Turning telematics data into business critical information

Turning telematics data into business critical information

TNT Innight has got logistics down.

This European night express delivery service serves customers in the automotive, high-tech, engineering, life science, and agricultural sectors, picking up parts and materials in the late afternoon and delivering them or picking up returned items in the middle of the night.

“Our deliveries enable the service engineer in the early morning to leave home in his or her car, parked in front of the house, and go to his or her first job right away without having to pick up spare parts,” says Jos Kagenaar, director of business development for TNT Innight.

The service is valuable to customers because it can save technicians an hour or more; instead of spending time driving to a warehouse to pick up materials, they can get right to work.

To achieve this, TNT Innight’s drivers deliver to pre-arranged locations, such as the boot of the service engineer’s car or secure drop-off safes.
But this methodology adds to the normal issues experienced by delivery companies.

For example, employees in urban areas may not be able to park in front of their homes or at a pre-designated spot, making it difficult for TNT Innight’s delivery drivers to find the vehicle.

The company worked with IT partners to create a platform that not only tracks and traces packages but also combines that information with data from delivery vehicles’ customized workflow tools, sending relevant information to the ERP system.

“Sometimes, for our driver in the middle of the night, it’s impossible to find the car,” Kagenaar says.

“We can extract from our systems these types of missed deliveries, and we can do an analysis to see where things go wrong.”

New business opportunities

In addition to transforming this kind of data into useful business information that can optimize logistics, the system opens new business opportunities for the company.

For one large customer, TNT Innight developed a new device to be placed in the vehicles of service engineers taking deliveries, allowing delivery drivers to see where the car taking delivery is parked.

Fleet operators are among the first to derive business intelligence from telematics data. (For more on how telematics helps fleet operators reduce fuel consumption and improve driver performance, see ‘Green telematics: The eco-driving opportunity.’)

For example, the San Jose, California Police Department worked with Feeney Wireless to upgrade its legacy reporting system, consisting of an in-vehicle laptop connected to a mobile data terminal integrated with a GPS tracking system.

Police vehicles communicated with dispatchers via Radio Data Link Access Protocol.

With the old system, accessing any of the 100,000 reports archived each year required someone pulling boxes or records by hand from a central warehouse.
The new wireless electronic reporting system includes Feeney’s Cellular Internet Routing Appliance with integrated 3G WWAN, a router, Wi-Fi access point, and GPS.

The new solution allows police officers to file citations in real time, and ties together location-based dispatch, mug shots, and fingerprinting into an electronic records management system.

In addition to the cost and labor savings achieved by not having to file, store, and retrieve paper records, the San Jose Police Department increased dispatch efficiency and better managed its mobile resources.

Because the hardwired connectivity in its solutions for emergency responders allow portable devices to access the network, the solution can increase efficiency and save money in many ways, according to Steve Cary, Feeney Wireless director of marketing.

In addition to the automatic transfer of dispatch, routing, and arrival data, emergency medical technicians can connect to the hospital, access the company’s database of insurance information, and look up info on patient care by communicating with the company’s back-end systems.

“Because they bill insurance providers for their services, being able to acquire that information and act on it quickly lets them bill faster,” Cary says.

Beyond simple productivity gains

The Fleet 8 solution from Telogis uses Web services to allow information to flow to and from enterprise systems, including those from Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP.
More and more Telogis customers are looking beyond simple productivity gains, says Susan Heystee, Telogis’ executive vice president of worldwide sales: “They view this solution as transformational in business.”

Telogis’ cloud-based platform uses open standards and application programming interfaces, allowing the company to automate data transfers, which is crucial for large customers with thousands of vehicles that may ping each one for locations every two minutes. (For more on telematics and cloud computing, see ‘Cloud computing and fleet management’.

“Because we have this platform and services that are consumable, it turns a lot of data into valuable information on which you can base decisions,” Heystee says.

For example, customers can use the applications to analyze whether the current configuration of the fleet is optimal or whether there are too many 50-foot bucket trucks but not enough 20-foot rigs.

Merging that analysis with other enterprise data, customers can determine whether the current mix of assets is driving up their costs—and, more importantly, what to do about it. (For more on the new business opportunities afforded by telematics data, see ‘How to profit from telematics driver data’ and ‘Telematics and security: Protecting the connected car'.)

Susan Kuchinskas is a regular contributor to TU.

For more on fleet data management, join the sector’s other key players at Fleet and Asset Management Europe 2011 on April 4-5 in Amsterdam.

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