The Internet of Things (IoT) connects products, assets and infrastructures and is driving new developments and innovations in most industries.
By connecting fleet vehicles to the Internet, new opportunities for business efficiency appear. Many companies have already connected theirs – General Motors is one example that has over 12 million IoT enabled cars. The rapid growth and countless benefits associated with this technology means that the industry is expected to be worth US$15,870 million by 2025, according to Market Research Hub.
To thrive in competitive markets, fleet operators need current and accurate data to maximise the efficiency of each vehicle and driver. Using connected IoT technology such as telematics, operators can keep track of fleet productivity, as well as gaining valuable insight into driving behaviour and vehicle performance.
As IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) technology solutions become more prevalent, fleet-led industries are seeing numerous benefits:
- By connecting to the cloud, vehicles can be monitored for faults and generate proactive maintenance updates. These intelligent vehicle assessment tools help reduce the cost of unplanned maintenance and unexpected vehicle downtime. Servicing is easier as instant alerts allow fleet managers to schedule maintenance at a convenient time for both the business and the driver.
- In-cab coaching provides drivers with real-time feedback, so they can improve their performance in line with company health and safety standards. This data is also available to fleet managers who can proactively assess driver performance and behaviour to identify training needs, disciplinary issues, or to inform employee award schemes.
- Duty of care is improved as intelligent fleets enable two-way communication, making it easier for head office to keep in touch with drivers. This can be used in various ways from monitoring wellbeing to providing emergency alerts about route choice or vehicle problems.
- Connected vehicles are improving workplace efficiency and making life easier for drivers as more companies adopt electronic logging devices. These automated processes save hours of administration time previously spent filling out logbooks, timesheets and mileage forms. Connected devices using RFID, NFC, or Bluetooth technology also reduce vehicle loading times so drivers can spend less time stock checking and more time on the road, shortening delays and improving the customer experience.
- Supply chain managers use live telematics to negotiate with suppliers by providing evidence of realistic mileage and driver behaviour. Costs can be saved on historically oversubscribed services, such as insurance, where telematics can offer vital data.
Depots and supply chain managers who introduce IoT solutions experience significant improvements. Although asset tracking is not a new idea, new technologies provide more precise and accurate tracking data of individual items compared to periodic barcode scanning. Specifically, RFID tags allow for items to be accurately tracked at any point of the delivery journey.
IoT technology can improve the safety and security of assets and people by employing sensors to disable functionality until the asset is in a safe location. Functionality can also be used to improve in-house health and safety conditions by maintaining an optimal working environment. This powerful technology has the potential to save lives and money, as it lowers the risk of accidents within the supply chain as well as reducing the associated expenses.
Depot managers can use the IoT to maximise their capacity by analysing stock quantities in real-time and devising new ways to maximise efficiency. Regulatory requirements are a major part of supply chain performance; IoT data can be accessed on demand and eliminate human error, often leading to significant cost reductions and a more productive warehouse system. IoT connectivity is also entirely scalable, so the system and its data will not be adversely affected by rapid businesses growth.
While current technology relies on manual number crunching to identify data trends, the rise of AI will make gains even greater as depots become able to respond to stimuli almost instantly. Depots will also be able to reroute fleets and individual packages to alternative routes to maintain SLAs, efficiency and customer satisfaction.
A Connected Future
As IoT adoption grows, different parts of a fleet will connect intelligently and depots will be able to manage incoming and outgoing vehicles more effectively and optimise pallet and load movements. Trailers will be able to ‘talk’ to trucks and data gathered from the IoT will provide insights into load capacity, allowing for better fleet utilisation. Managers will also be able to identify areas where fuel is wasted – for example on shorter or less intensive routes.
Customers, drivers and supply chain managers are all set to reap the rewards of IoT integration, with fleets able to report issues quicker than ever, deliveries will be timelier and fully trackable, which will improve relations between stakeholders. Fewer journeys will be required as telematics provides information on load capacities and intelligent packing, further reducing overhead costs.
IoT is set to completely revolutionise the way supply chains and depots work. It is already being adopted by major players around the world and, with the sector growing, all businesses now have the chance to benefit from the many exciting opportunities possible in this new, hyper-connected world.