alert or trigger a thermostat or humidifier, which automatically regulates the conditions again.
Theft or robbery is another serious issue that several truckers face, especially when traveling through remote territories. Tracking devices on the containers will help to follow the goods that are stolen. This technology is also useful if multiple trucks transport a single package, with stops in warehouses and checkpoints in between.
4. Road Accidents and Emergencies
What if there is a scenario where the driver of a truck has an accident en route? How will the fleet manager quickly assign another driver to take over the delivery and ensure the injured driver gets treated? How will he find out what went wrong?
A fleet manager can easily find another driver or mechanic in the vicinity to help the injured driver with the help of tracking devices that feed live data about all drivers and trucks. With scheduling software, the manager can revise the timeline for the delivery of that particular set of goods.
Devices like dash cams attached to the trucks are positioned in such a way that they capture a collision or accident when it occurs. Analyzing this footage will help managers reconstruct the accident and develop measures to improve the safety standards in the future.
5. Driver Behavior
One such measure of safety commonly used for carriers in the US is the CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) score. Apart from the maintenance of the vehicle itself, the driver’s record is also a key contributor to the score. So, most logistics companies install devices to monitor the driver during a journey, using a camera placed above the steering column to scan the driver’s eyes.
If the driver shows unusual behavior like drunkenness or fatigue, the device sounds an alert, usually in the form of a loud noise or flashing lights. If the driver is still unresponsive, these devices bring the vehicle to a forced halt.
6. Learning from the Past
By collecting and storing the monthly or weekly data in a database, fleet managers can use it to improve the next month’s business. For example, a driver rating system will help reward the best drivers, and information collected in the past about accident-prone zones can automatically warn drivers who take the same route.
Overall, analyzing past data to train and gear up the drivers and other operators to handle future demand makes the managers more accountable about their teams.
Data is the New Gold
Based on the nature of your business, data has significant potential to improve your business. From location tracking to autonomous driving, IoT, automation, and big data are the drivers of today’s technology. Make sure your business is equipped with all these tools today!