Access to the right data fuels safety, cost savings and better decision making – keeping your fleet competitive.

When you consider the future of your business, you may think of everything from autonomous vehicles to virtual fleets – technology we’ll undoubtedly see in the coming years. 

In the immediate term, though, Canadian fleet managers have untapped potential to transform their businesses for the better with technology and data through telematics. While telematics is still very much emerging in Canada, there’s ample opportunity ahead for fleet managers to embrace it in 2021.

For Addison Parfeniuk, co-owner of Two Small Men with Big Hearts Moving Co. for example, telematics has been critical for managing its growing business and adapting to new regulation. “Not only has Shell Telematics helped us drive efficiencies across our operations by improving safety and minimizing maintenance issues, but as our needs have evolved, Shell is able to deliver the solutions we need, particularly as we prepare for the Canadian ELD (electronic logging devices) mandate,” says Parfeniuk, who is responsible for 40 trucks that travel across Western Canada. 

Modern vehicles like those in Parfeniuk’s fleet already contain a wealth of information. A well-run telematics program is what turns that data into useful insights you can use to run your business more efficiently and keep it competitive for the future.

Putting people first

For fleet managers, driver safety is always at the top of the priority list. At the same time, with your fleet drivers inherently spread out and on the road at any given time, managing safety effectively from where you sit can be a challenge. 

Here’s where telematics bridges the gap. 

Take driver habits. Anecdotally, we can usually get a sense of whether someone is a safe driver. However, telematics offers greater, deeper insight into driver behaviour, from length and severity of speeding and their acceleration habits to idling time and braking events. Once this data is available, it also offers the chance to provide coaching incentives for drivers to improve their habits, keeping them more engaged day-to-day and ultimately, driving productivity across your team.

The potential safety benefits of telematics go well beyond monitoring and improving driver behaviour. Telematics allows you to track the location and movement of all vehicles with satellite map view and live traffic information, to determine the safest and most efficient routes and detect collisions if they occur. 

Controlling costs and compliance

Along with insight into the human element of your fleet, telematics technology also gives you a window into how your vehicles are performing. This real-time insight into the overall health of your vehicles can help you plan ahead and increase vehicle availability as you need it. Fleet managers can also proactively investigate issues, cutting down on maintenance costs and reducing driver risk. 

The ability to monitor fuel usage and performance also allows fleets to cut costs. With Shell’s telematics program, for example, fuel card data is integrated into the telematics platform for fleet managers, making it easier to track fill-ups and variances, including unusual activity, providing additional security for your fleet. Integrated fuel efficiency reports and fraud detection through telematics programs save fleet managers critical administrative time that can be put to better use. 

As Parfeniuk points out, access to reliable and accurate driver information is crucial for managing safety and costs, but also compliance, especially as Canada transitions to mandatory electronic logging devices for commercial fleets later this year. Telematics technology makes keeping a journey history simpler, allowing you to review the dates, times, start and finish locations, driver time and distance travelled in an automatic, paperless system.

Building trust with your customers and leadership

Real-time data gleaned through telematics is also the starting point to enhance your supply chain and improve the customer experience your fleet delivers, building trust with them. Telematics allows you to make more informed decisions on logistics and routing and improve customer fulfilment through tracking and notifications.

All of these insights that telematics provide have another benefit: curbing your fleet’s environmental impact. Visibility into driver behaviour, inefficient routes, vehicle health and fuel economy not only allow you to improve safety and performance, but also cut down emissions as well.

Access to detailed reports that outline all these benefits is invaluable when it comes time for conversations with leadership, especially your chief financial officer. When you’re armed with the right data, you can enter financial discussions with more confidence because you will have provable cost savings and insights at your fingertips. Telematics offers a way for your department to be accountable for your efficiency – and profitability – in a clear way that resonates with leadership to help your part of the business flourish. 

At times, overseeing a fleet may make you feel like you lack control. Gaining more foresight starts with the right data. The right insights, personalized to your fleet’s specific needs, ultimately makes your fleet – and your wider business – more competitive.

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