Telematics data drives safety, efficiency and productivity gains across IoT-enabled fleets - here’s how

Max Eversfield Profile picture for user Max Eversfield January 26, 2023
Connected fleet data in the enterprise is improving - Max Eversfield of Samsara pinpoints how business leaders are using those insights to make sound decisions about their future.

Autonomous Electric cars driving on computer screen with technology assistant tracking information, showing details. fleet management concept © Audio und werbung - Shutterstock
(© Audio und werbung - Shutterstock)

The number of connected fleet management systems deployed in lorries, trucks and vans across Europe is set to almost double in the next couple of years as more and more vehicle operators invest in connected telematics systems.

That's according to new research from Internet of Things (IoT) analyst Berg Insight, which predicts that the number of fleet-based systems in Europe is expected to reach 25 million by 2026 — up from 13.2 million at the end of 2021.

By any measure, this rapid take-up of connected enterprise systems geared specifically for vehicle fleets shows just how quickly the sector is embracing digital transformation. It also adds further weight to Samsara's own findings published in last year’s State of Connected Operations report which noted that the industry is at a tipping point in the digital transformation of physical operations as they seek to become better, smarter and more efficient operations.

Data helps fuel growth in IoT telematics

Key to this surge in demand for connected systems is data, and the insights it gives business leaders to make sound decisions about their future.

A recent deep dive of data from more than 2,500 of Samsara’s fleet customers from around the globe revealed some interesting stats that, if nothing else, help to support the notion that the freight, logistics and operations industry is one of the biggest IoT enterprises on the planet.

For instance, the data revealed that Samsara's customers:

  • Drove a combined distance of 35 billion miles — the equivalent of making nearly four roundtrips to Pluto.
  • Processed 451 million hours of dashcam footage, which would take 51,484 years to watch from start to finish.
  • Digitized 26 million documents, the equivalent of saving some 3,100 trees.
  • Received 36 billion API calls to Samsara's Connected Operations Cloud — just over 1,140 API calls every second of the year.

Crucially, the analysts mining this data uncovered some real gems that show how business leaders are using this information to make informed decisions around safety, efficiency and increased productivity. For instance, analysts found that the business decisions made had: 

  • Lowered the amount of time vehicles spent idling by 149 million hours — an estimated fuel cost saving of $596M.
  • Increased vehicle utilization to help customers gain 304 million trip hours, allowing them to increase available hours from their fleets without needing to spend more on new vehicles.
  • Reduced crashes by 9% per 1,000 miles driven. Given that the average cost of a commercial trucking injury crash is $148,270, this 9% reduction indicates substantial cost savings for customers.

The data shows that even seemingly small changes in behavior can have a big impact on fuel consumption, road safety and vehicle usage that can lead to significant cost savings. What's also clear is that such actionable insights would be impossible to quantify without data-gathering connected telematics and AI-augmented computing.

Firms such as American Cementing — which operates a fleet of more than 400 vehicles serving the oil and gas industry in the US — managed to bin 13,000 pieces of paper as part of its company-wide digital transformation. From safety checks and fuel receipts to general admin and payroll, the business used to run on manually intensive paper systems.

Fraikin Ltd — one of the UK’s largest providers of commercial vehicle contract hire, fleet management and rental solutions — invested in IoT for its fleet. From the moment the technology was installed it has been collecting data — miles driven, fuel consumption, idling ratios, brake and tyre wear — and building up a picture of its fleet performance across more than 200 customers.

As the company explained:  

It’s about eliminating the guesswork and having complete confidence in the facts.

And that's the key. Knowing that Samsara's customers drove a combined distance of 35 billion miles — the equivalent of making nearly four roundtrips to Pluto — is interesting. But it doesn't help business leaders run safer, more sustainable and more efficient operations.

Data delivers in the drive to better operations 

It's only when individual operations start collecting their own data — creating a digital twin of their operation — that they can start to see their business in a new light. And that's important when businesses are being squeezed in terms of higher costs for fuel, insurance, excess spending on accidents, wages and maintenance.

For those for whom digital transformation is a step into the unknown, the advice is to focus on one area — be it driver safety, fuel efficiency, asset tracking or maintenance monitoring, for example — and invest the time to get it right.

According to Tony Draper, Head of Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) at M Group Services, Plant & Fleet Solutions — one of the UK’s largest essential infrastructure services providers — it’s an approach that’s paid dividends. The business is an early adopter of data-rich connected technology solutions within the fleet sector and has made great advances, especially in areas such as safety. Draper said: 

It doesn't matter what industry you work in, we're all data-driven businesses now.

The best advice is to take a look at your business, select an area you’d like to see change, and then see how the land lies once some of the data starts to appear. Because the more data you gather, the better your decision-making. It's a snowball effect.

For businesses looking to improve safety, for example, experience shows that those firms that work hand in hand with drivers get the best return on investment. After all, setting up smart enterprise-scale systems in industries where technology has historically played a limited role needs time to bed in. And that includes making sure that people are comfortable using the technology.

But the evidence from those sectors that have already undergone significant digital investment shows that once firms have a successful implementation under their belt, the task of addressing other business issues and rolling out transformation plans becomes easier and less daunting.

And that's important to know in light of the predicted surge in demand for connected fleet management systems.

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