Telematics and control solutions offer critical capabilities for vehicle operators, fleet managers, and even the vehicle OEM. Why, then, do so many of these programs ultimately fail? Often, it comes down to a lack of planning on the part of the company. Without a solid strategy underpinning your use of this technology, it’s impossible to see the return that you expect. In this post, we’ll discuss five considerations to make before implementing a vehicle control and telematics solution.
Who Are the Stakeholders?
One of the most common problems is simply a lack of understanding of who the various stakeholders are when it comes to vehicle telematics and control solutions. Obviously, the fleet manager is a stakeholder, as are maintenance teams, but who else has a vested interest here? In truth, your stakeholders can come from all levels of the organization.
There should be at least one member of the C-suite included but beyond that? You’ll need to involve the IT department unless you have another solution to parsing, manipulating, and transforming data. You will probably also need to loop in other departments such as purchasing, engineering, and even production if added as a factory option.
Determining who your stakeholders are can be complicated, but asking a few simple questions can help. Who will be involved with handling the data? Once the data is ready for use, who will need access to it? Who will be involved in making decisions based on the data delivered by the telematics or control solution? Finally, who will be needed to implement the hardware installations and manage all aspects of support and provisioning?
What Are the Long-Term Costs?
Vehicle control and telematics systems offer a lot of value and benefits. However, they come at a cost. Often, companies fail to anticipate the full extent of those costs, not just the initial purchase and installation-related costs, but the ongoing, long-term expenses that they will incur.. Being aware of these costs will help you be prepared and budget properly for them.
What costs should you think about? First, there’s the data overload aspect. Capturing data is great, but what happens when you have too much of it? Collecting, analyzing, manipulating, and transforming that data comes with a cost, but it’s also incredibly overwhelming.
Accessing real-time data can also incur costs you might not anticipate. Every single byte transmitted from a vehicle to your receiving equipment requires a cellular signal, and that means additional costs, particularly if you need to keep a socket open constantly.
Finally, realize that there’s a good chance you’ll need to hire more staff to handle the influx of data, and/or the workload on your existing staff will increase. It’s not just about handling the data.
What Are Your Data Goals?
Telematics and vehicle control solutions give you access to data, but what will you do with all this information? What are your goals? How will you know when you’ve achieved them or whether you’ve missed the mark?
It’s important to set data-related goals during the planning process and long before you begin considering an actual telematics or control system. Remember that your goals should be clear-cut and actionable. Specificity is your friend.
For instance, you might want to reduce the number of unplanned repairs/vehicle outages by monitoring driving habits and patterns. Reducing fuel consumption, improving driver safety, and optimizing routes are all examples of data-related goals that can help you clarify and define what you want to achieve through data collection.
What Data Will You Collect?
Often, organizations assume that they simply want to capture as much data as possible. They quickly realize that this is not advisable. The sheer volume of information is completely overwhelming. It’s important to determine at the outset what data you want to collect. That data should be directly related to achieving the goals we just talked about.
For instance, if you’re trying to reduce the number of unplanned repairs/outages, you might decide that you want to track things like driver braking habits, as this would directly affect things like brake component wear. Driving speed would speak to safety while tracking idling time could help you drive down fuel-related costs.
Set your goals and then determine what data you will collect to help you track progress toward achieving them.
How Will You Manipulate the Data?
Finally, you must consider how you will manipulate the data. Raw information is pretty useless. To derive value from it, you’ll need to organize, manipulate, and transform that information into something digestible by human beings. For instance, a stream of data from a piece of equipment over the course of 30 days might be transformed into a graph showing changes in engine performance, fuel consumption, vehicle acceleration, and more.
Deciding on how to manipulate and transform your data requires an understanding of the data that you’re collecting, as well as the goals you set.
For instance, if you are interested in reducing driver down time or improving machine efficiency you would transform data gathered over time to answer specific questions. Those could include how long a driver is idling at a job site without movement. Does extended idling coincide with anything else? For example, are vehicles routinely waiting near refueling stations when their fuel is low?
Bringing It All Together
With a good understanding of the long-term costs and who your stakeholders are, you can begin laying the groundwork for your telematics and control initiative. Expand on that with in-depth planning to determine your goals in terms of data collection, what data you will collect, and how you’ll manipulate, transform, and use that information to achieve the goals that you’ve set.
At HED, we are experts in designing and creating total vehicle control solutions and deliver the capabilities of a large company combined with the flexibility of a small firm. No matter why you’re considering telematics or vehicle controls, we can help you create a solution that addresses your key goals, manages long-term costs, and delivers optimum ROI.
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