Editor's choice
28 sep 21

IoT - the “Internet of benefits” for fleet managers and drivers

The IoT (Internet of Things) is at the forefront of connectivity and fleet digitisation. According to the CBI, at the end of 2019, there were 7.6 billion active IoT devices in the world, including cars. Counterpoint Research estimates that 69 million connected cars will be added to Europe’s roads between 2020 and 2025.

But what are the real benefits of IoT for fleet managers (FMs) and drivers?

Enabling actionable insights

Firstly, IoT enables actionable insights to be derived from data that’s already in the fleet management system (if a digital fleet management system exists within the business). The data from connected devices, especially real-time data, can augment this by adding context. This could be in connection with routing: where vehicles are; safety: how they’re being driven; environment: road and weather conditions.

For field service fleets that carry tools and equipment in vans, the IoT allows them to be microchipped and connected so they don’t get lost or misplaced.

IoT, data, connectivity and telematics strengthen reporting capability for fleet managers so they can analyse data to identify trends and areas for concern. This could be how driver behaviour affects fuel efficiency, which vehicles perform well, how routing and time of day affect delivery success and so on.

Condition-based monitoring

IoT enables remote engine diagnostics and condition-based monitoring. Sensors in the engine and tyres can relay information about condition, health and function to fleet managers and alert them to potential mechanical issues. This helps extend vehicle life, reduce downtime, improve safety and minimise costly repairs.

Increased efficiency

As fuel is one of the largest expenses for fleets, any increase in fuel efficiency, however small, can have a significant impact on overall cost efficiency. IoT can integrate telematics data into the fleet management system and give a near real-time view into fuel consumption and expenditure.

Total load visibility

For fleets that carry goods, asset tracking is not new but IoT strengthens it by turning trucks into ‘smart trucks’, equipped with sensors and devices that collect data and generate insights for FMs. Cargo cameras, for example, can help dispatchers link a truck to an optimal load, based on available space. This also helps prevent trucks, trailers and vans from being overloaded by weight.

The benefits of IoT for drivers

Rather than perceiving connectivity and telematics technology, such as in-cab cameras, as “the spy in the cab”, many fleet drivers appreciate such technology as an added safety feature. It can increase the feeling of security, knowing they are not alone, that someone back at base knows where they are and will be alerted if anything should happen.

Similarly, IoT can help reduce stress. Firstly, via reassurance that the vehicle is safe and well maintained, which can take away the worry of having to deal with a breakdown or tyre failure. Secondly, by optimum routing and being routed around traffic congestion for a smoother, faster and trouble-free journey. Thirdly, through improved driving style, which reduces anxiety and negative stressors. IoT and connectivity can also help increase efficiency for drivers by cutting down paperwork. Much of what fleet drivers had to do previously, in terms of logging journey details, odometer and other readings, is now automated.

The advent of 5G, AI and machine learning will only serve to enhance the IoT’s ability to connect and leverage valuable data for FMs and make driving and less stressful business.

Image depicting the Internet of Things (IoT), courtesy of Shutterstock.

Authored by: Alison Pittaway