How IoT improves and enhances fleet management

IoT in fleet management provides increased safety, efficiency, and profitability. Find out how it can benefit your business.
Supply Chain
Paige Bates
October 12, 2022
A fleet of trucks in parking lot

Fleets are everywhere, bringing us packages, improving logistics, and streamlining daily life. The people managing those fleets know just how many things need to be considered at any moment: making sure deliveries arrive on time, staying connected with drivers, and keeping a close eye on the weather to keep everyone as safe as possible.

The pressures of fleet management can be intense, especially when dealing with supply chain issues and driver shortages. Internet of Things (IoT) fleet management solutions are as close as we’ll likely come to placing ourselves in the field with a fleet without having to leave the home office. Those tasked with managing rental fleets, can also utilize IoT to achieve operational efficiency.

Why is IoT necessary for fleet management?

While fleet managers can’t control driver behavior, they can take advantage of IoT in fleet management to track what’s happening in the field. Fleet managers deal with growing pressures as they aim to adapt to an ever-changing landscape and develop effective new strategies.

There’s no going back to the old days, where the biggest worry was making sure that all rigs were in working order. Now you have more responsibilities that tie closely to the business side of fleet management: considering the financials, figuring out the intricacies of working with Big Data, etc.

It’s your job to make the most of your resources every day, which can be a challenge — especially if you’re still dealing with dated technology. Moving into the digital era and embracing IoT helps address the growing complexities of fleet management in a way that legacy systems never could.

How does IoT support fleet management?

Replacing pen and paper with IoT technology helps you optimize your use of money, time, and resources. You can’t afford to wait for a driver to bring in their rig before you start checking out the state of your equipment. IoT tells you about everything happening within your fleet, from when drivers check out a rig until they bring them back. You have what’s needed to overcome the traditional challenges of fleet management.

IoT isn’t magic, but it can lead to significant transformations when you leverage it correctly. We’re talking about embedding objects with sensors and other software that connect those devices to the internet, then putting them in vehicles’ motors, like forklifts and trucks, to enable real-time fleet management.

An IoT fleet management system gives you a bird’s-eye view of your fleet, letting you keep tabs of everything that’s happening in the field — and manage any issues that arise swiftly and efficiently.

Let’s say you have cargo that needs to make it to a city by a specific time. Before, you might spend hours on the phone trying to find available drivers who could stop and pick it up. With IoT technology, you can pull trucker data from different systems, telling you where drivers are and their available load capacity.

Fleet managers can quickly narrow their options and find someone to handle the task. IoT-based fleet management technology goes a long way in helping the industry address long-standing operational challenges. They can ensure that loads get where they need to be by:

  • Assessing whether a truck contains a full load or has available space
  • Checking the internal temperature and atmosphere
  • Keeping up with oil and fuel levels
  • Assessing tire pressure
  • Stopping attempts at tampering or intrusion

Having reliable, connected assets helps you get insight into essential factors tied to your business. You know what’s happening before a driver texts you about problems with a truck. That kind of visibility allows you to course-correct immediately and avoid explaining to customers why their products aren’t arriving on time.

How IoT benefits different fleet types

The great power of online shopping brings great responsibility to fleet managers. Once customers complete their checkout, the clock starts ticking for fleet managers.

IoT devices help make this happen, from the trucker tasked with getting the product to a distribution center to the driver who delivers it to the customer. Every fleet benefits from IoT solutions, even those on two wheels. Let’s look at IoT technology’s benefits and how it helps streamline and optimize fleet management.

Optimize engine performance and fuel efficiency for truckers

Idling trucks might not sound like a big deal, but fleet managers know that driving behavior is a significant factor in managing fuel efficiency on the road. While it’s sometimes necessary to leave engines idling for short periods of time, it can become a major expense if it becomes a habit. This makes it critical to monitor these behaviors and look for trends that you can then try to mitigate with training, guidelines, or policy adjustments.

With IoT technology, you can gain insights into driver behavior, including driving too fast or breaking often enough to affect fuel efficiency. Fuel costs are always a concern, even in the best of times. Having an IoT-enabled fleet helps fleet operators collect data around:

  • Vehicle idling time
  • Average driver speed
  • Average gas mileage

This information helps fleet managers figure out what’s happening around fuel efficiency and if they need to upgrade vehicles. You can also optimize drivers’ routes to reduce fuel consumption while getting them to their destinations faster.

Improve operations and customer experience for delivery services

With e-commerce sales remaining high even as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic ebb, there’s a lot of potential for delivery companies to achieve higher revenues. What’s holding them back? A lack of truck capacity, getting the timing right around dropping off packages, and nailing those final-mile delivery processes.

Many companies are looking for ways to leverage IoT to bring forth the kind of future possible only in sci-fi a decade ago. We may see driverless delivery trucks added to fleets to offset issues around recruiting new drivers.

IoT cuts wait times around inspections, letting trucks get back on the road faster. Customers can track where delivery trucks are on their routes and see when they can expect to receive a package. Fleet operators can enable better communications to cut back on accidents and delays.

Increase visibility and efficiency for emergency vehicles

Emergency response vehicles need every advantage possible when responding to accidents or natural disasters. IoT applications can provide advanced warning of danger, giving vehicles a head-start and cutting down on response times. The technology can even distinguish sounds that tell emergency response what kind of situation they’re walking into by recognizing the sounds of human distress.

Aerial IoT solutions help track weather and pick up signs of hazardous materials. Firefighters use IoT-enabled drones alongside high-definition cameras to detect the rapid spread of forest fires. The same kind of technology helps EMTs arrive at the scene of an accident before crowds gather so they can provide swifter care to victims.

Monitor and oversee rentals from anywhere

Keeping track of vehicle rentals can be challenging. Typically, end users are individual consumers; and as long as it’s within the terms of their rental agreement with you, they have the freedom to take your vehicles wherever they want. With IoT technology, you can easily keep an eye on where your vehicles are going and what condition they’re in.

This is exactly what Hologram does for our fleet management customers using IoT-enabled SIM cards with cellular connectivity to 470+ carriers. Once our SIM cards are installed on the customer’s devices and activated, the customers get a seamless flow of continuous vehicle data visible in their Hologram Dashboard. This allows you to keep tabs on where your vehicles are, manage maintenance codes, and monitor (and troubleshoot) other issues.

Build safer, longer-lasting e-scooter fleets

Many so-called smart cities promote using e-scooters to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. They’ve become popular worldwide, and their use in the U.S. market is expected to hit almost 10% by 2026. IoT technology has become standard in the e-scooter industry, helping company owners stay on top of government regulations that change from one city to the next.

Other benefits of using IoT for e-scooter fleet management include:

  • Locating wireless parking hubs to recharge during downtime
  • Sharing e-scooter usage data with cities
  • Ensuring riders use e-scooters as intended to help governments manage their use

3 key benefits of IoT across all industries in fleet management

Regardless of what kind of fleet you manage, an IoT platform helps you enforce safety standards and improve the way you operate. It’s made the idea of constant connectivity a reality for fleet operators. In addition to helping machines communicate with each other, IoT relies on telematics, a combination of telecommunications and informatics, to help fleet managers provide essential data to company owners and other stakeholders.

Big data analytics

Big Data refers to collections of large quantities of complex data that are hard to analyze manually in a spreadsheet. IoT enables the compilation of data around vehicle utilization and transmits it back to cloud-based storage. It can get downloaded and processed by machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) processes that pull insights about concerns like:

  • Improving vehicle performance
  • More precise vehicle tracking
  • Implementing better preventative maintenance policies

Predictive maintenance

You can’t go overboard when it comes to the maintenance of your vehicles. However, you can cut down on expenses by using IoT to collect valuable diagnostics data like the operating temperature of your vehicle, the current supply voltage, tire pressure, and other essentials of vehicle performance. Getting ahead of those things can prevent breakdowns with steep repair costs.

Cost-effective management

With manual processes using spreadsheets or even paper, you run the risk of human error. When these errors arise, your or your team must spend time fixing them — time you won’t get back. Digitized processes that incorporate IoT solutions eliminate much of the opportunities for error, which reduces the time spent fixing avoidable issues.

Not only do you save time and money by not having to track and organize the paperwork manually, but it also becomes easier to communicate with drivers and handle business without meeting in person.

Upgrade your fleet with cellular connectivity

Use IoT in fleet management to bring your operations out of the stone ages. The benefits of implementing automation, connectivity, and real-time analytics through telematics and IoT can put your business on a path to increased profitability. Click here to learn more about how Hologram can help you build a secure IoT platform using global IoT SIM cards.

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