As the impact of COVID-19 on our economy and operations continues to unfold, field service fleets are thinking through how best to manage through the challenges. Can IoT Connected trucks and equipment help?
Here are a few new realities:
- Reduced operational hours
- More decentralized field service operations, as techs drive their trucks home
- New work schedules and flows create some confusion
- Blurring the line between work and personal use
Connecting trucks and equipment with advanced IoT and GPS Telematics can’t solve all the new problems created by COVID, but can certainly mitigate some of these risks.
Reduced Operational Hours
At Momentum IoT, we’ve documented the effects of the shutdown on fleet activity. A number of states have begun to come back, but there’s no question the event has taken a toll, and there’s no way of knowing where things go from here.
Decentralized Field Service Operations
Several of our customers have changed workflows in recent weeks so that trucks go home with techs. First, they allowed this, then they mandated it. This solves the problem of centralized dispatch sites for them. However, it causes some unintended side-effects.
How to manage this? One thing to do is to set up a unique location for the residence. It seems counter-intuitive, but your tech’s home just become the dispatch home base for that vehicle. Many IoT solutions let you easily associate individual assets to a specific location. Once a home base becomes a named location, it can now be the dispatch home base for that asset. Work trucks can be tracked for entry/exit from the location, and monitored to prevent off-hour use.
Setting Locations in Momentum IoT: Set the location or site area, and easily change this to be current when operations change due to COVID.
New Workflows Create Confusion
Yes, change brings confusion. The confusion can be managed with clear reports. The more managers know where their assets are located, the better they can manage. Furthermore, the distance from vehicles creates a special need to track important indicators in real-time. For example, we’ve previously pointed out the need to have live low battery and disconnect alerts. This becomes even more important when trucks may sit idle for a week or more. If this is a danger, you can set specific voltage thresholds for each individual asset, based on battery size and strength.
Setting Monitors in Momentum IoT: This lets you know when a battery is low or device disconnected, or track location entry and exit.
Blurring Between Work and Personal Use
Yes, some employees will take advantage of the new normal. It’s human nature. This is why clarity and control are important. Not sure you want your work trucks showing up at the bar? Live routing and trip features let you keep track of where the trucks are. Fuel level monitors let you correlate fuel consumption to actual work use. Setting geofences around your work sites, you can even direct trucks to travel from home site to work site. Some advanced IoT solutions will even tell you the weather where the asset is located, for large organizations which operate in multiple states.
Summary: IoT Can Help Manage During COVID
The larger point is that IoT gives fleet managers more control. In a time when it’s more difficult than ever to control operations, the cost of Telematics seems well justified. Some Telematics providers offer a free instant demo to enable rapid visualization of benefits and key features discussed here.