The mobile revolution is not just for smart phones and tablet computers. Vehicles have been leveraging some mobile technologies – called telematics– for some time now. And there are enhancements with vehicle telematics that have taken fleet optimization to new levels.
Large fleet trucks have utilized telematics for several years to help drivers navigate roadways and monitor miles driven as well as driving habits. This technology is being used today with large trucks and trailers as well as smaller regional fleets.
There are many parallels with vehicle telematics and field service technologies. The two are converging and enhancing each other for even greater benefits to the service industry and fleet operators.
Route optimization – knowing what route will be the most efficient for fuel economy or time savings is one of the most important elements of telematics and mobile solutions. This reduces fuel costs and also improves productivity for the drivers.
Vehicle maintenance – certain features of telematics focus on the vehicles themselves and making sure they are running at peak performance. Oil change intervals, for example, can be calculated based on the individual engine to help in keeping the vehicle running with minimal downtime.
Idle time – for major fleet operators, if a vehicle is at idle, it is operating at zero miles per gallon. Telematics can monitor how often a vehicle is left idling and help to minimize this time.
Driver behavior – making sure vehicle operators are driving safely and abiding by company policies is another key point for telematics. Large trucks can get into trouble quickly if one wrong turn occurs in a busy metropolitan area. Telematics can track acceleration, braking and other vehicle specific metrics to determine driver behaviors and help fleet operators to improve their safety and efficiency.
Telematics is designed to be vehicle-specific and analyze a variety of data to make sure the vehicle can operate at peak efficiency. Some businesses use telematics as part of environmental initiatives to reduce emissions and fuel consumption, while other businesses see telematics as an opportunity to reduce overall operating costs.
Mobile service automation is tailored more towards overall customer satisfaction while also addressing many of the areas that telematics covers. The benefit of mobile service automation is the level of flexibility provided. The intelligence is not tied to a specific vehicle, but instead to the field service technician. Businesses can track and plan routes, optimize schedules, and help service technicians to be more productive while also reducing fuel expenses and operating costs.
As mobile technology and telematics continue to improve, businesses will have even more opportunities to analyze data and improve operations. The two solutions are headed towards a convergence that will provide even more information on driver behaviors, vehicle performance, and service levels.
Service businesses that leverage mobile automation solutions are already taking advantage of optimization technologies to improve their operations. Smoother communications between customer service representatives, dispatch and the field greatly improve levels of customer service. While telematics might be used more in larger truck fleets, many features of telematics can be found in mobile automation solutions to help the service industry.