The use of telematics continues to grow throughout the Australian transportation industry as operators hope to take advantage of the operational and safety benefits of these technologies.
This paper will explore the benefits of telematics and how through proper implementation, these can be maximised. To do this, the National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) will apply a case study and consultative methodology with leading figures from the transport industry – including operators, drivers, insurers, technology providers and researchers.
NRSPP will explore the benefits of these technologies; requirements for effective implementation; and their place within an organisation’s overall operations and safety management system.
While the external environments facing light and heavy vehicle fleet operators differ, operational efficiency and organisational safety are two areas all operators can target to maintain a competitive edge and growth.
Rapid technological evolution has led to a diverse array of increasingly affordable telematics implementations marketed by a growing number of suppliers in Australia. It is less clear, however, how effective these technologies are in terms of providing operational and safety benefits. Moreover, how dependent these effects are on implementation and supporting systems.
The NRSPP conducted extensive consultation through one-on-one interviews with a range of leading figures from the transport industry. Those consulted included operators, insurers, technology providers and researchers. These interviews sought to take advantage of the different experiences and perspectives to develop a well-rounded understanding of telematics on the ground in Australia and pathways for further use into the future.
All consulted spoke in positive terms regarding the potential for telematics to provide significant benefits to an organisation if properly implemented. There was consensus in the view that it should not be seen as a ‘silver’ bullet, but rather as an effective tool if well integrated into an organisation’s operational and safety systems.
Key findings included:
- Bottom line benefits include increased fuel efficiency and reduced maintenance and incidents, resulting in lower insurance premiums and downtime costs. Productivity was also enhanced through efficient real-time resource allocation.
- Safety benefits were seen in improved driver compliance and behaviour, through tailored training and counseling possible through data collected by telematics.
- Critical aspects of implementation include consultation of the workforce (in most cases, drivers) about program introduction, explanation of how telematics could improve safety and reduce workload and the provision of opportunities for feedback. All of this was crucial to avoid ‘Big Brother’ perceptions.
- In selecting telematics systems organisations must have a clear understanding of their objectives in order to select a system that will meet their needs. Providers can assist in this process.
- Effective management of the information collected is crucial. Accountability, consistency and regular review are hallmarks of effective information management.
Good Practice Implementation: Five key considerations
The importance of implementation was continually emphasised by those consulted. Synthesis of these consultations identified five key stages required to ensure the successful implementation of telematics.
Benefits of good practice implementation
NRSPP engaged with operators of both light and heavy vehicle fleets for the first-hand account of their experiences with implementing telematics. Despite differences in fleet types and difficulties in quantifying exact benefits, where good practice implementation had occurred there were substantial crossovers in the benefits reported by operators.
Vista Hire Case Study
The clearest evidence, despite the small sample size, of how effective the safety and productivity benefits are on the implementation of telematics was demonstrated through the NRSPP Vista Hire Case Study.
The benefits were also demonstrated in seatbelt use:
Telematics can have an enormous safety benefit but should be treated as another tool which is part of an organisation’s safety management system. It can be a powerful tool when properly implemented but it can also be a costly mistake if not properly integrated.