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4 Ways to Improve Fuel Economy with Fleet Technology

white and blue truck on road during daytime

Anything that takes up 30% of your fleet operating costs deserves serious attention. With fuel prices continuing to soar –especially amidst the current conflict in Ukraine – finding ways to improve fuel economy can provide significant savings for your fleet – especially if it’s done systematically across every vehicle in your arsenal. 

For many, technology is the solution. Through data collection and analysis, fleet managers can pinpoint areas in their operations where they can boost fuel economy, reducing costs and improving productivity. 

Here are 4 simple ways that fleets can cut fuel costs and improve their bottom line using innovative technology. 

Driver Performance 

The person behind the wheel can greatly impact the amount of fuel being used for each trip. If the majority of drivers tend to waste fuel based on their driving behavior, it can quickly eat away at profit margins. 

Live in-cab automated driver coaching can help ensure that poor driving behavior associated with higher fuel costs (excessive idling, harsh braking and driving without cruise control, to name a few) can be caught and fixed with voice feedback and suggestions. Having visibility into each vehicle as it’s in motion can help fleet managers ensure that assets are being used in a fuel-conscious way. 

Drivers can also be tracked by the fuel they use each trip regardless of the truck that they drive. This can help provide a clearer picture of which drivers are using the most fuel, as certain vehicle older models may be less efficient than others and can skew numbers. With this information, fleet managers can also track progress and history to determine if corrective actions are having an impact on overall fuel economy. 

Preventive Maintenance 

Vehicles that are regularly maintained and serviced can be far more fuel-efficient than those that are neglected. By leveraging advanced vehicle diagnostics, fleets can stay attuned with the component-by-component performance of their assets, ensuring vehicles are being taken to the shop when they require repairs before they need to be replaced. 

With the current market posing issues for fleets looking to purchase new vehicles, ensuring existing assets are optimized for performance can go a long way in increasing productivity, reducing roadside repairs and boosting fuel economy. 

Data-Driven Procurement 

aerial photography of freight truck lot

Acquiring new and used vehicles is a natural part of fleet management as business expands. By analyzing fuel data from every vehicle model and type within your fleet, you can benefit from an unbiased account of which models are most fuel efficient. Considering a little less than a third of operational expenses stem from fuel costs, this can wind up saving fleets a significant amount of money. 

Fuel Theft Protection 

Mitigating cargo theft and vehicle theft is often a focus for fleet managers; however, fuel is also a commodity worth monitoring. Fleet managers can compare the actual fuel that is burned to the amount that was purchased at the start and end of any given trip. Since it’s often employees who are the culprits for siphoning fuel from fleet vehicles, having visibility into the data can help catch theft that would otherwise go unnoticed. And with a fuel sensor, fleet managers can be immediately alerted to rapid fuel losses which could be triggered by active theft or a vehicle issue. 

Driving Fuel Efficiency with Data 

white Orcan fuel station

Technology continues to play a vital role in fleet management, unlocking new levels of productivity and output at a fraction of the resource cost. Through addressing inefficiencies from different angles using innovative technology, fleet managers can devise a comprehensive plan of attack that can help them drastically reduce unnecessary fuel usage, improving their profit margins and reducing their carbon footprint. 

To learn more about how to reduce fuel cost, check out our free ebook here. 

Posted in 1. Transportation

Fleets Can Win More Business with Customer Service

person holding black smartphone

It’s natural for fleets to tie generating more revenue with growing their trailer pool or expanding service to new regions. This can certainly push the needle, but it requires additional resources that may be unavailable due to external factors such as component shortages. 

One way to win new deals and keep current customers happy is by improving their experience with innovative technology. 

Accurate Delivery Estimations 

brown cardboard boxes on black plastic crate

Knowing the time and day that a parcel is arriving at your doorstep has been expected of delivery services for years. For carriers, providing this capability to customers should be no different. Not only can this help customers prepare their staff to unload the goods from the truck upon arrival, it can also provide a heads-up if a shipment is delayed, which they can pass along to prospects to improve their own customer service. 

Remote Cargo Visibility 

truck with six wheels

Viewing the inside of a trailer from the office can provide tremendous value when the containers are stationary but even more so when they’re on the move. With this capability, fleets can inform their customers that their product is well protected and loaded properly while also giving ad-hoc updates on temperature levels and other parameters.  

Intelligent Routing 

person holding red round medication pill

Cargo arriving earlier than anticipated is typically a sign of prompt action and good customer service. Using trailer tracking technology to determine the closest driver to each trip—rather than simply choosing one from the roster—can help ensure speedy delivery while also limiting unnecessary deadhead miles and other operational inefficiencies. 

Proactive Maintenance 

A fleet of trucks that are constantly in the shop for repairs can be a nightmare for customers, as they’ll be constantly second-guessing if their goods will arrive. With remote vehicle diagnostics, maintenance crews can always stay attuned with vehicle health, resulting in less delayed trips and less customer worry. Plus, having improved vehicle uptime can enable fleets to accept and execute on more trips week in and week out, strengthening productivity through maintenance optimization. 

Catering to your Customer Base 

In a market where there’s dozens of carriers bidding for new business, providing reassurance and reliability can go a long way in securing new deals and strengthening current relationships. To learn more about how fleets can build a stronger service for their customers with new technology, check out our smart truck brochure

Posted in 1. Transportation

A New Era of Satellite-Powered Maritime Communications

When it comes to satellite connectivity, two-way, real-time and reliable is the gold standard. In areas where there is little to no terrestrial coverage – for instance, in the middle of the ocean – there is no shortage of satellite IoT use cases. For 25 years, satellite IoT connectivity has defined ORBCOMM’s corporate heritage and remains a fundamental area of expertise for our organization. We were an early pioneer of two-way satellite data communications as well as the satellite detection of maritime vessel movements using Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals.  

With this history, it was a natural next step in our IoT connectivity evolution to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with AAC Clyde Space AB and Saab to develop the next generation of global maritime communication services based on VDES (VHF Data Exchange System). We are proud to have launched the AOS (AAC Clyde Space, ORBCOMM, Saab) VDES Consortium in late 2021 with this esteemed group of leaders in the space and maritime technology industries.  

Unlike AIS, VDES features two-way communication and encryption capabilities while also having wider range and up to 32 times the bandwidth of AIS. Plus, VDES turns what used to be a mostly coastal system into a truly global service that can act as a platform for seafarers around the world. 

ORBCOMM’s mission has always been to help our customers make informed, data-driven decisions. Through the AOS VDES initiative, we will create a global maritime communication network that will facilitate information sharing from ship to shore anywhere in the globe – powered in part by ubiquitous satellite connectivity.  

And the use cases for VDES are many. With decarbonization on the horizon for the shipping industry, VDES will be key in reducing carbon emissions, as it can be integrated with e-navigation systems to improve fuel efficiency by up to 25%. Reducing carbon footprint through asset efficiency is an important cause for us and we are excited to see how our VDES-powered maritime communications systems can play a role in saving the planet.

For updates about the development of our VDES maritime communications platform, stay tuned to our blog and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Posted in 3. Maritime / AIS

5 Fleet Tech Hacks to Win More Business

Production, Facility, Logistic, Distribution Center

For fleet managers, accommodating new business can be difficult in the best of times – let alone today’s current climate of dragging trailer backorders and component shortages. Many have been forced to look inwards as they await their new assets, using technology to improve productivity, cut costs and boost operational intelligence so they can win more future business with the resources they have today.  

We’re going to look at five solutions that can help fleet managers drive revenue while they await new resources. 

  1. Trailer Telematics 
Truck, Freight, Cargo, Delivery, Container, 18 Wheeler

According to the US Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the Postal Service spent $7.1 million over a 14-month period on idle trailers in 2019. The inability to remotely locate a trailer at any given time can lead to operational oversights such as this, resulting in money wasted and productivity being hamstrung. Fleet managers can’t skip the line-up for new trailers; however, by using trailer telematics, they can ensure the assets they do have are on the road and not sitting in the yard collecting rust. 

From this, they can gather important insights that can enable them to reduce dwell times and improve turn times. Plus, they can use vehicle data to better understand fuel usage per customer and location to lower operational costs. 

  1. In-Cab Cameras 
Truck Driver, Eighteen, Startup, Business

While location data can be a powerful tool for fleet managers, having visibility via an in-cab camera can provide even more benefits. Not only can it reduce insurance premiums, but in-cab cameras can also protect fleets from having to close up shop due to nuclear verdicts – insurance claims that surpass $1m in damages – by providing video evidence and accident reconstruction that can help prove driver innocence.  

Plus, in-cab cameras can improve driver performance by providing coaching material in the form of live video. This enables fleet managers to have more control and visibility into cases of unsafe driving, enhances driving safety and ensures drivers are complying to regulations. Analyzing the camera data and monitoring driver behavior that is collected can also drive fuel economy and even help prevent accidents. 

  1. Remote Diagnostics 
The ORBCOMM remote diagnostics platform features vehicle performance and health parameters based on color severity.

Another key part of improving productivity while awaiting order backlogs is ensuring your assets stay in rotation for as long as possible. This is where our remote diagnostics integration with Noregon can help. Being able to troubleshoot vehicle issues before they arrive in the shop can enable repair crews to respond quicker to problems – and with more accuracy. Plus, color-coded severity levels for each vehicle in the shop can help inform triaging to ensure repairs are being conducted in an optimal order for maximum utilization.  

All of the data can be viewed in comprehensive dashboards and reports so maintenance leaders can view the component status of each asset on the fly and benefit from intelligent service recommendations to optimize longevity. 

  1. Fleet Automation and Digitization 

Streamlining operations through automation and digitization can minimize risk of human error while also helping to save time and money that can be better spent on winning more business. Often, this involves the transition to digital signatures and documentation for logging, driver vehicle inspection forms and other manual processes. Considering the current social distancing mandates, digitization is especially crucial as a means of enabling contactless interaction to keep drivers safe. 

Yard management is another area where automation plays a role in improving efficiency and reducing human error. With tractor ID sensors, dispatch can remotely verify tractor-trailer couplings to ensure cargo is going to the correct destination. Not only does this make drivers’ lives easier but it can also reduce deadhead miles incurred by incorrect trailers being driven out of the yard. 

  1. Cargo Visibility 
blue and black utility truck on gray concrete road during daytime

Winning new customers involves improving your productivity but it can also result from providing a better service. By deploying cargo camera sensors, fleets can gain remote visibility into their trailers at will. This improves operational awareness by showing if your trailers are full or empty, which can boost utilization and inform dispatch of which trailers can handle more load. Plus, having eyes within any given trailer can help in cargo recovery initiatives in the case of theft by providing visual evidence – especially with event-based triggers from door sensors. 

The market will eventually right itself but in the meantime, fleet managers can leverage technology to improve their output with the assets they have today. To learn more about ORBCOMM’s smart truck solutions, you can read our solutions brochure here

Posted in 6. IoT Trends

How Transportation Management Systems Simplify Fleet Management

If market size is any indication – projected to reach $11.4 USD by 2027 – transportation management systems (TMS) are becoming more of a necessity amongst fleet managers. In fact, almost 35% of businesses are using transportation management systems to monitor and control their network of assets. 

While technology has given fleet managers far more control over their mobile assets, scanning multiple dashboards spread out across different platforms – sometimes communicating using unique data protocols and often focusing on separate areas of the business – can be a lot to handle. With the growing complexity of the transportation industry and the current supply chain struggles, fleets are actively searching for answers in technology to help them continue to win business and thrive. 

The business of fleet management isn’t just dots on a map. The entire billing, payroll, fuel tax reporting, load planning and dispatch are some of the business requirements managed within a TMS – the backbone of any fleet operation. 

To continue providing strong data-driven products to our customers, we have integrated our smart truck and trailer solutions with Systems Support Inc (SSI).

“SSI is excited to integrate with ORBCOMM’s in-cab communication and ELD platform, along with their trailer tracking solution, said Kirby Eddie, President at SSI. “It’s important for us to provide our customers with solutions from the leading technology and regulatory partners in the industry.”   

The integration of our smart truck and trailer solutions with SSI’s PowerPRO transportation management system (TMS) allows fleet managers and dispatch to take advantage of the enhanced operational efficiencies that together, the two solutions provide.  Real-time location, geofencing status updates, current driver HOS data and driver-dispatch near-instant communications provide the ability to quickly respond and react to shifting situations in the job that could affect timing of the delivery.  

“We’re always looking for ways to make our customers’ lives easier and more profitable. Integrating with SSI demonstrates that we will continue offering integrated partnerships with world-class solutions for our customers,” said Eric Witty, VP Product Management at ORBCOMM. 

Through this integration, SSI users can access ORBCOMM compliance, location and workflow data directly in the PowerPRO platform including: 

  • Driver compliance (HOS) status 
  • Trailer/tractor position information including location and geofencing 
  • Sensor data such as temperature, door position, and tire pressure 
  • Workflow integration including load status, job status/instruction/updates and standard forms integration 
  • Instant communication between dispatch and drivers 

SSI has been an established name in the transportation software sphere for over 40 years, supporting a diverse fleet customer base throughout the United States. Known for managing complex transport business operations, SSI prides themselves on developing and nurturing personalized business relationships with their customers. 

ORBCOMM’s smart trailer and smart truck solutions provide fleets with the ability to optimize trailer utilization, reduce costs and leverage complete remote visibility into compliance information and documentation – all contributing to the timely delivery of freight and goods. 

To learn more, contact your account manager to set up a discussion with our Integration team. 

Posted in 1. Transportation Tagged with: , ,

How Harrier Express is Keeping Cool with Cold Chain Telematics

While trailer telematics offers plenty of benefits fleets of any kind – precise delivery estimates, decreased dwell time and improved asset utilisation to name a few – it can be particularly useful for reefer fleets.  

After all, transporting cargo without the ability to monitor and manage cargo temperature can result in unforeseen product spoilage if something goes wrong within the refrigerated trailer. Arriving with spoiled cargo is a disaster for fleets as it impacts customer relations and incurs temperature-related load rejections and costly spoilage claims. 

Harrier Express – a UK–based fleet with over four decades of experience in the refrigerated haulage business – came to a similar conclusion. After Brexit resulted in increased demand for trailer freight, Harrier Express doubled their trailer pool count and needed to find a way to maintain control and visibility over their expanded fleet as it travelled across the English Channel. To solve this pain point, they worked with Longhurst Refrigeration – one of ORBCOMM’s UK distributors – to equip 60 of their refrigerated trailers with ORBCOMM’s advanced cold chain telematics solution, which provides remote reefer management, maintenance scheduling, temperature compliance data and real-time alerts.  

Simon Wilkinson, owner of Harrier Express, says the solution had an immediate impact.  

“Working with ORBCOMM has eliminated the risk of disruption to our business at multiple points of the supply chain. We’ve saved ourselves from many potential claims, reduced time spent tracking trailers manually, helped improve maintenance scheduling and added remote control of the refrigerated units which we didn’t have before.” 

Since Harrier Express’ refrigerated trailers often stop at several locations on the way to their destination, being able to keep an eye on each unit’s location is paramount. With in-cab temperature monitoring, Harrier Express’ drivers can take the guesswork out of cargo status and ensure that each product maintains its integrity while in transit. Plus, with reefer trailers often on the move and far from the shop, a data-driven maintenance scheduling program can help reduce the cost and resource strain of roadside repairs and unexpected breakdowns. 

“Harrier Express is a great example of how ORBCOMM solves fleets’ pressing business problems,” said Kelley Duarte, ORBCOMM’s SVP EMEA. “Our comprehensive cold chain solutions deliver strong ROI to Harrier Express by reducing the risk of produce spoilage, facilitating better trailer utilisation and enhancing maintenance scheduling”. 

To learn more about ORBCOMM’s cold chain telematics solutions, visit https://www.orbcomm.com/eu/industries/transportation-and-distribution/cold-chain-monitoring.  

Posted in 1. Transportation

Food Surplus Management demonstrates efficiency of CNG-powered vehicles using ORBCOMM data

Irish company proves the efficiency and low maintenance costs of compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered vehicles on its journey to a more sustainable fleet.


The company

Food Surplus Management (FSM) found the right fit with ORBCOMM to support its move to a more sustainable fleet using compressed natural gas as a proven and reliable alternative to diesel or petrol. As an after-market, mixed-fleet telematics provider, ORBCOMM was ideally positioned to provide a comprehensive and trusted system for comparing fuel savings and freight emissions across CNG- powered vehicles and a wide range of different makes and models of trucks.

Irish-owned FSM specialises in sustainable food waste collection, taking short-date and out-of-date food waste from retail, food, manufacturing and hospitality centres for recycling at its custom-built facilities. With over 15 years of experience, FSM provides a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to landfill. FSM is a company with strong environmental credentials. With sustainability at its heart, the company was one of the first in Ireland to use compressed natural gas to fuel its fleet, as it searched for a cleaner, more affordable and proven choice for its fleet. The potential for using gas for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) is to reduce C02 emissions from 7% to up to 23% over diesel* depending on drive cycles and payload.

The challenge

In 2017, Gas Networks Ireland, which owns and operates the country’s natural gas network, launched the first CNG Vehicle Fund to support businesses adopting the new technology. The initiative aimed to show the viability of CNG as an alternative to diesel. In addition to introducing high capacity fast-fill CNG stations across Ireland, the project included a subsidy scheme for the purchasing of new vehicles.

FSM was one of the first haulers to apply and purchased three Scania trucks powered by CNG as part of its fleet of 32 vehicles that operate nationwide. Niall Lord, Managing Director of Food Surplus Management, explained that one of the main reasons that FSM got on-board with the initiative was that it aligned with its company values. “In our business, we collect food waste. The food goes for anaerobic digestion, which is the production of biogas, biomethane. CNG was an obvious fuel for us,” said Lord.

To monitor the performance of its CNG vehicles against the rest of its fleet, FSM turned to its telematics system for data. FSM had switched from another provider to ORBCOMM telematics in 2018 and uses it to enhance the visibility of their trucks, drivers, and workflow, to improve driver behaviour on the road and save money on fuel and maintenance.

Lord sees ORBCOMM telematics as mission-critical for his fleet. “We switched over more than two years ago. We have the whole fleet there. We’re tracking everything. We use vehicle management, driver management, tachograph, the whole suite of reporting. Our transport manager and transport staff use it quite a lot.”

With the detailed information available through the ORBCOMM system incorporating maintenance, fuel burn information and driver performance scoring, it was the perfect partner for the CNG initiative.

The solution

The fuel savings offered by gas-powered trucks was a big reason for Lord and FSM to get involved and the initial results are promising. Lord says, “From a monitoring point of view, from the ORBCOMM system, fuel is probably what we watch most. It is also useful for maintenance planning and obviously for routing. We can see where the trucks are.”

Using ORBCOMM telematics to monitor the trucks’ fuel usage, Lord says the results speak for themselves. While fuel economy in diesel and CNG trucks were on a par, the savings on the lower costs made CNG a viable alternative.

“Fuel is an overhead. Gas is around 70 cents while diesel is in the 90s. There’s a 20% plus saving in fuel which is substantial. If you have that across the board, it’s a no-brainer”.

– Niall Lord, Managing Director of Food Surplus Management

FSM has been carefully monitoring the vehicles’ performance during the trial period, with a close eye on ORBCOMM dashboards to watch fuel and maintenance. Lord says, “There is definitely a saving in running costs. They run a very clean engine, we’ve had little or no mechanical problems with the vehicles either, which is huge. It’s important that trucks don’t have much downtime and the CNG-powered gas trucks have little or no downtime.” The company has had success with the pilot programme of three trucks. “I would absolutely recommend it. The fuel economy in the trucks is on par with diesel; they are very efficient.”

The future

As one of the first companies in Ireland to operate CNG vehicles, FSM wants to convert the whole fleet as soon as the refuelling rollout allows. For his fleet to convert fully, Lord says they’ll need a larger number of fuelling points. Without that, he says it will be challenging to grow the use of CNG trucks. When there is a full rollout in place, it will be the obvious choice to transition to a fully CNG-powered fleet. Lord says a switch to gas-powered trucks is a win-win situation. He says it is definitely a viable alternative to diesel. “The trucks work great. There’s nothing to prove technology-wise, with the vehicles themselves or the fuel economy they deliver.

Ready to unlock data-driven insights within your fleet? Schedule a demo with our team today.

Posted in 1. Transportation Tagged with: , , , , ,

Master Midsize Fleet Maintenance with Trailer Telematics

red truck on road during daytime

Small and midsize fleets have plenty to be concerned about when it comes to maintenance in 2021. With the opportunity to buy new trailers in short supply well into 2022, small and midsized fleets can expect to have to wait their turn until larger fleets receive their new trailer orders.

On the flip side, existing trailers are at risk of being furloughed due to component shortages, which have thrown a wrench into getting replacement parts. Other external factors are also at play. As a result of the demand for home and business Amazon-style delivery, trailers are experiencing increased wear and tear due to frequent trips during last-mile delivery and may require more frequent servicing. When combined with COVID-19 protocols limiting technician-driver interactions and the ever-present goal to improve fleet uptime and CSA scores, all of this makes for a challenging time for midsize fleet maintenance. 

The result is twofold: the health of the existing trailer pool has become a priority and assets will have to be kept for longer than anticipated before being traded out. When you consider that the trailer pool of a smaller-size fleet is typically older than that of larger fleets, the challenge to keep trailers on the road for longer is compounded.   

How Trailer Telematics Can Help 

Finding ways to keep trailers healthier for longer can alleviate some of the pressure that maintenance managers and their crews are facing. Trailer telematics is a natural ally for fleets of all sizes, but especially growing fleets. Since they sometimes lack the capital or lease financing available to larger businesses, each trailer needs to be used more efficiently and endure longer than assets owned by enterprise-size carriers. This is where trailer telematics data can shine. For instance, maintenance managers can employ shorter servicing intervals based on real-time odometer readings , or they can use alerts and notifications to schedule servicing dates that won’t be missed. If drivers have in-cab devices, electronic driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) can close the loop between drivers and the maintenance team–a gap that has grown wider with COVID–to ensure that the shop is receiving diagnostics information earlier and can therefore proactively order parts. 

Here are three ways that maintenance crews for small and midsize fleets can leverage trailer telematics: to reduce roadside service calls, limit CSA violations and increase fleet uptime. 

Limit Roadside Service Calls 

Midsize fleet technician working on truck.

For every broken trailer, there’s typically a previous repair that could have been done to keep the asset on the road. Resolving a trailer component malfunction in the shop is much better than fixing one on the shoulder of a highway.  Trailer telematics data can simplify diagnostics, one of the cost-intensive and time-consuming parts of servicing used trailers. Rather than going through a component checklist to determine where the issue is, technicians can rely on automated fault code detection to skip troubleshooting and start repairing, clearing the shop quicker and getting assets back on the road faster. This doesn’t eliminate the need for pre- and post-trip inspections; if drivers have access to a DVIR, they can leverage a closed loop with shop technicians, helping maintenance leaders keep a digital record of each trailer to prevent missed repairs resulting in roadside calls.  

While there are numerous reasons for truck breakdowns, tires are a common culprit. Real-time visibility into the wear and tear of tires, brakes and other components enables real-time condition monitoring and alerts that can help crews proactively repair trailers before they break down, cutting back on trailer downtime and optimizing fleet uptime.  

Reduce CSA Violations 

Did you know that over 70% of this year’s CSA violations were from maintenance or service problems? Excessive fines can not only put repair crews in the doghouse with fleet managers, but it also hurts a fleet’s safety reputation, as it’s a clear indication that potentially unsafe assets are being put into rotation.  

Trailer telematics can play a role in reducing these violations by providing real-time visibility into lighting, brakes, tires and other components that are known to be usual suspects during roadside stops. Often, many of the issues reported would have been easily preventable with proactive trailer maintenance programs in place. 

Lights remain the top culprit for vehicle-related offenses, with 28% of total violations. Often this is a result of broken or missing lights that were missed by service technicians but can be quickly recognized with light-out detection. Brakes are also a frequent offender, with over one million violations just last year, including over-worn brake pads and faulty brake hoses and tubing. By using sensors, fleets can receive real-time alerts when brakes reach a certain level of wear, enabling technicians to schedule trailers for service before an emergency or roadside stop occurs.  

The third most common issue stems from tire violations, which account for 11% of the overall share of service-related incidents. Tire pressure monitoring systems can enable technicians to monitor pressure and temperature remotely, bringing more intelligence into their maintenance strategy. After all, being alerted to a low-pressure tire makes it much easier to deal with and more cost-effective than replacing a blown tire. 

Improving Fleet Uptime 

Boosting fleet uptime using trailer telematics data.

Maintenance managers will be the first to tell you; if a truck isn’t on the road, it isn’t earning revenue.  Fleet downtime is an important part of the equation for fleets of all sizes, and something that maintenance crews spend lots of time and effort in optimizing. However, for small to midsize fleets lacking an abundance of assets ready for deployment at the drop of a dime, downtime can be devastating, resulting in missed deliveries, inactive drivers and surprise expenses.  

Trailer telematics data can bring further intelligence into midsize fleet maintenance programs without further investment in labour and resources. Not only do location reports allow for easier routing and asset tracking, but they can also inform dispatch and the maintenance team of where a broken trailer is so another can be sent to continue the delivery. Plus, understanding the location of a trailer in need of service can help dispatch direct the driver to the nearest maintenance shop. The time it takes for a trailer in need of repair to reach technicians can be the difference between a quick fix and irreparable damage to the asset resulting in immediate replacement. 

Replacing static date-based maintenance scheduling with data-based scheduling —that is, mileage information collected from trailer telematics—can help provide a fuller picture of when a trailer may need to be in the shop for repairs. A trailer that has carried more weight – or completed more miles overall than another trailer – will likely need brake repairs sooner. On the other hand, a trailer that is being underutilized may be given more shop attention by technicians than it needs, wasting resources. By relying on the data, maintenance leaders can ensure their assets last the full equipment cycle in good order. 

Fleets with mixed trailer makes and models are more common than ever, and no two trailers are the same when it comes to maintenance requirements and recommended service intervals. By using intelligent scheduling driven by telematics data, midsize fleet maintenance leaders can ensure that each specific trailer model is getting the attention it needs.  

With the data from trailer telematics, maintenance managers can flip the script on how they keep assets fully operational. Rather than building a schedule that tries to fit every specific trailer component, maintenance teams can use telematics data to predict faults for an optimized maintenance cycle. By recording interventions as they take place, technician crews can use these incident reports to inform future repair decisions, leading to a more intelligent maintenance program.  

Making Maintenance Easier 

Free smart trailer solutions brochure

Managing midsize fleet maintenance is tough work–especially in today’s market. Luckily, trailer telematics technology is adding intelligence and insights to maintenance programs so that maintenance leaders can monitor trailers whether they’re in the shop or on the road.  

Whether it’s reducing CSA violations, cutting down on roadside repairs or informing maintenance scheduling powered by data, trailer telematics can help small- and mid-size fleets with enterprise-level service by providing real-time remote visibility into every facet of their trailer health. 

If you would like to learn more about how trailer telematics can help your small-to-mid-size fleet, be sure to check out our smart trailer solutions brochure to learn how tomorrow’s technology can help you today.  

Posted in 1. Transportation, 6. IoT Trends, Small and Midsize Fleets Tagged with: , , , , ,

Satellite IoT Connectivity Helping Combat Floods in Japan

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) is turning the tide on flood preparation by monitoring linear rainbands—tell-tale signs of impending heavy downpours—on observation vessels fitted with ORBCOMM satellite IoT connectivity.  

In 2018 alone, Japan was devastated by widespread flooding that displaced over 8 million people, with 225 confirmed dead and one trillion Japanese yen in total flood-related damages reported. Just last year, tens of thousands of army troops, police officers and rescue personnel were mobilized as more than 50 people lost their lives in the Kyushu region. 

Getting the full picture 

Due to difficulties collecting vapor data from the country’s windward side via on-land radar equipment, the JMA has witnessed drastic rainfall forecast inaccuracies. In one case, a predicted 128mm of rain turned out to be a devastating 330mm—nearly three times the expected amount—which led to the fierce Kumamoto floods that claimed 65 lives in 2020. 

Every minute matters 

When it comes to floods and mudflows, timing is everything. Earlier warnings of torrential rainfall allow prefectures to prepare for downpours with sandbags and floodways which can mitigate the infrastructure damage caused by the summer flooding.  

Mobilizing citizens with evacuation alerts earlier can save lives and reduce the stress and risk imposed on families, first responders and emergency personnel. In flood scenarios, experts encourage residents to move to higher ground when leaving for an evacuation center is too risky. 

Powered by satellite connectivity 

satellite terminal
ST 6100 Satellite Terminal

The JMA quickly determined that off-land readings would improve the accuracy and speed of their flood predictions; however, sending this information to the mainland can be difficult from a vessel out at sea. 

To solve this, the JMA and the Meteorological Research Institute fitted research vessels with ORBCOMM satellite connectivity so that they can collect off-land vapor readings and send them back to the mainland in real time. The result: accurate and timely forecasts. 

ORBCOMM’s ST 6100 satellite terminal features two-way IsatData Pro satellite connectivity ideal for maritime applications with little to no cellular reception. Plus, its environmentally sealed exterior and low elevation angle performance make it the perfect partner for both terrestrial and maritime applications. 

With ORBCOMM’s robust and reliable satellite IoT connectivity, we expect that the JMA will be able to monitor and send linear rainband data and other information in real time for near-instant reporting and that these new capabilities will make a lasting impact on flood preparation for the region, helping to protect Japan’s infrastructure and its citizens. 

Moving forward, the JMA aims to share warnings for areas with worrying levels of linear rainbands along with other meteorological symptoms of rainfall by 2022 and plans to develop a satellite that can gather information across a wider geographical range. 

By 2030, the JMA is looking at integrating these flood monitoring efforts with artificial intelligence to further improve meteorological accuracy while expediting prediction speed by as much as half a day. 

Posted in 6. IoT Trends

3 Reasons Every Fleet Manager Needs to Set Trailer KPIs

Key performance indicators–KPIs–aren’t new to the trucking industry. For years, fleet managers have been monitoring metrics to squeeze every last drop of productivity and efficiency out of their operations. However, these efforts have mostly focused on truck data–not the valuable information held within the trailers in tow. Trailer telematics has come a long way over the past few years, providing fleet owners with far more than basic location data. In this article, we’ll discuss what fleet managers can expect to accomplish by setting trailer KPIs driven by fleet telematics. 

Increase Asset Utilization 

With trailer order delays, driver shortages and component shortages, it’s proving difficult for fleet owner to expand their business.  One way to side-step this supply-side slowdown is by improving the efficiency of assets currently in deployment. Using trailer telematics to improve asset utilization begins with trailer tracking. According to the American Trucking Association, only 24% of trailers in the US had trailer tracking capabilities, leaving most fleet owners in the dark. 

Not only does this lead to idle trailers eating away at profit margins, but it can also result in underfilled trailers that limit productivity and waste drivers’ hours. Plus, this can confuse procurement, as what appears to be a need for new trailers could, in fact, be poor asset utilization in disguise. 

Improve Route Efficiency 

The average American long-haul trucker travels over 100,000 miles in a year, showcasing the distance that fleets cover as they transport cargo. Tracking trailer KPIs such as percentage of loaded miles versus empty (deadhead) miles can go a long way in boosting profit margins, considering the amount of time truckers are on the road., considering the amount of time truckers are on the road. 

To achieve this, fleet managers can use trailer telematics to provide operational intelligence to route planning and real-time visibility to dispatch. Knowing the location of each asset along with its current load capacity can help plan future trips and ensure the right driver–one with available hours and trailer space–is heading to the right job. Strategic route planning leveraging trailer telematics limits deadhead miles while improving detention billing accuracy for excessive detention time, which can help mitigate losses. 

Reduce Cargo Theft and Claims 

Tracking trailer KPIs can help fleet managers mitigate cargo theft, which just last year reached a 5-year record high in volume and value for the American trucking industry. The ability to track trailer locations in real time using telematics can provide fleet owners with assurance that their assets are where they should be. Plus, investing in door sensors can ensure each trailer is being accessed only when and where it is authorized to be. 

Another area where trailer KPIs can help protect cargo is by reducing cargo claims, which hurt customer relations while costing fleets for shipments that are time sensitive or vulnerable to spoilage. Trailer telematics can play a role in protecting cargo by triggering time stamps where and when cargo is damaged to inform future route planning. In addition, the increased utilization of cargo camera sensors has ushered in a new level of load visibility for fleet managers. Not only can they inform dispatch of available volume within any given trailer (perfect for improving asset utilization) but they can also be used to manually take photos at any given time or when certain events–the trailer door opening or the beginning or ending of a driver’s trip–are triggered. 

Leveraging Telematics for Trailer KPIs 

Real-time visibility, improved operational efficiency, improved customer relations–these are just a few benefits that fleet managers can expect from setting trailer KPIs built off of data from the latest trailer telematics devices

We recently created The Fleet Manager’s Guide to Trailer KPIs that dives deep into the value of data-driven trailer KPIs and which metrics fleet managers should prioritize. To learn more about how ORBCOMM smart technology can help you track and meet your trailer KPIs, request a demo or contact us at info@orbcomm.com

Posted in 6. IoT Trends Tagged with: , , ,

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