Telematics Sticks-and-Carrots Still Most Effective for Fleet Management

When it comes to facing up to the challenge of managing large fleets, a combination of a fragmented device landscape and a changing mix of drivers can pose significant challenges for fleet operators.

Issues can include wireless and Bluetooth connection challenges, data anomalies, potential hours of service (HoS) anomalies and driver behavioral patterns.

Overcoming data anomalies

According to Niranjan Thiyagarajan, senior consultant at Monitor Deloitte, data anomalies are generally an inevitable occurrence and are “bound to happen”. Even so, in adopting strategies to help in overcoming the data anomalies generated by wireless connection issues, fleet operators benefit from the option of considering what he describes as “fall back technologies”, such as satellite communication to “bolster connectivity when cellular infrastructure fails”. He added: “The challenge is of course the cost of implementing such systems and the use cases for which they are relevant.”

One common example Thiyagarajan cites relates to where high value goods are being moved – a situation he argues might require a redundancy mode to make sure the shipment is always tracked and secure from criminals. “You can find a lot of examples of such technology online.  There is also a clear distinction between embedded (that is, in the head unit) and tethered (smartphone or dongle based) experiences,” he says.

“Embedded solutions can offer a more holistic experience in terms of the customer user experience (UX) and the services being offered but different OEMs have different approaches to the problem and lack of standardization is a challenge for fleet operators.  On the flipside, tethered solutions are far more difficult to design around and prone to security related issues.”

Creating actionable intelligence

When it comes to creating meaningful information and actionable intelligence based on driving data, Thiyagarajan believes that strategies such as gamification and leader boards created to recognize top drivers in real time are ideal ways to encourage better driving.  “Gift vouchers or other forms of rewards can be offered to drivers for certain behavior. For example, less miles traveled and less fuel consumed, as well as less harsh braking or acceleration,” he says.

Elsewhere, Jonathan Bates, marketing director, Europe and North Africa at MiX Telematics, reveals that a useful approach is to work with operators to develop bespoke reports designed around their specific operating parameters. “This enables the operator to pinpoint areas of concern and develop appropriate solutions in order to derive the best possible return on their telematics investment,” he says. “Sometimes, the data will be presented to fleet managers in the form of a RAGs report.  Standing for Red, Amber, Green, these reports provide an instant and clear visual guide as to which drivers require the most support.”

Bates claims that drivers using this system can also access their own data at any time via a smartphone app which allows them to see their own performance and compare it to that of their colleagues.  Bates also claims that the key advantage of the app is that drivers are “free to view their data in their own way and in their own time, which avoids unnecessary confrontation, pressure and stress”.

“Many operators choose to introduce incentive schemes in parallel to their driver development programs in order to encourage better performance by recognizing and, in some cases, rewarding success.  Experience has shown that such schemes are well accepted and popular among drivers and can contribute significantly to raising standards,” he adds.

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