Trucking has proven to be one of the most critically important industries, as nearly everything we use on a daily basis has likely been on a truck at some point in time. With the recent social and economic issues stemming from COVID-19 across the globe, the importance of truckers and the trucking industry overall is at an all-time high.
How data analytics can help
As we begin to navigate what “business as usual” looks like within this new norm as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an opportunity for fleets to learn how to better leverage data. Fleets should look for new ways to utilize vehicle and driver data that is available to them to help make targeted changes, not just from a management level, but on the front lines as well.
Prior to recent telematics technology, fleet managers had limited visibility into what their trucks were doing on a daily basis. Now, with the help of telematics data and machine learning, there are countless ways that fleets can optimize their operations: from improving fuel economy and driver habits, understanding asset utilization, streamlining maintenance and much more.
Machine learning, an important form of artificial intelligence is increasingly being leveraged to provide unique insights into fleet behavior. With machine learning, it becomes easier to predict when a vehicle may potentially break down due to engine failure, battery failure, or other causes. This in turn will save fleets money from having to deal with unexpected repair and replacement costs.
Trucking companies and carriers can use machine learning along with other telematics solutions to put a magnifying lens on territory coverage, order locations, vehicle uptime, driving habits and much more to improve productivity and become more efficient.
With the advanced telematics features and integrations available today, it is easier than ever to service customers in a way that adds more value and distinction between competitors. How can you maximize your fleet? Can you cover more ground with fewer vehicles? How quickly can you respond to new orders? Utilizing data to effectively and efficiently answer these types of important questions can help differentiate your fleet from the competition.
Telematics solutions are powerful enough to deliver information about a vehicle in near real-time. This unlocks new capabilities for fleets by allowing managers and dispatchers to promptly react to new developments about important metrics such as shipments. New orders can be assigned quickly to the nearest vehicle, drivers can be routed around sudden traffic obstructions and even be notified if delivery destinations change route.
Near real-time precision extends to vehicle maintenance as well. If a vehicle develops issues on the road, faults can be quickly identified and assessed by a telematics device identified by telematics data and assessed so that fleet managers know what the issue is and how severe the given problem may or may not be. This level of knowledge allows urgent problems to be addressed quickly while flagging other minor issues that can be handled during regular maintenance.
Staying flexible in changing times
Data analytics can also help fleets stay informed about their industry amid changing or uncertain times. By using aggregate, anonymized data, it becomes possible to benchmark your fleet performance against fleets of similar size, make and vocation. This becomes a valuable tool when assessing potential areas of improvement or learning about new trends. Right now, this type of aggregate data is being used to track how different sectors are being impacted by COVID-19 and which areas are starting to return to normal.
Using Geotab’s Commercial Transportation Recovery dashboard, we are able to get a live look at the activities happening within different industries. North American vehicle data tells us that the number of light-duty fill ups at gas stations have seen a strong upward swing since the middle of March. Non-freight transport activity is also down to roughly 50% of what levels were a year ago, but this activity jumps up to around 60% of normal every few days. Fleets can use this type of insight to better prepare and schedule their drivers. Consumer industry vehicles, such as those used in landscaping, are operating at about 80% of normal activity on weekdays but drop to closer to 50% of what is considered normal on weekends.
As businesses begin to facilitate recovery efforts and adapt to a new and changing landscape, telematics data will help enable data-driven decisions and provide insight into how to optimize fleets as priorities and business needs shift.
The future of the industry
Consumer preferences are one of the biggest factors in every business' operation. As these expectations continue to change, the industry will have to as well. The future of the trucking industry is very promising.
With data analytics, companies can focus on their business strategy while overseeing compliance, safety and efficiency. With connected vehicle technology at our fingertips, the future possibilities of the trucking industry are endless.