How reliable communications improve fleet operators financial statements (I): Reducing Costs

automotive solutionsNowadays, mobile data coverage is well extended providing increasing bandwidth to vehicle fleets. As a consequence, more and more applications and solutions based on real time communications are arising into this market providing multiple advantages directly related with the financial statements of fleet operators by reducing operational costs, improving revenue streams and cross selling opportunities.

Reducing Operational Costs

The first applications that benefit from the maturity of communications have been those related to optimize operations in the fleets. Among all the solutions in the market, the following are the most relevant in terms of cost reduction and market penetration.

Fleet Tracking Systems

The latest systems for fleet tracking allow a real-time location of every vehicle in the fleet. Fleet tracking can increase vehicle fuel efficiency by identifying where in your fleet there is room for improvement. Costs are reduced in the following ways:

  • Reducing vehicle speed: Diverse studies all over the world outline that driving with an adequate speed could save from 7% to 14% on fuel consumption. Most GPS vehicle tracking solutions provide accurate speed information about each vehicle tracked. But the best GPS solutions also include alerting features that will notify you immediately when a vehicle exceeds a set speed threshold. Connected with a reliable communication system alerts to driver can be given from the fleet management center to have a continuous improve on driving performance.According to Ford Motor Company, every hour of idle time is equal to approximately 25 miles of driving. GPS tracking systems with real-time communication help you to reduce fuel costs by notifying you when a vehicle idles for excessive periods of time, which can waste fuel and decrease productivity.
  • Improved routing and dispatching: Having a real-time precise location of every vehicle, help dispatchers to manage effectively routing and dispatching. Ensuring that  vehicles take the most direct route to any job site and can get lost drivers back on track. Synchronization with current traffic conditions allow diverting drivers around delays resulting in improved truck fuel efficiency. Depending on the routes and previous dispatching tasks fuel savings could be up to 25%.
  • Proper vehicle maintenance: Vehicles that receive regular maintenance run more efficiently and use less fuel than neglected vehicles. Real-time communication allow remote alert management based on calendar time, engine on-time, or mileage depending on the type of service needed.

Video Surveillance (CCTV)

Installing real-time camera recording onboard increases security of passengers and drivers as well as accident management and reporting. Reliable communications ensure that whenever an incident come across a real-time video streaming can be sent to a monitoring center to decide how to manage it the best way preparing emergency services before they arrive minimizing management time of the incident and determining liabilities.

As well CCTV allows better solving of accident disputes and insurance companies safe on trials and determination of liabilities. Therefore, more and more insurances are offering discounts to those vehicles which have real-time CCTV which can go up to 15%.

Driving Management Systems

Having a connected bus console which informs fleet management center and the driver about how efficiently is he driving allows a best practice from the driver and a best practices analysis in the headquarters for recommendations and training. Systems installed in fleets all over the world have resulted in fuel reduction from 10% to 15%.

This technology alerts the driver on how his acceleration and braking influences the energy consumption of the vehicle. Moreover, if this system is connected to a centralized system it allows to detect best practices, make training programs and schedule incentives for promoting those best practices among the rest of the drivers.

Corporate Networking and Wi-Fi for Service Fleets

Having a real-time connected vehicle with cybersecurity (VPNs) mechanisms allow extending the office to the vehicle. Lots of service fleets are used to move technicians for onsite inspections. Having an extended office allow real-time reporting of the situation ensuring best results on the services and lowering the ticket costs up to 30% in some cases for the following reasons.

  • Reduced labor costs: There are cost savings in two areas, technician time to travel to the office for writing and delivering a whole report of the ticket and average of qualified technician needed (which are more expensive) thanks to a remote guidance system.
  • Reduced fuel consumption: Saves unnecessary trips to the office by skilled technicians.

Teldat Automotive line provides highly-reliable communication platforms with multiple back-up features, extreme ruggedization and the most advanced networking protocols to ensure connectivity of all the above mentioned solutions as well as isolation and security among them.

Francisco Guerrero: Francisco Guerrero, Telecommunications Engineer, is a Business Line Manager working within the Strategic and Product Marketing Department, and responsible for Transport and Industrial lines

New networks, new services and new ways of working

millenialsAt the Broadband World Forum, the telecoms operator event attended by Teldat last week, a recurring theme was the development of new networks and services that will allow network operators to continue providing differentiated value to companies. Network operators are at the risk of becoming mere utilities on which third parties provide value services (Over the Top model). This is a threat to both their competitive model and net profit since, in such a scenario, their services would become undifferentiated, implying much lower margins.

How can this situation be avoided?

The only way forward is to adapt their networks and services to meet the demands of new users, which in the environment we work in today are the companies and their workers.

Seventy-five percent of the labor force in 2020 will be made up of the so-called “Millennials”; those persons born between 1985 and 2000, approximately. Several socioeconomic characteristics differentiate this generation from others, but we are concerned with those relating to their use of technology and their conception of the company, ways of working and their demands as employees.

  1. They are technology. They cannot conceive life without a permanent connection giving them instant access to information and people. And even though smartphones weren’t even around in 1980, they are perfectly able to handle all kinds of devices and technology which they use to stay in touch with others, work online and even search for jobs. It is not a way of working or relating but rather a way of life based on immediacy.
  2. Being able to access information immediately has allowed them to develop a need to investigate and search for information, an undeniable asset with huge growth potential for the companies employing them. They have a higher critical sense and they are capable of forming their own opinions and sharing them with others.
  3. Their concept of the company and employment is different. On the one hand they are flexible and creative professionals, but they are also extremely impatient as they are used to getting everything immediately. They get frustrated when they do not achieve their goals or when denied something, thus making them highly demanding professionals. For this reason, companies wishing to retain these professionals, mainly highly educated university students, will have to change in order to accommodate their needs. Key strategies include creating a motivating environment, being more flexible and offering them projects likely to bring short-term results.

This clearly is one of the most educated generations with the most potential in history. So the question arises: what can telecoms do to respond to their demands, and so that all that potential gets turned into real productivity for the companies employing them?

For three days we have taken part in one of the telecommunications sector’s biggest events, which has discussed the future of such topics as network virtualization, the evolution of fixed access, broadband on mobile phones and network intelligence. All with one goal: to create better networks that meet the demands of today’s and tomorrow’s users. And this is an objective with which we strongly identify, since it is the same goal that has guided Teldat since its founding.

Lola Miravet: Telecommunications Engineer, is the Head of Teldat’s Corporate Marketing Department.

Network deployment

Soluciones de enrutamientoSchemes to change network infrastructure should always be linked to improving user perception on the quality of the service received.  Prior to starting such a project, there are both technical and commercial proposal phases and evaluations that require approval. 

Once this has been achieved, the main stages are:

  • Deployment.
  • Operation and management.
  • The break down or transition of the network to a new project.

The deployment stage is where operations involving startup/installation of devices are carried out; the end result being the contracted service.  This project stage is where:

1. The agreed service deadlines and delivery must be met.

2. Tools, simplifying the foreseeable mass configuration tasks, must be available.

3. A team of specialists must oversee the installation of devices, at a previously agreed location.

4. Validation of the entire startup process, so the project site can move onto the operation stage.

This list, although stating the obvious, makes the network deployment stage one of the most intense and problematic parts of a new scheme.  It implies the additional costs, not inconsiderable, of contracting external services.

Generally speaking, the service supplier, or carrier, offers their clients an all-inclusive package with the best possible service/price ratio.  They are expected to choose device manufacturers who, not only fulfil the technological and economical side, but who also help keep costs down when actually deploying the network.

One of the most vital components for net deployment is a Zero Touch Installation service for participating devices.  This means that service startup, on location, must include the following:

  • The client must receive a device, on site, with a basic connection guide (similar to the autoinstallation of home services such as ADSL/FTTH). The client can then simply connect his device, following the basic guide, and switch it on.
  • The autoconfiguration process initiates: the device downloads its individual settings, from a control center, and subsequently activates them to provide the contracted service.
  • From the control center, the state and availability of said services are detected (validating the whole process).

Having autoconfiguration available during deployment and the use of pre-validated templates reduces the costs of installation by optimizing deadlines and minimizing configuration error rates.

Not only are there advantages at this stage – maintenance operations are notably optimized – but an office with an out of service device only needs a new router to be sent in order to resume business.  The rest of the configuration, the recovery of stored data, etc., is almost automatically executed through management tools.  This facility both optimizes SLAs and avoids penalization.

In short, autoconfiguration, throughout network deployment, becomes a very relevant aspect and should always be included in the manufacturers’ commercial offer.  Not only because this represents an enormous improvement in their products, but also because they can then offer tools, through their sales network, to reduce the global cost of the project and increase the perception of quality of service for their clients.

Teldat fully understands this concept and incorporates their software tool, the Colibrí NetManager, to manage networks.  This, in addition to other unified tools and together with their WLAN and access routers, provides optimum solutions for schemes, wherever their clients require them.

Please visit our blogs, or our webpage, for further information on our Colibrí NetManager management tool.

Francisco Navarro: Francisco Navarro, graduated in Physical Science, is a Business Line Manager working within the Marketing Department and responsible for the Teldat Corporate Routers.

Possibilities of the Smart Grid

smart grid layoutNowadays the whole electric grid is rapidly changing worldwide. Generation quickly becomes distributed through the use of new renewable energy sources (primarily wind and solar based). Consumption also takes new forms, as users develop new needs through the use of electric vehicles and smart appliances able to select the optimal time to operate. The distribution network has to quickly evolve and adapt to the new generation and consumption scenarios in order to continue to provide the level of service that consumers have come to expect and demand.

The increased complexity of the electric grid cannot be managed with traditional setups. In order to face these new challenges the electric network must be better intercommunicated and it needs to be able to provide its operators with precise and current information. This enables informed decisions and guarantees the continued operation of the grid, while preventing failures which could quickly cascade.

By incorporating telecommunication technologies into the electric grid, many new services for clients can also be realized and management of the whole system becomes easier and cheaper. A comparatively small investment to upgrade the network will quickly pay for itself in the form of more streamlined management and new services for customers.

New possibilities for grid operators

  • Constant control and monitoring of the electrical substations. Black-outs and overloads can be prevented by monitoring the whole distribution network and watching for signs of problems. Additionally decisions such as when to connect alternative power sources can be taken quickly. Areas with problems are quickly isolated so that they do not affect the rest of the network.
  • Reduced operation costs. By remotely monitoring the whole system, electrical companies no longer need to send out personnel in order to carry out certain maintenance tasks or to check the status.
  • Offloading part of the generation costs, as consumers self-generate (but are charged for the management of the system and back-up availability).
  • Possibility of including new renewable generation sources, with lower OPEX costs and reduced dependencies on varying fuel prices.
  • Reduced investment in generation due to more stable consumption pattern along the day. Supply can be more constant and the generation no longer needs to cover extreme demand peaks. This leads to less backup generators.
  • Reduced liability to consumers’ compensation for electrical outages.
  • A secured communications channel that is immune to security threats and can be used for additional services.

New services for consumers

By upgrading its network, the electric operator can offer (and monetize) new services to its consumers, including:

  • High availability contracts for industrial clients, given the increased reliability of the whole network.
  • Ability to constantly monitor electrical usage and receive detailed reports. The consumer can invest in more efficient appliances due to a better understanding of their electrical consumption.
  • Possibility of using new high consumption devices (ex. electric cars) without putting the electrical installation at risk
  • Possibility to self-generate part of the electrical consumption. Thereby being more resilient to electrical grid failures.
  • Programming intelligent devices (i.e. washing machine, electrical car, water heater …) to activate in valley consumption periods in order to pay lower electrical prices.
  • Under certain circumstances, ability to instantaneously change the capacity of their own network. The electrical company can remotely adjust the client’s meter (network permitting) to allow higher or lower power consumption.

Teldat provides the communications network for electric operators. It empowers the grid owner with new opportunities while safeguarding its data and infrastructure. Teldat employs the same protocols for which it has gained recognition in critical sectors such as banking, thereby guaranteeing a secure network, protected from intrusions.

Daniel Alvarez Wise:

Can 4G/LTE become a main line connection?

4g networksPerhaps this question  has to be clarified somewhat.

Indeed, slower and more mature cellular lines 2G and 3G lines are already main line connections in certain scenarios, especially in those segments which are not so dependent on large bandwidth, but at the same time are extremely dependent on mobility. A typical example is that of remote cash point machines deployed across the world in all sorts locations (shopping malls, airports, sports centers, etc.). Many banks came to conclusion some time ago that the difficulty of connecting these machines to a wired connection, made cellular connectivity much more viable.

In which cases can 4g and LTE be a good alternative to fixed line connection?

However, the real question that needs an answering today is; can 4G/LTE become an alternative to WAN (Wide Area Network) fixed line connection? Starting from the bottom upwards, we could say, yes it can be that alternative, because there are many vertical markets that require broadband on the one hand and cellular connectivity on the other.

Retail is a market which is definitely changing and could benefit from 4G/LTE. Haven’t we walked into department stores which frequently seem to be changing their sales items’ layout on the shop floor? Such mobility makes the use of wired connection difficult and if they use applications such as digital signage among others, which are becoming increasing popular, a large wireless broadband is necessary for correct functionality.

Also within the retail sector, pop up shops and kiosk are prime candidates to have 4G/LTE as their main line connectivity. They always need fast and temporary deployment accompanied with the increasing requirement to connect to the central sites for reasonably large amount of data flows.

Public transport can hugely benefit from 4G/LTE main line connection. Many cities are installing security cameras onboard buses, trains and similar forms of transport. These images cannot only be stored on the vehicles, but with 4G/LTE live connections can be established with the city control rooms, increasing employee and traveller security. Moreover, once 4G/LTE is installed on public transport, many authorities use the opportunity of having cellular broadband onboard to offers its clients Internet connection and hence increase customer satisfaction and loyalty to public transport. Hence, staying away from private transport which most cities want to reduce.

Healthcare is another important cliente of 4G/LTE main line connectivity for its emergency vehicles (ambulances, etc.). Not only to track the vehicles, as in the transport sector, but also to have its medical equipment onboard connected to the Hospital with the specialists. So in extreme cases lives can even be saved, when critical patients haven’t the time to arrive at the Hospitals. On a more routine scenario, rural areas can clearly have their doctors’ consultancies or even individual patients, connected to their specialists who are located in the more urban parts of their country.

Although these vertical markets are of interest, and very much so, there is a common business set up, across most of the world today that can use 4G/LTE as main line connectivity. That is, the branch office scenario in its different shapes, types and sizes.

The role of 4G/LTE on a global scenario

It is true that in highly wired cities there would be a good debate as to whether 4G/LTE would be a better option for branches located in these areas. However, as soon as we move away to smaller towns and especially the more rural areas, then the 4G/LTE alternative would be quite convincing, basically because if available, the bandwidth would be wider on 4G/LTE in these areas, than what a wired connection can probably offer.

Moreover, we must bear in mind that what can be classified today as a “branch office” spread across a nation’s geographical terrain, may be many more establishments than the traditional local bank branch or post office. Companies are developing mini-branch sales offices with perhaps only one or two employees, but they need them to be connected and able to work on all the type company applications. These applications require a broadband with significant width. For this scenario, 4G/LTE would fit perfectly.

From a different perspective, there are many traditional establishments which before would not be classified within the branch office / head office connected scenario, but now do fall into this category. For example, many public sector establishments, such as schools, doctors’ consultancies, etc. are now becoming more and more connected to their “head office”. All of these “new branch office scenarios” need to be connected to their central site or simply to the cloud, from where they require to establish data flows in both directions.

Routers, VPN and Security

However, independently of fixed line or 4G/LTE connection, we do have to remain cautious in all scenarios as always, else the standards that we are accustomed to will not be maintained. Hence, whether the connection is being made from a larger city branch office on wired connection or from a much smaller rural office on 4G/LTE, we need the VPN to be as secure as always. The same router types and operating systems should be used for fixed line or 4G/LTE connections, else the economies of scale achieved within the ICT department will be lost and the data being routed around the countries and the world would viable to hackers, etc..

Teldat not only has years of experience in manufacturing cellular routers from the beginning of 2G technology through the entire 3G development, but already has excellent devices with proved and successful deployments of cellular 4G/LTE scenarios in different parts of the world. Do not hesitate to contact us and we will help you solving all your doubts!

Javier García Berjano: Online & Corporate marketing manager at Teldat. Javier manages the web, blog and other social media, as well as corporate marketing areas in collaboration with the different Teldat business units.