As environmental concerns become increasingly critical across society, telematics offers a vital opportunity for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint – while also boosting efficiency and the bottom line, writes Cliff de Wit, chief technology officer for Netstar, a subsidiary of Altron.

As catastrophic climate events become more common, and businesses around the world scramble to reduce their environmental impact, it’s important to remember that carbon emissions are not just about the source of the energy we use – but how efficiently we use that energy. In this context, telematics and the Internet of Things (IoT) have a vital role to play.

Wherever we source our energy, it is now imperative that we employ all the technology available to ensure we use energy as efficiently as possible. In the transport and logistics sector, telematics and track-and-trace technology are already an indispensable tool for enhancing business efficiency and reducing climate impact.

This is not just an opportunity, but an imperative. Businesses should not simply consider using technology to optimise their operations. They must use technology – from both an operational and an ethical point of view.

This is especially true for the transport sector, which accounts for around one-fifth of global carbon emissions.

Telematics offers business a chance for them to play their part in fighting climate change, while also improving the efficiency of their enterprises.

Telematics uses a combination of technologies – GPS communications, sensors and data analysis – to measure vehicle and fleet performance, and to then make safety and efficiency recommendations.

Drivers can be incentivised to make telematics-driven performance adjustments, such as reducing speed, minimising hard acceleration and cornering, braking carefully, and following optimal routes and travel schedules.

These kinds of interventions can have a massive effect on fuel consumption, as well as carbon emissions.

A Frost & Sullivan study has indicated that installed telematics can lower total milage by up to 10%, decrease idling by up to 30% and reduce fuel expenses by up to 25% – thereby reducing vehicle CO2 emissions.

Cutting CO2 emissions is a commitment most countries have made as part of the Paris Climate Accords, which aims to combat climate change by limiting global warming to substantially below 2°C and ideally 1.5°C by 2050.

It is therefore also part of our patriotic commitment and our responsibility to ensure a liveable planet for our children, that we deploy our all the technological resources at our disposal to meet these commitments – our survival depends on it.

It is also likely that government will soon start making policy changes to encourage the move towards fleets with fewer carbon emissions.

Telematics can help us achieve these emissions goals through the power of data, measuring driver performance, scheduling preventative maintenance, mapping effective routes and encouraging efficient driver behaviour.

Gathering this data are vast numbers of connected precision-measurement devices, which are part of the Internet of Things (IoT). These include digital thermometers, tyre-pressure monitoring systems, vibration sensors and weight sensors. CO2 sensors are now available that can measure engine carbon-dioxide emissions in real time.

The suite of sensors a fleet owner requires can be tailored to their business needs. Data is then gathered and applied to ensure loads are optimised, delivery trips are minimised and vehicles are run as efficiently as possible.

As fleets begin the transition to electric vehicles, telematics will also be used to ensure that trucks are always adequately charged and that their charging schedules and locations are mapped for optimal efficiency.

The efficiency advantages of telematics come in addition to the greatest priority of all – protecting human lives. Businesses have a duty of care to their staff and their contract workers. In the event of an accident, or a roadside breakdown, telematics allows enterprises to receive alerts, track their location, and ensure help arrives quickly.

While the climate benefits of fleet telematics solutions are significant, they will have limited appeal unless there is a business case for using them. Fortunately, those business benefits are becoming clear.

Fleet intelligence offerings such as Netstar’s give fleet managers the technology and services to keep their employees and their assets safer, to save costs, and to get a better return on their human and capital investments. The technology delivers all of these benefits, while also ensuring a lower carbon impact, and supporting the long-term sustainability of the business, the industry and society at large.

It’s a technology that all fleet managers should investigate as part of their business model.