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What is telematics and how does it work in trucking?

Are you looking for ways to improve your trucking business’s safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness? Telematics may be the answer.

So, what is telematics? It’s a tool that combines GPS, diagnostic equipment, and other hardware and software features to manage vehicle fleets. In this article, we’ll explain how fleet telematics solutions work for a trucking business, and steps to successfully implement them.

What is telematics?

Telematics refers to the integration of telecommunications and information technologies to transmit data over long distances for various applications. Examples include:

  • Telematics vehicle tracking

  • Remote diagnostics with telematic software

  • Fleet management trucking telematics

  • Telematics navigation

Telematics in trucks use onboard computers, GPS sensors and communication networks to improve safety, increase efficiency and reduce costs.

How telematics works for your trucking business

Telematics empowers trucking companies and fleet managers to monitor data related to the performance of trucks and drivers in real-time. It can help trucking businesses improve their operations in several ways. 

Here are four examples of vehicle telematics system benefits:

  1. Fleet management: A telematics service system can help trucking businesses manage their fleets more efficiently. Using data on vehicle locations, speed, fuel consumption and engine performance, they can make informed routing, maintenance and scheduling decisions.

  2. Driver monitoring: Trucking fleet management telematics can help businesses monitor driver behaviors, like speeding, harsh braking or hard acceleration. This vehicle telematics data can be used to identify drivers who need additional training or coaching to improve their driving habits. 

  3. Safety and compliance: Telematics benefits also include helping trucking businesses to maintain compliance with safety regulations. The technology can track hours of service, ensure proper maintenance and monitor driver behavior.

  4. Cost savings: Telematics can help trucking businesses reduce fuel costs by optimizing routes and reducing idle time. It can also help prevent costly breakdowns by enabling proactive maintenance.

Overall, vehicle telematics solutions provide valuable insights into your trucking operations that can help improve efficiency, safety and profitability.

Implementing telematics for your trucking business

Now that you understand why they’re beneficial, how do you integrate telematics into your trucking business? Follow these tips to make the process run smoothly. 

Have a clear goal

Start by identifying your business needs and pain points. Ask yourself which can be addressed with telematics, like reducing fuel consumption, improving driver safety or increasing efficiency, for example. If your budget is limited, understand which features you need to have versus those that you want to have.

Once you have your specific goals in mind, you can begin researching which solutions make the most sense. Look into their pros and cons and come up with a short list of contenders.

Ask for a demo before committing

Once you prepare that short list, ask suppliers to demonstrate the capabilities of their telematics equipment. This will help you and your team compare each option on the following merits:

  • How well each telematics vehicle tracking system can address the major challenges you’ve identified

  • Whether management, drivers and office personnel find the automotive telematics easy to use 

  • Training requirements

  • Automated reporting capabilities, including customization opportunities 

  • Quality of telematics navigation features

  • Customer support offerings

  • Integration possibilities with existing company fleet management platforms

Performing a pilot with two to three providers is a good way to find the right fit for your needs. Finally, make sure you research reviews and ask for references.

Provide employee training

Training for your team must be thorough. On a high level, here are the main steps entailed in getting your employees up-to-speed on how to use telematics equipment:

  1. Determine the training format: Decide whether classroom-style lectures, webinars, self-paced tutorials, hands-on practice or e-learning modules will best suit your audience. A combination of approaches may be ideal. Consider the type of system, number of employees needing instruction, schedules and learning preferences. 

  2. Obtain training materials: Find out if your supplier or manufacturer offers training content that you can leverage. If not, create user manuals, quick guides, cheat sheets and videos to explain the system’s functions, features and procedures. 

  3. Schedule training sessions: Set up dates and times, and communicate them to everyone who needs to be involved. Make sure sessions are long enough that people can practice their tasks. Give ample notice and plan reminders for attendees. 

  4. Conduct the training: Using the preferred training format, engage employees in hands-on practice and Q&A sessions.

  5. Measure training effectiveness: Afterwards, evaluate effectiveness by conducting surveys and interviews. Continuously improve the training and support your employees with achieving their desired competencies.  

These steps will help to design an effective training approach for your telematic systems.

Project initial costs and expected revenue

To project the initial costs and expected revenue of your telematics system, you should consider the following:

  • Hardware and software costs, such as devices, sensors and software

  • Labor costs, including installation, maintenance and ongoing support

  • Ongoing expenses, like connectivity costs, cloud-based services and subscription fees

  • Financial savings related to reduced fuel consumption, fewer vehicle repairs and route optimization

  • Expected revenue increases generated by potential new business and upselling opportunities

Calculate the potential ROI taking into account the costs, savings and additional revenue. This will help you determine whether the investment is worth it.

Install the system professionally

After selecting your telematics system, ensure that it is correctly and efficiently installed by hiring a professional. 

Telematics systems often require wiring and electrical work, which can be dangerous in the wrong hands with the wrong tools. Professional installers can ensure that the system is installed safely to prevent any accidents.

Another consideration is that many transportation telematics solutions come with a warranty that may be voided if the system is not installed by a professional. By choosing professional installation, you can ensure that your warranty remains valid.

Overall, professional installation of your fleet telematics systems can provide peace of mind while saving you time and hassle.

Make telematics work for you

There is a real benefit to effective fleet management. By implementing a telematics system, trucking companies can operate more efficiently, reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction with optimized services. 


What is a telematics device?

A telematic device is an electronic device that combines telecommunications and metrics to provide remote communication and data processing services.

What is navigation from telematics like?

Telematics have a GPS system that uses information from satellites to determine the location of the vehicle. The system can also display real-time traffic information, calculate the best route to a destination, and provide turn-by-turn directions. This information is displayed on a screen in the vehicle. Additionally, the system can warn of weather conditions or road hazards.

How popular is telematics in trucks?

Telematics is increasingly becoming popular in the trucking industry. In fact, one study projects that the market will triple between 2020 to 2028 to nearly $76 billion. This increase has largely been driven by the transportation and logistics sectors.

What is a telematics system in a car? Is it the same as the telematics GPS in a truck?

Yes. Much like truck telematics, car telematics use telecommunication networks and GPS sensors to transmit real-time data over long distances.

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