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Truck Telematics: Putting the Driver at the Heart of the Matter

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e-log solutionFollowing our 2017 acquisition of truck telematics providers Blue Tree Systems and inthinc, ORBCOMM was recently featured in two Transport Topics articles focusing on the new Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate regulations from the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which from last December 18 requires companies without existing Automated On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) to replace truck drivers’ paper log-books with electronic Hours of Service (HOS) apps.

As Christian Allred, ORBCOMM Senior Vice President of International Solution Sales points out, “the need for ELDs will push fleet operators to search for systems that provide economic benefits and not allow the mandate to be a cost to their business”. (See ELD Mandate Presents Opportunity to Boost Fuel Efficiency, Technology Vendors Say)

Reducing fuel costs is one such benefit and, as discussed in Fuel Economy in Focus, truck telematics systems play a key role in helping carriers “uncover driver behaviors that contribute to fuel waste, including aggressive driving, idling and speeding. With that information at their disposal, fleets can better coach their drivers and identify opportunities to boost efficiency.”

eld devices

Carriers can actually make money by investing in ELDs, through added features designed to enable fuel-economy improvements and other operational efficiencies

The driver is the biggest variable in the performance of a vehicle, but he or she can only do their best in the conditions that they find themselves in. Providing feedback and coaching in a fair and unbiased manner allows drivers to understand the behaviors expected and use the guidance provided to maximize performance, creating an opportunity for everyone to work together in delivering huge efficiency gains.

MPG has long been a key driving performance metric, but it’s not one that can be applied in blanket fashion. The make, model and age of the truck, and the type of driving conditions, all have a significant bearing on just how many miles a driver can squeeze from his or her vehicle for every gallon of fuel. Modern truck telematics technology incorporates sophisticated profiling that allows driver performance expectations to be established at an individual vehicle level

Free e-Book: Distracted DrivingIndeed, the trend we notice in this area is to stop judging the driver on MPG achieved. It’s better to work with the driver to improve the behaviors that are proven to have the biggest effect on fuel economy and, by managing these, the driver will achieve the maximum MPG possible under the conditions that he or she was presented with. When you show a driver his or her score for “anticipation“, for example, and explain how important it is to be a driver that “anticipates” rather than “reacts” to events, the improvement in safety-related incidents as well as performance is dramatic. The same applies to other metrics such as shifting patterns, use of cruise control, acceleration/deceleration patterns, and speeding profile, all of which have a huge effect on overall MPG.

Putting a simple performance scoring app in the hands of the driver that provides feedback on his performance at the end of every trip, and advises on how to achieve the expected results, has proven to be the missing piece in the puzzle.

What do you think is the key to improving driver performance and fleet efficiency? Have your say in the comments below…

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Sue Rutherford

As the Vice President of Marketing for ORBCOMM, Ms. Rutherford is responsible for advancing the strategic direction of ORBCOMM marketing and its leading satellite/cellular products and services portfolio. She has more than two decades of global technology marketing expertise in the telecommunications, software, SaaS and industrial automation industries.

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