Wikipedia defines “telematics” as “any integrated use of telecommunications and informatics, also known as ICT (information and communications technology).” Today, I would add “command and control” to that as well.

Achievement of distant, real-time, current knowledge as to the who, what, where and when of a business, or how business operations and processes are performing, has literally changed how businesses can be managed and run. Now they can also be managed and operated from distant locations as well.

If knowledge of real-time locations and activities of your fleet units is of value or important, it is not terribly expensive to equip your entire fleet (be it long haul, local route delivery or both) with GPS units which will show the current real-time location of any fleet unit anywhere at any time.

If you are using a routing system for either long-haul transport operations or local route delivery, or both, it’s now rather easy and inexpensive to tie GPS unit tracking into that routing system to monitor how closely drivers adhere to or comply with routing directions and delivery schedules.

As an example, it’s an almost certain guarantee that when you implement a routing system for an existing route delivery operation, you are also going to see a significant reduction in fleet fuel consumption, miles driven and engine hours operated. With integrated GPS tracking added, you may now also see that you are still not achieving maximum fuel savings because of drivers deviating from their specific routings by varying degrees.

It’s also now quite easy to add engine monitoring to insure a virtual 100% compliance with company policy regarding excess engine idle time. It’s also possible to program automatic shut down of idling engines, should that be determined necessary. The combination of GPS location, tracking, routing and remote engine monitoring provides management access to real-time data that can reduce fleet miles driven, gallons of fuel used, exhaust emissions and also provide the information necessary to improve customer delivery schedule reliability.

In order for truck engines today and in the future to meet ever more stringent emissions reductions and, at the same time, also meet increased MPG mandates, those engines must be “smarter” than ever before. Indeed, the internal engine management computers and computerized diagnostic and operating controls and sensors continue to push the envelope in terms of computing capacity, speed and communication.


Preventative maintenance is a benefit

Telematics now makes distant access and monitoring of those activities and any related problems immediately known to distant managers. It permits real-time remote operating adjustments, in operation “fixes” or expedited “into the shop” trips in advance of possible major equipment failures or damage. The new combinations of real-time remote monitoring and operating capabilities, along with economical communications capabilities, literally change the fundamentals of how the business now can and should be operated and managed. It is possible to now not only monitor and manage distant vehicles and refrigeration units in real time but also concurrently the actions and activities of their drivers as well.

The incorporation of telematics with GPS location and tracking capabilities; routing systems; over-the-road refrigeration unit operations and temperature monitoring; vehicle diagnostics and performance; trailer and route body door openings and closings; fuel mpg; and fleet tire performance management all but guarantees substantial additional dollars on the bottom line. You should also expect equivalent levels of improvement in customer delivery reliability and satisfaction.

However, and some have heard me say this before, my concern is that there are many experienced dairy and ice cream distribution, fleet and logistics managers who simply don’t have the vision or the creative ability and imagination for “the never been done before” solutions. Or, these managers do not understand how to assemble, implement and manage such technological operating capabilities.

I hope I’m wrong on that, because there are virtually guaranteed big bottom line dollars to be had with incorporating these distant, real-time management and operating capabilities into your operations.