Tracking and location management should be considered two different concepts, whilst both living broadly within the Telematics framework. Transport and logistics operations have become more complex and demanding and technology has evolved from primitive functionality into an amalgamated world of potential opportunities.
The question is, how to take advantage of the technology and therefore the massive opportunity?
It is still possible to treat technology as meeting the ‘tick-a-box’ requirements, but isn’t that simply deploying technology that is now legacy? Is deploying legacy technology providing the greatest opportunity, value add or competitive advantage?
Technology has become about the smarts it can provide the operator. This evolution has led to tangible and previously unavailable benefits. When did tracking turn into location management and what does it mean?
Historically, tracking has been about a dot on a map – it was about knowing where your assets were located. Back-office staff were able to see where assets were located on a map at that exact moment, or close enough to that moment, with a few simple clicks. The driver, depending on the technology and the monetary resources of the company, was also potentially given an in-vehicle GPS navigation unit that helped guide them to their destination.
That was the beginnings of ‘tracking’. It provided operators with the ability to service their customers better as operators were able to deduce how far vehicles were from their customer’s location and provide rapid feedback. Software evolved to try and enhance this by adding geo-fences to the in-cab devices, by attempting to define a ‘trip’ or ‘journey’ and by attempting to define driver behaviour. All of this was, and still is, incredibly ‘assumptive’. How can we assume a driver is fatigued simply because a truck has been in operation for 16 hours or a journey starts and stops with ignition events? This list of assumptions goes on.
Some years ago, operational requirements for tracking began to change. The back-office needed to know more than just where assets were located.
User interfaces for tracking software saw a change away from just a map with ‘points’ where a tabular view was introduced giving staff the right information at the right time about the asset.
Back-office staff were able to see estimated driving times along with exact locations, jobs details, driver information (where possible) and so on. This was still just static and sometimes assumed information – it didn’t actually do anything apart from tell you a couple of basic facts. But every story needs a beginning; this is where Transtech consider the end of tracking and the beginning of location management.
Today, transport operators face stringent obligations, regulations and laws meaning that the data requires enrichment with a constant ‘link’. A combination of accurate and dependable information that describes where and when events have occurred, why they happened, current and historic work, manifests & jobs along with rich route and location information. This is Location Management.
The journey from ‘tracking’ to location management begins with technology such as GPS, data along with highly accurate geo-spatial information.
There are two main methods of how data is collected, that is, whether it is driver-entered data or automatically collected from the device. Automated data such as dates, times, geo-fence triggers, engine management and speeds are collected and sent to NextGen independently of the driver – the driver isn’t required to input anything for these to be ascertained. This is combined with application-specific data such as job execution (manifest) and other applications such as mass and fatigue management. Nextgen assembles linked and location aware data – this suddenly becomes incredibly powerful.
A driver can encounter many different and unforeseeable events throughout their journey. This can range from speeding, fatigue violations, failure of pre-trip checklist to set off device alarms or geofence notifications. Knowing about these events and taking preventative action is important.
The advancements in technology and tracking functionality now enable the operator and the driver (in real-time) to foresee and react quicker to these events.
When these events occur in the field, NextGen provides the ability for back-office staff to set up and receive immediate alerting. Detailed information of events as they occur, not after the fact. This is combined with map pinpoints and location enriched data to provide real-time and historical insight for operators.
What are the benefits?
The enablement of location management opens up a world of potential and benefits. It enables a real-time response to changing conditions or instructions. Technology is able to provide the driver with immediate audio and visual notification of issues as they arise.
The driver can quickly re-route and be guided to a safe rest spot in the event of a road based delay whilst not breaching any access conditions (such as IAP or HML) and meeting the regulations set out by their assigned fatigue ruleset.
All the while, the back office is instantly made aware and provide both driver support and enhanced customer service via immediate alerts and real-time reporting via NextGen.
Along this journey, the driver is constantly made aware of his intended and allowable route along with any other known road conditions such as dangerous bends. Customised alerts can be created to also notify drivers of dangerous road conditions on approach.
The back-office leverages from the enriched in-cab information. Driver schedules and KPIs can now be managed and clients can be better advised. Follow up reporting and compliance is available from a few simple clicks. Detailed event information includes all the location information augmented into reports.
This is just tip of the iceberg.
Transport operators implementing these types of services are seeing benefits from KPI management to efficiency gains by using enriched historical data to make more accurate planning decisions. It continues to allow the operator to progress and benefit more quickly as technology itself progresses into the future of cloud-based technology and augmented ‘all-in-one’ in-cab devices.
Transtech has deployed solutions to clients utilising SmartJobs’ framework or QuickJobs to manage work. Integrated powerful location management features are built-in to these applications giving the transport operator a clear competitive advantage.
Coming soon to NextGen is a complete journey planning solution. Routes will be able to be configured to follow specific roads, geofences, locations, fatigue rulesets and driving times for different purposes such as:
- Remaining compliant to access or IAP restrictions.
- Safe driving plans that take driver fatigue information and travel times between stops into account, to ensure drivers can safely complete the journey and comply with fatigue laws.
- Job and point-to-point routes that take locations and geofences (customers, depots, branches, POI, etc.) to build a route with stops.
- Known driving hazards and enriched stop information.
It’s not just about a dot on a map anymore. Location management provides a clear and concise view of all the different operational elements on a map with supporting information. Transtech utilises locations in many different ways to improve upon operational efficiency, productivity and safety – to create opportunities to continue to positively grow.
When planning on purchasing solutions for the operation, then ask a simple question. Is legacy technology really good enough for you moving forward?