Is the Internet of Things (IoT) the Future of Fleet Management?19 Dec 2018, Posted by Industry Information in
Automation and other advances in technology have reshaped nearly every corner of the American industrial landscape. From manufacturing to banking, operations are becoming digitalized, computerized, and automated. Is this also the case for the commercial fuel services and the fleet industry?
The short answer: yes. When discussing technological advances in fleet management, most people conjure images of sleek, self-driving freight trucks. Although this certainly may be part of the future, a perhaps more important (but less attention-grabbing) development is the utilization of IoT (the internet of things) to obtain real-time information and make split-second fleet management decisions.
This is precisely what Thanmai Deekshith and Deekshith Duvalla aim to accomplish with their 2015 start-up IoT Research Labs. In short, the business specializes in fleet management, but not in the traditional sense. IoT Research Labs is an IoT-powered, analytics-driven company that helps logistic businesses make supported decisions based on data collection, report generation, and (of course) analytics. They claim to offer solutions to vehicle live-tracking, reliable fuel and temperature monitoring, and RFID/biometric integration among other things.
This is great news for the commercial truck industry, as ongoing challenges—such as poor vehicle tracking mechanisms, fuel waste, poor or carelessness driving, and a general absence of real-time vehicle information—only expect to become more problematic as the demand for freight and long-distance transport continues to grow.
Deekshith expects his company’s solutions to increase profitability and productivity up to 15% (think that’s great, check out our recycled oil). That’s quite a claim, but (if fulfilled) would truly change the landscape of the business of commercial vehicles—especially for the trucking industry. So how is work?
IoT: the Internet of Things
For those unfamiliar with IoT, it’s perhaps best to think of the Internet of Things as a network. Each device in the network is capable of sharing data with each of the other devices in the network. Although these devices are not physically connected, they are linked by the internet and are capable of receiving and supplying information from the network. You’re starting to see this in every new car as well.
This may seem irreverent to managing a fleet of trucks, but what if we could link the fuel gauge of a vehicle to a GPS tracking device? What if both of those pieces of information were linked to one particular driver or one particular truck, and all of that information was sent back to a local office in real-time?
The product that IoT Research Labs is introducing to the commercial vehicle industry has two parts:
- The IoT-based sensor that collects data, and
- The proprietary software that stores, manages, and analyzes that data
Here’s how it works: the IoT-based sensor gathers the required information from the vehicle, which is then instantaneously sent to the software dashboard in a local office. The end-user (perhaps a fleet manager) can log onto the application and view the reports, which usually include statistics, charts, graphs, and data tables. The interactive dashboard even gives users the power to generate custom reports or documents.
Additionally, the platform can also send user-specified alerts via email or text. For instance, if a delivery arrives exceptionally late, or if a vehicle is stationary for a prolonged period of time, a notification could be sent immediately to an owner or manager. Another key feature of the software created by IoT Research Labs is the ability to document driver tendencies and patterns. As Deekshith explains, “We go a step ahead and also provide extensive analytics on driver behavior, which not only leads to huge savings but also have a significant impact on the safety of the drivers”.
The idea was initially met with reservations; however, the clientele has grown in recent years. The biggest challenge was selling the benefits of the software to the drivers themselves. While fleet managers generally saw the product as a potential way to track, organize, record, and analyze their fleet data, drivers were more reluctant to adopt the sensor technology and install it in their truck.
Another challenge was persuading managers that tend to their fleet lease vehicles instead of buying them outright. Because the sensors are permanently installed, fleet managers are typically hesitant to implement the software with temporary leases.
The Future of IoT Research Labs and IoT in Fleet Managment
Talking about what distinguishes his company from other commercial software, Deeksmith says, “What sets us apart is the fact that our solutions are customer-centric. We go much beyond tracking and providing insightful reports and analytics, which helps businesses make data-driven decisions…Our solutions have proven to have a 10-15 percent impact on the bottom line of a lot of firms”.
Clearly, there are benefits to employing IoT in fleet management, especially in terms of real-time tracking, monitoring driver behavior, and making data-driven decisions. However, convincing managers that the benefits outweigh the costs is somewhat of a challenge.
In the future, IoT Research Labs hope to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning into their platform, which would enable better decision-making and enhanced reporting insights. Additionally, the company intends to combine their software solutions with the insurance sector.