Why we need more innovation in telematics for exporters

A telematics device can be useful to any road user. But for businesses that spend large periods of time on the road the benefits are vast. This is particularly true in the transit and exporting industry.

A big part of the fleet manager’s job is to manage the comings and goings of their vehicles and to keep a check on their drivers: Where are you? When will you arrive? Were the goods delivered safely? These have always been fundamental questions.

As fleets, and the distances they travel, grow it becomes increasingly difficult to obtain this information without the help of reliable technology. Add to this the growing scrutiny fleets are under when it comes to proving safety and security measures are firmly in place – it’s no wonder that telematics solutions have become so integral to the day-to-day running of many businesses that are looking to export.

Telematics devices are used by a variety of companies who want to increase security, improve efficiencies and lower insurance premiums – especially when vehicles travel long distances, change hands frequently and require monitoring 24/7.

Knowing the whereabouts of drivers at all times is a key selling point of a telematics solution. Yet, while we’ve had technology available for years which provides location-based tracking updates, it’s the relatively recent introduction of real-time updates that are revolutionising the day-to-day running of fleets. They have enabled managers to keep an eye on their staff from a distance at all times (day or night) ensuring communication between various parties is a clear as possible. Having real-time information makes it possible for a UK base to inform an international partner or customer of any expected shipping delays if the driver is at a standstill.

The integration of international multi-network sims has also been a step in the right direction. Some of the better telematics solutions on the market enable the black box to constantly search for the major networks with the strongest data signal at any one time, ensuring every vehicle has the best possible connectivity across Europe and beyond.

While we’ve cracked updates, what we need more of now are solutions that really take advantage of the rich data that can be drawn from a single telematics device fitted into an exporter’s vehicle.

Telematics works by sensors being applied to a vehicle which report on a variety of factors including driver performance and vehicle condition; such as steering, harsh breaking, cornering, tyre pressure and even temperature, for example.

Insight gathered by the sensors also makes it possible to detect when a crash occurs by sending a detailed emergency report, detailing where and when a crash took place. It can also report back on what these incidents were caused by, e.g. dangerous driving or another road user. Clearly, this is an extremely valuable tool for drivers exporting goods overseas as their interpretation of any incidents that occur on the road can be backed up by hard-data.

Although this data alone is a valuable resource for exporters, it is the innovation surrounding high-spec cameras which can provide clear, accurate footage of a driver’s journey that we should be most

excited about. While there are various camera options already available on the market, the quality of video footage is questionable and cannot be relied upon in all weather conditions. Most cameras also store video footage onto an SD card which is easily removable from the camera making tampering with evidence a concern.

The need for a reliable solution led my own team to invest in developing HD quality, live camera technology which the company is currently trialling in the UK with existing customers. The camera technology will provide the clearest possible picture as drivers travel from country to country, and will show images of the road ahead, as well as images of any contents within the vehicle.

The video data capture will be automatically transmitted from the black box to the cloud upon detection of a crash event and is viewable within minutes and stored for future use. When a problem does occur, such as an accident or goods being stolen or tampered with, appropriate action can be taken according to the objective evidence provided by the camera technology. When there are multiple partners involved, the data can be shared and viewed for clarification. Instead of having to sit down for an hour and work through a report, the manager(s) in charge can simply watch a 5 second clip to see what occurred and take appropriate action.

Telematics systems have been around for years but as people and businesses evolve, it’s important for technology to keep up. This is certainly the case when it comes to solutions introduced to help and assist the exporting community.

About the author

Geoff Ball is the Managing Director of Matrix Telematics. 

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