How to Get Profitable Insights from Fleet Data

Tags: Trucking, Safety, Big Data

Fleets today deal with a huge volume of data — more than they’ve ever collected before — pouring in from ELDs, dashcams and other trucking technology. It’s a double-edged sword. Data has become indispensable because it provides key insights that help inform critical business decisions and, used properly, can boost productivity and minimize expenses. However, the sheer abundance of fleet data can be overwhelming, and many managers struggle to derive actionable insights from it. After all, data on its own doesn’t automatically equal “information” — it’s only useful if it’s accessible and understandable.

Managers must find a way to bring order, insight and context to the plethora of data they encounter every day. The best way to do this is through monitoring their equipment for the right things, setting (and paying attention to) notifications and generating reports tailored to your fleet’s needs. This way, you can create a thoroughly optimized fleet.

Choose metrics wisely

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all prescription for what fleets should monitor, as needs and goals differ among organizations, and choosing too few or too many could limit the impact of your reporting. However, tracking the following metrics has been shown to have positive effects on fleet safety, vehicle health and the bottom line:

  • Engine on/off time
  • Idling
  • Fuel use
  • Harsh braking and cornering
  • Speeding
  • Crashes
  • HOS data
  • Vehicle maintenance metrics (such as tire pressure, and when routine services are due)

Set notifications to catch outliers

Once you’ve decided what to monitor, be sure notifications are activated to alert you to new data and events in real-time. Since it’s easy to tune out notifications if too many arrive at too fast a pace, be strategic with the types of alerts you set up, and the frequency with which you want to be alerted. Otherwise, it makes it harder to spot the outliers — and that’s the whole point of monitoring. For instance, you probably don’t need to know every time a truck is idling, but maybe do want to be alerted if your telematics device detects idling for five or more minutes. Similarly, getting a real-time alert every time a driver speeds may get tiresome, but you’d definitely want to know immediately if a crash took place.

Select the right reporting tool

Once data is received, using a customizable dashboard, fleet managers can then generate comprehensive reports to help them visualize everything taking place across their fleet. This is a crucial step, as making smart use of data depends on managers’ ability to transform raw data from telematics devices into easy-to-understand reports. Not only does this help them make decisions, it makes it easier to provide concrete results on improvement to upper management and company leaders. Managers should look for the following features when selecting a reporting tool:

  • Flexible formats: this allows managers to create reports populated with only the data relevant to different departments or team members, in a variety of layouts. This also provides different ways to display the data, so if it isn’t telling the story you want to communicate, you can flip things around and/or move new data into the report to give it the right context to make it compelling.
  • Extensive filtering options: it’s essential to have the ability to create reports featuring the data you need, and excluding what you don’t, as it helps managers visualize the problem to more quickly zoom in on any issues (e.g. identifying three problematic vehicles to focus on).

Reporting isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it activity, and collecting data is only the first step. Setting up the right reporting metrics and then making use of those reports (as well as alerts and notifications) is what plays the most important role in helping managers catch outliers in operations and make operational changes that’ll improve the bottom line.