While many fleet managers can face a belly of pain in handling their operations, the market now seems ready to take the IoT medicine that can take much of that pain away. Antony Savvas looks at a changing prognosis.
Just think of the pain, just a little, schedules going out of the window and drivers not turning up as planned, excessive wear and tear on vehicles, vehicles going missing or being actually stolen, unexpected disasters, being bogged down by too much paperwork, going over budget and impacting profits – if you’re making them, and arguably the worst thing to deal with: unhappy customers.
IoT fleet management can provide a number of solutions to the above problems. IoT sensor data can inform operators about what and how much to load onto a vehicle, and the amount of fuel that is needed to get it there.
Vehicle sensors can also enable fuel efficiency through highlighting bad driving and arming fleet managers with the information to tackle it. This not only includes addressing excessive braking and acceleration, but also actions that break industry compliance demands, including environmental ones.
And maintenance costs can be reduced through multiple sensors being fitted on vehicles to give early warnings about adverse wear and tear. In addition, IoT can be used to deliver route optimisation, with systems logging regular delays on certain journeys and helping companies find alternative ways there.
It must also be acknowledged that many fleet depots already have an abundance of relevant data on their operations. But there are three major challenges for data in fleet management – making it understandable, integrating it into multiple systems and making it actionable.
Without the data being digitised and linked to an easy-to-use dashboard the whole team can view, most of this data is sitting in unconnected data silos and not looked at often enough, or perhaps being totally ignored. This is another reason to have an IoT sensor to platform solution that enables all key staff to see the whole picture, allowing them to set up key performance indicators (KPIs).
Cisco IoT says all these possibilities will feed into and drive the prospects of transportation-as-a-service (TaaS) for both logistics and fleet management “during 2018 and beyond”. TaaS means that logistics, route planning, fleet management and more can be delivered as-a-service, so that fleet managers can buy what they need, when they need it.
On-demand trucking will start to replace inefficient manual systems, that include making multiple phone calls and cumbersome administrative processes, which result in under-utilised lorries.
This will be made possible by leveraging IoT data generated in real time. Capturing data like weather conditions or the weight of a truck will be a crucial element to TaaS. This type of data will deliver a new and more efficient way of matching shippers with carriers – when a lorry needs to be in a certain location, the shipper and carrier can guarantee that it will be loaded correctly and will follow an optimal route, and that it will arrive on time.
To make these opportunities come to life there will have to be cooperation and partnership across the industry. Vodafone recently teamed up with Continental to develop a digital tyre monitoring platform for fleet vehicle operators. And Pirelli already uses IoT connectivity to deliver “tyre as-a-service” products that warn drivers and maintenance companies on pressure, temperature and tread depth.
Also, Goodyear and Michelin embed similar technology in their tyres, and Microsoft has worked with Tyre Express in India to build a lifecycle management platform for fleet operators that uses its Azure cloud to store and process the data.
With all this in mind then, maybe it is no surprise that Zion Market Research forecasts that the global IoT fleet management market will be worth $15.5bn by 2024 – well up on the $3.25bn that it measured in 2016.