Home - Resources -  Blog

What is Telematics?

What is Telematics?

Although various forms of telematics have been around for years, many businesses still ask the question, what is telematics and how can they help? To answer this question, you first need to know what the word telematics means and how it works. Read on to learn more about fleet telematics. 

Telematics 101:

Telematics Definition and Purpose 

At its core, telematics is the combination of two technological disciplines: telecommunications and computer processing programs. Together, these two sciences come together for one purpose which is to provide monitoring on service vehicles. 

The term, telematics, refers to the ability of businesses to keep track of service vehicles. This is done to not only ensure that vehicles are where they need to be, but also measure other logistics, such as vehicle performance and fuel consumption, that help fleet managers. 

How does Telematics Work?  

Telematics devices, called Gateways, are placed in the fleet vehicle to record a variety of information. The device records various driving events such as speed, rapid acceleration, location, fuel consumption, and driver behavior. The data is transmitted over long distances through cellular networks and the cloud. The telematics servers and management software then decodes the information for analysts to create reports and glean insights. 

How are Telematics Devices Installed? 

Depending on the commercial vehicle, telematics devices may come already installed in the engine. In most cases, this pertains to newer fleet vehicles since technology has advanced to allow for them to be pre-installed. 

For vehicles that do not come with a telematic device installed, they can be added after market through various means. Many of these devices can be directly connected to the electrical system of the vehicle through available under-cab ports. These same third-party devices can bus used to upgrade basic default installations. 

Vehicles and Assets that Can be Tracked 

Telematics are commonly used to monitor and optimize the performance of various vehicles, including trucks, vans, and passenger cars. However, they can extend their capabilities to heavy equipment, such as construction machinery, and even specialized assets like refrigerated trailers, enabling comprehensive tracking and management of diverse assets within a fleet. 

Straight Talk on Fleet: Fleet Management Metrics, KPIs all Fleet Managers Should be Tracking

Telematics and GPS Fleet Tracking:

Definition of GPS and Purpose 

GPS, which stands for Global Positioning System, is a satellite-based navigation system that provides real-time geospatial information, including precise location coordinates and time data. Its primary purpose is to enable accurate positioning and navigation for a wide range of applications, from guiding individuals and vehicles to supporting logistics, emergency response, and scientific research, making it an invaluable tool for both civilian and military purposes. 

Difference Between Telematics and GPS 

When it comes to discussions about various telematics systems and GPS technology, many people wonder if they are one and the same or different. The simple answer is that they are connected and are separate at the same time. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, you should understand that GPS is just one component of many that telematics systems use to monitor vehicle performance. 

How Does GPS Fleet Tracking Work? 

When GPS is applied to fleet, it gives managers an accurate and reliable read on the location and motion of all the vehicles and assets in the fleet, leading to better visibility, insights, and security.  

A real-world example of how this works is with IntelliShift’s customer Stavola, who has a wide range of assets – from trucks, tri-axles, low-boys and more. Stavola needs to know where everything is, what it is being used for, and if there are any maintenance issues. “We need to know where those low beds are in case something breaks,” says Joe Torrente, Director of Transportation. “When we have from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. to work on a turnpike, we need to know where the equipment is as we go and plan our jobs each night. We don’t have time to waste. We need to be as efficient as possible, including with maintenance and refueling.” Joe estimates that IntelliShift helps him save 440 supervisor hours a year per job site because they don’t have to stand around for two extra hours while the refueling truck hunts for the assets. 

If you are curious about the power of telematics, take it from our customers' success.

What a Telematics System Can do for Your Business:

What is a Telematics System? 

A telematics system is the combined solution of the hardware installed on the vehicle that transmits the data, paired with a back-office software platform which receives the data. The hardware device which goes into the vehicle, is sometimes called a black box, and is plugged directly into the OBD II or CAN-BUS port in the truck. An employee or fleet manager can then use different or additional software algorithms to analyze this data and put it to use in many different aspects of the company. 

Pros and Cons  

Telematics is a great way for a fleet to begin adopting technology. The upsides to the investment include cost savings, safety, visibility, and insights that help continue optimizing operations.  

There are no downsides to telematics but rather a few challenges fleet leaders should be prepared to encounter. First, the increased amount of data will take some time to organize into routine reporting. Second, drivers may initially resist the monitoring. However, with time and effort, everything becomes second nature. 

Solving Fleet Challenges 

Increased Productivity 

Since vehicle telematics systems transmit real-time data, drivers and fleet managers use them to make fast decisions to boost productivity and get more done. For example, the telematics system makes drivers and managers aware of local traffic conditions and ETAs, so they can take optimized routes or dispatch a different vehicle to the job. 

Safety Improvements 

Fleet managers can monitor driving behaviors of employees in near-real time. These behaviors include excessive speeding, harsh braking, rapid acceleration, distracted driving and more. They can create alerts and notifications when unsafe driving occurs and use that data to create training programs to improve those behaviors. Data reports give managers current information to inform coaching programs, and trend data to analyze the impact of their safety programs over time. 

Fuel Consumption Cost Savings 

Drivers who speed excessively or idle for longer periods of time tend to burn more fuel, which ends up costing the fleet company more money. Using a telematics system that also has a fuel management solution  can be a helpful way for fleet managers to reduce costs for companies. Fuel card integrations also provide useful context to how your fleet is purchasing gas. Fleet managers use telematics to identify fuel slippage, or times when fuel was purchased without a company vehicle nearby.  

Engine Diagnostics and Maintenance 

The telematics device is often connected to the diagnostics port of the vehicle. The gateway interprets the Diagnostic Trouble Codes that fire when something malfunctions in the engine or vehicle.  This transmits data on maintenance issues immediately. Allowing fleet managers to schedule service before a bigger problem occurs. 

ELD Compliance 

When it comes to ELD compliance, telematics systems make it easier for fleets to meet certain regulatory requirements. Since the telematics device records data required to be submitted such as drive times and records of duty status reports, these devices ensure your employees are receiving the rest they need, even when away from base for days at a time.  

Location Visibility 

The GPS tracking system within the telematics system helps fleet managers track their vehicles are at all times. In addition to routing and utilization, this is helpful when a vehicle or piece of equipment is lost or stolen thanks to real-time data transmission. Fleet managers can locate the fleet vehicle within seconds and report it to the proper authorities. 

Improvement in Communication 

Before telematics systems came onto the market for fleet management, drivers were subjected to filling out quite a bit of paperwork. While this was helpful to managers, it was not until after the fact that this information was able to be viewed. However, with the ability to have the data transmitted immediately, fleet companies can take care of issues even before the driver has returned from their route. 

Improved Payroll Management 

Since telematics data is transmitted in real time through the device, fleet managers are able to see when a driver started their route and when they finished. This allows for a more accurate record for payroll purposes. Instead of a driver needing to clock in and out and managers matching those time cards with the other records, the data provides the details for them. This can eliminate inaccuracies when it comes to paying drivers. IntelliShift customers report saving up to 4 hours a day on time cards and processing. 

Integration With Other Software 

The great thing about a telematics system is some solutions integrate with other systems a company may use. This means an even more streamlined process of keeping track of fleets. 

Some possible integrations include CRM systems that many companies use to stay up-to-date with customers and even employees. Integration with dash cameras or other onboard camera systems make it easier for companies to have everything in one place. 

Should I Buy a Telematics System? 

In short, yes. Without a telematics system, you have no visibility into the field, putting your drivers and your business at risk. Telematics are the starting point for critical data points that allow you to successfully run your fleet. The bigger question is what system supports you now and as you grow. 

Telematics solutions can range between expensive and fairly cheap. In some cases, fleet businesses choose to go with the bare minimum which, while relatively inexpensive, may not be what is needed in the long run. When this happens, they end up paying more to upgrade their system. 

Most telematics solutions have many bells and whistles that you can add to them for further data. Some of these include dash cams, ELDs, and other accessories that may drive up the price, but can be worthwhile down the road.  

IntelliShift Telematics Demo Video

IntelliShift Telematics:

What Makes IntelliShift’s Telematics System Different? 

IntelliShift’s experienced team makes installation and onboarding a breeze. Everything is configured to the needs of your business, so you get the information you need, when you need it. Our award-winning customer support makes sure that you have a partner by your side throughout helping evolve your telematics system with your fleet. Last but certainly not least, it is part of a single connected platform, which opens up a world of efficiency. 

Benefits of a Single Connected Platform 

IntelliShift provides a state-of-the-art telematics system designed to help fleet managers make smarter optimization and safety decisions. What makes it a unique solution is that it is equipped with AI dash cams. Therefore, managers have even more visibility into vehicle and driver performance. If you are searching for a telematics solution that is one-of-a-kind and provides everything you need in a single connected platform, look no further than IntelliShift. 

Seamless OEM Integrations 

Fleet leaders can easily connect equipment manufacturer telematics to the IntelliShift platform for streamlined data integration. When you use the technology within your compatible vehicles and assets with this integration, you can view all performance and location data on a single screen. 

Welcome to Fleet Intelligence 

Our fleet intelligence platform not only gives you a safety advantage but delivers better fleet efficiencies, improved fleet maintenance, and the best analytics dashboards at your fingertips. 

The IntelliShift team is ready to show you how fleet intelligence will transform your operations.