The U.S. and Canada are ramping-up their COVID-19 vaccine delivery efforts. With the stringent refrigeration and regulatory requirements, it is now more important than ever for fleet drivers to communicate immediately to provide critical data such as location, climate control, vehicle operations, road conditions, delivery time updates, or request assistance should an issue arise.
If a fleet driver is unable to communicate due to poor signal, the consequences may be catastrophic, resulting in lifesaving vaccines not being delivered to deployment sites in a timely fashion or at all. If the proper cold temperature is not maintained during COVID-19 vaccine transport, the vaccine potency will be diminished and virtually ineffective.
Fleet routes often take drivers through urban, interstate, and remote areas where it can be difficult to receive a reliable cell signal. The pandemic has increased reliance on mobile data devices causing cellular towers to become overloaded, resulting in slower connection speeds. This is a major issue since many of the tasks fleets manage, from monitoring vehicle performance and updating job statuses to providing route optimization and monitoring vehicle location, rely on in-vehicle technology and management software.
In-vehicle devices such as smartphones, tablets, GPS trackers, and more require a strong internet connection to be useful, and fleets have a lot to lose if a cellular connection drops out.
For COVID-19 vaccine delivery and beyond, there are several reasons why strong fleet connectivity is so important for fleet businesses:
Expand a Fleet's Coverage Area
Some fleets are increasing their coverage areas from county-wide to statewide or multi-state services to help deliver vaccines. The larger the area, the more difficult it can be to ensure strong cellular connectivity throughout their routes. Even fleets completing vaccine deliveries in urban locations may experience slower cell speeds due to network congestion and many people using the same cell towers.
If fleets have no signal, they won't be able to communicate with their home base or provide delivery updates. In the case of vaccine delivery, this is particularly crucial since refrigeration requirements mean every minute counts.
Creates a More Reliable Communication
Every link in the fleet chain, from drivers and field workers to engineers, needs to remain connected to maintain communication, stay abreast of updates, and efficiently complete vaccine deliveries. They don't have the time or resources to spend on searching for a stronger cell signal and need workers to get their jobs done quickly and correctly.
Without strong connectivity, the entire fleet's schedule and efficiency can be thrown into disarray. Communication is also essential for giving the vaccine recipient locations a heads-up on if the delivery is going to be delayed or changed for any reason.
Guarantees Better Tracking
Many fleet management systems use telematics to keep tabs on drivers and gather important analytics to tracking expenses. Having correct, current data enables field managers to make more informed business decisions on daily operations and adjust their working models accordingly to increase efficiency, which is especially important for vaccine delivery.
A lack of cellular connectivity can result in "telematics ghosting" or "going dark" while out of the field and a loss of valuable business data. Strong cellular signals take full advantage of telematics and GPS, giving fleet owners the data needed to improve operations, ensure driver safety, optimize routes, and identify improvement areas.
Fleets have a duty to protect their drivers and take steps to promote their safety. Technology including dashcam reporting and tracking common high-risk driving behaviors makes it simpler for fleet managers to ensure that their drivers and field technicians are safe. It's also essential to stay in the loop on where drivers and vehicles are at all times. Vaccine delivery can be stressful for drivers who face tight turnaround timelines, and driver safety is first and foremost.
Uninterrupted cellular connectivity allows drivers to call in any issues like breakdowns, accidents, or delays. If a team becomes accustomed to unreliable cellular communications, they may become complacent when fleet vehicles go dark, resulting in serious safety issues. Constant communication ensures that vaccines will get delivered on time and, above all, safely.
At the end of the day, strong cellular connectivity benefits increase profitability and return on investment (ROI) for fleet owners. Accurate data and reporting allow businesses to optimize operations for productivity, safety, and field management. Additional benefits include saving on fuel costs, miles driven, staying on top of vehicle maintenance, improving customer service, and reducing inefficiencies. Guaranteeing that your fleet has reliable cell coverage will keep your business competitive and operating smoothly on all cylinders.
Fleet managers have turned to technology to help overcome any cellular connectivity roadblocks. In-vehicle cellular signal boosters can solve poor cell signal issues and keep fleets connected and safe. Strong cell signal expands a fleet's coverage area, ensures accurate driver tracking, improves driver safety, minimizes "telematics ghosting," and optimizes fleet productivity, which are all crucial to effective vaccine delivery and distribution.
About the Author: Terri Titas-Wolcott is the National Sales Manager-Fleet at Wilson Electronics. Wilson Electronics, LLC, home of WilsonPro and weBoost, is a provider of cellular signal booster technology, dedicated to delivering wireless network coverage to everyone, everywhere. This article was authored and edited according to WT editorial standards and style to provide useful information to our readers. Opinions expressed may not reflect that of WT.