Interview with Dana Fenner, Market Director for Fleet Logistics and Tele Atlas North America
Joe Francica interviewed Dana Fenner, Market Director for
Fleet Logistics at Tele Atlas North America.
Joe Francica (JF): Fleet management using location technology can
yield one of the best ROIs for companies in the
logistics/transportation business. What is the typical ROI you are
hearing from these companies and do you believe that the majority of
major carriers, especially in long-haul trucking, are using the
technology to their best advantage?
Fenner (DF): Tele Atlas is seeing differing levels of ROI,
depending primarily on how companies are using location technology.
Currently, in fleet management, the majority of LBS deployment is in
vehicle tracking - simply using a GPS device to see where individual
vehicles are located at any given time.
As organizations integrate additional content and begin using the
technology for more advanced purposes, increased benefits will follow.
Companies using our content to optimize routes will experience an even
more impressive ROI than those using it for tracking. Take Sears for
example. It uses Tele Atlas map data to route its service fleet and has
been able to cut drive times by 15-30 percent. More importantly, Sears
has seen savings of nearly $45 million annually since it began using
Tele Atlas maps.
We believe the major carriers will be using LBS technology to their
best advantage once they deploy it beyond tracking and leverage it more
as a tool to help truckers plan faster, safer routes. Last fall, we
launched Tele Atlas/Logistics, which provides support for these
sophisticated applications. Its a street routing database, which
includes the attributes vital to truckers, such as road restrictions
and bridge detail.
JF: Obviously, large fleet operators can benefit, but what about
small- to medium-sized businesses? How best can they use Tele Atlas
data in conjunction with other software solutions and at what price
point can they start to utilize these solutions?
DF: Some large fleet operators have taken advantage of it, but
youd be surprised by how many fleets with over 5,000 vehicles dont
rely on location technology.
We see an increase in interest from organizations with
medium-sized fleets - those with 250 vehicles or more. There are two
drivers for this: the cost of GPS hardware has gone down and the
adoption of ASP solutions. Teletrac and @Road are two examples of
companies that provide ASP solutions that Tele Atlas has worked with
for a number of years. They offer medium fleet operators an easy entry
to LBS. Instead of having to build their own applications, fleets are
learning they can use an ASP and just log on, track their vehicles, get
speed and restriction information and have the reporting automated.
Its a win-win situation. The ASP provides all the benefits with none
of the hassle.
Prices generally begin at $30 per month, per vehicle and scale up to
JF: Impedances and other road restrictions are hugely important for
navigation. How is Tele Atlas capturing these data and how often are
database updates released?
DF: Tele Atlas continues to leverage the strength of its compile
and drive methodology. Our mobile mapping technology allows us to
locate signs and intersections that create maneuver challenges for
large trucks. But, in a lot of situations, signs arent always
available. Thats where the strength of Tele Atlas comprehensive data
collection strategy pays off. Our relationships with municipalities
allow us to mine local ordinances for truck restriction data. In
addition to compile and drive, we also rely on data from fleet drivers
themselves. Tele Atlas is continually enhancing our product and we make
quarterly updates available to our partners.
JF: For real-time data, especially where emergency action needs to
be taken, either in a natural disaster, HAZMAT incident, or terrorist
attack, where is Tele Atlas being of assistance to fleets managers,
departments of transportation or federal or state emergency centers?
DF: The most important use of our map data is in this type of
application, where lives and livelihoods are at stake.
A recent example of our contribution to emergency responses was in the
wake of Hurricane Katrina. Tele Atlas teamed up with our partner TomTom
to help officials in affected areas locate submerged streets, street
signs and landmarks and most importantly, reach victims. We donated
navigation devices to the Louisiana Department of Transportation,
Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness, Federal Emergency
Operations in Mississippi and the State of Alabama Emergency Management
Agency. The units loaded with Tele Atlas maps were used in Black Hawk
helicopters, with the Coast Guard, Navy and Army reserve units, and by
FEMA officials and infrastructure management teams to search and rescue
victims and begin the clean-up process.
JF: Where do you see the development of digital road mapping going
for fleet management? Will this be in the area of real-time data
acquisition being passed to drivers, or in more strategic areas of
logistics, supply chain and wireless applications?
DF: In the past several years, last mile routing has become more
and more important for major carriers. Approximately 20-30 percent of
roads their fleets are traveling on are last mile. This makes it
extremely important for location systems to include information on size
and weight restrictions so that safe, accurate routes can be
identified. The Tele Atlas/Logistics database covers more than seven
million miles of roads and identifies multiple categories of
restrictions, including hazardous material regulations and
In terms of developments that will impact the supply chain, we are
seeing new applications emerge. Just as GPS was an enabler for truck
and mobile worker tracking, RFID will enable tracking of goods
throughout the supply chain. The combination of GPS and RFID is an area
we expect to see growth as organizations require location visibility
within the supply chain.
JF: What is the current trend in mobile devices for fleets? Are
users demanding more portability of devices, larger screens to see
maps, voice commands? Other?
DF: Similar to the demand in the consumer market, the adoption of
personal navigation (PNAV) devices is taking hold. Were also seeing
truck OEMs building navigation systems. Voice and heads-up displays
will be critical to these applications so that a truckers attention
remains 100 percent focused on the road ahead.
JF: What partnerships are you developing either with other data
providers or with fleet companies themselves in the area of product
DF: Our current partnerships with QUALCOMM and ProMiles have
raised Tele Atlas visibility into large commercial carriers. Were
able to tap into their years of experience servicing this market and
our product development makes good use of that expertise. QUALCOMM and
ProMiles are just two examples, but both are typical of our overall
philosophy on collaborating with partners. We welcome their commitment
to participating in our data compilation and verification process and
continually feed their input and information back into our database to
increase its accuracy.
JF: Will Tele Atlas segment its data products specifically for
fleets with targeted data sets?
DF: Absolutely. Thats what our Tele Atlas/Logistics database is
all about. We listened to our partners when they asked for a database
with enhanced attributes and delivered a product that includes a broad
spectrum of truck route optimization and road restriction information.
A segmented data set is what our partners want. Just look to QUALCOMM
for proof- it has already announced the deployment of Tele
Atlas/Logistics to enhance its line of platforms, applications and
services offered to the transportation and logistics, and construction
JF: Anything else you would like to contribute on market development?
Please feel free to comment.
DF: One area to watch is predictive traffic information, incorporated
into routing software for fleets. Any variable added to the application
that improves the ability to create efficient routes will help cut
costs on drive times. Routing efficiency is especially important in the
trucking industry where there are tight margins and escalating costs
such as fuel prices.
In addition, well begin to see more use of commercial points of
interest (POIs). Tele Atlas database currently contains more than 20
million POIs and we expect to see the demand for commercial POIs to
grow. These include POIs that aid truckers such as location of truck
stops and weigh stations along major roadways.