Fleet Telematics Devices: Everything You Need to Know

May 8, 2023

More companies need a management solution for their fleet of vehicles. In 2025 the industry is set to reach $62 billion globally and it’s safe to say the fleet telematics industry is booming. 

But what are fleet telematics devices? And why are they needed for fleet management? We cover everything you need to know about the devices required to manage your fleet and onboard your vehicles. We also cover how High Mobility is an alternative solution to fleet telematics devices without needing additional hardware.

What is Vehicle Telematics?

Telematics is a combination of the words “telecommunications” and “informatics”. It’s a process of sending information over large networks, wirelessly to improve business services. 

Telematics devices are needed for the connection between a GPS tracker (or another tool) that logs data to a vehicle. This tool is either integrated from the factory when the vehicle was built or is an aftermarket device which connects to the vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) system.

Vehicle data is sent wirelessly to a central server for collection, analysis and display to the end user via a fleet management platform. This platform can be set up to be accessible anywhere where there is an internet connection. For more information take a look at our article on What is Car Telematics?

How Telematics Devices are Installed

GPS tracking and telematics devices are typically installed using the vehicle's Onboard Diagnostics Port (OBD). The advantages of installing telematics devices using the OBD port include the ability to only draw power from the battery when the vehicle is switched on. Plus it is easy to install and remove for safekeeping or maintenance and updates. However, they can be tampered with and removed at any time by the driver or by a thief.

This is where a more strategic approach comes in. Installing a GPS tracker elsewhere in the vehicle will reduce the chances of a thief finding and removing it especially if it is linked to an alarm system which will activate as soon as the unit has been tampered with. These units are more difficult to install as they need to be spliced into the vehicle's electrical architecture and hidden from sight in a special location. 

Depending on the type of device used, the data-gathering equipment may be in plain sight. For example in a refrigerated truck where a temperature sensor is installed and the driver monitors the goods at all times. This makes them less desirable to look at and susceptible to being stolen.

On-board telematics devices form part of modern-day vehicles and are installed from the factory. This leaves fleet managers with little to do except input vehicle details onto a platform, ensure the car is connected to the internet (usually via an in-built sim card from the factory) and agree to the data collection terms. Built-in devices have much better security as they cannot be physically removed. They are also part of the manufacturer's data security practices and are encrypted when sent over the air.

10 Reasons Why Telematics Devices Are Ideal for Fleet Managers

  1. Efficiency - To make sure you have happy customers, your fleet and day-to-day operations need to be efficient. Whether you deal directly with other businesses or with the general public, having on-time deliveries, minimal breakdowns and optimum route planning can all be analysed and improved using fleet telematics devices. 
  2. By Using Geofencing - Geofencing is ideal for fleets that need to have a close eye kept on them. With geofencing, an area is mapped out where a driver is allowed to operate. Once a driver leaves the ‘fenced’ area, a notification will trigger fleet managers to indicate the driver has left the designated area.
  3. Improve Safety for Drivers - With accelerating and brake monitoring, fleet telematics devices can detect unsafe driving. This can trigger a warning for drivers to be safer and encourage those who drive safely. Also discouraging those who drive dangerously.
  4. Help Reduce Vehicle Theft - Theft is always a possibility with a vehicle being an expensive asset. With telematics devices being installed, both the vehicle and its cargo are protected. As users can identify the location, lock status and condition of the vehicle on demand. Alerts can be set up to let users know that a car has been broken into and driven away. Allowing relevant authorities to locate and retrieve the vehicle as soon as possible.
  5. Locating Assets - Trailers, Containers and other assets can utilise telematics devices. As they are expensive assets for a business, the location of trailers and containers must be closely monitored.
  6. Older Vehicles - As modern-day vehicles have telematics built-in, it is possible to retrofit an aftermarket system to an older vehicle that needs to be tracked. It may be a classic car, a piece of equipment or a working museum exhibit. All of these are business assets that need protecting too.
  7. Reduce Fuel Waste - Commercial vehicles and heavy goods vehicles use a lot of fuel. When idling, heavy-duty trucks will use around 0.8 gallons (3.0 litres) of fuel per hour. This will add up over the year and cost a business thousands in unnecessary fuel bills. With a telematics device, it is much easier to identify and stamp out long periods of idling and drivers can be warned accordingly to reduce idle time.
  8. Optimize Maintenance Plans - All vehicles need to be inspected and maintained regularly. This ensures they drive safely on the road and are working efficiently whilst reducing the chance of catastrophic failure to expensive parts such as the engine and battery systems.
  9. Lower Insurance Costs - Insurers like to know that a vehicle is being tracked using telematics devices. This will aid in finding the vehicle during the theft and as a result, insurers offer a discount. Also implementing safe driving measures can reduce insurance prices, insurers can treat this as a reward for businesses that operate their fleets safely.
  10. Automating Admin and Payroll - With fleet management and telematics devices, a fleet manager can be informed when a driver is using the vehicle and how long it is on the road. This will aid in calculating the payments for employees and fuel costs.

Why aftermarket telematics devices are being phased out?

Thanks to manufacturers and legislation, today’s vehicles have in-built telematics devices. They not only capture accurate live vehicle data but send it securely, over the air, to central servers, making them accessible from anywhere. This removes the need for clunky aftermarket devices that take time to install, are costly up front, and have recurring monthly fees. 

At High Mobility, we partner with major car brands directly. Offering a bespoke data model that protects the end user and confidential vehicle data. Our APIs are set up to integrate your fleet management solution in no time. With the potential for hundreds of data points, fleet managers access a wide range of data to monitor and improve their fleet operations. Check out our API for free using our simulator. You will see how useful it is to have one central fleet management solution for your business.

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