Every day an LCV spends off the road is lost revenue to a business. Vehicle health alert systems can help to reduce this downtime – and minimize delivery penalties. Take Trakm8 Connectedcare for example…
One of the golden rules of fleet management is that planned, preventative maintenance saves money. Research recently published by van hire specialist Northgate helps to put a number on exactly how much unplanned downtime can cost. Its study found that every LCV spends on average four days a year in the workshop or garage, at an average cost of £800 per van, per day. This would mean that a business with 100 LCVs would lose £320,000 each year.
Furthermore, customers increasingly place penalty clauses in contracts and service level agreements, meaning that fleets are fined for failing to deliver the goods within specified time windows. This was reflected in the Northgate survey, where 47% of respondents said that they incur fines or penalties when their vans are out of action for a week.
Recent advances in telematics are enabling fleets to improve their proactive approach to preventative maintenance. Trakm8, one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of telematics devices, showcased its new Connectedcare product at the CV Show. Uniquely, the system provides alerts in realtime to fleet operators on dashboard warning lights.
Sean Morris, Automotive Business Unit Director at Trakm8, said, “Using telematics to communicate issues such as dashboard warning lights removes the reliance on the driver to inform the transport operator or fleet manager.
“Connectedcare effectively acts as an early warning system, enabling managers to plan vehicle downtime in a way that minimises disruption to customers and cost to the business.”
Connectedcare works through deep connectivity with an LCV’s CAN bus system, enabling it to read diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) and report them to a fleet manager via a real-time alert. These alerts can be push notifications to a smartphone app or telematics web portal. The system also records each subsequent time the vehicle has started with the fault still present.
Trakm8 is said to be one of the first telematics manufacturers to offer its customers battery status reports. This works by running a series of checks, providing feedback on the health of the battery. In this way, a transport manager can see when a vehicle’s battery is suffering a fault or requires replacing.
“A faulty or flat battery is one of the most common causes of a breakdown or non-start,” said Sean. “Battery status alerts make them easily preventable.”
Connectedcare goes beyond DTC and battery status alerts, with other useful features including the ability to read the tyre pressure monitoring system. This means that Connectedcare can monitor tyre pressure and send alerts to the fleet manager.
“Correct tyre pressure reduces wear and tear, improves road safety, and also improves fuel economy, so it’s a win-win for transport operators,” added Sean.
Air quality issues are leading to the establishment of Clean Air Zones in many towns and cities, with most introducing road charging for vehicles below Euro VI operating in the zones. This is pushing the wider adoption of Euro VI vans, which are often reliant on AdBlue as part of the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system. Trakm8 Connectedcare monitors AdBlue levels, alerting transport operators if the AdBlue level falls below a predetermined point.
“Drivers who allow the supply of AdBlue to run out will find that their vehicles go into limp mode or shut down altogether,” said Sean. “Our AdBlue alerts help prevent that failsafe from occurring.”
Unlike most telematics systems, which provide GPS-based odometer estimates, Connectedcare provides a true ODO reading, which is far more accurate. It can therefore send service reminders to the fleet manager based both on service intervals and on mileage.
“The accuracy of GPS-based mileage is reliant on a constant GPS signal, which we all know is highly unlikely,” said Sean. “With true ODO readings, we can give the workshop manager a heads-up when a service is due, helping them to plan for vehicle downtime.”
Other handy features of Connectedcare include VIN number identification and fuel levels, which also covers fuel theft alerts if a tank is rapidly drained.
Trakm8 offers Connectedcare as a standalone product, or incorporated into a wider telematics package.
“Telematics is a very competitive marketplace,” said Sean. “Most LCV fleets understand the benefits of vehicle tracking and driver behaviour analytics. At Trakm8, we are always striving to go one step further by providing our customers with added value through technology such as Connectedcare.
“Having all that information available through one integrated system makes life easier for fleet managers while helping them to improve safety, enhance customer service and reduce costs.”