Chapter 10:

IoT Fleet Management

July 5, 2022
15 min

IoT Fleet Management

Today, fleet managers have to go beyond simply tracking the location of their vehicles, they’re also expected to take a proactive approach to maintenance, limit inefficiencies, and increase the ROI of their fleets.

IoT (Internet of Things) technologies allow fleet managers to achieve workflow automation and granular visibility to meet these business objectives. For IoT fleet management use cases, an IoT network includes different IoT edge computing devices that collect fleet data and send it to the cloud. With the data collected from IoT devices, fleet managers can gain insights and create workflows that enable their fleets to remain competitive and profitable in the 2020s and beyond. 

This article will review the IoT Fleet Management network architecture components, the benefits of using IoT in a fleet management system, and some of the common issues that occur during IoT Fleet Management onboarding.

Executive summary

Below is an overview of the benefits of IoT fleet management for modern vehicle fleets.

Benefits of IoT for fleet management Description
Fleet location and movement monitoring Location monitoring in real-time
Predictive Maintenance Proactive and configurable notifications on fleet’s technical conditions
Vehicle security Monitoring security alerts and tracking vehicle’s location helps prevent it from being stolen
Cost reduction Optimizing vehicle’s route and engine performance with real-time metrics

IoT Fleet Management network architecture

Here is an overview of the main IoT fleet management network architecture components:

IoT Fleet Management Network Architecture

The IoT system includes:

  •  IoT devices- IoT devices collect data using different physical sensors such as gyroscopic, acceleration, proximity, motion, temperature, and pressure. IoT devices can collect different parameters and measurements to be then sent directly to a dashboard with little to no human interaction. 
  • IoT connectivity- An IoT network can use various connectivity methods to send the data from the IoT device(s) to the virtual dashboard. Some of the most popular IoT connectivity methods are Wi-Fi, 2G/3G/4G/5G, LTE-M, NB-IoT, and LoRa.
  •  IoT cloud- An IoT cloud is a system that collects, stores, and analyzes IoT data. It includes servers and storage to process big amounts of data from IoT device sensors for further analysis and visualization through the IoT application interface. 

Note that the variety of IoT connectivity methods allows fleet managers to choose a method that fits their use case. For example, to reduce the cost of a tracking device in locations with 2G cellular connectivity, it can be manufactured with a GSM module that supports only 2G.  Conversely, for asset trackers which have to report only one time or a few times per day, NB-IoT is likely a good choice because it helps to save IoT device batteries.

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Real-Time Event Processing
Internet Scale Throughput
Stateful Edge Device Processing
Cross-Region Replication
Geo-Fencing and Data-Pinning
Azure IoT Edge
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AWS IoT Greengrass
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Macrometa
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Benefits of using IoT in a fleet management system

IoT for fleet management provides transportation businesses with several key benefits, including

  • Fleet location and movement monitoring
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Vehicle security
  • Cost reduction

In the sections below, we’ll take a closer look at each of these IoT fleet management benefits. 

Fleet location and movement monitoring

One of the most significant benefits of using IoT in fleet management systems is real-time location monitoring. Personal use by a fleet driver it may cause delivery delays and increase fuel consumption, both of which negatively impact overall profitability. 

Fleet location and movement monitoring can also help find the most optimal route to a destination, considering variables such as road conditions, traffic, and distance.

Predictive maintenance 

IoT sensors can collect measurements from different parts of the vehicles. If some do not reach the expected value, systems can immediately inform fleet managers through communication channels like a web/mobile app, email, or SMS. 

For example, suppose a pressure sensor detects that the tire pressure is below a threshold value. In that case, the fleet manager should be immediately informed and would be able to contact the driver and relevant repairing service to prevent a possible accident.

Additionally, an IoT management system can gather the fleets’ overall condition data and improve maintenance planning.

Vehicle security

IoT fleet management is commonly used in security and mission-critical industries to prevent expensive vehicle theft.

The fleet manager can receive a notification every time a vehicle door is opened by an unauthorized driver or when the vehicle ignition is on when the driver is supposed to be off work.

If a vehicle is stolen, an IoT fleet management system helps you provide the exact vehicle location to the police and help to find the vehicle as soon as possible.

Cost reduction

IoT Fleet management has the potential to reduce costs through route optimization, driver behavior monitoring, reduced engine idle times, more efficient fuel usage, and proactive preventive maintenance.

What’s required to be successful when adopting an IoT fleet management solution?

Unfortunately,  IoT in fleet management can be complex to implement. One of the main challenges is selecting a connectivity method for a specific use case. There are many factors fleet managers need to consider. In these sections, we’ll look at some of the most important.

The right connectivity for the use case

From a connectivity perspective, some of the most essential variables to define to make your IoT fleet management implementation a success include:

  • Tracking area- Will you use local or cross-boarding tracking? In the latter case a local SIM card for roaming can be too expensive in many scenarios. Clearly defining where you need to track your fleets will help you refine your options. 
  • Network coverage- The connectivity technologies supported across regions and providers will limit what’s possible for your IoT fleet management system. 
  • Wireless module and SIM card compliance- For example, not all wireless modules support eUICC functionality. Selecting a reliable and compatible IoT connectivity provider for the use case is critical.

Effectively managing complexity 

Another issue is managing the complexity of different IoT fleet management system components, syncing them, and making them work as one complete solution. For example, an IoT connectivity provider that provides access to their platform and related API, so fleet managers have access to their endpoints directly from the cloud can drastically improve efficiency and visibility. 

With access to the platform, fleet managers can perform actions such as:

  • Changing endpoint connectivity status
  • Activating or disabling connectivity
  • Performing geolocation checks

Handling massive amounts of IoT data

One more issue is managing and handling data transferred to the cloud. IoT captures massive amounts of data that are transmitted to the cloud. The tremendous volumes of data can impact the performance of the cloud, which can result in delays in the overall data-processing time and impact real-world fleet management workflows. 

Additionally, a long distance between the source of data and the cloud causes latency, negatively impacting system performance. In fact, the cloud requires different response times based on the type of data that it receives. For example, data related to security and prevention is more time-sensitive than the location of an asset (at times sent once a day). This means that the cloud should prioritize analyzing certain types of data over others. Edge computing is widely applied in IoT fleet management systems as a solution.

Edge computing is a distributed computing and storage resource that is based away from the centralized nodes (server or cloud) and close to the source of data (IoT device). The primary role of edge computing is to reduce workload from the cloud.

Conclusion

IoT technologies benefit organizations in multiple industries across the globe. Transportation and logistics businesses that depend on effective fleet management are some of the biggest beneficiaries.  

From identifying minor detours on a vehicle’s route to preventing dangerous accidents by monitoring vehicle status and conditions, IoT has enhanced fleet management by providing up-to-date information and even helping to reduce operational costs. It is  fair to say that integrating IoT technologies into fleet management is now a must. 

Customers and users demand much more than before. Full functionality and visibility are necessary to keep operations running smoothly. However, this comes with a fair share of challenges businesses face when implementing new technologies. Fortunately for IoT fleet management, edge computing helps to mitigate some of the challenges.

IoT is a young and rapidly changing technology with considerable benefits to both enterprises and customers. Learn more about how Macrometa helps you take full advantage of your data streams and drive real-time insights from IoT sensors, connected objects, and devices.

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