While the basics such as vehicle location, routing, fuel usage, and idle time will still be vital for day-to-day operations, getting richer data from more sources will help fleet operators make for better, faster decisions. - Photo via Shutterstock/zap2photo.

While the basics such as vehicle location, routing, fuel usage, and idle time will still be vital for day-to-day operations, getting richer data from more sources will help fleet operators make for better, faster decisions.

Photo via Shutterstock/zap2photo.

During the Data-Driven Fleet Experience, held online April 19-23 (and now available on-demand), Ed Peper, U.S. vice president of General Motors Fleet, interviewed Michelle Calloway, director of OnStar Business Solutions for General Motors, about the future of connected vehicles and a data-driven fleet. They touched on hot topics like OEM telematics, determining what data to collect, and learning how to better understand and use that data.

 

Capturing Beneficial Information

Calloway kicked the discussion off by saying decisions are only as good as the data they are based on, and that’s why accessing OEM-specific data can create a broader picture of fleet health.

“It can help fleet managers manage day-to-day business decisions as well as long-term investments based on data, like total cost of ownership,” she explained.

One example she gave was data on brake pad wear. This isn’t something drivers typically consider, and they are not usually qualified to monitor it without a service visit.

“With this information coming from a vehicle, a manager could set a particular wear milestone and schedule the service in advance,” she said.

The Pros of OEM Telematics

Fleet managers are now seeing more OEMs introducing embedded telematics devices. Advantages include the fact that fleet managers don’t have to purchase and maintain additional hardware. There’s also no downtime for installation, and embedded hardware is easier to manage because it can be activated at the factory.

“Embedded devices can also enable remote vehicle control commands that aren’t possible for customers using aftermarket hardware. Also, competitive innovation leads to unique features, capabilities, and data-driven insights as a result,” she continued.

Peper noted most fleet managers have a mixed fleet from different OEMs and don't want to manage multiple systems. However, according to Calloway, data standards and APIs can ensure interoperability of the information across mixed fleets and maintain each brand's unique data insights into vehicle platforms and product features.

Calloway discussed how GM is looking at telematics as a way to make it easier for fleet managers to be less reactive and more proactive when it comes to controlling costs and improving ROI.

While the basics — such as vehicle location, routing, fuel usage, and idle time —, will still be vital for day-to-day operations, getting richer data from more sources will make for better, faster decisions.

“Telematics will help managers make more timely, accurate decisions about overall fleet composition, utilization, driver behavior, and loss prevention as we move forward,” she stated.

Data-Driven Fleet Experience Keynote: The Future of Connected Vehicles and a Data-Driven Fleet

Partnering Up

The discussion then shifted to how telematics service providers (TSPs) are strengthening partnerships with OEMs for richer data sets.

Calloway talked about how TSPs understand there's data in the vehicle that GM simply can't access with an aftermarket device. To tap into that information, OEMs need embedded connections from the manufacturer.

“With the sunsetting of 3G, they (TSPs) need to replace the hardware in their customers' vehicles. These devices are a significant pain point for their customers, from getting them installed to keeping them installed and more,” she explained.

Hardwired devices equate to downtime for fleet customers. If they can leverage embedded hardware in the vehicle instead, they won't need to worry about replacement time and costs.

GM is working with TSPs to enhance data capture capabilities to benefit fleets by providing API connections for larger fleets, both directly and through telematics service providers.

Peper and Calloway touched on hot topics like OEM telematics, determining what data to collect, and learning how to better understand and use that data. - Screen capture courtesy of General Motors. 

Peper and Calloway touched on hot topics like OEM telematics, determining what data to collect, and learning how to better understand and use that data.

Screen capture courtesy of General Motors. 

Actionable Insights

The amount of data coming from a vehicle continues to increase exponentially. When asked if fleets should be looking at new or different types of data to harness instead, Calloway said for most fleets, it's not so much about new types of data, but about viewing it differently to make better business decisions.

“The real value is turning that data into actionable insights: how it can help your business and make your job easier? It enables managers to determine how they can be more productive, enhance routing, and manage downtime and expenses,” she clarified.

EV Evolution

Calloway talked about new skill sets fleet managers will need to thrive in a changing environment.

They will be expected to understand what the data they collect means, and they will expect their TSP to help them with that task.

“This will be especially important as fleets transition to the EV space. It's a new equation for the total cost of ownership. While there will be less data to manage on some of the traditional fronts — like maintenance and fuel costs — there will be new data to manage around charging infrastructure, employee charging reimbursement, and management information,” she explained.

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