Friday, 11 February 2011
Inspector Gadget! - How Telematics Can Help Track Down The Truth
“A while back we fitted some of our Eco-mate devices to a fleet of 7.5 ton trucks available for rental with one of the country’s biggest fleet operators. Some of the trucks were rented out to a well known transport company that distributes fruit and vegetables to pubs and restaurants all over the UK. The owners signed the contract, sent out the lorries and left the delivery company to get on with their business. As far as they were concerned, they were doing just that.
“As part of our service, we routinely monitor the data that is streaming from all our clients’ vehicles. One day, whilst monitoring this particular fleet of trucks, we noticed something odd.
“One of the trucks had stopped and remained parked at a location in East Sussex. It remained there with its ignition off for several hours. Using the map function that we have built in, we were able to zoom into the location and saw that the lorry was parked up in a lay by. We assumed it was some kind of problem, perhaps with the driver.
“When we looked again the following day, the data stream showed that the vehicle had changed location and was now in Leighton Buzzard. From the fuel readings we could see that it had done this without using any fuel. Quite obviously, it had for some reason been towed or transported there. It remained in Leighton Buzzard for three days.
“Now it just so happened that we knew that the company which had hired these trucks had a service garage in Leighton Buzzard. So it was then that we started to put two and two together. There had clearly been some kind of accident and the lorry had been towed or transported to the company’s garage to fix it.
“In a routine conversation with the client who owned the trucks, we mentioned that we thought one of their trucks had been in an accident or broken down.
“As far as they were concerned the truck was travelling around the country making deliveries as normal.”
“No, we’ve not heard anything about that,” they replied. “If there was an accident, the client has to inform us automatically. It’s in the contract. You must be mistaken.”
“In the end, however, we were proven right. It turned out that the truck had been involved in an accident in East Sussex and had been transported back to Leighton Buzzard where it was fixed up.
“It highlighted an aspect of telematics that we hadn’t until then considered. By interpreting and analysing data properly, we can highlight areas that wouldn’t ordinarily be identified. In this case, the company that had hired the trucks from our client had been keeping them in the dark, in breach of their contractual obligations to inform them of any problems or accidents.
“In a way, tracking devices are digital detectives. I’m sure that won’t be the last time we use them to solve a mystery.”