TORONTO, Ont. - Inthinc Technology Solutions, a company best known for its development of crash data recorder technologies, has introduced a new driver safety and fleet management system that uses ver...
TORONTO, Ont. –Inthinc Technology Solutions, a company best known for its development of crash data recorder technologies, has introduced a new driver safety and fleet management system that uses verbal alerts to correct poor driving behaviour in real-time.
The tiwi system consists of a hardware device that mounts to the windshield and contains an internal GPS and accelerometer. It plugs into the vehicle’s data bus allowing it to read speed, RPM, fuel consumption, seatbelt usage and other parameters. The system then issues an audible alert when a driver performs an unsafe maneuver such as hard braking, aggressive acceleration or speeding.
Jeffrey Harvey, chief administration officer and executive vice-president of inthinc, recently demonstrated the system to Truck News. He explained the company has established a proprietary database of North American speed limits, which he refers to as “the largest database of speed information anywhere in the world,” giving it the unique ability to notify fleet managers of speeding violations.
(While it’s not being marketed as such, it’s interesting to note that the tiwi system and its North Americawide speed limit database could be coupled with an aftermarket governor to prevent vehicles from exceeding the speed limit anywhere they operate).
The system’s GPS capabilities allow fleets to monitor the location of their vehicles as well as how they’re being driven. Harvey said the tiwi system provides a payback in three ways: by improving driver safety; making drivers more efficient (ie. reducing idle-time); and by improving productivity (ie. by enabling fleets to utilize their equipment more productively through improved routing).
Fleet managers can view their vehicles in real-time via a Web portal and can also be notified when a violation occurs by phone call, e-mail or text message. The portal can also create a driver scorecard for each driver using proprietary algorithms that take into account factors such as number of violations, violation frequency, severity of violations, kilo-metres driven, etc. Fleets can then proactively offer training to drivers who are the most at risk of being involved in an accident. “It gives a very accurate representation of driver performance,” said Harvey, adding “this is all about changing behaviour, not about getting people in trouble.”
The tiwi device also doubles as a hands-free communication device. Currently, it can be programmed with one phone number (company dispatch, for instance) and the driver can simply press a button to dial the pre-programmed number. The device also has the ability to store the last 30 seconds of data it receives, so if power is disrupted in the event of an accident, the fleet manager will be able to retrieve the vital last-second information that can be crucial in reconstructing an accident.
Data is transmitted to the database by cellular modem. Driver hours-of-service are not yet integrated into the device, but it’s something inthinc is considering, Harvey noted.
The Web portal is user-friendly and offers as much -or as little -information as the fleet manager requires. To help interpret the data, inthinc offers a quarterly business review in which the company’s experts help customers identify trends and compare their performance to industry benchmarks.
The tiwi system is aimed at all vehicle fleets of any size. In fact, Harvey said small fleets stand to benefit as much as larger fleets because “one crash could put that company out of business.”
Customers can pay for the hardware (US$749 per unit) up-front along with a subscription fee of US$29.95 per month or they can amortize the cost of the units into the monthly payments, paying US$199 per unit up-front and US$59.99 per month over a three-year term.
In field testing, companies averaged a payback in seven to nine months, Harvey said. “The rates of return on this are significant,” he claimed. The tiwi system is just now entering full-scale production and it kicked off its launch by offering a guaranteed fuel savings program in partnership with Valvoline. For more on that program, see article on this page. For more information on tiwi, visit www.inthinc.com.