Pioneering Change Behind the Wheel

UPS is one of the world’s largest couriers and is especially dominant in the US. That means it has a lot of vehicles, over 100,000 worldwide in fact, that between them drive over three billion miles per year. That means a lot of money needs too go into maintaining those vehicles, but with telematics that’s changed. After adding the tracking and diagnostic technology to its vehicles, UPS was able to cut back its maintenance costs by half, improve the reliability of its vehicles and slash its fuel usage by almost 50 per cent.

Before adopting telematics technology, UPS was budgeting for 240,000 services on its vehicles every year. This saw oil, tyres, brakes and other fluids at regular intervals, regardless of wear, because without the ease of telematic tracking, that made far more sense as it guaranteed the vehicles would keep running for longer. However, as with all transport based businesses, some trucks and vans would travel further than others, some would wear quicker due to age or driver habits, so it was far from an economical procedure.

When UPS installed telematics however and it was able to not only track metrics like distance covered and driving habits, but also vehicle diagnostics that will let the fleet manager know if a particular vehicle is in need of a service, they can be booked in then and there rather than just being paid for without basis. This ultimately cut back UPS’ servicing costs by half, down to around 120,000 a  year. More impressively though, this actually improved the reliability of the vehicles, despite them getting less individual attention.


On top of cutting back on servicing, UPS was also able to monitor the way a driver behaves when behind the wheel. If they speed, accelerate sharply or brake heavily, they put undue wear on the vehicle and can expedite any problems it may have underlying, as well as worsening fuel economy. Now UPS can look at that data and decide whether a driver needs to be reprimanded or given extra training to iron out those habits.

“We have the driver data; we know how fast they’re driving, how hard they’re stopping,” said director of automotive engineering at UPS, Dave Spencer. “That driver will change bad habits before it costs us money.”

Often times though, problems with the vehicle aren’t to do with UPS’ schedule, or with the drivers, but the vehicles themselves. Particular trucks or vans, bought as part of a batch, might develop similar issues around the same sort of age or mileage, which could be considered as a manufacturing error. With that data, UPS is then able to claim back on the vehicle’s warranty, cutting costs further.

Spencer insisted however, that a big telematics network isn’t required for these benefits. Even small fleets he said, with smartphone telematics apps could stand to benefit.

[Thanks Entrepreneur]

    Jon Martindale

    Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.

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