The IoT Is a Game-Changer for Fleet Maintenance

Shipping truck, Fishbowl BlogThe Internet of Things — IoT — makes it possible for today's tech-driven companies to streamline and enhance their daily operations even further. It has legitimate uses in a variety of industries and professions, but most of these applications share the same results of higher productivity and efficiency. In the sector of fleet maintenance, professionals use the IoT for many reasons. While some of them are focused on long-term benefits and achieving goals that are years down the line, others have a more immediate and noticeable effect.

Next-Gen Technology

Much of the functionality in next-gen products and devices rely on the IoT in one way or another — devices in fleet management are no exception. Not only do they reduce travel risks for drivers, but many of them result in significant discounts on fleet insurance policies. Sustainable Business Toolkit discusses how advanced GPS devices make it easy to plan delivery routes. Most systems will automatically update the path to avoid traffic delays, extreme weather conditions or similar issues. Features like this reduce the amount of time drivers spend on the road daily, while letting manufacturers and distributors schedule shipments more punctually. Other handy devices include rearview cameras that alert the driver to any obstacles behind their vehicle — including pedestrians — headlights and taillights that automatically adjust for the time of day or the current visibility conditions and much more. As useful as all of this technology is, it does little good in an inoperable fleet. To ensure complete fleet optimization, some amount of predictive maintenance is necessary — and the IoT helps with that, too.

Predictive Maintenance

Instead of reacting to issues when they occur, the IoT lets drivers and maintenance technicians predict and prevent problems from happening in the first place. Drivers typically don't wait until their vehicle breaks down to change the oil. Instead, they get it changed regularly. That’s an example of predictive or preventive maintenance. Instead of relying on industry standards, common averages or unreliable idioms, drivers now know precisely when to change their oil. MacAllister CAT mentions that while the average truck needs an oil change every 25,000 miles, this number varies significantly from fleet to fleet and even between individual vehicles. One truck might last 50,000 miles between changes, while the next might only last for 16,000. These variations are also subject to numerous external influences, such as outside temperatures, weather, the make and model of vehicle and even the driver's behavior behind the wheel. Including all these metrics when forming predictions is an art form some humans have perfected — but many would rather leave that task up to next-gen computers and the IoT.

Using Big Data

In many ways, big data and the IoT take the concept of predictive maintenance one step further. Fleet managers and mechanics no longer have to estimate the condition of a vehicle's oil. Not only does that save the time of having to manually check and change the oil in dozens or hundreds of trucks, but it also spares the company the expense of replacing the oil in all these vehicles. According to GovTech, tech-oriented mechanics and engineers use big data in many different ways, but it often comes from integrated sensors that track everything from engine mileage to the mental fatigue of human drivers. Some sophisticated systems even compare the vehicle's actual or average speed to the posted speed limits, thus ensuring their drivers are obeying the laws at all times. Other companies, specifically those in the Midwest and on the East Coast, use big data and the IoT for snow removal during the winter. These systems keep track of which streets have gotten plowed or salted and which ones still require service. Not only does it minimize the strain on governmental fleet vehicles, but it also makes it easier to track new snow accumulation after the services have been performed.

Taking the Fleet to the Next Level

The dawn of big data and the IoT has already changed the world of fleet management. Between eliminating the guesswork from predictive maintenance to maximizing engine life and ensuring delivery drivers obey the traffic laws, the nation's roadways are getting safer every day.