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Telematics or fleet management software; which solutions is the best for your business?

The terms telematics and fleet management are often used interchangeably, with many believing that they are the same. This however, it is not quite accurate.

If you’ve been looking into fleet management software or telematics to boost your fleet operations, improve the visibility and productivity of their fleets, and believe that they carry out a very similar job. This isn’t the case!

However, there is some overlap between the two tools and their respective roles in fleet management. To help understand how each can help support your fleet management decisions, you need to be aware of the capabilities of each in terms of what they are and what they do. This can then help you decide which, if not both, is best suited to your needs.

This article will explain the differences between the two, and how they work symbiotically to help manage your fleet.

What is telematics?

Telematics is primarily a system designed to collect and transmit real-time data from vehicles to a central system. It combines telecommunications and informatics, hence the name.

These systems are more about dots that are moving on a map rather than the rows and columns in a database. They send data digitally through either Wi-Fi, GPS or satellite from devices installed in the vehicle itself, to primarily track the location and performance of the vehicle, and the behaviour of the driver.

This technology involves several components:

  • GPS tracking: Tracks the precise location of each vehicle, which is crucial for route optimisation and monitoring.
  • Vehicle diagnostics: Provide real-time alerts and data on the vehicle’s mechanical status.
  • Driver behaviour monitoring: Helps in understanding driving patterns, which can influence fuel efficiency and safety protocols.

Telematics is vital for operational decisions that require immediate data, such as rerouting based on traffic conditions or real-time dispatch adjustments.

What is Fleet Management Software?

Fleet Management Software (FMS) offers a more comprehensive suite of tools designed to handle the administrative and management aspects of running a fleet. In effect, it’s a large database of information – a place that you can store records of everything and anything to do with your fleet.  From vehicle specifications to maintenance schedules, parts and service histories, insurance, licences and tax documents, to fuel transaction records and operating expenses

The key components include:

  • Maintenance tracking: Automates the scheduling of regular vehicle maintenance to prevent unexpected breakdowns.
  • Fuel management: Optimises fuel consumption through analytics on usage patterns.
  • Asset tracking: Manages all fleet assets, ensuring that every vehicle is accounted for and in good working condition.

The main purpose of a FMS is to reduce the administrative processes involved in managing all fleet lifecycle information, allowing you to focus on streamlining operations, reducing costs, and improving overall fleet efficiency through detailed data analysis and strategic planning.

The differences between the two

It’s easy to see how one might reference conflate fleet management software and telematics interchangeably. However, there are some important differences between the two:

  • Form:Telematics can be either hardware, software, or a combination of the two, while fleet management software is exclusively a computerised software system.
  • Function:Telematics collects data about the performance of vehicles, while fleet management software interprets this data and uses it to track other aspects such as service scheduling and billing.
  • Value: Telematics is used to monitor vehicle performance and driver behaviour, while fleet management software is used to improve fleet and business processes, including operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Which one is right for your fleet?

Ideally, both!

Ultimately, the best choice for your business depends on the specific needs of your fleet and drivers. For example, all fleets should be focused on driver safety; in this light, telematics solutions can monitor speed, braking patterns and fuel economy in real-time, providing actionable insights into how drivers are performing.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to reduce operational costs, then a fleet management software solution may be more suitable.

This chart below may help you decide…

Fleet management software

Telematics

  • Vehicle specifications
  • Services scheduling
  • Document storage.
  • Maintenance and parts history
  • Transaction reporting (fuel receipts, repair invoices, etc)
  • Driver details
  • Compliance report
  • Fleet policy documents.
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Ownership and operating costs

 

  • Vehicle location tracking
  • Call centre dispatch
  • Driver behaviour monitoring
  • Route planning and optimisation
  • Real-time fuel monitoring
  • Geofencing alters.
  • Vehicle speed
  • Harsh cornering or braking
  • Trip history

 

How telematics and fleet management software can work together

While telematics and fleet management serve different purposes, they can be used synergistically to provide a comprehensive view of your fleet. While telematics provides the data, FMS can analyse this data to produce actionable insights.

By integrating both solutions into one platform, businesses can access real-time data on vehicle performance while being able to track maintenance schedules and improve operational efficiency.

For example, a business may use telematics to monitor driver behaviour while using fleet management software to keep track of maintenance schedules and inventory. This can help ensure that vehicles are running at their best and that drivers are operating safely.

By integrating the two systems, the benefits now include:

  • Conducting deeper risk assessments by merging data on driving behaviour with accident records, medical history, and fines.
  • Linking engine issues directly to repair orders to accelerate repairs and improve ongoing maintenance.
  • Monitoring safety more effectively.
  • Reducing unnecessary idling to save costs.
  • Optimising travel routes for efficiency.
  • Cutting down on administrative work to streamline operations.
  • Increasing data accuracy by avoiding duplicate data entry.

Summary

Hopefully, you can now see that fleet management software and telematics systems are two distinct options. However, when combined and efficiently integrated by a fleet management software vendor, they can dramatically improve your fleet management capabilities.

Telematics systems such as Netstar deliver meaningful information to your fleet management software, which helps to boost fleet productivity.

Your next step? Contact your Netstar consultant today and ask how our integrated solutions can benefit your fleet.

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