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Using telematics to combat urban air quality issues

Using telematics to combat urban air quality issues


Colin Ferguson, Managing Director of Fleet and Optimisation for Trakm8, recently sat down with GreenFleet magazine to give his expert opinion on how telematics solutions can help combat the growing challenge of urban air quality. This is a summary of the interview:

How can fleets use telematics to lower emissions?

The driver is the single biggest impact on fuel consumption. Driver telematics systems enable employees and fleet managers to monitor, analyse and improve driver behaviour in four key areas - excessive acceleration, idling times, heavy braking, and sharp cornering. In our experience, it can cut fuel costs by up to 15%; a huge saving.

Drivers receive audio and visual alerts from the device to inform them of these behaviours and an overall score at the end of each day. This encourages healthy competition between employees and you can even incentivise them with prizes for the best driver.

Secondly, we increasingly see fleet telematics integrated with route optimisation software and fleet scheduling tools. By improving vehicle utilisation and eliminating unnecessary mileage, route optimisation can also substantially cut total fleet fuel consumption. A broad measure would be by roughly 10%, but it varies from fleet to fleet.

Improving vehicle utilisation will become increasingly important to fleets, as it can reduce the number of vehicles on our roads. For example, freight sharing is a growing trend and works best when powered by optimisation software.

Can optimisation help more people switch to EVs?

Optimisation works by analysing how a fleet operates, then using powerful algorithms to identify efficiency gains. This same fleet analysis can also identify which vehicles and routes could be switched to EVs, in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the organisation’s overall performance. In fact, the analysis often finds that switching to EVs saves fleets money as well as helping them to cut emissions.

Specialist EV optimisation tools also help fleets to sweat these comparatively high-value assets. Every additional electric mile means lower emissions and lower fuel bills. A good system should be able to optimise a mixed fleet containing diesel, petrol, hybrid, EV and any other alternative fuel vehicles.

From out of this technology we are now seeing spin-offs such as the MyRouteMonkey EV journey planner, which helps EV drivers to plan complex journeys and schedule in charging as required.

Telematics also has a role to play, in tracking EVs and reporting on planned versus actual performance.

Can telematics help improve air quality and reduce NOx emissions?

A big part of telematics is focused on cutting fuel use, which in turn helps fleets to reduce emissions. Monitoring vehicle idling time is a great example.

Driver behaviour systems are increasingly supported by apps that enable employees to quickly and easily check their performance. Fleet managers can also identify any issues at a glance. By highlighting where training would be most effective, they help fleet managers to address bad driving habits that are increasing both emissions and costs.

Route optimisation used to be about using today to plan tomorrow’s fleet activities. While that is still often the case, optimisation has also evolved to offer dynamic scheduling. This enables fleets to re-route vehicles, in real time, to keep them out of areas that are experiencing unexpectedly high traffic congestion.

Should fleets using diesel vehicles be penalised to help improve air quality?

Urban air pollution kills around 40,000 people a year in the UK. That’s a horrifically high number. So in principle, we fully support measures to remove diesel vehicles from town and city centres. However we have to balance that with access for goods vehicles that are the lifeblood of urban areas. It’s completely unfair to expect fleets or diesel drivers to foot the bill without any assistance from Government. Trakm8 is in favour of incentives to accelerate the switch to lower-emission, less-polluting vehicles, rather than penalising the owners of diesel vehicles.

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