Chief Strategy Officer, Fleet Complete
If roads and highways are the veins and arteries of our civilization, commercial vehicles are the lifeblood. To keep a finger on the pulse of a commercial fleet, you need telematics.
Every day, Canada’s roads are plied by hundreds of thousands of commercial fleet vehicles, providing goods and services to every sector of the economy. From the smallest private operations with a fleet of one or two cars to the largest logistics corporations fielding thousands of trucks, business depends on the efficient and reliable operation of these rolling assets in order to thrive. And, in today’s digital and interconnected world, that operation runs on fleet telematics.
Telematics is the aggregate of technologies that connect a vehicle to the outside world and the outside world to the fleet. It starts with the track and trace capabilities provided by GPS, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. “Track and trace is definitely the foundation of telematics,” says Fleet Complete Chief Strategy Officer Sandeep Kar. “But, on top of that, we have video telematics, asset tracking, regulatory compliance, remote diagnostics, and predictive maintenance solutions. What company assets are on board? What’s going on in the engine? What’s going on in the brakes? Who’s behind the wheel? Are they paying attention? That’s the level of information we work with now. And it lets us improve every aspect of the fleet, whether it’s safety, security, downtime reduction, scheduling, dispatching, routing, track and tracing, regulatory compliance, or vehicle sharing. Fleet Complete solutions enable all of those things.”
Fleet Complete is not the only company providing these solutions, but they’re uniquely positioned as a Canadian innovator and success story. “We’re proudly headquartered here in Toronto,” says Kar. “We’re a 21-year-old company and we behave like a 21-year-old. Our teenage years of wild evolution are now behind us, and we’ve matured into a more global organization with operations not only here in Canada, but also in the U.S. and Mexico, in several European countries, and in Australia. Over 40,000 fleet-owning businesses globally leverage the power of our vehicle, asset, and mobile workforce solutions to derive maximum productivity and efficiencies. ”
Small fleets are a big deal
It’s a particular focus on small- and medium-sized businesses that has made Fleet Complete one of the fastest-growing telematics companies in the world. Canada is home to over a million small businesses, making up 98 percent of all employers in the country, and so the average fleet size of a Canadian business is quite small. One of the most significant developments in telematics, over the last decade, has been the democratization of the technology, so that small businesses with a fleet of a few vehicles can have access to fleet management tech that was, once, only available to the largest corporations.
“Serving the needs of small- and mid-sized businesses is our specialty,” says Kar. “That customer base is in our DNA. We know that the owner-operators and small fleet managers don’t have the battery of engineers that larger fleets do. They don’t have anybody trained to analyze their historical data or evaluate the performance of their fleet. They need help, and that’s where Fleet Complete comes in with the most diverse solution set, tailored and customized to fleet size, application, and location. We take pride in offering white-glove services to small- to mid-size businesses, ensuring they’re regulation-compliant, reducing their fuel expenses, and enhancing fleet safety. For smaller-sized fleets, the performance benefits of telematics are actually far more important than they are for large fleets with deeper pockets and more margin for error. And the system is so intuitive that anybody, with any background, can quickly get up to speed and start leveraging the full benefits.”
Cutting costs is nice, but revenue is king
Though a fleet telematics solution can work wonders at increasing efficiency and reducing costs, Kar is adamant that the advantages extend well beyond that. “You don’t start a fleet business to cut costs,” he says. “You start a fleet business to generate revenue. That has been our focus — not just helping fleets in reducing total cost of ownership, or enhancing safety and efficiency, but also generating revenue, unlocking new revenue sources, and maximizing existing ones. The carsharing solution we offer, for example, ensures that vehicles aren’t sitting idle at some yard, but are used more in 24-hour cycles so that you can get more out of your investment.”
It’s a very different world than it was three decades ago when track and trace solutions first hit the scene. Telematics technology has evolved dramatically, and the understanding of its role in the business ecosystem has expanded right along with it. “Telematics has historically been descriptive in nature, but what we’re moving toward now is predictive,” says Kar. “We can predict an outcome, we can predict an equipment failure, we can predict opportunities, and we can create value through that. The future is going to be prescriptive, where we can prescribe certain outcomes to fleet managers using data analytics, machine learning, and AI technologies, based on the same data that we’ve been collecting historically. At Fleet Complete, we’re driving digital transformation by harnessing the power of advanced AI analytics and connectivity solutions.”
Tomorrow is delivered by today’s commercial fleets
Wherever the technology goes next, one thing is certain: the growing interconnection of commercial fleet vehicles is going to have a profound effect on our economy and our way of life. “At the end of the day, commercial vehicles are the backbones of economies and societies where they serve,” says Kar. “If you woke up tomorrow and all the cars from the planet were gone, you would still survive. But if all the commercial vehicles had disappeared, everything would come to a grinding halt.”
Thankfully, it’s unlikely that all the commercial vehicles are going to disappear. But, as margins get tighter and concerns about carbon footprints grow more pronounced, the fleets that fail to adapt just might. The future of successful commercial fleets is smart, it’s connected, and it’s high-tech.