Today it is widely accepted that remote connectivity is essential in managing a modern fleet of vehicles. Primarily, this comes into play with GPS tracking and route optimization. Today, some programs can help management easily track vehicles, communicate with drivers regarding route changes, and gather data related to driving time and delivery efficiency. Even with all of this becoming increasingly normal practice, however, ongoing advances in technology are poised to make remote connectivity even more important in fleet management.
One of those advances relates in a sense to the very idea of wireless connectivity. As you may well have read by now, 5G networks are emerging and bringing with them a big boost in speed and responsiveness. This may not mean that we see a definitive change on a given day when we suddenly leap forward into an era of better wireless connections. Over the course of this and next year, however, 5G networks are expected to spread. They will only make it easier for the technology in fleet vehicles to communicate seamlessly with company systems, essentially performing IoT (internet of things) devices.
Many of the relevant devices, small as they may be, still depend on the printed circuit boards that have long been necessary for electronics. However, the devices need to be small and adaptable while retaining wireless power — new designs have had to be crafted. Because of these needs, in fleet-related tech and elsewhere, we’ve seen improvement in PCB antennas so much that they can be as compact and as powerful as they need to be. This has meant the emergence of a range of different types of sensors that can be used in fleet tracking and fully capable of sending wireless signals (including on the coming 5G networks).
Given all of this, it certainly looks as if wireless connectivity will only play a bigger role in how fleets are managed moving forward. GPS tracking and route optimization are the most prominent applications, but there are already several other ways IoT-connected sensors can help improve fleet performance.
Tracking the shipped assets
IoT sensors can be attached to shipped assets rather than vehicles themselves. This is something that some businesses are already beginning to do, and it enables even greater visibility of product shipments. Tracking a car certainly provides insight regarding delivery times and inventory movement. But monitoring the actual products can expand that insight and further ensure that deliveries occur as intended.
Maintaining the vehicle quality
We know that fleet management is critical for a delivery business, and this can be true no matter how large or small said business might be. In the simplest terms, a vehicle that breaks down or performs poorly can slow down deliveries, lead to unnecessary costs, and even make drivers less safe. IoT sensors can now play a role in avoiding these problems by monitoring engine performance, tracking tire and brake quality, timing oil changes, and so on.
To some extent, this point ties right in with route optimization. Generally, the most efficient route will also be one that helps to conserve fuel. However, sensors linked to vehicle activity can also provide management with more comprehensive pictures of driver habits and vehicle idle time. This information can potentially be used in instruction that will change practices and lead to less wasted fuel.
Monitoring the driver performance
Driver performance is another crucial area that can benefit from modern fleet vehicle sensors. It’s widely known that fleet drivers are often overtired and overworked, and unfortunately, this can lead to significant safety issues for others on the road with them. Responsible fleet managers will already be working to avoid these problems and keep their drivers safe. But sensors mean to monitor performance (by detecting sudden stops and starts, speeding, indications of tired or impaired driving, etc.) can make it easier to spot problems and make the necessary changes.
Through all of these efforts and more, connected sensors can help modern shipping fleets to be safer, more responsible, and more efficient all at once.