A Fleet Technology Road Map

Tony Candeloro

Tony Candeloro

Vice President, Product Development, ARI

Tell us about your tech­nol­ogy lab.

ARI’s tech­nol­ogy lab was built to pro­vide our clients and prospects with a hands-on, holis­tic view of the kinds of tech­nolo­gies that are cur­rently avail­able. It rep­re­sents mul­ti­ple ven­dors and mul­ti­ple tech­nolo­gies – every­thing from telem­atic devices to key entry sys­tems for pool reser­va­tions, to engine diag­nos­tic tools, to fuel sav­ing tech­nolo­gies. It allows us to show our cus­tomers and prospects all of the avail­able options and dis­cuss what will be the best solu­tion when it comes to man­ag­ing their fleet.

 

What kind of tech­nol­ogy would you say a fleet must have? 

 

Right now, not every fleet requires tech­nol­ogy, either in the vehi­cle or in the cab, and some of this tech­nol­ogy is still very expen­sive. So, we usu­ally begin the con­ver­sa­tion around what a customer’s busi­ness dri­vers are, and depend­ing on what their needs and require­ments are we work to design a solu­tion that deliv­ers what they need. It is a mat­ter of match­ing the cus­tomer to the right technology.

 

We also try to encour­age our clients to con­sider the three main com­po­nents of any fleet: the dri­ver, the vehi­cle and the jour­ney. Today’s tech­nolo­gies match up very well with all three com­po­nents and can help fleet man­agers bet­ter under­stand each one so they can bet­ter under­stand their fleet. For exam­ple, a basic low-end GPS device can help you know where your vehi­cles are, but you can also choose a more com­plex tech­nol­ogy that can auto­mat­i­cally manip­u­late an engine’s per­for­mance to improve fuel con­sump­tion. There are also devices that can alert a fleet man­ager when a dri­ver may be speed­ing or idling too long, and can allow that fleet man­ager to pro­vide imme­di­ate feed­back to that dri­ver so that behav­ior can be changed on the spot.

 

I think that down the road it will be very dif­fi­cult to man­age a fleet effec­tively with­out this type tech­nol­ogy, but right now it isn’t for every­one. At the same time, these kinds of tools are becom­ing more and more main­stream and over time their use will become more commonplace. 

 

I know that dri­ver accep­tance was a com­mon issue when these kinds of devices were first intro­duced. Is it becom­ing eas­ier to incor­po­rate them into a fleet and gain dri­ver acceptance?

 

It is really a ques­tion of how you intro­duce the tech­nol­ogy, more than any­thing else. Com­pa­nies should empha­size to their employ­ees that these newer tech­nolo­gies are designed to help bet­ter man­age cost and safety, which is bet­ter for the dri­ver as well as the com­pany in the long run. Com­pa­nies would be well advised to con­sider devel­op­ing an entire cam­paign as they intro­duce new tech­nolo­gies so the dri­vers under­stand the value of using these devices, and appre­ci­ate that they help both the dri­ver in terms of keep­ing them safe and the com­pany in terms of man­ag­ing the bot­tom line. When they under­stand the busi­ness value, most dri­vers accept it.

 

Tell us about clients that have embraced this technology.

 

We have worked with clients who have used telem­at­ics to improve logis­tics, so by man­ag­ing the jour­ney they increase the effi­ciency of their dri­vers, who can in turn cover more routes with fewer vehi­cles and fewer trips. If you can reduce miles dri­ven you can reduce a lot of costs. 

 

We have also worked with clients who have used telem­at­ics devices to record and mon­e­tize each com­po­nent of their fleet so that they can gain a bet­ter under­stand­ing of their over­all fleet spend. Take speed­ing as an exam­ple. When you have the right infor­ma­tion, you can deter­mine what each mile an hour over the pre­scribed speed limit means to your fuel spend. Com­pound that over tens of thou­sands of vehi­cles on a daily basis and that begins to add up quickly. Telem­at­ics helps deter­mine which vehi­cles in your fleet may be speed­ing so you can be proac­tive about mak­ing a cor­rec­tion with those dri­vers. Over time, this can make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence – and this can both help jus­tify the cost of the tech­nol­ogy and help fleets insti­tute best prac­tices when it comes to man­ag­ing their vehi­cles and their drivers.

 

The tech­nol­ogy also helps when it comes to safety as well. The newest devices can limit the use of aux­il­iary devices if the vehi­cle is in use, forc­ing the dri­ver to focus on dri­ving. There is also tech­nol­ogy now that is so sen­si­tive it can read a driver’s retina and if the driver’s eyes drop – either from drowsi­ness or because he or she may be look­ing at a phone or a hand held device – an alarm is trig­gered. The imme­di­ate effect is safer dri­vers – but the long term effect is that you can gather that data to bet­ter under­stand what may be going on with your fleet, espe­cially with regard to drowsy or dis­tracted dri­ving, and you can be proac­tive about train­ing other safety mea­sures. With data you can change behavior.

 

Speak­ing of the data, how do you inte­grate that with your HANA technology? 

 

Our entire tech­nol­ogy road map is focused on data. We are turn­ing data into a strate­gic asset both for ARI and for our cus­tomers. Our invest­ment in tech­nol­ogy has been focused on data, both in how it is col­lected and how to make sense of it. SAP’s HANA plat­form was our choice because of its in-memory capa­bil­ity.  When you start to col­lect the vol­umes of data that we are able to col­lect now – thou­sands and thou­sands of data points on every trans­ac­tion – that amounts to a tremen­dous amount of data. In order to do some­thing with that data at the speed of busi­ness, you need a quick tech­nol­ogy. With HANA, we are able to take the data as it comes in push it out to our cus­tomers instan­ta­neously. HANA’s in-memory tech­nol­ogy allows us to con­sume all of the data that comes in, ana­lyze it and send it back to our users in real time.

 

What about ARI insights?

 

ARI insights is our cus­tomer por­tal. We also use it inter­nally with our account managers.

It offers a com­pre­hen­sive, holis­tic view of the three com­po­nents I men­tioned ear­lier: the dri­ver, the vehi­cle and the jour­ney and presents all of the data related to those com­po­nents in a way that the user can take imme­di­ate action on it. It’s designed to be intu­itive, flex­i­ble and col­lab­o­ra­tive so that a fleet man­ager can see what is hap­pen­ing in real time and take action – whether that means com­mu­ni­cat­ing with a dri­ver, deal­ing with a crit­i­cal main­te­nance issue or chang­ing a route to max­i­mize efficiency.

 

It is also some­thing that has evolved over the years. As recently as a few years ago, insights was very text heavy. Today, it is much more visual and intu­itive. We are look­ing to move in that direc­tion, so that all of our tech­nolo­gies and prod­ucts don’t just help our cus­tomers access their data, but also help them to visu­al­ize it, under­stand it, and truly see what it is try­ing to tell them. It is great if a client can see a key met­ric – but it is even bet­ter if they can also see how they got to that point. Today we’re using data not just to say “here is where you are” but also to spot pat­terns and under­stand trends so fleet man­agers can make bet­ter deci­sions. It’s really about using the data to tell a story – and then using what you learn from that story to take smart, data-based action. Our tech­nol­ogy invest­ments are focused on reduc­ing or elim­i­nat­ing data latency and deci­sion latency. Cap­tur­ing data as close as pos­si­ble to the event and ana­lyz­ing that data in such a way that it can be pre­sented quickly, thus allow­ing for an action­able deci­sion made as near-time as pos­si­ble – that is our goal, and our passion.

 

What data met­rics are fleet man­agers ask­ing for the most?

 

Fleet man­agers are always inter­ested in what­ever met­rics may help them run their fleet more effi­ciently. The chal­lenge was that tra­di­tional met­rics were one dimen­sional – acci­dents per mil­lion miles, cost per month, and cost per mile. With the new tech­nolo­gies, how­ever, we are look­ing to get more strate­gic and more gran­u­lar. We are try­ing to not just col­lect data but to cor­re­late it with other things. For exam­ple, we have always stressed that when an ARI Tech­ni­cian is on the phone autho­riz­ing a repair, that we want to make sure that it is the right repair for that vehi­cle, and that it is being done at the best cost. In the past, we have done that by using the data and by hir­ing ASE Cer­ti­fied tech­ni­cians who can use their knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence to make an edu­cated decision.

 

Fast for­ward to today:  we are able to offer all of that and more. With the tech­nol­ogy we have, we can crunch the num­bers so quickly that dur­ing a phone call, the tech will be able to see that in the pre­vi­ous six months we’ve autho­rized sev­eral hun­dred sim­i­lar repairs within a fif­teen mile radius of a spe­cific shop, and that on aver­age those repairs cost a cer­tain amount, which gives the tech­ni­cian the power to nego­ti­ate a bet­ter price closer to the going aver­age on behalf of our client. Being able to nego­ti­ate pric­ing based upon real time data is a pow­er­ful development.

 

Another exam­ple might involve acci­dents. Tra­di­tion­ally, the mea­sure­ment was acci­dents per mil­lion miles. That gave a cer­tain level of insight into how a fleet was per­form­ing over­all. The newest tech­nol­ogy, how­ever, allows us to plot where acci­dents are occur­ring, not just in a sin­gle fleet, but across ARI’s entire cus­tomer base. This helps us to see things we may not have been able to see before and coun­sel our clients based on the data we have. We can tell our clients to avoid cer­tain routes or inter­sec­tions not because we sus­pect it’s a good idea, but because the data tells us those routes or inter­sec­tions are more risky.

 

And, if we com­bine that data with infor­ma­tion from other sources – such as that gained from fuel trans­ac­tions – there is the poten­tial to be even more empow­ered when it comes to see­ing cor­re­la­tions and offer­ing advice based on those cor­re­la­tions. That is the future of met­rics – see­ing things in more than one dimen­sion. Com­par­ing seem­ingly dis­parate sets of data to make cor­re­la­tions, spot pat­terns and see trends. 

 

Do you see more than just the fleet man­ager seek­ing to access and use a fleet’s data now and going forward?

 

Yes, absolutely. In the past, it was just the fleet man­ager that was inter­ested in the data a fleet gen­er­ated. Now, we know that it is fleet man­agers, but also it’s CEOs, sourc­ing man­agers and risk man­agers, among oth­ers, who may be look­ing to access and under­stand a fleet’s infor­ma­tion. Con­se­quently, we have worked to develop ARI insights so that can be a point solu­tion for the spe­cific role you may be play­ing within an orga­ni­za­tion. It can be a risk man­age­ment tool for the risk man­ager, a finan­cial per­for­mance tool for the finan­cial man­ager and a fleet tool for the fleet manager.

 

How else can data empower fleets and fleet managers?

 

Data can empower all of the deci­sions you make with regard to your fleet. And, in the very near future, we are going to be able to use the data to bet­ter under­stand how the deci­sions you make today play out in twelve, or twenty four, or even thirty six months, which will lead to bet­ter bench­mark­ing. That’s what the tools in devel­op­ment right now will be able to do. And, when you do that, you’ll end up mak­ing bet­ter deci­sions long-term. Fleet man­agers will have the power to store and bench­mark pre­dic­tions and deci­sions long-term, which in turn will make future pre­dic­tions and deci­sions bet­ter, because they are based on real data, not con­jec­ture or presumptions.  

 

BIO

Tony Can­de­loro is a vice pres­i­dent in the infor­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy area for ARI and is respon­si­ble for the company’s prod­uct devel­op­ment and cus­tomer fac­ing tech­nolo­gies. In his role, Tony over­sees the con­tin­ued enhance­ment of ARI’s exist­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices, as well as the devel­op­ment of new prod­ucts and ser­vices for the fleet man­age­ment indus­try. Tony joined ARI in 1990 as a programmer/analyst and grew as a val­ued leader and IT spe­cial­ist through the posi­tions of man­ager of inter­nal sys­tems devel­op­ment, man­ager of sys­tems and pro­gram­ming, direc­tor of client infor­ma­tion sys­tems, and most recently as Vice Pres­i­dent of Prod­uct Devel­op­ment. Tony stud­ied Com­puter Sci­ence at Delaware Tech­ni­cal Com­mu­nity Col­lege and earned his bachelor’s degree from Widener University.

tcandeloro@arifleet.com

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