Technology is evolving at an incredible rate every year. The world works completely differently than it did 10 years ago, and the trucking industry is no different. A trucking business owner can know where any truck or trailer in their fleet is at any given time from anywhere in the world. This has helped smaller carriers operate on the same playing field as mega carriers have been at a fraction of the cost.
Video telematics is quickly becoming the standard for fleet monitoring. Dashcams built with video telematics provide a deeper level of insight into how a piece of equipment is operating.
By understanding what kind of data is coming in and how it relates to your business you can measure new areas of performance that will help lower your cost per mile as well as increase your efficiency. All of this helps to increase your profit and lower overhead.
There are many areas that video telematics can help in your trucking company. We will go over some of the most popular key performance indicators that large carriers monitor.
Measuring Driver Behavior
As a fleet owner you are going to be faced with the task to hire new drivers. Searching for and finding new talent is expensive, exhausting and comes with added risk. You want to make sure that you hire the best drivers and make sure to help the ones who are not performing up to your standards.
Developing a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you can measure against will help you on your path of keeping the best drivers for your company. Some companies develop safety bonus programs for their drivers that incentivize them to meet or exceed the KPIs that are set.
Some KPIs that you can set and measure with video telematics could be:
- Performing pre-trip inspections or DVIRs before driving daily
- No speeding events
- Always certify logbooks at the end of the day
- Sending in scale readings when they are loaded
Basically, any area that you think needs improvement and can be measured by your video telematics or fleet tracking service can be a KPI.
Prioritize Maintenance Tasks
Vehicle maintenance violations are the most issued violations by the DOT. Being able to prevent maintenance issues from popping up and documenting every task that you perform will help keep these violations off of your CSA score and make filing DataQs easier if you are issued violations in error.
Some trucking dashcams, vehicle tracking units, and electronic logging devices plug into the diagnostic port of the truck and can read items on the CAN bus that can make preventative maintenance much easier. Being connected to the diagnostic port can keep you updated on hundreds of items in the truck, a few being:
- When fault codes and check engine lights come on
- Boost pressure readings
- Oil pressure status
- Fuel economy (for newer trucks)
- Engine coolant temperatures
Being able to monitor your fleet with this level of visibility will allow you or your maintenance team to know what to address and when to address it so you can avoid costly break downs on the road.
Use Geofencing to measure loading/unloading and dwell time
Geofences are virtual boundaries set by users so that GPS devices trigger events when entering and leaving specific site. Depending on the sophistication of the GPS system being used, users can measure a lot of items important to the company. Some top data items that carriers typically measure are:
- Waiting times to load or unload a truck
- Measuring how long it takes a site to do its task (ie. a washout facility)
- Comparing similar sites to see which is better (Which washout site has the fastest turnaround time)
- How long are trailers sitting around waiting for pickup
- Which trucks are not being used as often
Geofences are a great way to measure data inside of a specific point of interest. The use of telematics allows you to collect location data frequently and being able look at the data for specific locations can open new ways of increasing fleet utilization.
For example if you are a farm or cattle hauler you could use telematics to measure things like: time to load per site, pounds loaded per site, wait times and washout times. Comparing your data across multiple runs over a period of months, quarters or years can help identify you most profitable sites and allow your to focus more effort in these areas.
Measure fleet utilization
Making sure that you are utilizing you fleet effectively is a key to profitability. If you have assets that are not generating revenue then they can drag down your profits. The reason being that the cost to purchase, insure, maintain and store the trucks or trailers outweigh the revenue they bring in.
The ideal fleet utilization to measure and maximize your fleet should be about 70%. You can look at this ratio as being 70% of your fleet is in use while 30% is in the yard or as an asset being used 70% the time in a month/quarter/year. This provides some padding so if additional loads come in you have equipment available to meet demand or you can fall back on a different truck or trailer if one needs emergency maintenance.
If you find that your fleet utilization is below 70% you may consider some measures such as:
- Selling equipment for more operating cash
- Leasing equipment for additional revenue
- Hiring more drivers to take more loads
If your fleet utilization is above 70% you might look at:
- Leasing additional equipment for an increase in short term demand
- Purchasing additional equipment if demand is long term (3+ years)
- Raising your rates to lower your demand
Using a fleet utilization metric can help you grow at a steady pace and give you a great deal of insight on what calls are best to make in different situations. This is a metric that many large carriers watch regularly.
Reduce your insurance costs
The cost of insurance in the trucking industry has been on the rise. The FMCSR requires all carriers to have a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance just to operate. A new owner/operator can expect to pay $1,500 - $3,500 per month using their own authority. High insurance rates is a main reason why newer owner/operators prefer to lease on to another company.
Many insurance companies offer reduced insurance rates for carriers who share safe driver data with them. This is a big area where "dashcams" and "video telematics" differ. Dashcams are useful for having video evidence available when an accident occures. This is because they are not connected to the internet. Video telematics are great at making sure the vehicle and driver are operating safely before an accident happens because data is constantly shared through the internet with a carrier or insurance provider.
Video telematics systems record more than just video. They are able to measure driving events such as:
- Harsh braking
- Aggressive acceleration
- Taking corners too fast
- Distracted driving
Being able to share this kind of data with insurance companies gives them the confidence that your drivers are operating safely and are at a lower risk of being involved in an accident. Video telematics systems store these events on a server that an insurance company can access through an API making sharing easy.
If you are able to share telematics data with your insurance company the savings will usually be greater than the cost of the video telematics system.
Organize your back office tasks
Video telematics gives more visibility to your dispatchers, safety managers, maintenance teams and administrators. Everyone that has an interest in how the truck operates can get access to important data to help keep things running smoothly
Dispatchers have a several tools available to help them ensure trucks meet pick-up and delivery schedules. Dispatchers can see which trucks are available for new loads and which trucks a currently hauling loads. They can also have access to drivers' logbooks to see who has hours available for additional loads so they don't have to drive back empty. These tools help avoid situations like forced dispatching and other negative situations that can lead to driver churn.
Safety managers can leverage video telematics to help make sure that the fleet is at a low risk of accidents. Safety managers can watch things such a speeding, braking, seat belt monitoring and vehicle weights to help keep the company away from unnecessary risk. The use of video can also help the safety team exonerate drivers from accidents caused by other drivers on the road. They also have access to hours-of-service records and can make sure drivers are taking the required brakes to avoid fatigue.
Maintenance teams can use video telematics to keep track of vehicle-specific tasks. The telematics can measure mileage- and time-specific tasks well. Maintenance teams can get alerts for DTC and engine fault codes that are thrown while the truck is in use to schedule maintenance tasks. Any DVIRs reporting issues can set triggers for maintenance to address before the next driver needs to head out. Preventative maintenance can also be achieved by getting alerts when truck crosses a specific number of miles for oil changes, grease fittings, bleeding air lines etc.
Administration workers can use data from telematics systems to make filing documents with state and federal groups easier. A telematics system that is plugged into a diagnostic port can collect odometer readings and location data to make filing IFTA easy. A well crafted system can also make sending electronic documents to drivers easy incase they forget permits or registrations at the office.
Reduce your operating expenses
Being able to reduce your operating expenses is a guaranteed way to help increase your profit. Your recurring expenses and how your drivers handle certain situations can be in your control when you have the data you need to measure changes.
Scaling costs are a big expense to many fleets. Many larger carriers require drivers to scale every load that they get to make sure loads are legal or are fixed because the risk of getting caught overloaded is not worth the expense. Being able to measure weight using sensors paired with a telematics system can reduce wasted drive time and truck scale costs.
Telematics can also measure things such as idling times. Trucks burn fuel when they are idle and if you are able to get drivers to reduce idling you can save fuel as well as wear-and-tear on engine components from running.
Video telematics system can also tie into weigh station bypass applications that can tell drivers they don't have to pull into weigh stations when certain criteria is met.
Build a reputation with your shippers/customers
When you have a certain level of visibility into your fleet you are able to best serve your customers. Providing quick and accurate answers to your customer's delivery ETA questions goes a long way to deep your relationship and win more contracts.
Also, the data that is collected can help clear up mishaps in the larger supply chain that may have been laid at your door for late or missed deliveries.
In the world of big business, being able to log everything and lean on your data to make decisions will allow you to always cover your bases and avoid situations that will make a customer consider a different carrier.
Leverage the "Internet of Things" to your advantage
As technology continues to advance, being able add more visibility to your fleet is inevitable. Combining telematics with the sensors built around the Internet of Things (IoT) will unlock more possibilities for trucking fleets. These sensors can allow carriers to look more closely at areas of concern such as:
- Tire pressure monitoring
- A truck's gross and axle weights
- Reefer temperatures
- Custom vehicle diagnostic data
- pH levels of cargo
The possibilities are almost limitless. With a robust telematics solution in place, you can leverage new technologies to help you keep your fleet running smoothly with less interruptions.