Vehicle Telematics – How it Works & Common Uses

What is a Vehicle Telematics System?

Vehicle telematics systems make vehicle information readily available from any capable internet connected device by combining GPS technology, computers, and possibly cellular networks. These systems are generally used in trucks, cars, and logistics vehicles and can also be called “in-vehicle electronics” or “on-board technology.”

Mobile Data Transmitting
Vehicle telematics systems typically found today have mobile data capabilities which allow them to communicate with other devices over the air. In recent years this type of technology has rapidly advanced, and companies are finding more and more uses to help optimize their operations. The most notably useful feature of mobile telematics data is its’ ability to transmit vehicle information wirelessly to be examined in real-time. This allows fleet managers to make informed decisions from any location and improves overall efficiency.

Satellite GPS Navigation
An increasing number of new vehicles have GPS turn-by-turn navigation implemented in them, which puts paper directions in a museum. Eventually GPS navigational systems will be a standard feature in all new cars as technology progresses and prices fall. The Global Positioning System (GPS) operates by connecting antennae equipped devices to  24 to 32 satellites orbiting the Earth. These satellites monitor two things when a unit connects to them: the exact time of the transmission and the satellite’s position. The antennae in the devices receives this information and the device’s internal computer calculates the time it took for the signal to travel from various satellites to the antennae. These figures are then are plugged into mathematically algorithms to compute the device’s exact position (i.e. your GPS navigation system’s location). Another kind of GPS exists using cellular towers. This sort of GPS works in an entirely different manner by using triangulation and several cellular towers to find exact locations. The major drawback to cellular GPS is that it’s completely limited to the availability of cell phone signal. Therefore, if you don’t have a signal, you won’t be able to receive GPS capabilities. Unfortunately, the times when you’re in a remote area without cellular service is when you need GPS functions the most.

Vehicle, Trailer, and Asset Tracking
Telematics systems give companies the power to track their vehicles and assets in real-time which is a great benefit for fleet managers. Industries receiving the largest benefit from these systems are usually related to transportation or logistics. Standard vehicle tracking systems plug into the OBDII port or are hardwired. They are enabled to work directly with GPS satellites and usually cellular towers. Benefits such as driver information, vehicle location, current speed, dispatch messaging, job status, an array of automated alerts (harsh braking, idling, speed, etc), and simply generated reports assist fleet managers in making informed decisions to optimize operations and reduce costs. These devices are helping to reduce human errors, and organizations notice improved efficiency and cost reductions.

Fleet managers enjoy having a say in what happens regarding drivers, where as previously drivers habits and behaviors were completely unknown once they left the yard. Utilizing vehicle telematics, driver’s behaviors can be coached to reduce the likelihood of accidents, speeding, and other possible expenses. Drivers are unable to stray too far from their assigned route which saves fuel and time. An additional benefit is improved security and safety by tracking stolen property, reducing accidents, and receiving less speeding violations. Asset and trailer tracking have similar benefits as standard vehicle tracking, with a chief difference being they usually operate on a long lasting battery.

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