Almost every fleet management tool available today is part of the Internet of Things (IoT), the rapidly growing network of devices that collect and share data for analysis. From telematics boxes to video cameras, door sensors, tire pressure and trailer temperature monitoring systems, cargo asset utilization solutions and beyond, these devices are equipping fleets with insights that can help reduce operating expenses, improve fleet utilization, lower liability and insurance costs, and keep drivers safe.
Over the last few years, the value of IoT data has increased exponentially with the addition of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), contextual analysis that combines data from multiple sources, and asset monitoring devices that need no external power. Many fleet managers are now benefiting from these capabilities. For example:
- Data from the vehicle engine bus can now predict when maintenance might be required, enabling proactive intervention that helps avoid unplanned downtime.
- ADAS cameras have begun to utilize AI on the edge to alert drivers to imminent accident risks associated with factors such as an impending forward collisions, lane changes, speeding and tailgating.
- Contextual analysis utilizing AI, machine learning and machine vision makes it possible for video telematics to distinguish between unsafe driving behavior and actions taken in response to anomalies like road, weather and traffic conditions such as potholes, busy on-ramps and steep mountain roads, helping reduce false alerts and unnecessary driver coaching sessions.
- Newer battery-operated and solar-powered solutions enable asset tracking of everything from construction equipment and tools to pallets and shipping containers.
- Combining AI and cameras allows fleet managers to estimate the remaining cargo capacity in a truck trailer with a much higher degree of accuracy than before, helping improve utilization rates to maximize productivity and profit.
Despite these advances, connecting the dots between disparate data streams remains a challenge. With IoT sensors expected to generate over 79 zettabyes of data by 2025 – enough to fill the Pacific Ocean – addressing this challenge is becoming increasingly critical to help fleet operators turn the flood of data provided by today’s connected infrastructure into actionable information.
Consider a last-mile delivery or landscaping fleet. Each vehicle may be equipped with telematics, dashcams and multiple external cameras providing the extra protection of a nearly 360-degree view in the event of a traffic or theft incident. Having access to both vehicle and video telematics data – including both video and audio – in a single interface saves time and adds clarity by eliminating the need to piece together information from multiple sources.
Another example is refrigerated trailers. In many cases, these units are outfitted with a mini-IoT ecosystem incorporating solar-powered tracking devices to provide location information, door sensors that document whenever a door opens or closes, temperature monitoring devices with remote adjustment abilities, tire pressure monitoring and automatic tire inflation systems enabling real-time notification and response to tire problems, cargo sensing systems to help optimize trailer capacity, tracking devices on cargo pallets, and external cameras that increase driver visibility while in the cab as well as providing visual evidence of any given event.
Add tractors equipped with telematics as well as road- and driver-facing cameras, and the amount of data is even more overwhelming. Bringing all of this information into a central management console provides real-time visibility across the entire ecosystem in a single view for faster, smarter decision-making.
Benefits for Resellers and TSPs
While this end-to-end supply chain visibility delivers clear benefits for fleet operators, it also provides strong competitive advantages and business opportunities for resellers and TSPs. Full-stack platforms that offer all hardware and software from a single supplier streamline the process of building a product portfolio and associated reporting tools.
Sensata INSIGHTS, for example, has assembled a portfolio of best-in-class products including sensing solutions, vehicle and video telematics, asset management and control, cargo and trailer management, warehouse and logistics, and worksite management.
Resellers can select any combination of products depending on their vertical market focus and provide customers with a cloud platform that reports all the data associated with those products in a single portal. TSPs can utilize the platform’s APIs to easily embed data from Sensata INSIGHTS hardware in their own applications, accelerating speed to market by reducing development time.
IoT-based fleet management will continue to evolve, including bringing telematics capabilities to electric and eventually autonomous vehicles. Meanwhile, however, the functionality and insights available today are light-years ahead of where they were just a few years ago. Providing easier access to those insights through consolidated reporting will help fleet managers harness that data quickly and efficiently, solving a problem of data overload that has left many operators wondering why they aren’t reaping the full benefits of their technology investments.
Michael Bloom is Head of Marketing for Sensata INSIGHTS, a global business unit of Sensata Technologies that provides end-to-end IoT solutions spanning the entire supply chain including logistics, telematics, and worksite monitoring and management.