What is the Role of IoT in Fleet Management?

fleet management

In this article, we will cover 

  • Fleet management entails smooth functioning of the entire fleet while enhancing efficiency and productivity. 
  • GPS, OBD, and RFID can be used to integrate IoT in fleets. 
  • Benefits of IoT in fleet management include regulating fuel costs, better visibility across the fleet, improved maintenance schedules, guaranteeing driver safety, letting managers make smarter decisions, and ensuring more savings.  

Internet of Things (IoT) is being used in major industries starting from automotive, transportation, and logistics, to healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and energy. When it comes to tracking fuel efficiency and maintenance costs, it is easily done for a personal vehicle. However, fleet managers have to supervise several vehicles, so tracking vital metrics manually is next to impossible. This is where IoT plays an integral role. 

What is Fleet Management? 

Managing commercial automobiles, fleets, and trucks to ensure optimal usage, energy consumption, and maintenance, is known as fleet management. It could also involve the controlling and monitoring of assets, starting from huge cranes and bulldozers, to smaller equipment like trailers, generators, or dedicated tools, in certain industries. To put it in a nutshell, the management of the fleet seeks to promote efficiency, productivity, and safety for the vehicles and drivers of a business. There are numerous parameters to be factored in like vehicle tracking, fuel usage reporting, driver behavior monitoring, and vehicle maintenance management. IoT can totally transform the way fleets can be managed – it helps save time and effort while helping to streamline operations as well.  

How can IoT be integrated into fleets? 

Three specific technologies are used for implementing IoT in fleet management – take a look: 

GPS  

Global Positioning Systems can be used to access vital data and statistics about vehicles in real-time. It also helps in tracking and managing assets in case of emergencies. 

OBD 

On-Board Diagnostics is a computer-based device installed inside a vehicle that taps into its internal electronics to give a clear insight into everything happening under the hood. It provides data about battery voltage, fuel levels, emissions, coolant temperature, engine status, and other vehicle diagnostics data. 

RFID 

Radio Frequency Identification System assists machines and computers to search for objects, record metadata, and control individual targets with the help of radio waves. It can be used to detect, track, and keep tabs on assets in real-time.  

Sophisticated sensors enable critical data collection from vehicles, even if they are in remote locations, such as speed, engine health, fuel economy, present location, tire pressure, and much more. This data is transmitted through a local gateway periodically while the vehicle is still in motion, and uploaded securely to a cloud-based centralized database. Alerts are sent to fleet managers if there are irregularities, while reports are generated for future use. 

How does IoT help in fleet management? 

Did you know the global IoT fleet market is expected to reach around USD 18,858 million by 2025? Integrating IoT in fleets helps to enhance visibility and manageability across the entire operation. These IoT-enabled fleets are beneficial for fleet managers, drivers, passengers, insurance companies, and other stakeholders too.  

Managing fuel costs 

Fuel prices continue to be a major cause for concern in the transportation industry. Fleet managers are constantly looking for methods to reduce fuel wastage and maximize efficiency. IoT helps to collect fuel-related data like usage, refill levels, tank capacity, and so on, via embedded sensors. It can be used to keep tabs on aspects such as braking, acceleration, time wastage, and troubling driving behavior that affect fuel usage. Data from OBD, G-sensors (for detecting and sensing sudden acceleration and deceleration), and dashcams offer a real-time view of vehicle and driver performance. A detailed analysis of these data streams can be used to reduce fuel wastage and reduce costs. The data is also helpful to train and advise drivers so they can correct their behavior. 

Enhanced visibility across the fleet 

Fleet managers get access to insightful data such as over-speeding, following traffic laws, idle time, driver behavior, vehicle performance, and so on. Implementation of IoT provides a central dashboard for fleet managers to get a unified view of all critical aspects of their operations. 

Predictive analytics and preventive maintenance schedules 

Apart from generating important data regarding the day-to-day operations of the fleet, IoT-enabled solutions can help to predict and prevent future downtime of fleets thanks to timely maintenance schedules. Downtime will only lead to reduced asset utilization, which has a direct impact on the fleet’s top-line. Fleet managers receive service alerts about vehicles regarding battery status, engine health, coolant temperature, reminders about inspection, and so on before they lead to critical breakdowns. Using predictive analytics, preventive maintenance measures can be implemented, so the vehicle functions smoothly for a longer time. It helps to avoid unexpected breakdowns on the road. 

Ensuring driver safety 

With accidents increasing exponentially with each passing year, it is imperative to take proper measures to reduce the numbers. IoT lets fleet managers access the real-time GPS location of the fleet, and helps to monitor driver behavior, as mentioned above. With the aid of telematics, problematic patterns such as harsh acceleration, braking, sharp turns, etc. can be flagged immediately. Drivers should be trained accordingly to ensure they obey traffic rules and adhere to road safety regulations. In case there is an accident, an alert is sent right away, so help can be dispatched without further delay.  

Making data-driven decisions 

When fleet managers operate hundreds of vehicles in a fleet and handle multiple fleets simultaneously, it means there is a humongous amount of data being generated as well, like vehicle utilization, speed tracking, miles logged, fuel consumption. Before the integration of IoT, fleet managers had to collect such data manually, and with considerable lags in compiling it, resulting actions were delayed. But with the advent of IoT, drivers, assets, and back-office are connected in real-time, so data is processed and collated in a timely manner and analyzed promptly. It allows fleet managers to make smart and informed decisions.  

More savings 

Since predictive maintenance can help detect issues before they become major problems, managers can schedule inspections accordingly. Components that aren’t functioning properly can be fixed or replaced prior to becoming an exorbitant hurdle. Improved routine efficiency and cargo utilization management can increase savings manifolds. Moreover, IoT helps to optimize routes, so drivers can reach destinations and complete tasks quicker than ever. It helps to reduce fuel costs and idle time too.  Such applications also decrease the risk of accidents and theft, which leads to lower costs associated with vehicle downtime and repairs. When fewer accidents occur, it means lesser claims for insurance companies. Moreover, insurers can take advantage of telematics data to create more thorough summaries for their underwriters. 

To sum up, the role of IoT in fleet management is to keep tabs on driver performance management, optimize routes, monitor fuel consumption and idle time, provide data through sensors, detect anomalies, let fleet managers make informed decisions based on actionable analytics, and much more.  IoT also enables flexibility, which is all the more important, now that the Covid-19 pandemic has completely disrupted operations, and left businesses to cope with “the new normal”. 

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