In Part Six of this series, we looked at what characteristics to look for when selecting an ELD platform, devices, and applications. Here in the Seventh and Final Part of this series, we examine what characteristics to consider when assessing an ELD/telematics solution provider and the value-add applications and services they provide.
Value Add Applications and Services
Some ELD solution providers offer a rich set of value-add services and applications, such as:
Look for a full library of prebuilt analytics and reports:
• Driver safety/performance
Idling, fuel consumption, speeding, unsafe driving behaviors (speeding, seatbelt usage, braking, hard cornering, acceleration, after-hours vehicle usage) with scorecards and ability for each driver to see their own scores and how they stack up.
• Fleet and driver productivity
Utilization reports, productivity metrics, scorecards.
• Trip analytics and reporting
Stored trip histories, aggregate statistics (e.g. by route, vehicle, date, etc.), drill down to individual trips.
It is important that you can create your own analytics and customize the prebuilt reports. Also look for easy exporting into standard analytic tools.
Advanced providers are starting to offer machine learning capabilities.
Customizable alerting and rules
Ability to set your own thresholds and logic for when alerts should be generated for the driver, dispatcher, fleet manager, and others.
The system saves second-by-second information leading up to the moment of impact, for later analysis and reconstruction of exactly what happened at the accident
The ability to benchmark drivers, vehicles, and arbitrary groups within your own company. Ability to let each person or manager see how they stack up against the others in the company. The tools should allow any of the parameters to be compared, common ones may be fuel economy, safety record, and utilization
External benchmarking data and analytics services
Benchmarking your performance against others in the industry with a similar profile. This requires a sufficiently large database of other companies’ performance data to be statistically significant within your peer group1 It also requires that the provider’s licensing agreement allows for sharing aggregate data.
View vehicles and drivers on a map, driver and vehicle status updates, communicate with drivers (messaging via ELD and/or driver’s phone, auto-dial their phone), alerts for situations needing attention (e.g. accident, vehicle breakdown, geofence deviation), ability to easily forward critical information to law enforcement, ambulances, towing services, etc., find and instantly contact nearby repair services, hotels, etc. when vehicles break down. Integration with existing dispatcher applications.
Remote vehicle diagnostics and predictive maintenance
Tools to normalize, interpret, and analyze manufacturer’s proprietary fault codes, as well as standard fault codes. Tools for doing predictive maintenance or exporting data to predictive maintenance systems.
Data collection into and from GI2 systems. This could include things like maximum vehicle height and weight for different routes, dangerous intersections, rough road detection and warning, and so forth.
Route planning and optimization
Some providers offer route planning and optimization tools, leveraging the ELD data
Some popular ELDs have a rich set of applications written by third parties and, in some cases even provide an online app store/marketplace to find those.
Solution Provider Characteristics
Beyond their technology, not all solution providers are equal. Some things to check:
Depth of Expertise and Experience
Find out how many of the solution provider’s devices are in use today. How many engineers, technicians, and support people they have. What type of training program they have for their employees? Do they have a dedicated research staff? How do they keep up with changes to regulations, vehicles, technology, and use cases
What is their reputation and what kind of references can they provide? Will you have a dedicated account manager and how many other companies will that person be handling.
Implementation, Training, Technical Support
What is their role in installation? What is the cost and timeframe? What types of training do they provide? How is support provided? What types of plans are available?
What kind of KPIs and guarantees are in their Service Level Agreement (SLA)? Are there any penalties or financial consequences for them not meeting the SLA?
One-stop shop for transportation needs
A solution provider with a broad portfolio to serve all of your transportation and fleet management needs can provide a one-stop shop, with well-integrated applications and more comprehensive support (less finger-pointing when things need fixing)
A solution provider with strong implementation and technology partners, including deep integration with a broad set of capabilities, will likely be able to serve you better.
1 For example, it would not make sense to compare fuel economy nor safety records for a fleet of class 3 trucks doing local delivery compared to class 8 trucks doing long haul. Ask about the number of companies in your cohort. — Return to article text above
2 GIS = Geographic Information Systems. For more, see Geospatial Intelligence: The Role of Geospatial Systems in Supply Chain. — Return to article text above
To view other articles from this issue of the brief, click here.