The first onboard diagnostic (OBD) system was developed in the 1970s; it was a small device attached to the engine that would monitor vehicle emissions. Since that time, OBDs have become increasingly sophisticated and OBD-II has the capability of diagnosing engine problems while monitoring parts of the chassis, truck body, accessory devices, and emissions.
GPS systems, on the other hand, allow fleet managers to track and monitor every vehicle in their fleet. When fleet managers combine onboard diagnostics and GPS tracking, the result is a perfect match. But what exactly does that mean for a fleet?
In laymen’s terms, OBD-II is an onboard computer that controls engine operations and is able to detect errors in data inputs, outputs, and subsystems. A huge benefit of having an onboard diagnostics system is its capability to warn users of potential engine glitches early on.
OBD-II uses standardized digital communication ports and a built-in standardized series of diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) that denote specific engine and vehicle malfunctions. Every problem has its own unique DTC. When a specific code has been triggered by a problem, the vehicle’s service engine light turns on.
DTCs provide precise descriptions of the problem, which negates having to diagnose problems before taking the vehicle in to be serviced. Every DTC triggers a notification alert that is immediately sent to the fleet manager or maintenance personnel. DTCs are stored in the computer’s memory and can be recovered by applicable code-reading devices, allowing technicians to quickly identify and repair problems. DTCs are communicated by OBD-II, even if a driver fails to report an engine light warning. Some common DTC alerts include:
- Cylinder misfires
- Air/fuel mixture
- Emission problems
- Fuel pump and fuel sensor issues
- Catalyst system
With OBD-II, fleet managers receive real-time information on the health of the engine and vehicle. Benefits of utilizing OBD-II include:
It takes the guesswork out of whether or not a vehicle should be immediately sidelined. A standard nightmare for fleet managers is having a truck break down, in route, while loaded with cargo. Catastrophic engine failure is much less likely with the data provided by OBD-II. Instead, fleet managers can make knowledgeable decisions, remotely, about whether a vehicle should be taken out of service immediately because of engine malfunctions or other diagnostic alerts. Some repairs may need immediate attention, but most issues do not impact the delivery schedule. This reduces downtime and provides huge savings for fleet management.
OBD-II data helps technicians be proactive about preventive maintenance, and plan accordingly: increasing uptime. Minor issues are repaired before they become major problems.
GPS tracking systems give fleet managers the ability to monitor the location, movement, behavior, and status of every vehicle within their fleet. Managers now know when a vehicle is started, when it shuts down, how long it has been idling, and its speed.
Some of the benefits that GPS tracking devices provide for fleet management include:
One way that GPS tracking systems increase productivity is by its ability to map the quickest and most efficient route. Route enhancement software displays routes that avoid congestion, pileups, construction, weather closures, delays, and more. GPS devices also increase productivity by encouraging drivers to stay on task. When performance is being continually monitored, drivers think twice before taking unauthorized personal trips or extended breaks.
Reduced Labor Costs
With the use of GPS systems, fleet managers often see a reduction in labor costs, because employees are more productive, and less overtime is required. GPS tracking systems also increase the accuracy of payroll hours, as the actual amount of time spent, is documented.
Reduced Fuel Costs
GPS tracking systems help control and reduce the amount of fuel that is consumed. Fuel related benefits of GPS technology, include:
- Keeping track of speeding alerts, and promptly correcting the driving behavior. Speeding uses more fuel than traveling at lower speeds.
- Monitoring and prohibiting excessive idling by drivers
- Monitoring the location of every vehicle, and using that data for the most efficient dispatching, such as employing the closest vehicle to a designated job site
Improved Customer Service
Reduced response time makes customers happier. The accuracy and route optimization capabilities of GPS mean more efficient routing and increased accuracy for delivery times.
Enhanced Fleet Safety and Security
Fleet managers can monitor vehicle status and location. Any unauthorized entry or movement can be promptly noted and reported. GPS tracking also allows managers to monitor driver’s speed, braking habits, and aggressive driving behavior, and take actions to curtail that behavior before accidents occur.
Put onboard diagnostics and GPS tracking together, and you have a perfect match. Now, fleet managers have extremely accurate data at their fingertips, relaying continuous data in real-time about the health of the truck as well as its status, location, movement, speed, and performance. It’s a marriage made in fleet heaven.