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Alex Borg

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Feb 16, 2024

5 minute read

Fleet Management Blog

What to Do With Your Sensor Data

Sensors provide fleet managers with an unprecedented level of visibility over the health of their assets. By taking full advantage of the data sensors provide, fleets can improve driver safety, reduce unplanned downtime and automate aspects of their record keeping.

"Increase the Lifetime Values of Your Vehicles with Real-time Sensor Data" was originally presented by Esteban Contreras at Geotab Connect in February 2024.

For most of the Information Age thus far, connectivity has usually referred to devices specifically designed to exchange data (like phones and computers). But thanks to rapid advancements in technology, things that long predate the Internet have begun to embrace digital communications in a big way. Chief among them—vehicles.

Next year, approximately 350 million vehicles will be able to wirelessly transmit and receive data thanks to having built-in telematics control units (TCUs) that connect them to cloud services over cellular networks. When paired with embedded sensors, this constant connectivity allows fleets to track their vehicle’s vitals in real-time and save those values as historical records. By leveraging the data fleet telematics provide, fleets can improve their operations in a myriad of ways.

Did you know?

Since launching sensor data functionality in 2022, Fleetio receives an average of 16 million sensor readings per hour from connected vehicles.

Here’s what you should do with your telematics sensor data:

Monitor vehicle stats in real-time to identify risks

Safety is the top priority of every responsible fleet manager. With real-time sensor values, fleet managers can look out for their drivers even when they’re in the field at remote locations.

For example, Fleetio has a customer that is a state agency in charge of regulating oil and gas operations. Their work often involves a lone inspector going down long dirt roads to visit sites in the middle of nowhere.

One day, the fleet manager for this agency noticed that one of their vehicles that had just embarked on a long trip had worryingly low battery voltage. Before the driver got too far afield, the fleet manager was able to contact the driver and instructed them to turn back so the battery issue could be addressed.

Thanks to the real-time visibility provided by sensors, that fleet manager was able to prevent their driver from likely getting stranded in the wilderness. By keeping a watchful eye over critical vehicle vitals, fleet managers can often spot issues that drivers won’t be notified of via any dashboard warning light until it’s too late. Additionally, telematics sensor data regarding seat belt status and vehicle speed can help fleet managers verify that their drivers are adhering to general safety protocols.

Integrate sensor data into your fleet operations

View multiple sensor readings together to reveal underlying issues

Modern vehicles are incredibly complex machines with tens of thousands of moving parts. This means that, even with the granular visibility sensors provide, identifying the root causes of vehicle issues still requires some detective work from time to time. Fortunately, by viewing multiple sensor readings together, technicians can often find the clues they need to get ailing vehicles back on the road.

Case in point, when a technician employed by a Fleetio customer was prepping a vehicle to be assigned to a new driver, they noticed that the vehicle’s battery voltage was oddly low. Upon inspecting further, they found that the battery itself was completely fine with no signs of corrosion, cracks or grime. Additionally, the cables attached to the battery’s terminals were tightly secured and the vehicle’s fan belt wasn’t loose either.

So, to dig deeper, the technician pulled up the vehicle’s engine revolutions per minute (RPM) data for the same time period as the battery voltage data they were previously viewing. Instantly, the technician noticed some strange blips in the RPM data that seemed to correlate with the vehicle’s decline in battery voltage. Thanks to spotting this connection, the technician was able to correctly diagnose that the vehicle’s alternator was beginning to fail and take action accordingly.

By surfacing informative data, sensors enable fleets to resolve vehicle issues faster by shortening the time it takes their technicians to perform a diagnosis. Less time identifying problems and more time actually resolving them results in less unplanned downtime.

Add context to vehicle issues by attaching sensor readings

Vehicle sensors constantly capture data, which allows fleets to review a vehicle’s vital signs leading up to an issue first being noticed. By reviewing a vehicle’s issue history and sensor data readings side by side, you can identify possible signs of trouble you ought to keep an eye out for.

But such connections between sensor readings and vehicle issues shouldn’t be kept to fleet managers alone. Instead, your organization should make a habit of noting sensor readings in the descriptions of your vehicle issues. By pairing a written explanation of an issue with relevant sensor readings, the cause and effect between a component failing an issue arising becomes much clearer, especially to your technicians.

For Fleetio Users

In addition to adding descriptions and photos to vehicle issues, Fleetio’s Sensor Snapshot feature allows you to attach sensor readings to provide additional context.

Ultimately, the more fleets know about the circumstances leading up to a vehicle issue, the more they’re able to optimize their preventive maintenance procedures to prevent that issue from recurring.

Pairing sensors with fleet management software

Even with the help of sensors, monitoring fleet assets can often be overwhelming. By integrating fleet systems with your sensor data, keeping a watchful eye over your assets and identifying valuable insights from your sensor data becomes a lot more manageable.

With Fleetio, you can view real-time telematics sensor readings like fuel level, ignition status, battery voltage and coolant temperature right from a vehicle’s overview page. This allows you to conveniently check in on vehicles at any time and makes it easy to see how a vehicle’s sensor values align with its service history.

Additionally, with Fleetio’s Sensor Snapshot feature, fleet managers, drivers and technicians can attach sensor readings from a relevant time frame to vehicle issues. In conjunction with attached descriptions and photos, this function allows you to provide a complete picture of what a vehicle is currently experiencing and what circumstances preceded the issue being noticed.

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Thousands of organizations across countless industries rely on Fleetio to manage their fleet activities. No matter the size of your fleet, Fleetio can help you track, analyze and improve your operations.

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About the Author

Alex Borg

Alex Borg

Content Marketing Specialist

Alex Borg is a Content Marketing Specialist at Fleetio. Beyond writing, his interests include going to concerts, playing guitar, and hanging out at the beach.

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