No doubt the telematics industry is continuing to drive the next generation of logistics. Fleets from small and medium businesses to enterprise level are embracing the data that telematics companies deliver.
This article will be a review of the current telematics landscape. We'll look at the top telematics companies to see what makes them tick. And we'll also gaze into the future to see what's coming next for telematics.
That said, according to Fleet Complete's 2021 Outlook Report on Telematics, "fleets in North America, Europe, and Australia will add 3.2 to 3.9 million new telematics subscriptions in 2021, representing 16% year-on-year growth."
The main features driving more companies to use telematics are still the same as in years past. Let's take a quick look at those.
The Top Features of Telematics Companies
First of all, what do telematics companies offer that make them worth the hassle?
- Real-time tracking of vehicle assets (through GPS)
- Compliance and regulation (especially the ELD mandate)
- Enhanced fleet performance, maintenance routines, and cost savings
- Results of data-based driver coaching, safety monitoring, and efficiency
But you could call those the traditional features and benefits of a telematics system. Nowadays, customers are in search of two additional telematics features.
New Trends in Telematics
Next, let's look at some newer features telematics companies have to offer.
- The desire for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) connectivity—in other words, factory-fitted, on-board, telematics hardware
- Video telematics—these are onboard cameras that essentially create a livestream
Fleet Complete's 2021 Outlook Report marks an interesting shift in customer views toward telematics. The information supports the industry trend toward data analytics and in general the overall data-driven approach to success for a trucking organization. The three main takeaways are:
- Service model: First of all, fleet vehicles are becoming regarded more as a service than a product.
- Predictive vs. simple reporting: Also, telematics insights are becoming more predictive.
- Data is king: In addition, success revolves around owning vehicle data transactions, not just owning vehicles.
That being said, a telematics software provider is going to have to check the majority of these boxes if they want to be considered an industry leader. So let's put it in gear and hit the road!
The Leading Telematics Companies
Each year, ABI Research prepares its Commercial Telematics Competitive Ranking. As you may have guessed, these rankings produce a list of the top companies in telematics.
At the end of 2020, ABI reviewed eleven top companies: Arvento, Geotab, Gurtam, G7, MiX Telematics, Omnitracs, Teletrac Navman, Trimble, Webfleet Solutions (formerly TomTom Telematics), Verizon, and Zonar.
From those eleven finalists, ABI Research awarded the gold, silver, and bronze as follows:
In addition, we'll review four other leading telematics companies today:
Each of the companies we'll review today offers noteworthy technology in the telematic space. Keep reading to learn more.
The number one commercial telematics vendor worldwide, according to ABI Research, is Geotab.
Geotab leads the telematics market with 2.1 million commercial fleet subscribers. According to the Geotab website, "Processing billions of data points a day, Geotab leverages data analytics and machine learning to help customers improve productivity, optimize fleets through the reduction of fuel consumption, enhance driver safety, and achieve regulatory compliance."
Recently, Geotab has expanded its connections by partnering with OEMs. Beyond that, Geotab is secured through authentication, encryption, and message integrity verification. What's more, the company even offers sustainability tracking for electric vehicle (EV) battery life, as well as EV-specific fleet management.
Geotab also advertises its marketplace for customized add-on solutions. These add-on features are the result of the open-sourced Geotab software ecosystem. There, customers can pick add-ons a la carte. Popular add-ons include innovations like in-vehicle cameras, real-time temperature tracking, and tire pressure monitoring, as well as mobile apps, 3PL integrations, and more.
Next, let's see what Verizon has to offer.
API Research's number two telematics provider is Verizon Connect. The Verizon Connect telematic platform also serves more than 2 million customers. But to earn that many customers, you can't rely solely on name recognition.
Indeed, Verizon Connect offers the entire suite of telematics features. It has GPS fleet tracking, maintenance alerts, ELD compliance, performance reporting, and vehicle diagnostics. The list checks all the boxes for most customers.
But API also ranked Verizon first for innovation, based on a recent integrated video solution. The Verizon video solution uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help classify incidents and analyze driver ratings. These changes will improve accuracy of reporting and safety.
In addition, like Geotab, Verizon openly welcomes third-party engineering partnerships. Its API developer toolkit helps customers build customizable solutions for the marketplace.
Now let's look at API's bronze medalist.
According to API Research, Trimble came in as the number three telematics provider. The company earned that ranking based on a broad offering of solutions and significant market share. In 2015, both Kenworth and Peterbilt selected Trimble to be their onboard telematics provider. So, that checks the box for customers interested in OEM factory-installed telematics.
In addition, Trimble carries a lot of name recognition, having been a mainstay in logistics and telematics for many years. But the newest Trimble partnership with Kenworth's Trucktech+ proves the company isn't resting on its laurels when it comes to truck maintenance. Along with all the standard features of telematics, Kenworth is now doubling down on driver connectivity.
Also, Trimble is integrated with Kenworth NAV+HD's communications and entertainment package. This includes large LED display screens with tons of functions aimed at solving many everyday needs. During a time of driver shortages, this focus on the driver is certainly wise.
Now that you know more about the top three, let's look at some newcomers, as promised.
As noted above, companies want factory-fitted, on-board, OEM-installed telematics hardware. There's simply more assurance and reliability that way.
Platform Science is attempting to take advantage of that trend. The company's products are on board many of the newest Daimler-brand tractors. Platform Science brings a collaborative approach to telematics.
According to the company website, Platform Science offers what it calls an open edge platform for telematics service providers (TSPs), apps, and devices. In other words, Platform Science welcomes collaboration with other software firms that wish to integrate with its platform.
The results are impressive. For example, it's possible to incorporate PedalCoach technology from LinkeDrive, which constantly calculates the optimal fuel rate during every trip. And its GPS uses Trimble's map software.
It also has next-generation safety features. Of course there's real-time data, which allows real-time driver coaching. But also, there's pedestrian motion detection, low trailer refrigeration temperature alerts, and even a driver distraction score.
Based on everything the open edge platform promises, trucks running Platform Science tech will be attractive to many next-gen telematics buyers.
Samsara is a recognized name in telematics. It positions itself to the trucking industry as "technology that goes beyond GPS tracking."
Some of Samsara's telematic tools include geofencing, real-time location tracking, and advanced routing features, such as traffic jam avoidance.
Samsara's telematics promise to help decision makers track fuel usage, fleet diagnostics, and vehicle maintenance schedules. In addition, Samsara has tools to help drivers. These include a combination of digitization and paperless workflow features that streamline and automate a driver's workflow.
Samsara telematics is available as a plug-in option. It's also available direct from the OEM through partnerships with Ford, International, Mack, and Volvo.
According to the Omnitracs website, the company's high-performance telematics tools were built on "decades of transportation and logistics know-how combined with expertise in leading-edge AI and machine learning to fuel your journey toward greater video-based safety and data-informed efficiencies."
Omnitracs emphasizes safety for drivers and the fleet as a whole. The core of Omnitracs' safety feature relies on live video as an added telematics layer. In essence, video will help exonerate drivers in the event of accidents.
Beyond video, Omnitracs offers the full suite of telematics tools you'd expect. But the company's business solution capabilities have the added bonus of AI and machine learning analytics.
Omnitracs was purchased by Solera. Solera was already a global data intelligence and technology leader. The addition of Omnitracs only improves their value proposition.
Along with the best name of the group, Keep Truckin offers elite telematics tools for fleet management.
Keep Truckin features the usual telematic toolkit, which includes GPS, ELD compliance, trailer tracking, vehicle maintenance schedules, and workflow optimization tools. But then again, Keep Truckin also offers a smart dashcam.
Smart dashcams can identify a distracted driver and detect cell phone use. In turn, this feature promises to help coach drivers toward better driving habits. Also, this same feature can protect a driver from liability in the event of a crash.
Integrations With Vector
You may not be aware of it, but Vector integrates with every telematics company we covered today. Vector, on its own, is one of the leading software companies behind the digitized document or "paperless" revolution. But Vector is more than just scans.
Vector operates through the camera on a phone. In the hands of a driver, Vector's workflow software streamlines every step of the day. That includes driver check-ins, eBOLs, inspections, OS&Ds, and accident reporting. Beyond that, digitized documents make back-end processes like invoicing and audits much easier as well.
In essence, it sounds like a no-brainer on the Vector website. "Asking your drivers to calculate their mileage or pay based on different variables leads to incorrect calculations, wasted time, and delayed payments. Vector can pull that information from your telematics and TMS, run the calculations, and send that information directly into your AP system. [That can help you] minimize duplicate data entry and audits."
The leading telematics companies see the future possibilities of digitization, and they've integrated Vector into their platform.
It's true—data is king. Companies are realizing the power of real-time data to affect their bottom lines. The world is becoming less reactive and more predictive. In the world of logistics, telematics is a win-win for everyone.
This post was written by Brian Deines. Brian believes that every day is a referendum on a brand’s relevance, and he’s excited to bring that kind of thinking to the world of modern manufacturing and logistics. He deploys a full-stack of business development, sales, and marketing tools built through years of work in the logistics, packaging, and tier-1 part supply industries serving a customer base comprised of Fortune 1000 OEMs.