What is Fleet Automation?
Imagine if your car or truck was smart enough to simply tell you when it had a problem like an engine fault, low tire pressure or a low battery. Fleet automation means vehicles working smarter, alerting you of issues before they become bigger problems, and doing it all automatically without any user interaction.
How does it work?
A GPS transponder mounted inside the vehicle and connected to the vehicle's diagnostic port. A cellular modem built into the transponder sends vehicle and location data in realtime to the cloud. All data is available to view on the website as soon as it arrives from the transponder. If the transponder cannot transmit the data due to weak cellular reception, the data is buffered until the vehicle drives to an area with better reception.
Is it hard to use? How do I know if I am doing it right?
As you integrate fleet automation technology, it will change the way your managers handle the day to day operations of not only your fleet but your drivers and customers as well. Don't get overwhelmed trying to interpret all the data, start by setting up some simple (but important) goals like fuel savings and increasing safety.
Saving fuel is good for the environment and good for your budget, so let's start here. Setting up your goal is pretty simple: how many minute of engine idling are your drivers allowed before they incur a penalty? Typically in the winter this can be upwards of 5 min, but in the summer it should really be below 2 min. Idling kills fuel economy, damages sensors and emissions equipment and is completely avoidable. This is why modern cars utilize start/stop technology to boost fuel economy and increase engine longevity.
Monitor how your drivers are using their vehicles with daily, weekly and monthly checks. Spot violations early on and act quickly to train drivers to avoid idling, then check up on the follow up progress. You will see fuel economy go up and your fuel bill go down.
Limited the top speed of your vehicles is important for safety, especially if they are normally loaded down with materials. If you want to look at the physics of driving, it takes 25% more distance to stop a vehicle traveling 70MPH than it does at 60MPH. This is due not only to the increased kinetic energy of the higher speed, but also in part due to the increase in 'thinking distance' before the driver can act.
Don't forget about the fuel savings of slowing down, according to the US Department of Energy you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.17 per gallon for gas.