Make the connection

Bart Coppelmans and Chirag Patel believe that 5G is the future backbone of fleet management


Covid-19 has fully shown the importance of a fast and reliable connection across sectors, and this is no different in fleet management. The economic and social impact of the pandemic means that 5G is now more key to society than it has ever been, becoming an important part of the future of the industry. A key change that Covid brought about was the increase in fleet managers remote working, which is likely to continue after the pandemic, with many workplaces adopting a hybrid working system.

This means that high-speed connectivity is paramount. There has always been a remote element to fleet management, so connectivity is essential. The penetration rate will only increase as well; research has shown that by 2024, there will be around 1.9 billion 5G subscriptions worldwide. This highlights how people are expecting 5G to not only be extremely important but also widely used.

The reasons have been clear for many years; 5G promises high speed, low latency and massive device connectivity. 5G will enhance mapping capabilities and deliver highly precise geospatial data, meaning the benefits to fleet managers will be significant. Some supply chains have been under immense pressure in the past 18 months and other supply chains are just reopening. Therefore, fleet managers need to utilize every tool in their arsenal to reduce the strain on some of their networks while successfully restart others.

How 5G is the next frontier for fleet managers
Fleet managers face a lot of pressure, whether it’s knowing the toll roads to avoid or getting things delivered on time. The biggest challenge for fleet managers is making sure their drivers are safe. This concerns preventable accidents, such as making sure their drivers are rested before they set out. This is balanced with the productivity of drivers, which plays a significant role in either the costs or profits, so ensuring as little time is wasted as possible is paramount to fleet managers. This is particularly important in the last few miles of the drivers’ journey as this is where the most costs occur. Customers are unlikely to reorder products if their delivery window is not met, creating headaches for fleet managers and the wider network.

The pandemic has caused additional problems for fleet managers. There have been huge driver shortages as many workers have gone home to their EU countries. This has produced significant supply chain issues which fleet managers are at the heart of managing. The past 18 months of working remotely have illustrated that fleet managers need the right connection tools to stay in touch with their drivers to maintain their good working relationship.

In response, 5G can help empower fleet managers with better visibility over their operations, thereby, allowing for more efficient services and better user experience. In this day and age, it’s not enough to know the general location of vehicles. The precise location, ETA and being able to track the vehicles are all necessary. Location services are making this easier but there are still improvements to be made. 5G will increase navigation and real-time alerts of road conditions and serve net-new use cases.

Furthermore, fleet managers will be able to re-navigate their fleet as a result of traffic or disruptions and convey this information immediately to the whole fleet. All cargo items will be able to be tracked in real time. Fleets will be better connected and messages will be instantly transferred between them, allowing for them to aid each other when needed. Training new drivers, pre-trip planning, analyzing driver behavior, reducing delays, increasing response times, improving vehicle charging times as well as savings will be much easier as routing will be more advanced. In short, 5G will have a ground-breaking impact on fleet management as all the benefits will increase connectivity, performance, security, efficiency and reliability.

Another aspect of fleet management that sits on the critical path is In-Yard and Indoor Visual Positioning of fleet and other high value movable assets. Through augmented Edge Computing with Location Intelligence and positional orchestration, all of which are powered by 5G, massive yard managers with fleet strengths in the thousands, can now keep a close watch on their assets with the desired level of business agility and tight visibility required to address any business challenges around procurement, delivery or predictive maintenance.

The pandemic’s impact on the rise of 5G
Though it has led to many innovations, the impact of Covid over the past year has had a negative impact on the rollout of 5G technology. It slowed down the deployment and will continue to have an effect in the coming months, where restrictions on workers and installation crews has been the main problem. Additionally, some supply chains were interrupted and closed down. This caused issues for fleet managers as there were challenges in identifying where the problems were happening. This has shown the importance of updating the technology in fleet management to ensure that it is resilient to future crises.

To try and combat this, mapping providers are attempting to smooth out the 5G rollout process. 3D digital representations can be created of the buildings, trees and roadside objects that make up the physical environment surrounding 5G networks. This means that field surveys can be carried out remotely by network planners and radio frequency engineers.

Increasing and improving the rollout of wireless and cellular infrastructure required to take on the load is crucial. 5G means that data can be transmitted at much higher speeds, it has a lower latency and it has more capacity to connect more devices at a time to the same network. The improved data capture and interpretation will be able to create live traffic maps, which can be used by fleet managers to navigate their fleets safely.

Ultimately, 5G means that services can be provided for in a much more efficient way at much cheaper costs. 5G is very scalable, is easy to deploy and is ready to be rolled out across a business network. Fleet management isn’t seen as a beacon of tech innovation, but it cannot afford to miss out on 5G. v

For a list of sources used in this article, contact the editor

Bart Coppelmans is Head of Global Transport and Logistics Industry Solutions and Chirag Patel is Head of Telecommunications Industry Solutions at HERE Technologies. HERE, a location data and technology platform, moves people, businesses and cities forward by harnessing the power of location. By leveraging their open platform, they empower their customers to achieve better outcomes – from helping a city manage its infrastructure or a business optimize its assets to guiding drivers to their destination safely.
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