The Connected Effect

Fleet Management 2.0 – Down with Dots…

Posted by Dale Calder

Apr 6, 2011 1:44:00 PM

Dots are good for:Pacman

• Playing Pac-Man
• Printing
• Ending a sentence
• Continuing a thought …

Fleet management? I don’t think so.  

Today the “dot on a map” is the primary way that fleet management applications convey real-time information.   The dot, which represents the vehicle in question, will move across a map showing the location of the vehicle.  I pity the poor human that must watch this symphony of action on a daily basis. 

This isn’t to say that location information isn’t valuable.   My comment is really focused around the fact that we are not leveraging the fleet management system to do what it should be doing.   In the end, a fleet management system should be watching the moving dots - only engaging a valuable human resource when absolutely necessary.

Now that is where the quandary occurs – and frankly – the reason most fleet management systems stop at the dots.   The key to a system doing meaningful work is CONTEXT.  Without context, the human cannot be replaced.  

Consider this. I am a large fleet operator.   I have 4,000 vans spread throughout the world.   I have dedicated drivers assigned to those vans.  Those drivers are provided with a daily work schedule that is unique every day.   The driver must travel to each and every job site, take a prescribed amount of breaks per day, perform their jobs, and maintain their vehicles. How would a simple dot on a map system help me? Not much!  

With a cursory view, I can see that we have three major types of information:

• Vans
• Drivers
• Business Information

To highlight my point, see the Table below, which places each of these three asset types along the top and a value that can be created on the left.   The areas where information is required to create the ascribed value are marked with an X.

Business Info
Reduce Fuel Cost
Reduce Repair Costs
Reduce Idle Time
Lower Insurance Exposure
Improve Driver Safety
Accurately account for personal use of vehicle
Improve Customer Satisfaction through timely site visits

In order to really affect value, we need to know and correlate many things.   Let’s take one of the items - reduce fuel costs.   To reduce fuel costs, we should:

• Drive from point A to point B in the most efficient manner
• Drive smoothly, without rapid acceleration
• Turn off the engine instead of idling

The key to all of these items is compliance.   To ensure compliance we need to have a system that:

• Downloads routing information from the business for each van and driver on a daily basis
• Updates routing information when something changes
• Tracks van location to make sure that it takes the most efficient route
• Correlates work flow with van location
• Notifies proper personnel, when the van is not where it should be
• Tracks driver performance by watching van acceleration, hard breaking, or other indicators of erratic driving
• Tracks idle time and associates it with the driver
• Provides alerts to management when a driver’s operating parameters fall outside of the norm
• Tracks maintenance data to ensure that the vehicle is operating in peek condition (engine is running at proper tuning, tires are properly inflates, etc.)

In order to create value one must have a complete picture.   To gain a complete picture, information must be gathered from multiple sources, logic must be performed on that data automatically and in real-time, and alerts should be provided to management for out of norm conditions.  

In a “dot on the map” system, the system operator provides all of the logic – a solution that simply cannot scale to large fleets.  In more modern systems the dots become superfluous. Management is notified when they are required with the proper information and context to take meaningful action.    A map with a dot on it is not part of that critical information mix.

To see a full fleet management application that ties drivers, vehicles, and business together, visit the Axeda Developer Connection.

Let’s save the dots for Pac-Man…

Topics: M2M, fleet management, Axeda Developer Connection

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