28 Mar 24

What are the most innovative tech for LCV fleets?

The most innovative solutions offered through connectivity can be defined as the guidelines towards the ultimate goal of light commercial vehicle (LCV) fleets. What are they? 

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G): Electrification is a crucial part of a global effort to achieve sustainability, which has to be complemented with advanced innovations to make it efficient and accessible. V2G, enabling electric vehicles to load and unload energy from the energy network, is a game-changer technology pushed by – amongst others – EU regulations. The European Union (EU) wants all new cars and vans registered to be zero-emission by 2035, making V2G a crucial step in electrification.

  • Today, commercial vans can reach up to a range of 500 km through advanced battery technologies, offering a remarkable advantage compared to fossil-fueled vans.
  • Electric vans (e-vans) can connect to the grid through V2G technology, lowering a company's energy costs by supplying energy and providing a revenue stream, remarkably increasing return on investment (ROI).      
  • According to a white paper by Nissan, E.ON Drive and Imperial College London in 2021, fleets using V2G charging can reduce electricity usage in operations by up to £12,000 (€14,015) and lower CO2 emissions by around 60 tonnes annually.
  • V2G technology is crucial for achieving zero-emission goals worldwide, displacing conventional energy sources and promoting renewable energies.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Analytics represented an upper level in connectivity and provided unprecedented advantages for commercial fleets combined with the Internet of Things (IoT) based telematics and AI. Some of them are:

  • By combining historical maintenance data and real-time telemetry from vehicles, AI can predict potential breakdowns before occurring, minimising downtime and costs. 
  • Machine learning (ML) based algorithms provide insights into driving behaviours by learning them and suggesting fuel and energy-efficient suggestions.
  • AI can analyse data to pinpoint risk factors associated with driver behaviour and vehicle conditions, lowering insurance costs and helping implement better risk mitigation strategies.
  • AI dash cameras: Advanced video telematics can track every moment of a journey and alert drivers in case of unsafe behaviour while providing advanced collision detection. AI can view and analyse hundreds of dashcam footage, which is vital in detecting issues and improving operational efficiency.

Blockchain may be the most versatile innovation for van fleets in terms of easing the most complex tasks and boosting safety and security:

  • The distributed digital ledger enabled by blockchain technology is the most transparent and reliable asset and vehicle monitoring tool. The digital logbook holds essential information about vehicle journeys and enables everyone connected to the operation to access the most recent information. 
  • The decentralised, transparent blockchain structure avoids manipulation and is corruption-proof.
  • Blockchain centralises the constantly updated record of each van's operation and maintenance records, easing fleet administration. Transparent record keeping can be beneficial in keeping residual value high.
  • Blockchain enables the continuous tracking of vans and cargo, providing complete shipment transparency.
  • All personal information, certificates, and work records can be stored on the blockchain, providing easy access to information and a highly secure identification process.
  • Van refuelling and charging can be traced over blockchain, providing fraud and improving fuel management.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a game changer for van fleets. Despite coming on the stage slowly, the developing innovations will upgrade every aspect of commercial fleets:

  • AR glasses will enable technicians to use digital schematics and maintenance instructions for diagnostics and repairs, lowering costs and reducing maintenance time. 
  • AR training over virtual overlays will offer drivers an immersive training experience, including simulating weather and driving conditions. 
  • AR navigation displays can reduce distraction and improve safety through route information and traffic data. AR dashboards can provide real-time analytics to fleet managers, enabling vital data monitoring. 
  • Visual overlays in retrofitted vans can provide efficient loading and unloading of cargo, enabling maximum space efficiency. 

Van racking and shelving is a trending innovation, enabling the optimum usage of the interior storage of LCVs and offers many advantages:

  • Vans can be customised according to a specific cargo, easing loading and unloading
  • Easier access to cargo, tools, and equipment improves time efficiency
  • Secure storage solutions reduce the risk of damage during shipments
  • Modular racking systems allow van storage to be customised when needed and provide a proper weight distribution

The image is courtesy of Shutterstock, 1819472738.

5G is one of the technologies enabling performance-boosting innovations for LCV fleets, which include:

  • 5G networks provide ultra-fast data transmission with much lower latency, minimising the delay in transmissions. Applications that require real-time communication, such as remote monitoring and advanced telematics, are enabled by 5G. 
  • 5G enables the transfer of vast amounts of data in real-time, monitoring every fleet aspect.
  • 5G allows hundreds of devices to transmit data with each other in a square kilometre area, significantly increasing the data analytics input and enabling countless applications to emerge.
  • Software updates are critical for a commercial fleet to maximise the efficiency of applied hardware and associated systems. Over-the-air (OTA) technology is boosted by 5G, as the remote updates mean zero downtime for fleets, requiring no downtime.

Staying connected is the way to access and streamline innovations, and the LCV world is all connected. 

‘Driver first’

Whatever tech awaits the fleet industry, all are worthless without proper driver training, says Şaban Tekedereli, Procurement and Category Manager Fleet Europe at Securitas. "When speaking about LCVs, what comes first in mind is the high mileage and intensity of the usage of vehicles. The biggest innovations for LCVs started with standardised airbags, automatic emergency calls (e-call), and, of course, other higher vehicle safety technologies like ABS and Automatic Emergency Braking. All good technologies are worthless without good driver behaviour. From that point, today's telematics have been the most innovative technologies for LCVs, helping to improve drivers' behaviour within high-technology-equipped vehicles."

The main image is courtesy of Shutterstock, 653233165.

Authored by: Mufit Yilmaz Gokmen