Telematics Systems offer the Road Freight Industry an opportunity to make cost saving improvements
For operators of heavy goods vehicles, fuel represents around 30 per cent of total operating costs. With every litre of diesel burnt producing 2.68 kg of CO2, good fuel management is not only the key to profitability – it pays environmental dividends too.
State-of-the-art telematics systems provide the road freight industry with an opportunity to manage their assets more efficiently, and appropriate use can lead to significant improvements in fleet productivity and efficiency, reducing fleet mileage, operational costs and fuel consumption. In the past few years, a number of changes have taken place in telematics technology, which have made systems more practical and affordable, meaning they can now be used by more and more transport operators.
There are many different types of systems that can be defined as ‘Telematics’, however all can generally be defined as remote devices which control and monitor vehicles, drivers and trailers. A telematics system is usually made up of three components - an on board computer, a satellite receiver (GPS, GPRS, GSM) and a communications device - which are normally combined into a single device within the vehicle. The GPS receiver passes information to the communication device, which then relays the information to a central computer situated with the user or IT supplier. Increasingly telematics systems are being offered as web-based applications. This enables transport managers to view their operation remotely from wherever they happen to be. It also negates the need for complicated system installations on the premises.
Vehicle telematics systems are extremely useful for monitoring performance of both vehicles and drivers. Driving behaviour can be monitored such as, harsh braking, gear changing patterns, ‘green band’ driving and fuel economy. The data can then be used by the transport manager to monitor the fleet, benchmark vehicle performance and identify driver development requirements. On-board diagnostic systems able to detect wear and tear and defects and can help to keep vehicles running as efficiently as possible, minimising tailpipe emissions.
Where refrigerated vehicles are being used, onboard telematics systems can also send alerts to the driver and base, when the temperature has exceeded parameters set. Vehicle telematics systems can be introduced to control vehicle fill, so as to increase vehicle utilisation without the vehicle being over the legal weight. The overloading of refuse collection vehicles has been a particular problem for many local authorities and contractors. Many have now introduced on-board weight sensors which identify the amount of legal payload remaining. The same systems can also be used to automatically invoice business customers by the weight of waste collected.
Vehicle and Trailer tracking devices and accompanying software allow operators to pinpoint the location of a vehicle or trailer on a computerised map. By tracking and ‘remembering’ driver routes they can help monitor and reduce ‘off-route’ mileage, vehicle and load thefts. High value items can be ‘geo-fenced’ – alerting the operator to any unauthorised movement. Real time consignment tracking not only improves customer service levels but helps with load planning – minimising empty running, miles run and of course, emissions.
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To find out more about truck fleet efficiency and transport telematics, log on to www.businesslink.gov.uk/freightbestpractice and download the free Telematics Guide or call 0300 123 1250.