When’s the right time to cycle out a vehicle? How do you know if it’s the right truck for the job? How do you even know how much it’s costing you? These are among the questions central to fleet management today.
Before the availability of telematics, the answers to these questions were either made at a “gut” level, that is through guesswork, or, at best by simply cycling the vehicle at a set number of miles or years.
Today, fleet managers and other company stakeholders can make important decisions about lifecycle management with actionable insights that best fit the needs of the operation.
The Challenge of an Aging Fleet
Having an aging fleet can be a significant challenge for a fleet operation.
Non-productive downtime can cost the fleet and its company in its ability to meet customer demands and obligations.
Maintenance becomes more expensive—and frequent—the longer the fleet is in service. It’s estimated that, on average, when a truck enters its third year, the amount of time required to maintain the vehicle doubles—while the fleet’s maintenance resources remain static1. And safety may become a concern as an asset becomes older and more difficult to maintain.
Telematics and other fleet management solutions have taken the guesswork out of lifecycle decisions, replacing them with science. Without the data that is captured by these solutions to guide decision making, fleet managers, drivers, and company stakeholders may be affected by decisions that have no basis in fact.
For heavy-duty fleets, telematics offers a number of benefits to help make informed, cost-effective lifecycle decisions that help maximize productivity and the bottom line.
Monitoring Vehicle Health
No matter where a truck is in its lifecycle, it will need to be properly and scrupulously maintained. With telematics, fleet managers can closely monitor vehicle health, both for preventive maintenance and for any emergent issues that may be occurring.
Whether it is a routine or emergent repair, telematics is crucial in keeping trucks productive, safe, and on the road.
For example, with AT&T Fleet Management, fleet managers can identify core problem areas and reduce maintenance costs by focusing on predictive engine health and preventive maintenance.
Over the years, telematics has become crucial in giving fleet managers insights into areas of the operation that couldn’t be measured without the help of sophisticated data-gathering technology.
One of the newest insights is utilization. For example, AT&T Fleet Management provides productivity reports that help visualize fleet and driver activities, displaying metrics that assess the least-driven, most-driven, and even highest-idling assets.
With utilization reporting, fleet managers can better manage truck lifecycles, better spec the right vehicles for the job, and even rightsize the fleet with vehicles that meet the criteria of the operation. And while lifecycle management is often focused on the useful life of the vehicle, with utilization reporting, fleet managers can, if necessary, cycle trucks earlier and replace them with assets that meet operational and driver needs.
At the core of most telematics solutions is GPS routing capabilities. With route optimization capabilities available with the AT&T Fleet Management solution, fleets have a tool that can decrease CO2 emissions, help save fuel consumption and costs, along with increasing organizational efficiency.
But as trucking increasingly turns to electrification either with auxiliary power units (APU) or with electric powertrains, telematics will be there to help monitor and optimize these new electrified technologies—providing insights into battery charge levels, for example, so drivers can remain efficient without having range anxiety.
Ultimately, a telematics solution gives fleets a clear picture, down to the penny, of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a truck asset.
Having insights into maintenance, utilization, and dozens of other data points can help determine the spec for the fleet’s next truck—aiding in choosing the features that will not only benefit the fleet directly through productivity, but keep maintenance costs low, drivers safe, and resale costs high2.
For example, AT&T Fleet Management captures and sends data from a multitude of sources—the engine, drivetrain, instrument cluster, and other subsystems. This rich, veritable treasure trove of near-real-time data is translated into actionable reports, alerts, and recommendations to the fleet manager and company decision-makers.
Taken together, telematics offers fleet managers a powerful array of tools and features that are designed to meet the needs of a modern trucking operation. It is no longer possible to think of fleet management as an art. Today, it is a science that drives right to the bottom line.