Zero-contact: new tech helping fleets remotely manage equipment, workers

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Updated Dec 11, 2020
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A new Equipment Management feature from Fleetio helps with tracking tools associated with a vehicle.
Business automation and digital workflow tools have been in high demand in 2020.Business automation and digital workflow tools have been in high demand in 2020.

In 2020, more so than any prior year, fleets have been using technology to automate tasks and limit office and mobile workers from in-person meetings and contact. The same has been true for regulatory agencies at the state and federal level.

Announcements the past week from suppliers of fleet management technology reflect this trend, which by now has become the new normal.

Remote inspections

Fleet telematics and IoT provider Geotab has joined the California Bureau of Automotive Repair’s (BAR) Continuous Testing Program (CTP) pilot, a new program that is designed to help government fleets alleviate the effort of in-person Smog Checks in California.

By leveraging near real-time engine information processed through Geotab’s telematics device, BAR will receive Smog Check information for the government fleet vehicles enrolled in the pilot without vehicles needing to do a manual inspection. There is no extra cost for CTP enrollment.

Collecting fuel taxes

State governments have been losing fuel tax revenues by fleet drivers stopping less frequently at fuel pumps. This is not because of fears of Covid-19 transmission, however. The continued growth of hybrid, electric and alternative fuel-powered vehicles have many states investigating revenue alternatives such as per-mile charges.

Revenue shortfalls are also expected to continue as autonomous vehicles hit the road with electric powertrains.

Azuga, a provider of connected vehicle and fleet technologies, was chosen as a key collaborator for a new Road Usage Charge (RUC) and Autonomous Vehicle Test conducted by RUC West, a voluntary group of 17 state departments of transportation to determine the feasibility of RUC.

In partnership with private autonomous vehicle (AV) vendors and product design specialists, the research demonstration aims to analyze and validate methods for data-sharing between AV telemetry and RUC systems.

The effort spans one year and will include a six-month pilot with AV vendors in Arizona, California, and Texas, and is open to receive more AV volunteers across the nation.

Remote training

Luma Brighter Learning was recognized for winning the Small or Medium Business Product of the Year category in the Best in Biz Awards, an independent business awards program judged by editors and reporters from top-tier publications in North America.

10th annual best in biz awards 2020 winnerThe Luma eNugget LMS streamlines the driver orientation process and improves training outcomes with a collection of more than 500 customizable learning modules and with LumaLive, a synchronous technology that allows transportation carriers to conduct live orientation during the pandemic.

Demand for the technology accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic by fleets transitioning from in-person classroom to remote training.

“We are honored to be recognized by such prominent industry business leaders that see Luma as a business that can adapt and serve during a pandemic,” said Dr. Gina Anderson, CEO of Luma. “Above all else, we are appreciative of our transportation clients for their tireless efforts to improve driver safety and keep the country moving.”

Prolonging 3G devices

A point of contact that many fleets cannot avoid is upgrading mobile devices that have 3G cellular connectivity with all of the major wireless networks phasing out support.

Orbcomm, a provider of fleet management and Internet of Things (IoT) technology, has extended the 3G timetable and expanded coverage by launching a satellite-as-an-accessory offering for its cellular asset tracking and monitoring devices.

The low-profile, plug-and-play peripheral device can be utilized with fielded devices such as trailers and trucks impacted by the sunset of 3G cellular networks to extend the device’s lifecycle.

Orbcomm said the new offering creates dual-mode capability with a satellite to provide backup satellite connectivity where cellular networks are unavailable or unreliable. The device includes a module that enables global reporting of location data. In addition, over-the-air satellite updates allow for updated firmware versions.

Tracking tools

A new Equipment Management feature from Fleetio helps with tracking tools associated with a vehicle.A new Equipment Management feature from Fleetio helps with tracking tools associated with a vehicle.

Last but not least, Fleetio developed a new add-on for its fleet maintenance software system that allows users to centralize management of small equipment and tools alongside vehicles.

With the new feature, Equipment Management, users can visualize a complete audit trail of responsibility and link equipment to the vehicles they travel in each day. This eliminates the need to track small equipment in disparate systems or spreadsheets.

Equipment can be checked in and out so that others can see the availability, understand when equipment is due back and see who is responsible in case an item is broken or cannot be located.

The feature is also available in Fleetio Go, a mobile app that can be used by work crews to identify, search for and check in/out equipment from anywhere. Barcode scanning and NFC technology are supported by Fleetio.