Verizon is best known for its broadband and telecommunication services, which carry phone, Internet and cable TV connectivity to customers worldwide. But it also has a special fleet division called Verizon Networkfleet that services the transportation industry, including the chauffeured sector, providing them with GPS live-tracking and vehicle data reporting on vehicles by using telematics devices that plug into the car’s OBD port.
The connectivity creates a “smart fleet,” and provides operators detailed data on how their vehicles operate and how well chauffeurs drive. “The goal of our product is to give operators inside knowledge on their vehicles, and let them know if there is a possible malfunction that may happen and give them early notification so they can deal with a vehicle before it actually has a breakdown,” says Jim Rice, director of sales at Verizon Networkfleet.
OBD ports are found on most all late-model vehicles. As small plugs typically found under the steering wheel in the dash, they tap into the onboard computer, which records data on how the vehicle runs. Mechanics tap these ports when vehicles are brought in for service. If there is an engine problem, even something minor such as a misfiring spark plug, the onboard computer will register it and alert the mechanic on where to look.
The data window for a single vehicle shows its speed history, fuel economy and location.
Verizon Networkfleet offers this kind of connectivity 24/7. Operators are fully keyed in to how their vehicles perform and whether they need maintenance. About 22 different reports can be brought up with Verizon Networkfleet, such as speed, location history, percentage of time idling, miles per gallon and battery coolant temperature.
Giving Operators an Edge
The system can be set up so operators are notified via email or text if one of their vehicles detects a problem. Sometimes this will happen before check-engine lights activate on the dash, giving operators more time to make sure the vehicle is checked out. Also, this data helps prevent operators from sending vehicles out that might have a chance of breaking down because they’ll know about the problem.
Operators can have alerts sent out if a chauffeur is speeding too fast, driving unsafe, or entering into locations that have been “geo-fenced.”
Another feature popular with operators is the pre-scheduled maintenance, where vehicles can be set to post notifications when they are coming up for required tune-ups, Rice says. For example, operators can set the vehicle to have an oil change every 5,000 miles, and the car will text when it’s 1,000 miles away, giving operators time to plan maintenance.
“This really helps cut down on problems because you’re not relying on somebody to write the mileage down and remember when it’s due for service. Operators can really improve their preventative maintenance with this product,” Rice says.
GPS Real-Time Connectivity
Limo fleets and other service-oriented businesses that manage vehicles have similar issues in that they need reliable service to get their vehicles to commitments, and sometimes those can be last minute, Rice says.
“That’s where a lot of the GPS comes in for limo operators. They need to know where their cars are so that if they get a last-minute request, they can dispatch out the closest vehicle and fulfill their commitment on time.”
Verizon Networkfleet also offers roadside assistance for its partners, with each vehicle having up to four free calls for emergency service, including towing up to 25 miles.
The Verizon Networkfleet gives real-time GPS tracking, which enables operators to monitor their vehicles at all times. Because the cloud houses all data, operators can access their accounts anywhere, from desktops, laptops and mobile devices. All data is centralized on the web with no need to download software.
Once operators sign up, the onboarding process is quick and simple, Rice says. They sign an agreement and Verizon Networkfleet ships out the telematics devices. The company offers professional installation services, but Rice says most do it themselves because the device easily plugs into the OBD port. Once the device is plugged in, the operator enters the vehicle’s VIN number and assigns it a name. The data will start compiling, and operators will be able to monitor it all in their account dashboards.
Contracts require no startup fee, and operators pay $35 a month for each telematics device. “The main thing we offer the limo industry is what operators offer to clients: reliability. By having more data about their fleets, operators can ensure their vehicles are on-time and free of service breakdowns so that the client is never left wondering what happened to the car.”
Service: Fleet telematics data
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