Smartphones revolutionising telematics for small business

Thanks to smartphones, the benefits of Telematics, a new interdisciplinary field encompassing telecommunications, vehicular technologies, road transportation and computer science, is now within the reach of small business owners, explains Walter Scremin.

Thanks to smartphones, the benefits of Telematics, a new interdisciplinary field encompassing telecommunications, vehicular technologies, road transportation and computer science, is now within the reach of small business owners, explains Walter Scremin.

Telematics has previously required substantial up-front investment but smartphones are a game-changer because they significantly slash the costs, meaning smaller businesses can also benefit from features such as vehicle tracking and proof of delivery.

Telematics is an interdisciplinary field encompassing telecommunications, vehicular technologies, road transportation, road safety, electrical engineering and computer science. One of its applications is using GPS technology for fleet management with benefits for efficiency, safety and performance. Yet a survey by ACA Research found that only 35 per cent of road freight transport companies contacted used telematics, and only 15 per cent of passenger vehicle fleets.

What’s remarkable is that fleet tracking usage is still dominated by bigger business – ACA Research found that of the road freight transport companies using telematics, 85 per cent ran 25 vehicles or more. But this is set to change as the technology becomes more accessible by smartphones. Previous systems, using telematics in conjunction with PDA and GPS devices, required a large up-front investment: consider around $2,000 for each PDA device and around $800 for each GPS unit – close to $3,000 for each vehicle before you’ve even started. All this technology can now be accessed via a smartphone starting at $150.

The technology not only benefits any business relying on deliveries, it also benefits service-based businesses with vehicles on the road, such as sales people, plumbers and electricians. Any business running vehicles can tap into telematics’ five key advantages:

1. Customer service: Telematics increase transparency and customers love that because they can get an answer on how far away their item or customer service person is.

2. Efficiency of delivery fleets: Better use of resources, including lower fuel consumption, by planning routes and ensuring the closest driver responds to a job.

3. Improved proof of delivery: Job sign-off is important to protect your business from claims that a delivery wasn’t completed or went missing.

4. Protect vehicles and equipment: Are vehicles being used inappropriately or equipment mistreated? Telematics can reveal such breaches in various ways, such as the use of geo-fencing, which can alert when a vehicle has left a designated area.

5. Manage driver performance and fatigue: Telematics help to assess driver performance and compliance with chain of responsibility legislation. 

Walter Scremin is General Manager of Ontime Group.

 

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