23 Sep 21

Geotab insights - aligning fleet data with business objectives

What every fleet manager should know about the benefits of connected fleet data

Geotab is one of the primary players in connected fleet technology. As a company, it processes billions of data points from fleet vehicles every single day. Geotab has been pioneering fleet connectivity and web-based analytics for over two decades. We’re pleased to have Geotab as a Diamond Partner of the Connected Fleets Conference on September 30th and we caught up with Christoph Ludewig, VP OEM EU, Geotab, to get some insights into making data work for fleet management.

Q: How does connected technology contribute to the ‘Triple S mission’ today’s fleet managers are confronted with: savings, sustainability and safety?

“When exploring connected technology, I prefer to refer to the ‘Triple D’: Digitisation, Data and Drive. In the digitised world in which we live, data plays an essential role in driving business decisions - and for fleets, data proves to be critical.

Data-driven insights transform the fleet into a smart operation, providing essential insights into the performance of the fleet, driver behaviour, vehicles and much more. The ‘Triple D’ approach draws the same outcomes as the ‘Triple S’, that’s to say connected telematics technology helps improve driver safety. It can also boost and support sustainability and reduce operating costs. Connected vehicle technology provides fleet managers with detailed insights into vehicle health and performance. With these enhanced insights, fleet managers can easily identify vehicle parts and components that are prone to failure, allowing them to make predictive maintenance decisions that reduce costs, waste and downtime.

It can also help remind drivers and managers when scheduled maintenance is required. It highlights drivers who are demonstrating safe or risky driving habits, and how each individual vehicle is performing against expectations."

Q: Electric mobility doesn’t seem practical or viable without connectivity. What’s Geotab’s vision and approach regarding connectivity and electric mobility?

"Connectivity is vital to understanding fleet performance, whether that’s an Electric Vehicle (EV) or Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) fleet. Understanding which vehicles are suitable for electrification is the start of the journey towards an EV future. This is especially important with the EU plans to ban the sale of ICE vehicles entirely by 2035.

Geotab’s Electric Vehicle Suitability Assessment (EVSA) provides fleet managers with a EV-ICE cost comparison, taking into account range factors, to determine which EV make and model best suits their needs in terms of range capability and cost.

While many fleets will continue to operate ICE vehicles, the EVSA will allow them to determine which are suitable for the electric switch over. We believe that mixed fleets will be the norm for many companies whilst they make the transition and a greater range of electric alternatives enter the market. Connected vehicles, whether EV or ICE, can help identify ways in which fleets can be more sustainable with their current vehicles while they think through their electrification strategy. Vehicle telematics can monitor for issues such as idling, fuel efficiency, or driving habits, for instance, while maintaining the operational efficiency of the fleet.

Once electric vehicles have been incorporated into a fleet, data-driven insights allow fleet managers to optimise routes to ensure that vehicles can cover the most miles without needing to charge. If that’s not possible, then the optimised route will identify the available charging stations en route.

Geotab’s EV charging report also establishes best practices for charging and driving habits to maintain a vehicle’s battery health and improve range. It provides fleets with a complete charging history, showing when and where EV vehicles are charged, the length of time they were charging, and how much charge they received. It can even be used to show how much time drivers spend charging their vehicles at home, so they can be reimbursed for their costs."

Q: How will connected technology, with the support of AI and ML, bring added value to the fleet manager's job and to the efficiency of fleet management?

"In my view,  AI and ML innovation will gradually eliminate human error, helping to streamline and optimise fleet operations. Up to now, route planning has been a manual task. But today’s technology factors in insight-driven decisions based on real-time data like traffic volumes, road conditions, weather and environmental hazards. With this information, route planning is now automatic, enhancing fleet productivity and customer satisfaction.

AI and ML innovations can also offer fleet managers enhanced insights into the operating conditions of their vehicles. Yet again, it comes back to our ‘Triple D’ approach as it’s all about analytics and the Big Data Lake. The more data we have, the more pattern matching and greater knowledge we can apply. We can also apply this data to predictive maintenance patterns. This is especially useful for our OEMs. Once our customers can combine the insights from their own fleet operations (with detailed vehicle data from the embedded TCU), plus our extensive data analytics capabilities, then fleets gain a valuable source of insight into their performance - both now and in the future."

Q: What’s Geotab’s advice to fleet customers who encounter difficulties selling connected tech internally, because of doubts about ROI and questions about data privacy?

"Fleet management has always worked without digitisation. But automation is becoming an increasingly important part of a fleet manager’s armoury. For anyone who is sceptical about the ROI of fleet management, then show them the proof. Gnewt (Green New Transport), part of Menzie Distribution in the UK, has a fully electric commercial vehicle fleet. Gnwet has used connected vehicle data to help transform its charging operation.

There were two key factors that resulted in Gnwet’s success. First, an API that could provide cross-fleet visibility into the state of charge and charging status. By integrating the Geotab platform into its on-site charging infrastructure, Gnewt immediately had access to the most comprehensive vehicle and charging data possible.

Second, was its ability to roll the platform out across the entire fleet. Like many electric fleets, Gnwet operated a mixed vehicle fleet.  With new operational advancements, Gnewt managed to increase the number of vehicles it is able to charge over the course of one working day from 30 to up to 80. In this case, Gnwet saw a return on investment because its operations were enhanced so it could overcome the challenges and grow its business for continued and long-lasting business success.

Ultimately, customers who deploy telematics and use its rich data to monitor fleet assets and manage driver behaviour experience the resulting benefits, including improved operational efficiency and cost savings."

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Image of Christoph Ludwig, VP OEM EU, Geotab, courtesy of Geotab.

Authored by: Alison Pittaway