As with any other form of technology, telematics solutions are always changing. From new devices to new software solutions, telematics suppliers are innovating to offer more effective and efficient solutions. Marco Encinas, product manager for Teletrac and Navman Wireless, Garden Grove, Calif., gives Beverage Industry insights to new innovations in telematics devices.

BI: What are the benefits of telematics for beverage distributors?

ME: There are many benefits of telematics for beverage distributors. Two of the top pain points we hear about from fleet owners are theft and driver efficiency. In 2013, FreightWatch reported 951 total cargo thefts, with food and drink accounting for 27 percent of all thefts. Telematics solutions offer intelligent software that allows fleet owners to track their assets in real time and even help authorities pinpoint locations of stolen vehicles. Additionally, telematics solutions can open insights into driver behavior and help fleet managers monitor their drivers’ job site activity or pit stops made along the way. Telematics provide a fleet owner with constant visibility to their assets ensuring their customers are receiving deliveries on time and in an efficient manner. Telematics solutions can even alert distributors if a driver is sitting idle for too long and letting the engine run, thus lowering productivity and increasing fuel costs. These insights can help distributors make more efficient and productive business decisions.

BI: What types of telematics solutions does your company offer?

ME: Teletrac and Navman Wireless offer intelligent software solutions that customize GPS tracking to meet our customers’ needs. Our solutions provide an in-depth look at fleet businesses to convey real-time visibility into vehicle locations to track assets, alert business owners when a vehicle is outside of its designated zone and quickly identify when theft has occurred. The technology never stops and secures assets 24 hours a day. To make on-time deliveries and maintain customer-related demands, Teletrac and Navman Wireless offer intuitive routing and messaging tools that ensure drivers are taking the most efficient routes to reach their destination on time. To eliminate possible disputes and inconsistencies, distributors can track their driver’s hours, arrival/departure times, and vehicle mileage with performance and time-carding reports. Distributors can even ensure their drivers are not practicing dangerous behavior on the road with safety analytics data and event replays that capture where and when drivers make sharp turns, harsh brakes, speeding, and more. With these tools, business owners can monitor fuel costs and identify areas of improvement.

BI: What are your most popular offerings and why?

ME: The most popular is the very basic- track and trace. Fleet owners simply want to know where their assets are and at what time. Our solutions adapt to business needs. If a fleet owner needs more information, they can add solutions that provide insight into compliance reporting, safety statistics, and vehicle diagnostic data.

BI: What have you released within the last year?

ME: We have released two products: Drive and Adaptive Intelligence. Drive is an app suite that enhances driver efficiency, productivity and safety with a range of tools, including clear voice-activated navigation and routing, signature capture, engine performance monitoring, and instant two-way messaging. It is a mobile tool drivers can take with them anywhere and simultaneously stay connected to their managers and the office. Adaptive Intelligence is a customizable approach into fleet operations providing a business-as-a-service (BlaaS) tool which displays fleet data on an easy-to-use dashboard. Because enterprise beverage distributors manage large amounts of data daily, Adaptive Intelligence breaks down this information with digestible dashboards. This provides managers with the ability to customize their view and pull reports based on their data needs.

BI: How have telematics evolved in recent years?

ME: In recent years, telematics providers have incorporated customized features in their products to meet specific fleet company needs. Integrations of back office software including dispatch management software, real-time sensor alerts received on computers (i.e. tire pressure monitoring), and others has transformed telematics into more than just a basic GPS tool. Recently, market demand to develop greener, more eco-friendly services has led telematics companies to provide more robust “green” tools, which monitor fuel usage, idle time, and help lower carbon footprints.

BI: What is most important to customers when purchasing telematics solutions? How do your products meet these needs?

ME: Customers are in need of a tool that is dependable, easy to use and has the ability to automate as many business processes as possible. Every day, we service enterprise level companies whose pain points include routing efficiency, job site delivery accuracy, and theft. Our products are customizable to each company’s need with tools that help condense large amounts of data into small, digestible reports.

BI: What type of hardware and equipment do most operators need to use the telematics solutions?

ME: With Teletrac/Navman Wireless, operators need our tablet for in-cab communication with the driver. As well as HOS tracking and a web browser to log into the system portal to track the drivers, verify the drivers are in compliance, run reports, or simply communicate with drivers.

BI: What is the typical return-on-investment timeline for telematics solutions?

ME: Each business is different. Whether you are a large fleet of 1,000 or more vehicles, or a small fleet of five, a telematics solution often pays for itself multiple times over. With the real-time visibility telematics tools provide, a fleet owner is able to instantly view productivity, fuel usage, areas where their drivers are lacking in order to measure overtime pay and even possible insurance discounts.

BI: How are beverage trends impacting telematics and its features/capabilities, if at all?

ME: Beverage trends align with trends that plague private fleets. Some key pain points for private fleets are driver shortage, monitoring and managing compliance SMS and CSA scores, fuel price volatility, safety, driver management and risk management, and on time delivery (routing efficiencies). Lastly, bigger companies are moving to a hybrid fleet model of business, contracting drivers and vehicles on an on-demand basis during seasonal peaks for short periods of time. Telematics provide solutions to manage and customize these fleets and business demands.

BI: What is on the horizon for telematics in the beverage industry?

ME: We recently worked with a company who used our solutions to identify particular employees who were falsifying their timecards, and track how their drivers were being delayed at specific warehouses, thus cutting productivity time and wasting company dollars. With this data, the distributor was able to make appropriate adjustments to the areas where they were showing these inefficiencies, and make proper improvements. In addition to productivity, compliance, safety, and automation of business are becoming concerns for beverage distributors.

BI: How do you feel the new elogging mandate may affect the telematics industry? How will it affect beverage companies/distributors/etc.?

ME: HOS is set to become the rule. Currently it is foreseen to be implemented in September 2015 and companies will then have a two year period to comply. All commercial vehicles must have an e-logging telematics solution. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported in 2013 over 4,000 fatal crashes on the road involving large trucks and buses. But e-logging will serve as a positive solution helping reduce driver fatigue, strengthen a fleets overall compliance and ultimately improve safety on the road.