Recent News & Updates

Telematics and IoT (Internet of Things)

Once upon a time, you could define “the internet” as something you used to send email - it kept your computer busy and your phone line tied up. But as phone lines gave way to cable, wireless, 3G, 4G, and whatever’s next, it’s time to think about the internet using a sort of Murphy’s Law of connectivity: whatever can be connected to it, will be. 

Welcome to the Internet of Things — and as a fleet operator, you’re going to start hearing from your trucks more often. They’ll be checking in to tell you where they are, how fast they’re going, whether they’re low on fuel, need air in the tires, or are just passing through particularly cold or hot weather. Thanks to the emerging field of fleet telematics, managers and drivers get feedback that allows them to change their practices for the better: improve route planning, change resting points for better driver alertness, even suss out the most fuel-efficient speed for specific loads on specific road surfaces. 

Imagine predictive maintenance schedules, with trucks rolling into shops where the mechanics have known what work would be needed before the engine was even purchased — based on usage data mined from the rest of your fleet and updated as the truck in question moved through its service life.

If it all sounds like science fiction (and perhaps a great way to save money), it’s a bit of both; adoption hurdles remain, not the least of which is building (and supporting) the infrastructure that will allow an exponentially-growing number of machines to talk to each other. 

But improved knowledge about your assets will make your fleet work better. That’s the promise of widespread telematics, a future where collecting and analyzing fleet data is more than just a competitive edge — it’s practically compulsory.

Posted by bobby on July 2nd, 2014


Data Without Insight Is Just A Set Of Numbers

Knowing what to do with it is key to improving performance…

There's a sense that the more data points we collect, the better decisions our fleet managers should be able to make; by all rights these days we should have the most efficient fleet operations ever.

But the truth is far less glamorous: as more data piles in, we seem to be sorting it increasingly poorly -- expanding the gap between data and information. A survey of fleet managers found nearly 1/3 of them had little faith in their organizations' ability to use collected data to make good decisions -- rating the process ineffective or extremely ineffective. Worse still, during a period of unprecedented expansion in data collection, just 1 in 5 think they're getting the data they need to improve their operations.

The term here is "information overload." Just as the psychological condition leads to an inability to make decisions in people, the business condition does the same to organizations. To fix it, start with figuring out what's important. Are you looking to improve safety? Decrease driver turnover? You can't chart your course without some idea of where you want to go.

Data is like the ingredients in a recipe. You don't need to know how to grind flour to tell whether a cake is any good. Likewise, you shouldn't need an advanced degree in statistics to interpret reports about your fleet data. Avoid the temptation to watch data as it's streaming in and trying to improve numbers in real time. Instead, watch trends for a better understanding of effective changes you can make going forward.

Posted by bobby on June 12th, 2014


Speed on Secondary Roads - Managing Speed Far More Important on Side Roads than Interstates

Fifty-nine percent of all large truck travel in US happens on non-Interstate roads, and large truck crashes on these roads occur at nearly three times the rate of crashes on Interstates. Everyone agrees that reducing speed reduces the risk of crashes on all roads. More importantly, these first first two statistics reinforce the growing industry perception that controlling speed on all secondary roads and locations where fleets operate is crucial - for public and fleet safety, as well as the bottom line.

Let's first look at the dollars and cents argument for controlling vehicle speed. Direct costs such as fuel consumption and maintenance downtime may not be as significant at the lower speeds typically associated with non-Interstate miles travelled. Crashes on the other hand (nearly three times more likely on secondary roads on a distance-traveled basis), affect the bottom line in both immediate and less tangible ways. Depending on severity, who is at fault, court costs and judgments, these unforeseen and widely variable costs can spell the end of careers and even move a year's profits to the loss column. If reducing speed reduces crashes in the higher risk non-Interstate zones, then managing speed in these higher risk zones becomes a significant operational requirement for any fleet manager.

A longer-term financial consideration is the impact of crashes and citations on a fleet's Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score. These public scores for all fleets are determined using the safety measurement system recently put into place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA). See more at: http://blog.ryder.com/2013/04/the-importance-of-your-csa-scores/#sthash.foVHfdQm.dpuf

As the industry begins to accept speed management as the easiest driver behavior to control, fleet wide speeding trends as well as the number of crashes make up two of the seven categories that the FCSA uses to determine your score. A higher score is not good, and the math is simple on this one.  Higher score = higher insurance premiums and perhaps more importantly, lost customers. While fleets may not be able to control the cost of fuel, they can control and improve their CSA scores over time. This makes insurance premium costs a more controllable and foreseeable line item for the operation of your business.

From a pure public and fleet safety argument, there is a reason that crashes on side roads and frontage roads are more likely. Interstates are controlled access environments, with traffic moving in the same direction, at generally the same speed, with no sharp turns or unknown road conditions. Secondary roads on the other hand have pedestrians, schools, animals, bicyclists, safety zones and usually traffic coming in the opposite direction or crossing at an intersection. Public perception of driver behavior associated with specific fleets is more likely to gain momentum, good or bad, in a local community that regularly sees fleets that use its local roads. This makes 45 in a 35 a far more compelling event to discover and important driver behavior to change.

SpeedGauge is finding ...

Posted by bobby on July 1st, 2013


Ohio Puts the Pedal to the Metal

Ohio is one of only 16 states that sets its interstate speed limits below 70 mph, but that is about to change. A new bill signed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich earlier this month raises the speed limits on interstate freeways outside urban areas to 70 mph starting July 1. Speeds on outer belts in urban areas would see that drop to 65 mph, while interstates deemed congested by the Ohio Department of Transportation would see speeds limited to 55 mph.

This is not the first time Ohio has raised speed limits, in 1996 motorists saw speeds jump from 55 to 65 mph, while the Ohio Turnpike raised its speed to 70 mph in 2010. Increased speed limits have an important effect for truck drivers, while most fleets limit their speeds to 62 or 65 mph and drivers wouldn't see a change in the speeds they drive, they would see a difference in safety risks. Reports have shown that roads with a higher speed differential between passenger traffic and commercial traffic have higher rates of accidents. Motorists who are driven to maintain their higher speeds often perform increasingly risky maneuvers to get around the slower driving trucks. While this makes little difference on a sparsely driven road, the weaving in and out in heavier traffic increases the likelihood of a passenger vehicle colliding with a truck or another passenger vehicle.

The Ohio Trucking Association is against this increase, and has been fighting a higher limit for the past eight years, and they're not alone. Environmental groups also are opposed to the increase, arguing that higher speeds reduce fuel efficiency while insurance groups state higher speeds will increase danger on the roadways. Though not all parts of the bill are negative in the eyes of trucking. The bill also includes a provision to borrow $1.5 billion against future Ohio Turnpike revenues to receive a matching amount in federal and state funds, making available $3 billion for highway and bridge construction within 75 miles of the turnpike corridor.

Passage of bills such as this one stresses the importance of supporting our state and federal trucking associations, and communicating with your elected officials. While transportation issues might help passenger traffic make it to grandmas a little quicker or easier, they are the lifeblood of our industry. Communicate with your elected officials - local, state and federal - and get involved with trucking industry groups to ensure your voice is heard on the issues important to your business.

Posted by jhubbard on May 21st, 2013