Vehicle Fleet Digitization
fleet management: Modern telematics not only enables comprehensive management of vehicles used by companies. Its implementation improves the safety of drivers, reduces fuel consumption and environmental pollution. The development of this technology also creates new business opportunities.
The material partner is Volkswagen Financial Services.
Telematics solutions were introduced in France in the seventies of the last century; they were used primarily for more effective transport and logistics management. Currently, there are over 100 companies and start-ups offering telematics products across the European Union. The first solutions of this type reached Poland only in the 2000s, but unlike in Western Europe, they were primarily intended to protect against car theft. That is why technologies that use GPS to monitor vehicles were focused on in our country. Today, Polish companies see a wide range of benefits resulting from the use of more and more developed and expanded tools. These include, among others: safer and ecological driving, lower fuel consumption and car wear, lower insurance costs, as well as more effective management of drivers’ work by fleet managers.
Currently, telematics is considered the only effective method of car fleet management. Thanks to this technology, we can position vehicles, define geo zones within which our employees are located, and effectively manage messages sent to us by a measured car. These include information displayed on the dashboard and those proving the actual use of the car. We are able to determine on which routes the car consumes the most fuel, whether the driver uses the start/stop system and changes gears optimally. Service messages inform us that the brake pads need to be replaced, the tire pressure has dropped, the oil level in the engine is too low, or service needs to be performed. By using this data, a number of actions can be taken – more efficiently planning visits to the service or limiting the excess consumption of the fleet. The aim is for Volkswagen Financial Services to use the telemetry system (responsible for transmitting measurement values at a distance) also by the Technical Center in order to automate the service planning process fully.
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OptiDrive – Performance Indicators
One of the projects dynamically developed by Volkswagen Financial Services is the implementation of telemetry, allowing for more effective management of the car fleet. To create a solution for cars from the Volkswagen Group, the team decided to cooperate with TomTom, a global leader in telemetry and mapping services. Thanks to this, the concern has access to proven solutions at the highest level in terms of quality, which guarantees the stability of the service.
In line with the strict technical requirements of the Volkswagen Group, TomTom has developed a modern GPS Link 610 positioner. The device is directly connected to two communication buses (CAN) and does not void the vehicle manufacturer’s warranty. The solutions offered by external suppliers could send queries to the car’s onboard computer in an uncontrolled manner, which could lead to errors in the vehicle being generated. Therefore, in order to reduce the risk of possible errors, it was decided to develop a special device, which is primarily to work passively with all brands included in the Group.
All data is shared with fleet managers through a tool called Webfleet, which is currently the most used telemetry platform in Europe. Thanks to it, both the person managing the company fleet and the administrator can generate dozens of reports presenting data in almost any configuration.
With such a developed data transmission and analysis system, its security is an extremely important issue. The data is stored on dedicated VWFS servers in the TomTom headquarters. If the customer himself does not grant access to Webfleet, VWFS cannot see the customer data. The VWFS solution is one of the few on the Polish market that meets the ISO 27001: 2013 standards, guaranteeing data confidentiality.
In addition to the internet portal, the customer receives two mobile application, one of which is dedicated to drivers. It allows you to create a driver’s profile so that whenever he gets into the car, the system identifies him as a specific user. This means that many people can use one car without the need for additional magnetic cards and chips. In addition, the user can turn on the private mode, which, in accordance with the provisions on the protection of personal data, data about its location is not collected. This application has many other useful features, such as route analysis and a remote dashboard that shows the fuel level, mileage, and even potential faults. The second mobile application additionally improves the work of the fleet manager, who gains access to the preview of all cars in the fleet through his mobile device. It makes fleet management even more effective.
Why Eco-Driving Is Important
Independent studies show that fuel consumption and servicing account for up to 30% of the total cost of owning and operating a commercial vehicle.
Telematics In The Service Of Optimization
But don’t forget the cost savings in operating your vehicle and servicing (see the box Why eco-driving is important). It is estimated that, depending on the work culture and approach to fleet management, after installing telematics devices, costs can drop by up to 30% in terms of fuel consumption alone. Without telemetry, fleet managers have to rely on information provided by drivers. This, however, creates a risk – it happens that the employees using the cars do not notice or for other reasons do not report faults, or they do it too late, which increases the wear and tear of the car.
The use of electronics allows you to eliminate the risk associated with excessive wear of the vehicle. This has a direct impact both on the costs and on the safety of drivers, resulting not only from the failure-free car but also from safe driving in accordance with the rules of the road. To ensure this, fleet managers can use the Webfleet tool, which is able to show the exact fuel consumption and deviations from the average value defined by the fleet manager or the vehicle manufacturer. Exceeding the speed limit is also monitored. The system has information from the General Directorate of Roads and Motorways about the applicable speed limits on the given sections of the first and second category roads.
Another possibility offered by advanced telematics is incorporating gamification elements into fleet management. Fleets increasingly use the OptiDrive tool to optimize driver performance (see box OptiDrive – Performance Indicators). Thanks to the OptiDrive function, drivers can compete to decide which of them better meets the parameters determining the permissible fuel consumption, records less dangerous road incidents, does not exceed the speed, takes care of optimal gear changes overall driving dynamics. Drivers anonymously observe which place they won in the team ranking, motivating them to drive economically.
Towards Consultative Selling
The possibilities offered by advanced telematics force companies such as VWFS to change the way and the assumptions of building relationships with customers. Volkswagen Financial Services, together with the Škoda brand, has implemented a program called Biznes Ekspert. It assumes the transition from the previously used transactional sale model (within which the client chooses from among the available leasing or long-term rental offers) to the consultative sale model. Selected Škoda dealers offer not only cars but also tools to improve the work of fleet managers. One comprehensive, tailor-made package combines vehicle rental and fleet policy. However, it would not be possible without telemetry, which enables optimal car fleet management. So far, when a customer decided to install a telemetry system in his vehicles, he had to agree to the interference of fitters from an external company, but VWFS does not use such external entities. The role of the Skoda dealer is to prepare the car for release, which, if the customer chooses a telematics solution, is also associated with the installation of an appropriate device. The installation and commissioning of the equipment are carried out under the strict control of a specialist. The same dealer who used to sell only cars is now able to recognize customer needs and offer a complete package of services. Biznes Ekspert was created with the development of the sector of small and medium-sized enterprises in mind,
The sales function is more and more often replaced by the consultation model, which, however, requires completely different skills and knowledge. In order to provide high-quality services, VWFS organizes a series of training for fleet advisers and for fleet managers, lectures by experts in the field of effective TCO calculation, fleet policy development, and long-term rental management. All this so that the customer of a selected Škoda dealer could, under one package, receive not only a fleet of vehicles financed by the financial product best suited to his needs but also a comprehensive fleet management service based on the latest telematics tools.
Operating cars in difficult conditions is a real problem for fleets. However, thanks to the information flowing in a wide stream from the measured cars, VWFS experts can select the appropriate product, mileage, frequency, and scope of the service the customer uses. All this is to reduce over-mileage and excessive vehicle wear and manage the customer’s loss ratio more effectively.
The Future Of Telematics
The development of telematics systems is currently proceeding at a rapid pace. No wonder because many companies responsible for implementing this type of modern solution see many new applications for them. One of them is active cruise control allowing for autonomous driving – even today, new Audi cars, e.g., the A8 model, have the possibility to drive independently in a traffic jam. It is telematics responsible for the creation of fully autonomous cars and smart cities in the future. The use of this technology will become more and more common. According to Gartner’s forecasts, by 2020, as many as 250 million vehicles will be connected to the telemetry system – currently, it is one car in five registered in the world. This means the ability to analyze simply unimaginable amounts of information,
Even today, telematics allows companies to reduce costs related to fleet insurance, while in the near future, we can expect insurance offers in Poland, the price of which will depend on the driving style of the insured driver. UBI, or usage-based car insurance, was developed in the early 2000s in the United States, and today it is a standard there, not only for corporate clients but also among private individuals. The introduction of a new product required technological progress and better accessibility of mobile devices and cooperation between several insurance companies, the aim of which was to create a coherent system assessing the actual use of a car and determining its impact on the cost of the policy. Several projects are already operating on the Polish market, initiated by vehicle insurers and suppliers of telemetry solutions, which would accelerate the introduction of UBI in our country. Today in Poland, discussions are taking place primarily on how to design a system similar to the one that works in the United States. The priority is to find a solution that would be relatively inexpensive but also minimize any measurement errors and inaccuracies.
Today, telematics should not be associated only with car positioning via GPS. The measured cars begin to resemble rather modern computers, constantly analyzing the driver’s driving style, fuel consumption level, the vehicle’s actual technical condition, and many other factors. Thanks to this, fleet managers have wide access to detailed reports based on which they can better manage drivers’ work and reduce costs related to the use of cars. The widespread use of this type of solution leads to greater road safety and less pollution resulting from carbon dioxide emissions.
The development of telematics also has other business implications: it inspires companies producing and financing vehicles to create new value for customers by using modern technologies, it also encourages the reformulation of the role played by sellers. It is only a matter of time before other companies, such as those dealing with car insurance, follow in their footsteps and start using data from measured vehicles to create tailor-made offers for customers.