Of the 7.2 million industrial vehicles across the Americas and Europe (including forklifts, tow motors, order pickers, man lifts, and yard trucks), 1.5 million now have some form of telematics installed. Fleet intelligence platforms from companies like Powerfleet are expanding to cover on-site vehicle connectivity, but the challenges surrounding such growth in connectivity remain.
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Connectivity in Industrial Vehicles Grows
The number of industrial vehicles fitted with a telematics device continues to grow. Of the 7.2 million industrial vehicles across the Americas and Europe (including forklifts, tow motors, order pickers, man lifts, and yard trucks), 1.5 million now have some form of telematics installed. As the level of Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure grows, so does the level of operational data available for organizations to leverage.
In addition to the growth in connectivity, automated industrial vehicles are emerging and adding another layer of complexity for fleet managers. Autonomous forklifts from vendors such as Baylo, OTTO Motors, Teradyne, Seegrid, and SEER, as well as autonomous yard trucks from Fernride and Outrider are attracting significant investment as businesses begin to automate the heavy end of material handling operations. It’s easy to see how companies are “drowning in disconnected data.”
Aiming for "Unity" among Industrial Vehicle Fleets
The fragmented nature of industrial vehicle fleets operating in and around industrial sites presents unique challenges for adopting fleet intelligence platforms. Equipment is very often adopted at different times, fulfills different requirements, and is likely supplied by multiple different vendors.
Powerfleet is looking to resolve these challenges with its device-agnostic platform, Unity, delivering integration with any IoT device and third-party business system for a single pane view of operations. The platform has been developed as Powerfleet moves away from being a hardware-centric company to a mission-critical service provider in the IoT Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) space.
The development of fleet intelligence platforms that extend to industrial vehicle fleets, as well as on-road fleets, opens key opportunities for end users:
- End-to-End Operational Excellence: Extending fleet intelligence platforms to encompass vehicles operating on-site helps create a seamless material handling flow. For example, if a vehicle is delayed, yard trucks and pallet picking equipment can be signaled to adjust operations accordingly.
- Achieving Sustainability Targets: Through deeper analytics, companies can optimize industrial fleets both through performance management and by monitoring equipment for efficiency and maintenance.
- Digital Foundation for Growing Automation: Harmonizing existing telematics data is a crucial first step for companies’ digitalization strategies. Optimizing and analyzing existing operations helps identify where automated solutions could generate the most value.
Opportunity for Established Telematics Vendors
Connecting more vehicles operating along the supply chain presents key opportunities for telematics vendors established in the road fleet space to develop and extend their fleet intelligence solutions. Companies like Powerfleet, Geotab, and Samsara are all well positioned to support this emerging need for all-encompassing platforms.
The technology is available for application, but vendors must address the challenges emerging with growing connectivity. Key considerations for success in this space include:
- Ease of Integration: Remaining device agnostic is the first step, but vendors must also ensure that companies can take a modular approach and deploy through scalable microservices.
- Go Beyond Visibility: Seeing what your assets are doing is no longer enough, platforms must deliver actionable insights through advanced analytics and support regulation reporting.
- High Platform Customization: One of the primary pain points raised by end users when adopting new systems is the inability to tailor them to their unique operations. Offer low/no-code customization, but provide more advanced builder capabilities for users to take control.
- Connectivity with Wider Systems: Bringing fleet intelligence closer to sites increases their interaction with existing warehouse and yard management systems. Ensuring seamless connectivity is critical for gaining maximum platform value.
- Prioritize Platform Security: Companies continue to choose on-premises solutions over cloud solutions, because they maintain greater control of their data. Effective cybersecurity must be a core deliverable to help smooth adoption of cloud-based platforms.