Green fleet management: an opportunity for telcos?
Green fleet management is becoming increasingly important as sustainability is a key focus for operators and their enterprise customers. The growing emphasis on sustainability is paving the way for telcos to offer enablement services. This article delves into the role of telcos in providing fleet management enablement services.
The role for telcos in fleet management
Enterprises have never been more focused on the issue of sustainability given increasing pressures to report on, and reduce, their Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Telcos in this regard hold a unique position; not only are they looking to reduce their own emissions, but they can also leverage their connected technology solutions (e.g. cellular connectivity, IoT sensors) to help their enterprise and consumer customers to reduce theirs. One way that telcos can do this is through the provision of fleet management solutions which track and collect data on driver behaviour, helping to optimise routes to prevent excess fuel emissions. These can be considered as a telco ’enablement’ service. Enablement services are exciting for telcos as they offer a way to drive growth through sustainability, providing new sources of revenue, and offer ways for telcos to differentiate. However, a successful telco enablement service should be accompanied by a clear and robust reporting methodology to allow their customers to truly understand the level of avoided emissions they enable.
How can cellular connectivity enhance fleet management?
Modern cellular connectivity provides the foundation for advanced, real-time fleet management capabilities. Technologies such as 4G and 5G allow you to collect and transport data on the status of a fleet of vehicles, regardless of where they are at any one moment. This data can be aggregated in platforms and synthesised into insights that can inform decision making to maximise the performance of an enterprise’s fleet of vehicles. For example, real-time tracking can enhance route planning and make logistics companies more responsive to traffic, reducing delivery times and emissions, and hence fuel, labour and maintenance costs. Other capabilities such as vehicle diagnostics, driver behaviour monitoring and emergency response detection can contribute to these benefits, as well as enhancing health and safety.
As telcos continue to upgrade their networks and learn to maximise their utility, they can unlock fleet management capabilities that can maximise resource efficiency. This contributes to environmental recovery as well as enterprise shareholder value. The following diagram shows the evolution of cellular technology and its impact on fleet management, as well as a look to the future once 5G and ultimately 6G have been adopted at scale.
What is green fleet management?
Green fleet management solutions leverage telematics to help enterprises improve the sustainability of their fleets by enabling greater fuel efficiency. While most fleet management services are positioned primarily as cost saving solutions (thanks to minimising the use of fuel), these solutions could equally be pitched as ‘green’ solutions for the same reason.
What are the benefits of green fleet management?
Fleet management services can help to reduce emissions as well as provide telcos with cost savings in several ways:
- Monitoring tyre pressure, and sending alerts to fleet managers help to lower the unnecessary consumption of fuel that occurs when tyres are not optimally inflated
- Enable route planning, to recommend the most efficient routes for fleets and therefore reducing fuel consumption
- Enable load optimisation to ensure each vehicle is carrying the optimal amount of cargo and therefore improving fleet performance
- Monitor engine running on vehicles, so engines are not running idle and wasting fuel
- Identify the right size of fleets (by spotting vehicles who are under/over performing) and therefore reducing unnecessary vehicles on the road
- Offer software to indicate where EV charging spots are located to encourage the use of electric vehicles
- Monitor driver behaviour (e.g. send alerts to fleet managers when drivers are accelerating or breaking harshly, which causes more fuel to be used)
Fleet management solutions can enable greater fuel efficiency in several ways
How can telco fleet analytics tools be used to enhance fleet management?
To achieve these capabilities, fleet managers need high quality data, analytics capabilities, and visualisations from various sources, such as GPS trackers, sensors, cameras, and telematics devices. Therefore, there is a need for advanced analytics platforms and tools that can integrate with enterprise systems to reliably perform these tasks.
Telcos can leverage several core capabilities that differentiate them from other providers:
- Scale and coverage: Telcos can provide reliable geolocation services due to their extensive coverage and infrastructure. This enables precise tracking of fleet vehicles, providing accurate and real-time information about vehicle locations. This capability is particularly beneficial for managing large fleets across extensive geographic areas, allowing for improved route optimisation, increased operational efficiency, and enhanced security.
- Speed and latency: Their increasingly performant networks afford them superior real-time data capabilities. This allows fleet managers to respond promptly to time-sensitive situations, improving overall fleet operations.
- Edge, slicing and network APIs: Increasingly, telcos can use MEC to process data at the source, minimising latency, and making the system more efficient and responsive, which is amplified once the capabilities of slicing and network APIs are leveraged.
- Cybersecurity: Telcos typically have robust cybersecurity and are experienced in delivering this capability at scale across distributed infrastructure, offering protection of sensitive fleet data and reducing the risk of data breaches. This will become increasingly critical as the progression towards autonomous vehicles continues.
Telcos have strong capabilities that they can bring to fleet analytics, however they must be cognizant of their weaknesses and who they choose to partner with, as there is an inevitable risk of disintermediation and margin compression if they submit to hyperscalers and platform providers.
What are telcos doing for sustainable fleet management services?
- Verizon Connect offers several fleet management software solutions that can track vehicles and drivers in near real-time to provide recommendations to improve fuel efficiency. For example, some solutions help with planning the most optimal delivery routes, while others monitor driver behaviour e.g. detect harsh braking or accelerate, speeding, or idling, that can lead to excessive fuel usage.
- Vodafone offers fleet analytics solutions through Vodafone Business Fleet Analytics. The solution provides real time operational data which helps maximise the performance of vehicles by managing their routes. Vodafone’s solution also sends maintenance reminders and provides proactive coaching for improving drivers’ safety.
- Telia’s Eco-Driving solution is another option for enterprises. The solution provides drivers with real time data on braking, acceleration and driving patterns to enable drivers to better understand how their driving style affects fuel consumption. Telia’s solution reports the amount of excess fuel used for the trip to enable enterprises with fleets to see where they can make changes to reduce fuel consumption. Telia has stated this has had an effect of reduction of fuel costs by 12% per vehicle per year.
- Tata also offers fleet management solutions that leverage IoT and AI/ML to provide real time insights on vehicles. This solution connects fleet owners to the drivers, enabling fleet owners to trace the driving behaviours, fuel efficiency and health of their vehicles.
- Aside from telematics solutions, some operators are providing solutions that encourage sustainable transport more generally. For example, T-Mobile has been working with Geotab Telematics to offer a solution that shows real time data of the EV charging points to encourage the use of EVs.
It is clear that a number of telcos are offering fleet management solutions which can support the reduction of carbon emissions. However, if operators are seeking to position these solutions as sustainability enablement services, they should consider repositioning the business benefits of their offerings from a cost saving focus to an emission-saving focus. In this regard, it should be noted that Telia is currently the only telco that is leading with the sustainability angle of their service, rather than an emphasis on cost and fuel saving like other telcos.
Fleet management solutions can be a key enablement service for telcos to offer to their enterprise customers. However, for telcos seeking to claim their fleet management solutions as fully-fledged enablement services, they need to clearly communicate the environmental benefits that can be achieved. This should be done by establishing a clear and robust methodology for measuring avoided emissions. As no common standards currently exist, a collaborative approach between telcos with regards to sharing best practice will likely hold the key to success for fleet management solutions to truly be established as green solutions.
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