Bringing M2M to Fleets, Large and Small
Fleet management is quickly becoming one of M2M’s fastest growing areas. By tracking both vehicle performance and driver performance, fleet managers are saving money on everything from fuel consumption and maintenance costs to insurance rates. This has been especially true of larger fleets, which have the resources and staff to support vehicle tracking.
However, more recently, smaller fleets have also started to use the technology. Thanks to affordable in-vehicle tracking devices and cloud-based analytic software, companies of all sizes are using fleet telematics, making the technology the rule more than the exception for today’s fleet managers.
Perhaps the biggest indication that fleet telematics is moving mainstream has been the growing number of solutions being offered by big-name carriers. Sprint, www.sprint.com, for example, has been ramping up its M2M fleet solutions under its Emerging Solutions Group. Recently, the carrier partnered with ActSoft, www.actsoft.com, to provide wireless tracking devices for electrical contractor Brooks-Berry-Haynie (BBH). The small 4-in by 4-in tracking device uses a Sprint CDMA modem to provide high-speed wireless connectivity in BBH’s 150 electric utility trucks.
According to Andy O’Kelley, vice president of operations at BBH, the Sprint-Actsoft solution has improved fleet operations, reduced operational costs, and mitigated risk and liability. It even helped the company locate a missing vehicle this past summer.
The Sprint-Actsoft solution relies on a CalAmp 2610 embedded antenna to provide the GPS and other driver behavior and location information to BBH management. Since using the tracking device, BBH says drivers are more productive thanks to geofencing and customized tracking alerts. Other cost-cutting advantages have included a full maintenance system—such as indicating when oil and engine fluid changes and DMV inspections are due—as well speeding parameters, gas consumption, reduction of driver idle time, and other factors that can affect bottomline.
Another big name carrier, Verizon Wireless, www.verizon.com, recently announced a new telematics device with M2M partner Wireless Matrix Corp., www.wirelessmatrix.com, called the Reporter 30. It is a plug-and-play OBD-II device certified on the Verizon Network for GPS fleet tracking business applications.
In addition to offering fleet managers critical GPS location data, it also offers additional information such diagnostic trouble codes and data critical to fuel efficiency reporting. The key feature, however, is how the device caters to fleets of all sizes. The direct connection to the vehicle’s on-board computer port eliminates the need for installation services and vehicle wiring, giving smaller fleets the option of self installation. The low price point of the device also reduces the barrier to adoption for smaller fleets.
Maria Izurieta, acting CEO of Wireless Matrix, says partnering with a big name company like Verizon was critical to offering fleet operators the best possible solution. O’Kelley of BBH had similar sentiments about Sprint, adding that its pervious network connection was slow and unreliable.
As more companies continue to see and experience all of the advantages of fleet telematics, one can only expect wireless carriers to form more of these types of M2M partnerships. And that, of course, only means there will be more M2M solutions customized to the specific needs of fleet managers, both big and small.