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Telematics in Vocational Truck Fleets: Food and Beverage

August 2017, Work Truck - Feature

by Lauren Fletcher - Also by this author

Image of truck courtesy of PepsiCo
Image of truck courtesy of PepsiCo

Food and beverage fleets operate a variety of vehicle types, from cargo vans to trucks of all class sizes. Many trucks require additional equipment, such as refrigeration units to keep perishables fresh for delivery.

“Maximizing asset utilization and route productivity, minimizing operational costs, and creating and executing the best plan are the names of the game in food and beverage operations. These fleets are able to tightly monitor and minimize cost per case by maximizing vehicle utilization and route density while minimizing unnecessary miles with better route planning and plan versus actual reporting,” according to Kelly Frey, VP of product market for Telogis.

The ability to track temperatures inside trailers is incredibly important to a food and beverage fleet.

“Food safety is extremely important, especially when dealing with refrigerated items that require specific tolerances of temperature in order to guarantee food quality. Telematics can be linked to the refrigerated units to measure the temperature and report out at specific intervals so that the food and beverage company can demonstrate the cargo was transported and delivered within specification,” said Bob Clark, manager of commercial motor vehicle compliance and telematics for Wheels.

New regulations coming in 2018 related to tracking and reporting trailer temperatures in refrigerated trucks will be managed through telematics solutions.

“Food and beverage fleets can also track the temperature of their reefer trailers. The new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) mandate coming into place in January 2018, all reefer trailers will need telematics to report temperature for receivers,” said Ryan Driscoll, marketing manager for GPS Insight.

Food safety is very important. In addition to temperature, telematics sensors can report on additional factors such as harsh or aggressive driving that may impact or damage products being delivered.

 “Ensure you maintain compliance with the FSMA Transportation Rule. Use telematics to help you track temperature of the goods in your vehicle and protect food safety,” said Scott Sutarik, associate VP, commercial vehicle services for Geotab.

Most food and beverage fleets have little time to spare during deliveries. Vehicle downtime due to maintenance concerns can also be reduced through vehicle diagnostic reporting.

“These vehicles can’t afford an accident or a downtime event without risking a partial or total loss of product.  It is critical to ensure that the truck diagnostics are monitored for issues with a proactive response to send an alternate vehicle to swap the product and determine the best shop location for the repair,” Clark added.

Proactive preventive maintenance and being able to quickly handle any unscheduled maintenance needs are extremely important to food and beverage fleets, which can leverage telematics to assist.     

“Telematics gives insight into potential maintenance problems. An unscheduled maintenance delay can create major issues for ensuring that food and beverages are delivered on time and in acceptable condition,” said Dain Giesie, assistant vice president for Enterprise Fleet Management.

Finally, telematics can be used to ensure that fleets are working at their optimal capacity. Tracking and measuring delivery density and vehicle utilization can help save on unnecessary miles driven.

“Food and beverage fleets also have special factors to keep in mind during distribution. Telematics solutions can help drivers and fleet owners maintain on-time delivery and cost-effective transportation of goods from the manufacturer to the distributor, and all the way out to the consumer. Route optimization and job workflow can also be positively accelerated by telematics use. These solutions are also helpful in monitoring environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity, for food and beverage fleets – as goods are transported, they must remain compliant with food transport regulations, and avoiding the loss of product (such as frozen goods thawing) is vital. These fleet owners can also use telematics to maintain compliance with federal regulations for driver hours and hours of service,” said Nathan Todd, director of product management at Teletrac Navman.

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