MiX Telematics has conducted a detailed study into present and future telematics trends within the European commercial vehicle industry.
As operators are progressively seeking new and innovative ways in which to maximise the return on their investments in telematics.
MiX Telematics marketing and operations director Steve Coffin said: "This study clearly demonstrates that telematics has the power to satisfy a wide range of operational needs over and above what might be described as traditional fleet management solutions. With the benefits of telematics now firmly established and accepted by Europe's transport operators, we see the focus gradually shifting to include new applications.
"Looking ahead, the partnership approach we have adopted will have a large part to play here in terms of helping share and spread knowledge throughout the industry. In our view it is no longer enough for telematics providers to simply sell products; the way forward is in forging ongoing partnerships to ensure the full range of benefits telematics is realised."
The MiX Telematics European study highlighted a number of areas of interest:
Temperature management (cold chain)
In the UK, cold chain growth is being driven by the home delivery sector and the proliferation of supermarket convenience stores. In France, there are currently 65,000 heavy trucks and 45,000 light commercial vehicles operating within the cold chain sector, representing ten percent of the nation's transportation market. The proportion is even larger in Spain where an estimated 82 percent of operators are engaged in cold chain transportation and distribution.
With consumer concerns over food quality continuing to rise, telematics offers a range of solutions for cold chain operators seeking to ensure the goods they carry arrive in the best possible condition. Included here are remote onboard temperature sensing and monitoring, and the frequency and duration of door-opening events, which can have a major impact upon onboard temperatures. For these reasons, an increasing number of cold chain operators are today looking at telematics solutions to help improve their efficiency and ensure they are compliant with regulations.
Stolen vehicle recovery – consumer and commercial
In the UK, an estimated one third of all stolen vehicles are never recovered. In 2014, the number of vehicles reported stolen totalled 69,5474. Additionally, cargo crime is reported to have more than doubled in the first quarter of 20155. In France, the level of reported freight theft increased from 1,673 incidents in 2013 to 2,500 in 2014, 75 percent of which were directly from the vehicle. TAPA, the Transported Asset Protection Association, regards Germany as Europe's prime victim in terms of trailer and freight theft.
Thieves in the UK are now reportedly parking vehicles at the roadside for a number of days after stealing them to ascertain whether or not tracking devices have been fitted. Vehicle theft has long been a serious issue in the heavy commercial vehicle industry, driven by high-value loads coupled with a shortage of secure overnight parking.
With freight theft reportedly doubling in a single quarter in the UK alone, it follows that transport operators are looking to protect their vehicles and goods in transit by the most effective way possible, which in today's environment means fully utilising telematics' extensive track and trace capabilities.
With its economies emerging from recession, the European construction industry has enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent times. While growth in France peaked last year, with a slight decline anticipated in 2016, both Spain and the UK continue to do well. The Spanish construction sector grew by 2.4 percent in 2015 and is expected to increase by ten percent this year. In the UK, urban regeneration programmes, house building, roadbuilding and major infrastructure projects such as the Thames Tideway project continue to fuel growth.
With improving economic conditions, the construction industry now has the confidence to re-equip after many years of debilitating recession. That said, operators are proceeding cautiously, looking to protect their purchases and realise the maximum possible return on their investment. Accordingly, the application of telematics solutions within the sector is growing. It is important to note that telematics can be applied to good effect not only to vehicles but also to construction industry plant and materials handling equipment.
Despite falling prices at the pumps, fuel theft continues to be a major problem throughout Europe. In France, for example, it is estimated that virtually every transport company has been a victim of fuel theft at some time or another. Spain reports that most crimes occur in the vicinity of major cities, with Barcelona, Seville and Valencia singled out as particular blackspots. While accurate figures are hard to establish due to many crimes going unreported, anecdotal evidence suggests that many diesel thefts are carried out by simply cutting or boring into fuel tanks, which are often easily accessible on commercial vehicles.
Fuel theft is undoubtedly a massive problem across the Continent. While telematics alone cannot solve the problem, it can certainly help through the installation of fuel level monitors linked to telematics reporting systems which provide alerts should a fuel tank begin to drain suddenly. As operators move more towards pro-actively protecting their investments, it is expected that the proportion of operators cooperating with local law enforcement agencies to facilitate rapid and effective responses to incidents of fuel theft will increase.
Waste management and recycling
With 177 million tonnes of waste generated annually in the UK alone, waste management and recycling is big business. However, with an industry facing significant economic pressures – France, for example, reports a fourfold increase in the cost of waste collection since 199010 – the focus for transport companies in this sector today is firmly fixed upon efficiency in operation.
While driving down costs through improved transport efficiency is a core benefit to the waste management and recycling industries, telematics is able to go much further in terms of the gains it can help make. It is expected, therefore, to see the application of telematics within the sector continuing to increase throughout 2016 and beyond.