It’s no surprise that people carry mobile devices that sense their movement and location, and things have sensors that broadcast similar types of data. The Internet of Things (IoT) is leveraging the next generation of broadband telecommunications, such as 5G. And, in the transportation industry, every long-haul trucker, local delivery van and even postal service vehicles, are on a path to becoming smarter and more “connected” as well. Intelligent infrastructure and geospatial information are helping to make transportation and fleet management more efficient by reducing travel times, narrowing service level agreement (SLA) time windows, and limiting the carbon footprint of entire fleets. But how close is it to reality, and what’s the possibility of fulfilling this goal more completely?
The Impact of E-Commerce on Delivery In 2020
The COVID pandemic increased e-commerce transactions by almost 20% in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the reliance on package delivery will continue. Customers have very high expectations with respect to having their goods delivered quickly and on time. As a result, last mile delivery by local package and delivery fleets become increasingly challenging but also presents an opportunity for competitive differentiation. Using both historical and near real-time traffic data enables retailers to plan routes in the least amount of time and the shortest distance traveled, thus reducing costs.
Optimize Delivery Routes and Ensure Customer Satisfaction
By using hyper-accurate, digital street and highway data, fleet managers can optimize routes between depots and delivery points. Geospatial technology has become the tool of choice for developing an integrated transportation management solution across all modes, including freeways, arterials, and urban surface streets, and can, by extension, be integrated with marine and airport hubs.
Use Real-Time Data to Manage the Unexpected
The application of up-to-date digital street network data supports route optimization that will deliver maximum performance. As a result, fleets can adapt to changing traffic and weather patterns thereby reducing travel time and improving key performance indicators. Plus, by employing post-trip analysis, fleet managers can spot factors that introduce inefficiencies that influence drive-time, tolls, fleet composition and fuel expenses.
Real-time data on the location of assets helps transportation managers to not only monitor asset utilization but also to protect vehicles from theft. Data on traffic congestion, weather, bridge heights and other impedance data supports the adherence to delivery schedules, which will maintain service level agreements. Real-time data also contributes to regulatory compliance. By integrating sensor data with map-based information immediate visual verification is available to track assets and alert authorities when vehicles enter or leave city limits or other areas where authorization is required. In addition, with real-time data, deliveries are reassigned, on-the-fly, when unplanned incidents or road closures dictate.
Deploy a Fleet Management System
Using a fleet management system can help lower expenses related to fuel costs and labor, insurance as well as to eliminate unauthorized access or vehicle usage. Fleet telematics can also be used to provide real-time location data, and capture driver dwell time and vehicle arrival time estimates for improved customer service. Plus, monitoring vehicle performance and alerting drivers to impending maintenance issues can help to mitigate downtime and lower overall cost of ownership.
Make Sure You Are Staying Compliant with Existing Regulations
Geospatial transportation data makes it easier to pinpoint routes in which physical restrictions, taxes and fees, and similar impedances can affect speed and efficiency. These restrictions include bridge heights and areas where hazardous materials are prohibited, such as environmentally protected zones. With this information, routes can be assigned where certain regulations apply. Understanding these limitations can be critically important to identify routes that cross certain state, provincial, county or city boundaries. Creating a geofence that alerts fleet managers to restricted zones provides the necessary insights for planning and delivery.
Safety Saves You Money
Aggressive driving, such as accelerating from a standing stop or hard braking, increases fuel consumption by up to 37% according to a study by eDriving. The same study from December 2020 and conducted to coincide with 1.5 billion miles driven using the Mentor smartphone, showed vast improvement is driver safety. Safe driving scores as measured by FICO, were improved by 32% and led to decreased speeding events by an average of 71%. Maintaining good communication between driver and management with tools such as those provided by eDriving helps to build better corporate cultures aligned along safety and sustainability.
The “Flight Plan” for Connected Cars
Today, there are many apps that alert commuters and long-haul truckers to traffic congestion. For those taking public transportation, there are apps for arriving and departing transit vehicles as well. But what can be expected when connected, autonomous vehicles impact the nature of traffic and public transportation? Uber, Tesla and Lyft expect their fleets to be fully autonomous in the next five years. Cities might require commuters that still want to drive their own vehicles to submit their destination plan so that traffic, parking and local construction sites can accommodate the extra burden on the street network. The advantage to the willing autonomous vehicle passenger is that the vehicle knows exactly the best route and location in closest proximity to the individual’s drop-off destination. Vehicle owners will know where parking is available before reaching their destination. Think of the time saved!
In such a scenario, vehicles entering central business districts (CDB) would be limited and platooned based on the time of day and allotted space. In much the same way as aircraft flight plans are used to manage airline hubs, vehicles might also encounter such requirements or impediments resulting in delayed departures. Connected infrastructure would be expected to support the management of intermodal traffic.
All vehicles, autonomous or not, would be managed in a way as to control traffic, parking, and delivery points. The delivery of passengers and goods would alter the way depots, address point locations and transit hubs are optimized. These scenarios might change the landscape of CBD’s for retail and citizen services in order to accommodate new pedestrian-friendly zones and thoroughfares.
Transportation is an industry where geography is critically important. It’s an industry based on knowing where and how far. It makes sense that geospatial technology is a fundamental tool to understand the insights necessary for the effective management of fleets and the coming changes expected from autonomous vehicles.