Can Telematics Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint?

Fleet Managers seek reductions in fuel use and harmful vehicle emissions each year. Shutting off your vehicle’s engine while parked was an effective way to cut fuel use years ago, and is now an indispensable element of any sustainability operational strategy.

Now, governments, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organisations are more conscious than ever that a crisis in climate change is upon us, and more and more are calling for policy reform and legislation helping to ensure life on this planet is sustainable immediately.

The fact is, as the discussion of sustainability moves to the top of the list for fleets worldwide, so too does demand for real-time telematics. Now’s the time for fleet managers to capitalise on the wealth of data flowing from their vehicles in real time – and fill any logistical or management gaps that that data might reveal. So, how will they do it?

What is Telematics?

Telematics is an on-demand, data-collection tool that helps a fleet manager analyse, acquire and retain a deep amount of data points from their vehicle operations. See for more information.

It is a technology that merges fleets of any size into one, giving managers access to data such as vehicle activity and location, driver behaviour, engine diagnostics and much more. The access to this data no longer has to leave room for guesswork for your decisions but rather, allows the manager to see issues as they happen that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

Identifying Waste Reduction Opportunities Using Data

Alongside these opportunities to improve, the data collected in such quantities also helps facilitate the more efficient running of vehicles – by pointing out where fleets can improve immensely to reduce their carbon footprint. For example, observations of how many goods or people have been wasted, the amount of fuel that has been used, and how much time idling can reveal to managers where they can go better.

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Fuel inefficiency and waste represents one of the human resources departments greatest pain points – and most costly – operating areas. So many driver behaviours therein contribute to higher fuel consumption, that would otherwise be very hard to detect without telematics.

Heavy braking, harsh acceleration and speeding cause vehicles to use more fuel than they would under more sedate driving. Add to that the safety implications of dangerous driving.

Similarly, the amount of time a vehicle is idling creeps up in a big way and can add significantly to fuel use and contaminant gas emissions. According to the US Department of Energy, an idling heavy-duty truck may burn up to 0.8 gallons of fuel per hour. If the truck is long-haul and idles 1,800 hours a year, that’s 1,500 gallons of diesel literally going up in smoke and thousands of dollars tossed to the wind per truck.

The USDE also estimates that there are about 11 million tons of carbon dioxide, as well as many other toxic gasses, released into the air in the US alone as a result of idling during rest periods each year.

It is easy to see how this type of driving behaviour, trivial on a single-truck basis, adds up and contributes to grand-scale climate change and air pollution. Having identified these behaviours as areas for improvement rests with managers’ opportunity for reducing idling time, cutting emissions and fuel use.

Another potential – and measurable – benefit they can discover by diving into their data is the most efficient routes for their team. Telematics is another helpful tool for fleets in identifying and decreasing meandering routes that might detour through clogged streets or waste fuel from circling around to jobs.

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Saving at the pump and saving drivers time means lower emissions, too. It can also help fleets get ready for an electric push – optimising routes and identifying charge points will be crucial to moving an electrified fleet forward.

What Does this Mean for Fleet Managers?

This sustainability hype is finally forcing managers to be more and more green and with more urgency that ever, not only for the sake of their own enterprise’s survival, but due to the fast-growing social and political demands, since most of the states are turning towards zero-emission politics, and have made the legislation for carbon-neutralism in the next decades. While fleet managers might have been able to deal with adopting green technologies and scrutinising fuel usage, managers no longer had the luxury of wasting fuel last February.

Containing CO2 emissions enough to avert calamitous anthropogenic climate change is now the number one priority. And it is telematics that offers the substantial part of the means for achieving it. For those fleets unprepared for the technology, this could mean budgeting for a major investment, and probably a team of data analysts for taking advantage of the haul of data being collated.

Keep in mind that if you’re investing on this kind of scale, it’s possible that you could be setting yourself up for potential cost savings that break even the expenditure further down the road. Moreover, if you are considering building up your own data team, it’s important to choose one that gives you an objective, arms-length look at your fleet’s data, either through a corporate structure or an outside source.

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Final Thoughts

However, in the end, telematics is an indispensable tool for helping fleets trim their carbon footprints. And this is to say nothing of the numerous other inefficiencies and maintenance issues that can quickly be identified. Often, fleet managers are already attempting to identify areas of opportunity; it only makes sense for the technology that does much of the heavy lifting for you to illuminate trends and behaviours that would never have been observed before.

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