FreightWaves Ratings cuts through the noise of freight technology product reviews to make you a smarter buyer

7 telematics devices you need to know about for your business

In the highly competitive logistics industry, telematics devices can give your fleet the edge. Consider improved safety and maintenance, reduced idle time and less fuel consumption as the baseline benefits. Beyond that, they can optimize route planning.

What are telematics devices and how do they work?

The field of telematics incorporates telecommunication with data analytics and computer science to provide meaningful information to fleets of all sizes. Telematic devices are simple pieces of equipment that can be attached in wheel wells or inside vehicles to track key data points. They gather GPS data on truck locations, driving speeds, driver behaviors and vehicle statuses. 

Telematics systems then convert that data into usable insights to improve fleet management and asset tracking. 

Telematics devices can also be used to create maintenance alerts, monitor engine performance, track fuel usage and improve security systems. They combine the best of current GPS fleet tracking technologies with analytics to help improve efficiency and performance while reducing insurance premiums. 

Benefits of using telematics devices for businesses

Considering implementing telematics devices for your fleet? Some key benefits include:

  • Improved productivity
  • Greater cost savings
  • Reduced idle time
  • Increased fuel efficiency
  • Better route planning
  • Safer driving behaviors
  • Lower carbon emissions 
  • Heightened customer satisfaction

7 types of telematics devices 

Companies can choose to implement one or several telematics devices. The seven types of telematics devices below offer comprehensive fleet monitoring. Many telematics systems integrate all or most of these features. Here’s how each one works:

Engine monitoring

Engine monitoring telematics devices automatically capture run time and operational performance data. Semitrucks have powerful internal combustion engines that must work efficiently over long distances, and they don’t come cheap. Fortunately, with engine monitoring telematics fleet managers can protect their investments by tracking early indicators of mechanical wear and tear. Tracking unusual Idle time, fuel flow and operational mode data, for instance, can help extend the life of your vehicle.

After fuel and labor, maintenance is the single largest fleet expense. Maintenance and repairs can account for up to 50% of a fleet’s budget. For this reason, even a small increase in engine efficiency can lead to noticeable cost savings.

Driver monitoring

Telematics devices can be used to monitor driving behavior and flag unsafe driving behaviors. By monitoring drivers’ performance you motivate drivers to improve their safety standards, reduce unsafe behaviors and increase the fleet’s safety performance. 

With driver monitoring, you can also prevent drivers from going over their hours of service and help keep overworked drivers off the road. You can also use driver monitoring to optimize routes and note drivers with exceptional idle times. Some telematics systems allow drivers to participate in intra-company digital games to add an element of fun to improve safety and performance. 

Drivers are at the core of any successful fleet. By building trust, safety and efficiency into driver performance, you can reward high performers and mitigate risks. 

GPS tracking devices

GPS fleet tracking devices are at the core of a fleet telematics system. They provide real-time location tracking and delivery estimates for dispatchers and end customers. But GPS tracking goes beyond delivery times. Real-time data can help dispatch route changes in case of road closures, accidents, bad weather, etc. With GPS fleet tracking, you can also set geofencing to monitor fleet movement within an area. 

Telematics insights from GPS tracking offer opportunities to optimize fleet movement, routes, asset tracking and estimated delivery times. Find the best routes and when to drive them to save on labor costs and fuel usage. That’s a win for drivers, the environment and your bottom line. 

Temperature and humidity sensors

Temperature and humidity sensors are especially important in refrigerated and temperature-controlled vehicles. They demonstrate your reliability in transporting delicate and temperature-sensitive goods. They can also monitor specific sections in your trailers, along with any other part of the cold chain. 

For standard trailers traveling in extreme heat or cold temperatures, temperature and humidity sensors can alert dispatchers to engine, tire and vehicle performance issues. 

Motion sensors

Motion sensors allow you to monitor idle time, warehouse delivery and pickup delays, and average speeds. This feature is useful for arrival time estimates and to notify you of drivers who consistently exceed speed limits. Using it can reduce the number of aggressive driving events.  

Motion sensors are also helpful for monitoring employee hours and keeping drivers on schedule. 

Fuel monitoring

Fuel monitoring telematics can have a significant impact on your bottom line. The data can help you identify excessive idling and other inefficiencies to improve fleet performance. As one of the largest expenses for fleets, even modest fuel savings can increase profit margins.

Telematics can also improve energy efficiency and present opportunities for sustainable energy solutions in company operations. 

Security systems

Telematics devices improve fleet security by offering remote diagnostics, crash response and stolen vehicle recovery over long-range wireless links. GPS vehicle tracking can be used to track and locate stolen vehicles. Connected dash cams with voice control can enhance security and create alerts.

Telematics can also optimize driver routes for the safest parking areas, helping to prevent theft while parked. Telematics security systems can also prevent malicious attacks on company systems, protecting vital telematics data.

Choosing a telematics device for your fleet

From asset tracking to fuel monitoring, it’s clear that telematics devices provide a lot of value for a modest cost. Which telematics device is best for your fleet will depend on the balance of features, routes, type of loads and budget. There’s no question that telematics devices can help fleets of all sizes expand volumes, and improve safety and efficiency.  


How important is telematics?

Telematics uses technology to increase productivity and reduce costs, making them an essential tool for fleets of all sizes. 

What is the average cost of telematics?

Telematics costs vary by service provider. Expect to pay between $50 and $200 for the telematics device, plus a subscription cost of $15 to $40 per month, on average.

Does telematics track your location?

Yes, telematics usually includes a built-in GPS with real-time location data on vehicles, as well as their status and speed. 

Sign up for a FreightWaves e-newsletter to stay informed of all news and trends impacting supply chain careers and operations.

Streamline your fleet management business with Trimble Transportation

Trimble Transportation is committed to connecting and simplifying the world’s supply chain while empowering customers. Whether you're a carrier, intermediary, or shipper, Trimble can help you streamline operations, maximize business performance and increase profits.