Episode 3: Exploring Telematics Integrations, 5G and Other Fleet Trends
Matthew Dziak: [00:00:00] Welcome to The Fleet Code, a podcast brought to you by Fleetio where we'll dive into the latest fleet trends, technology and best practices. Get the inside scoop as we decode the challenges of fleet management.
Ernest Acevedo: [00:00:23] I would say fleet management is not what it was yesterday. It is definitely something that you have to use technology for to be good at today because there's no way to have all that information in your head and be able to decipher it. The good ones are able to do it, but why not use tools to help you bridge those gaps?
Matthew Dziak: [00:00:41] In this episode of The Fleet Code, we'll discuss some of the trends in fleet management and technology. Joining us to lend some of his expertise is Ernest Acevedo. Ernest is the fleet manager at Boyle Transportation. Now Boyle is a specialized national trucking company that transport secure, and sensitive material for both life sciences and defense clients.Ernest. Thanks for joining us on the show today.
Ernest Acevedo: [00:01:03] Thanks for having me.
Matthew Dziak: [00:01:05] Can you give us a little background on yourself and how you got into fleet management?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:01:08] So I've been in the trucking industry for 20 years. I've driven trucks and run my own small trucking business. Been in distribution management, worked in freight forwarding, and now it's fleet management.
And I got my degree in operations management from UMass Amherst.
Matthew Dziak: [00:01:21] Now Boyle has been in the news recently for its participation in helping to distribute Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. And I know there's a lot of sensitive information you can't share, but can you just talk about that responsibility and how that is a reflection of your fleet?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:01:34] Recently, we were awarded a contract to help deliver COVID 19 vaccines and rapid tests around the country because of our proficiency. And my job is to oversee all that equipment, the maintenance department, the equipment processes, the equipment technology, which is vast, and the maintenance staff to help us deliver on that demand.
You know, things like that. We've built the reputation that we have today and why we were picked out of a bunch of trucking companies to be able to do this, which we're very honored to do.
Matthew Dziak: [00:02:02] Yeah, absolutely. It's an enormous undertaking and you're not the only one, but being one of the providers to distribute the vaccine just definitely is a reflection of your guys' success.
Hopefully one day we can get back to a somewhat normalcy, but in the meantime, we'll, you know, we'll keep trucking away. We did talk a little bit about the transportation of secured materials. What type of fleet assets does Boyle have in order to facilitate that?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:02:27] So we employ a fleet of heavy duty over the road, tractors and refrigerated trailers that are maintained heavily and put through rigorous quality control procedures.
Matthew Dziak: [00:02:35] And then when we think about the success of your operation, those successes don't come without a little bit of adversity or challenges. So what have been some of the challenges you faced, whether that was when you started or just over the years?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:02:48] I'd say the biggest challenge for me was not knowing what I do not know. I had no idea what I was stepping into and not only was Boyle an unknown company for me, but so was the job. My perception of what a feed manager was someone that used to turn a wrench. That was not me. I was not in the position to see how the industry was changing from the outside looking in. So I was a little scared.
I'm like, I'm not a mechanic, but a lot of work. I realized that I was a perfect fit for where the industry was heading while I do not discount the people before me that turned a wrench and now are great at being a fleet managers, which is great. I believe that the core attributes of tomorrow's fleet managers will have a continuous improvement mentality and an understanding of data and how it connects to their businesses today, which is incredibly important as the industry goes forward.
Matthew Dziak: [00:03:31] And following up on data, we all know how important that is just to fleet management as a whole, and really grasping it. You know, when we think about some of the trends that are going on in the world of fleet management, are there any that stand out to you?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:03:44] Yeah, there's a bunch, I would say always staying connected to your fleet and drivers and incorporating telematics and GPS devices to facilitate visibility, got to know where your trucks are at all times, having the tools to manage your fleet remotely and collaborate with your team in real time.
Those are the three that come to mind right off the bat.
Matthew Dziak: [00:04:03] Yeah. And another trend that I know that you guys have stayed ahead of is launching new technology and specifically things like telematics devices and integrating those into your other solutions, like your fleet management software. Can you talk about that process and leveraging that data? If you will.
Ernest Acevedo: [00:04:19] So we're going to be talking about integrations with the telematics companies and a company like Lydia, where the information is coming from the telematics devices like mileage, or let's say in the case of a refrigerator trailer would be ours. So we're able to use that information. That's constantly being flowed through the telematics devices and increments, maybe depending on the telematics device.
It could be anywhere from zero minutes going into the cloud to five minutes, 15 minutes, getting that information could be anywhere from positioning of that equipment. It could be the mileage or some cases you would have the status, which is, is that vehicle okay? There's a problem is immediate and that's being funneled into our system.
So when you bring it into a fleet management software system, That's where that information is going to be logged. It's going to tell us where it was, what the hours were, what the mileage was, or if there's any issues. So we're able to use that information to supply a lot of the stuff that we used to do back in the day just write it in, but now we're able to put that in there and without even looking at it, it'll be ready to go when you need it.
Matthew Dziak: [00:05:22] So, can you talk a little bit about how that data that you're pulling in through the telematics and integrating those with your software provider, how you're able to really take that data and make decisions off of it?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:05:33] So back in the day, you would have to get the data from the actual driver. Tell us what the mileage is or the hours were with this integration. What it does is it could power reminders, which essentially a reminder was sent out an email telling us that something needs to be done and we can then start planning.
So it's just creating an automated system where you no longer have to keep going through each vehicle and figuring out what needs service. Now with this automation that is powered through the telematics and then through a fleet maintenance management system, like fleet DEO, you're able to automate that system and save time and make sure that all vehicles are getting service when they need to, which in the long run saves money.
Matthew Dziak: [00:06:14] And it's really going to help you from a productivity standpoint as well. And you'll be able to get that information to the right stakeholders quicker.
Ernest Acevedo: [00:06:22] We're able to share that with the mechanics and the driver. So everyone's involved having systems like this puts everybody involved with the process.
Everybody understands that vehicle. If there's a problem, it's not a surprise. Maintenance department knows about it. The mechanics know about it. The driver knows about it creating essentially a safeguard. One person misses it, the information the second person might get. If that person doesn't get it, the third person to get it, and then they can send that back and say, did you forget? And then we can get that done versus again, in the old days, you wouldn't have all those safeguards.
Matthew Dziak: [00:06:54] Yeah. And the great thing about that, it's going to allow everybody to collaborate and have that visibility into the status, including yourself, right? To know, when a vehicle is, maybe due or when it's still in progress and you need to figure out, you know, how much downtime might I experience if I don't get this done.
Ernest Acevedo: [00:07:09] Absolutely. And one other thing that it does is if the service was done on the road as a fleet manager, you obviously calling that service in and you don't actually know that the service was done. So having this system, the driver then is able to verify it and resolve the issue. So before you're like, you hope that that service that you called in fixed the issue because they told you over the phone that they did, but how do you verify it?
And now we have a two-step verification, which is driver looks at, it says resolved, and then boom, it's sent it to us. Now we can confidently know that that service was actually resolved.
Matthew Dziak: [00:07:43] So we've talked a little bit about devices and how that technology, when they're in the vehicle or a piece of equipment, it really provides you some insights. Can we talk about maybe the integrations that are available to be able to pull that data in so that you can actually analyze it?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:07:58] I think the integration part of it is something that more and more companies are doing. That is something that's happening today and more and more companies are starting to follow. But now the problem is they have to now create those integrations and it takes time, it takes investment. So I think there's going to be more and more and more of that. Coming in the future when it comes to integrations, essentially to shrink the size of these departments with all the data coming in, they want that data to come in, essentially electronically siphoned into the right areas with API APIs.
So I think that's something that you're going to see more and more in the future in the coming future. Companies need to do more integration. They need to find partners that actually care about these integrations and actually invest in them to make things easier. Is your telematics company, easily able to give you the information that you want because some companies make it hard.
They make it very hard to do these integrations. That's one thing that I think we're going to see a lot more in the, in the future is the integration part of it because it's really, it's a cost saving measure, right? Because you had all these people in the maintenance department, inputting data, it's kind of consuming.
And then what do you do with it after that? You know, but now today, like you guys have become better and better with your reporting functions. So it's like all that data that we're getting. It's like actually we're able to see it and do something with it. You know, you're putting it into areas which is good for people to see costs.
I mean, when I look at a company, I look at it. How often they're upgrading their functions. You always making things better.
Matthew Dziak: [00:09:24] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, fleet managers have been forced for years to work with multiple dashboards and having everything just disassociated, whether it's in a spreadsheet or in another platforms, dashboard, and having to bounce around it's bit terribly inefficient. But now that we have integrations, they're actually centralizing everything into this one central hub where you can manage everything from one dashboard. Can we talk a little bit about that?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:09:49] If we're getting all these companies into the integration mode, that's going to help us in the long run when they really essentially say, okay, this is what we're going to do. Kind of like trucks have a universal data ports. You know, it was J 19. No, God. Now it's RP. 1226. Baud rates are now going from 250 bond rate to now 500 baud rate. So the trailers are going to be doing it. That means they're doing this in anticipation of the data. That's going to go somewhere. Now. They're trying to figure out good.
We know what we want to do with the data book. How do we deliver it? That's universal. And that is what they're working on today. How are we going to deliver that information? Is it going to be on the cart? Are we going to put in and say, you only pay for what you take. It's going to be, it's going to be weird.
It's beyond my pay grade, but you know, how are we going to deliver that information.
Matthew Dziak: [00:10:33] At the end of the day, data is King and it's the data that allows us to really make informed decisions about our fleet. So if there was someone that was maybe evaluating different platforms for fleet management, what would you say would be the one thing they should definitely consider?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:10:48] I think that the number one thing is try to align yourself with companies that are integrating. If that makes sense. If you are looking for a new company, think about people that are willing to integrate. You could see that their list of people they're integrating with is growing. That means one, their platform is easy.
So companies are saying we can integrate easily with them. Like we will integrate with someone that has old tech because that's too much work, too much code. So we won't integrate with them. We'll say, nah, it's not worth it. So think about the partners you're integrating with for the future.
Matthew Dziak: [00:11:21] Yeah. You want a partner and align with companies that have their eye to the future and are constantly improving and adding features because at the end of the day, that's going to benefit you the most. So you partner with companies like Fleetio to provide you that edge when it comes to fleet management, but you also have developers on your team as well, helping you push the technology forward.
Ernest Acevedo: [00:11:42] As a small company, a niche company, we have four software engineers, and that means we're constantly upgrading our stuff. We have our own app. We have our own dashboard to the customers. I think more people are going to do that because it's cheaper because if everybody starts integrating, that means the technology is going to be cheaper. That's what makes all this smooth? That's why you're always one behind on telematics.
The telematics company is not going to do 5g because it's too expensive right now. And it takes too much power. 5g. Telematics is probably going to wait. I'm going to tell you right now, they're going to wait until years down the line before they go to 5g because they have to perfect the power. How are they going to power that unit?
It gets more information. It burns more power. That's fine in your cell phone because you charge it every day. But how about that trailer that has now a 5g unit in it? And it sits for a week or two, the battery is going to be depleted. So they have to come up with better battery technology, which they're working on too. So 5g is a ways out when it comes to the telematics company.
Matthew Dziak: [00:12:38] Now, when it comes to telematics, that's really going to allow you to track your vehicles from a real-time perspective. How are you guys doing that across your fleet?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:12:47] So I saw a stat where today only 20, 23% of trailers on the road have telematics. We have a hundred percent because it's, it's a niche industry, you know, it's all high security. So we have a hundred percent, but most people don't have it. They have a segment of their fleet that has it because it's important to them. But most of them have some kind of automated, like send a message saying we've left this trailer here, like a manual lock versus I can go into my dashboard. And I know exactly where that trailer is because of the telematics.
Matthew Dziak: [00:13:17] Taking that a step further with the industries that you serve and being in the transportation industry, that's empowering your drivers that way is what's gonna allow you to remain compliant as well.
Ernest Acevedo: [00:13:26] Well compliance, and ultimately we want less downtime. So how do you accomplish that? You want the truck to be, not put out of service, but at the same time you want to limit downtime. That's what's disabled to accomplish is having all that information for the drivers to be able to send a defect through the app. And then us be able to dispatch a resolution that's all hand in hand. You have to be able to, you know, get the information to the people that need to get it fixed and which is us, but the drivers are the ones that ultimately populate the information.
Matthew Dziak: [00:13:55] No doubt. Yeah. Being able to connect everyone together, in a single platform is what's going to allow you to do that.
Ernest Acevedo: [00:14:01] Especially if you preach communication, communication is key. If you don't know about it, you can't fix it.
Matthew Dziak: [00:14:06] That's well said. Now you said that you've been in the industry for about 20 years. Now, if there's any one thing you could tell yourself about fleet management, when you first started that, you know, now, uh, what would that be and why?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:14:17] I would say things are totally different. Data has changed the job just starting. I would tell myself to manage my time efficiently and prioritize because fleet management, it requires you to wear many hats and sometimes you can forget which one you were wearing and the data can start flowing into each other.
You're working on one thing and then it starts flowing into another. So you kind of have to prioritize what needs to be done right now based on the information that you're getting.
Matthew Dziak: [00:14:43] Now, with all those hats to wear, what sort of solutions are you relying on to try and remain organized and communicate with all of those stakeholders?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:14:49] Fleetio is one of them. They're a big one of them. This one that I use for, like I said, the driver's able to call me if I forget about something, the mechanics that closing out issues on a daily basis, issues of being reported on daily basis. One of the biggest things about Fleetio is customization. Being able to create forms.
Back in the day for trucking DVIRs was how you reported everything, but they did away with that. They said, there's no way for you to know that. Everything's great. So how do we get around that? We want them to still look at things. Video helps with that. You can create a form specific to your company of things you want them to look at and check every day.
And then that kind of separates what you have to do legally for the department of transportation, with the DVR, and then what you as a company want to be looked at every day. Now we've kind of bridged that gap between those two things. Where do this only if you have to do this every day, everybody listening to me today probably knows what I'm talking about.
When I say we have a million dashboards. Okay. So if we can put as much as you can into one, it helps because you're getting information from all these avenues now. You know, with the telematics, with fleet maintenance software, it could be a safety camera that you have separately. You know, that you're getting data from.
I mean, there's countless ones that you're dealing with today. So those are all the things that we use and we have to be able to manage.
Matthew Dziak: [00:16:09] Yeah. And the more that we can consolidate all of those dashboards so that you have one to work off of the more efficient you're going to be, right?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:16:16] Yep. When you have a telematics dashboard, There might be multiple people going in there looking at different things. There might be a safety manager looking at just hours of service versus dispatch that only want to know where the truck is and doing routing. And then there's other people that are doing accounting for IFTA everybody's going in there. So what helps me is. The telematics company is sending that information to fleet deal.
So that means I less likely have to go into fleet deal because that data on mileage is already being populated in there automatically when it comes to maintenance. It's easier for us, obviously, because I know it's accurate and if it's not accurate, it's going to tell me by a code by a color. It's going to tell me that it's off, there's something up, and then I can edit it.
Matthew Dziak: [00:16:57] Now segwaying a bit to some of the dreams we all have of solving the big problems of the fleet management world. If there was one problem in fleet management that you could solve, what would it be?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:17:09] So as you know, I'm a data guy, whatever that means I am. I'm also a psychology guy. I love. The human mind, which means that the more I learn about someone, the more the pieces start to resemble a picture. So data's a lot like that. To me, I stopped pulling data out of whatever source I can find and start to paint a picture of what's going on with specific batches of equipment. So I want to gain that better understanding of data. There is so much data today though, and so much more to be had in the future.
But there are a lot of answers on what to do with that data or companies that can interpret that data on a broader platform, especially interpreted, um, it's all coming in a wave of it, but we don't know what to do with it. So my dream is in the realm of predictive analytics. What if a company could build an AI model that was customizable?
Right now we have to go off whichever way they build it. And it's not specific sometimes to your company. What I mean by that is the customer could determine what data is fed to that AI model and input the desired outcome. That's a little futuristic, I think, but I'm not a software engineer, so I just want to make better decisions in my job.
My job is to make decisions. So I want to make it better, whichever way possible.
Matthew Dziak: [00:18:15] And that data is what's going to allow you to make those decisions and your ideas about AI and predictive analytics, I think are fascinating and something we'll see, become a norm in the fleet management world. I want to stay on that point for a minute though. What are some of the things you feel predictive analytics might help you solve?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:18:30] If we can power with the information we're getting from a segment of our trucks or whatever equipment it would tell you if something's going to fail, if it can spot trends for you, we're looking at the data, but as a fleet manager, you're not looking at all the data all the time.
So you start seeing a trend by three trucks breaking down. And then that's causing downtime and then you start to now investigate it. So I want to be able to get to that point earlier, before they break down, maybe at the first one, the second one, maybe they spot a trend quicker instead of us having to constantly go in and take all that time to pull the data, mine, the data from all the sources, put them together and try to figure out what's going on and what's causing it.
That's where AI comes into that place. And did they, it's just really hard because there's not a huge market for it yet, because not enough things have sensors. That's working towards the autonomous. That's what Thomas is going to have because it's going to have a sensor on pretty much everything by the time.
It's how it's getting on the road today. Every year, I'd say more and more sensors are being built into these trucks. It's a cars. I mean, my car has LIDAR. I mean, I could see around my car in the garage. Even though it doesn't have a camera on the top. And I know lidars me and looked at four trucks on top of side radars and forward radars and sensors, and they all going to be coordinated.
So AI is going to help with that, but it has to be a market for it.
Matthew Dziak: [00:19:48] And we're slowly getting there for sure. You know, speaking of some of the technology and trends that we are seeing. I know 5g is another thing that is something that's going to impact fleets, whether it's from a mobile device perspective and being able to transmit information, but also kind of segwaying and talking a little more about the telematics devices and how the improvements there can be had. What are your thoughts on that?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:20:12] I think people need to start looking at it. And making sure they make the right decisions when it comes to the telematics companies they have, or are going to move to make sure that they have a plan for what's going on in the future today, they're sunsetting two G they're planning on sunsetting, 3g in the near future.
And so there's a movement to 4g. And then of course everybody's talking about 5g, which is a ways away when it comes to the transportation industry, because you know, it has to be adopted by more people in the, you know, it has to be cost-effective. And so 4g is where everybody should be looking at and they have to make sure of that.
You know, whichever company they're with when it comes to telematics or wherever else, information is coming off of their equipment, they have to make sure that they are ready for it as well. You don't want to be caught in the dark at the huge costs to move over, especially when everybody's thinking about it today on top of the ELD, everybody's looking at ELD and at the same time, that means that ELD provider, how are they providing it to you as a 2g 3g, 4g, you know, think about what they're doing and where they're going in the future, because they might not be ready and you don't want to be there with them.
Matthew Dziak: [00:21:13] Yeah, that's such a fantastic point. Those devices, whether they're ELD or telematics rely on those networks and 3g, while it served its purpose, like any other technology that we have at our disposal, we're always improving it. And so, uh, 4g and now 5g then are obviously going to just move the needle that much quicker. And so talk a little bit about how a company needs to really think about making that investment for the future now.
Ernest Acevedo: [00:21:40] As we are moving towards 5g. These are the things I used to think about today, getting ready for the sunsetting of 3g in the near future, you know, getting your equipment to 4g and then, you know, from there, I mean, if you buy equipment today and it's 4g, that means that cost and investments going to be great because you're not going to see 5g by the time 4g, if you're talking poppy, I think they have it on for like 2028 or something before they sunset 4g. So everybody should be thinking, get, put 4g, you know, you should be planning that today.
Matthew Dziak: [00:22:12] I think it makes sense because it's a trend that we're seeing in, some, in some things already that you can adopt, but you can also start to think about, you know, does it make sense for you to invest in that now, um, as opposed to waiting for it to be sunset, it's kinda like, it's kinda like the ELD effect, right? Like everybody has to be on ELD by this date, but there were plenty of people that were adopting ELD three years before that, so that they were ready for that transition.
Ernest Acevedo: [00:22:38] That's right. That was last year's trend of getting to ELD. Now it's equipment and companies are going under because of it. Omnitracs is saying I am done with trailers because we cannot afford to put the money reinvest into that technology. So we're just saying, forget it. We're done with you, but done with it. Go to a company that's already established, like Skybitz that has already 4g. So they're good for the near future versus Omnitracs.
It says I'm done. Because of our old platform, we can afford it. We cannot move as quickly. That's what's going on right now. One of the biggest ones just know that most people don't know what the difference is that yeah, 5g, 4g, you know, LTE, all that stuff. They don't know unless you're a software guy and most of these fleet managers are not really looking at that speed and they should be, that's the thing they should be right now. They should be worrying about it because they could be buying into obsolete equipment that could be obsolete by next year. Don't be stuck. Don't be stuck there.
Matthew Dziak: [00:23:38] It's a game where you don't want to play catch up. You definitely want to make sure that when you are investing into those technologies and those solutions that you're doing so appropriately, so that you're not caught off guard with a need to upgrade again very quickly.
Ernest Acevedo: [00:23:52] Absolutely. It's key. You don't want your ownership to be mad at you because you just spent thousands and thousands of dollars on obsolete equipment.
Matthew Dziak: [00:24:00] So in all your experience at fleet management and talking about how you're a student of the industry, even still today, always continuing to learn, is there any person or any resource that you rely on over the years that has helped or inspired you?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:24:14] I don't have one specific person. I admire. I admire in the industry, like I said before, I'm an insatiable learner. So anyone or company that can help feed my need for knowledge I admire. So that means as a fleet manager, you should always be watching webinars on the industry. You should be. Reading up subscribing learn as much as you can go to the events, learn how it all works together by doing that, you can actually start spotting trends.
If things are changing in the battery industry, if things are changing in the autonomous agent industry in the fleet industry, and you can kind of see. Where these are all moving together, because a lot of times they'll tell you how they're working with specific companies in other areas of the industry.
And you can kind of use that to spot trends. So I would say, just keep reading. It's not one specific person it's going to be everyone everybody's contributing to the information that you need to be good at your job.
Matthew Dziak: [00:25:07] Now, if you had to summarize like what fleet management is at its core, what would that be?
Ernest Acevedo: [00:25:12] It would be leveraging the tools that are available to you today, which means that can change tomorrow. So using those tools to essentially limit downtime, manage your equipment and create a continuous improvement, mentality and culture through your whole business. I would say fleet management is not what it was yesterday.
It is definitely something that you have to use technology for to be good at today, because there's no way to have all that information in your head and be able to decipher it. The good ones are able to do it, but why not use tools to help you bridge those gaps? And you could be just as good if you can't remember every single thing that's going on in your fleet. So I would say you have to be able to leverage those tools that are out there today.
Matthew Dziak: [00:25:56] That does it for this episode. Ernest, thank you so much for joining us. I was very informative and I really hope we can have you on again and the near future.
Ernest Acevedo: [00:26:03] Thanks so much for having me on.
Matthew Dziak: [00:26:05] Thanks for listening to The Fleet Code. For more episodes be sure to subscribe to The Fleet Code on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts. If you're looking for a modern software solution to effectively manage your fleet, be sure to check out fleetio.com/podcast to learn more, join our monthly newsletter to stay up to date on all things, Fleetio and don't forget to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn by following at Fleetio.