While advanced warehouse management technology has become commonplace in fulfillment, many trucking companies still largely operate as they have for decades.
That is all starting to change, however, as IoT devices transform the way critical data points are connected along the supply chain. Freight telematics is one of those game-changing technologies that will likely take on a bigger role in the freight industry in the coming years.
What is freight telematics?
Telematics describes a suite of technology solutions that combine advanced informatics with telecommunications capabilities. Fleet telematics in the trucking industry are now being used to generate and process real-time data for whole fleets, including information on vehicle location, driver activity and behavior, and engine diagnostics.
Telematics data on big rigs can be used to improve route finding, lower fuel costs, and predict maintenance needs. It can also be used to automate back office tasks, and to pinpoint driving practices that lead to wear and tear.
To perform this feat, freight telematics solutions rely on a range of onboard diagnostics tools, including GPS, IoT devices, onboard diagnostic codes, and other sensors. Source data is then collected by a fleet communication software system at the dispatch center for analysis.
What are the benefits of freight telematics?
Increased efficiency — Fleet managers can get a real-time view of where their vehicles are and where they have been. Using this information, they can locate the most efficient routes to expedite delivery time, minimize fuel consumption, and predict lead times with more accuracy. Over time, GPS data can be used to plan for routes based on factors like traffic, weather, and road safety.
Expanded capacity — As ecommerce takes center stage in the retail world, demand for LTL and last mile are applying more pressure to already strained trucking capacity. Advanced real-time positioning allows managers to reduce dwell times, plan for externalities, and schedule more loads with fewer conflicts.
Lower operational costs — To further reduce overhead costs, some freight telematics software can document idle tracking and vehicle utilization rates for later review. Drivers who perform highly on these metrics can be rewarded, while others can be identified for additional coaching.
Improved safety — Historically, fleet management has relied on the good-faith word of their operators when it comes to safety on the open road. In-truck sensors and GPS documentation give managers new insight into unsafe practices that lead to collisions.
Driver protections — Freight telematics systems can offer evidence to exonerate drivers when a collision lands them in civil court. Dash cam footage, speed and distance documentation, and readings from brake sensors can all be valuable in shielding against litigation.
Administrative automation — Automating tedious admin and clerical procedures is easy when you know exactly how far a vehicle was driven and for how long. A detailed log of miles driven, idle time, and other factors can be valuable for showing regulatory compliance — and can even prove valuable for reducing insurance rates.
What’s the future of freight telematics?
All this is available through telematics and fleet management software today. But what does the future have in store for these promising innovations?
Proactive maintenance — Freight telematics offers fleet managers an ounce of preparation when it comes to scheduling maintenance before it slows down operations. Contextual utilization transcends traditional maintenance (scheduling solely based on mileage and time) and instead uses sensors to suggest servicing as needed. Onboard sensors and IoT devices will send data back to mission control to automate service before small problems turn into costly delays.
More integrations, better applications — As freight telematics software generates more mainstream adoption among owner-operators, a tendency toward making apps more user friendly (think tap-and-swipe capabilities) will come with it. Of course, adding functionality to this software will require a number of third-party applications, new API functionality, and other high-tech solutions.
Gamifying safety — Coaching isn’t easy, and many seasoned operators don’t like the boss telling them what to do. With improving freight telematics interfaces comes an opportunity to offer drivers a carrot, rather than relying on the stick. By gamifying driver informatics with badges, scores, prizes and rankings, this tech can help make safety into a challenge.
Improved cargo tracking and transparency — Next-generation freight telematics will make sharing real-time shipping status data with downstream customers seamless, secure, and easy. For companies that rely on fast turnaround, added transparency from this software may be a differentiator when choosing a freight provider.
At the end of the day, freight telematics is really just one small part of the always growing Internet of Things, which is critical to the global supply chain’s health and optimization. Companies that stay up to date with the changing world will be rewarded, while others risk falling behind their competition.
To stay ahead of the game, you need the right partners on your supply chain. A 3PL provider like GlobeCon can power advanced freight telematics to improve your fulfillment.
Find your partner at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Contact us today!