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Carrier's Perspective - A Deeper Dive into the Power of Telematics

For some time now, the conversation of electronic logs and telematics devices has been taking place. Since December 2019 carriers that have commercial vehicles operating in the United States of America have been operating on electronic logbooks, which in some cases, operate on a telematics device installed into the power unit. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the US has provided a list of registered ELD’s that meet the requirements within the United States of America.

From June 2021, Federal Carriers operating in Canada will also be required to ensure their power units operate with an electronic logbook (when certain conditions are met).

The last couple of years has been rich with conversations in our Industry around ELD's; from self-certification vs third party certified and timelines, to implementation and training. There is one conversation though that is sometimes missed, but is something I encourage all Carriers to consider: the power of Telematics.

The use of telematics is not new - commonly utilized in the personal auto insurance industry to monitor driver behaviour - the technology behind it brings together telecommunications, vehicular technology, electrical engineering and computer science to provide something; that when utilized by a Commercial Carrier provides powerful data that can positively impact all areas of their business.

With ELD systems operating on a telematics device; usage goes beyond only monitoring your driver's hours of service; it also provides opportunities to tap into and learn how the MPG of a power unit differs by the driver, how often each power unit is left idling, GPS tracking, maintenance interval tracking, as well as opportunities to coach drivers with real-time information and not the safety personnel’s opinion, just to name a couple.

As telematics become more and more popular, I believe the opportunities for our industry to improve are endless. As telematic providers work closely with the industry, the data gathered becomes even more readily available and easier to interpret. When this data can be interpreted easier, change management and procedure implementation become smoother, culture improvements occur quicker, and overall safety and operation buy-in improves.

As we continue to transition into a cleaner future, I believe we will see an increase in initiatives to improve our carbon footprint. Currently, one of the most popular ways of doing this was introduced a handful of years ago, known as DEF (diesel exhaust fluid); a system designed to clean diesel exhaust and help decrease emissions in the atmosphere. In other words, this is a responsive approach to clean after the diesel commercial vehicle is running.

Telematics offers carriers the opportunity to help improve their carbon footprint in a proactive and profitable manner. For example; the use of telematics in a commercial vehicle provides the opportunity to track which drivers idle longer than others. While the installation and use of automatic engine shutoffs is recommended; if you have not yet installed these, monitoring idle time is a sure way to save costs. Idling is not only harmful to our environment, but it is extremely costly, and it is a cost that cannot be recovered.

When a telematics device is utilized in a commercial vehicle, reports can be created to notify a carrier when a driver exceeds the posted speed limit by whichever amount desired. This is extremely useful, as speed and space management is a major cause for at fault collisions. In addition to being proactive to decrease speed events and collisions, when a commercial vehicle is not exceeding the speed limit, it is likely that the driver is operating without having their foot on the floor. This too saves on fuel costs, as well as other safety-related items.

Have you ever questioned “what is taking so long” on a certain delivery? Well, with the use of GPS through the telematics device, you can track exactly where your commercial vehicles are at all times. The same applies if a power unit is ever stolen, simply log into your telematics hosting website, and within seconds, you will be able to see where the power unit currently is. These are two powerful uses to consider.

As you continue your research into which trusted telematics provider you will utilize, I encourage you to think proactively from all standpoints involving your commercial vehicle. Regardless if it is through the eye of mechanical repairs’, driver performance, profitability, I encourage you to take some time and think about which tasks are you doing now, pen to paper, that could be completed with the power of telematics and automation?

If you and your team would like to brainstorm further on how you can harness the power of telematics, I encourage you to contact us without delay!


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