Vehicle drivers view of motion blurred traffic at night, icons surround a truck in central view

The fleet of the future will be driven by data

Modern vehicles are a rolling hub of sensors and intelligent computerised components, all of which continually generate data. Research by analysts Frost and Sullivan found that the average vehicle now has over 200 internet-connected sensors¹.

By Shell on May 3, 2021

This includes everything from sensors to measure tyre pressure, lubricant viscosity and vehicle position (relative to other traffic), right through to predictive-driving systems which scan the terrain ahead and help the driver optimise speed and driving style for the best possible balance of safety and performance. This digitisation of data is crucial for fleets that want to take advantage of benefits such as asset utilisation, improved productivity and cost efficiencies, especially during uncertain economic conditions.

It’s difficult to over-estimate how much these connected vehicles will transform fleet operations, once fleets start to fully take advantage of the data these vehicles generate. By 2030, the EU Commission expects self-driving vehicles to be a reality on Europe’s roads2. Between now and then, more and more data-driven technologies will be added both to the vehicles themselves and to the fleet management solutions which hauliers use to manage those vehicles.

Using this data effectively will allow fleets to see benefits ranging from a 10-15% increase in productivity to a reduction in fuel costs of anything up to 25%3. This presents tremendous opportunities.

But it also opens a new field of competition between those operations able to adopt new technologies and get the best return from them, and those which lag behind. Little wonder that while 59% of fleet managers say they are excited about new technologies, 42% say that remaining competitive in the face of technological change is one of their main challenges4.

Data, tolling and what they mean for your fleet

The fleets which succeed in their response to technological change will be those which embrace a strategic, scalable and integrated approach to adoption and optimisation. This will enable them to get the greatest benefits from new technology while also maximising their return on investment.

Automated and seamless toll management is one area that can bring fleets considerable benefits in terms of time and cost savings. Operators that integrate their toll management solutions with other technologies and services such as fuel cards, telematics and fleet management platforms, will gain the most and stay ahead of the game - even more important in times of economic uncertainty.

Today, fleets are faced with over 100 different toll roads across 30 countries with national road charging schemes in Europe5. There is often little co-ordination between toll-collectors in different member states. This creates a highly fragmented toll market, with multiple invoices, currencies and many different onboard units (OBUs) installed in each vehicle. According to the EU Commission, this complexity can increase costs for EU hauliers by almost 37%6.

With the right toll-management service, such as that provided by Shell Fleet Solutions, fleets can achieve a whole range of beneficial outcomes.

Shell Fleet Solutions offers a comprehensive, tailored European tolling solution. Users can:

  • register quickly online via Shell eRoad Services portal
  • take control with a solution built around their business
  • have easy-install OBUs delivered to their company’s door
  • update their system via over-the-air updates with future tolls/country expansion
  • benefit from a single set of invoices and pay in their own currency
  • work with a single supplier for all their fleet expenses, including fuels and non-fuel spending such as parking, ferries and truck washes.

The European tolling service from Shell offers all these benefits. It also delivers a strong network of relationships with toll providers, toll payment in over 27 European states (with a single OBU covering over 12 of those states). Perhaps as important as these immediate and significant benefits is the implication of the final point: integration.

Increasingly, toll management is becoming a focal point for the digital transformation of fleets. An effective toll-management system involves elements including route tracking and management and feeds data back to a fleet-management solution. It is also usually integrated with things such as fuel-card services and other fleet business-tools. This makes electronic toll-management the ideal catalyst and focal point for fleet digital transformation.

Aerial view of toll booth near Lisbon in Portugal
Aerial view of toll booth near Lisbon in Portugal

What will the future look like?

As we move into the data-driven era of fleet management in a period of challenging economic conditions, the operators which prosper will be those which adopt an integrated and scalable approach to the collection, routing, management and use of data. These companies will gain an advantage over their competitors in areas such as driver safety, operational efficiency, maintenance and vehicle utilisation and monetisation. This will translate into an overall advantage in cost, efficiency and competitiveness.

The key to gaining this advantage is to integrate data across domains in order to extract the maximum benefit from that data. To take one example, Texas Instruments predicts that future automated vehicles will operate across at least three data domains, each with its own gateway to regulate data sharing. These domains are automotive, which is concerned with the various intelligent systems within the car itself; driver assistance, which is related to the various intelligent systems on the powertrain itself; and telematics, which relays information to the driver-console, to the fleet management system and between the two7.

The more tightly and intelligently data is shared between these domains, the greater the potential for savings. By integrating data from all three domains, toll-management services will be able to deliver things such as route-management that factors in criteria like toll costs, fuel consumption, congestion and more to provide— and then continually optimise — the most efficient and cost-effective route for all variables.

To ensure that they benefit from this kind of integrated approach, fleets need to choose the right toll-management and road-services partner today. The ideal partner will have the experience required to understand the complexities of fleet management, the technical expertise to integrate data across domains, and the staying power necessary to ensure that it is a viable long-term fleet partner for toll-management, telematics, road-services and more — for decades to come.

Delivery van on country road, Fuerteventura, Spain
Delivery van on country road, Fuerteventura, Spain