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Using Machine Learning to manage fuel consumption

Fleet Management, Asset Tracking, Field Force Automation are application areas getting a lot of attention as businesses realize the value of being able to Track their high-value assets, Analyze historical data to derive insights and Optimize business processes for efficiency. Businesses are continuously generating gigabytes of location and other ancillary data which very often get summarized into simple reports.
Machine Learning methodologies can help with developing predictive algorithms and fine-tune them as data is continuously applied against the models. Examples of some such insights are travel time prediction, tire wear and tear, fuel consumption analytics, replacement of disk brakes, belts etc.
AssetTrackr has been collecting telematics data for over 6 years and amassed terabytes of information! The data collected and analyzed has helped many of our customers’ fine-tune vehicle routing to avoid congested areas, schedule travel to avoid peak traffic hours etc. Besides monitoring, many customers have been able to optimize warehouse operations like loading/unloading to minimize wait times at the docks. 

A recent focus has been on addressing fuel consumption and optimization. AssetTrackr offers a non-intrusive Fuel Sensor solution to customers. Besides being able to monitor fuel levels in trucks and preventing pilferage, data is collected and analyzed to effectively predict current & future fuel consumption in optimizing fuel economy for fleet managers. Apart from that, accuracy in fuel consumption report helps fleet managers keep a track of abnormal fuel consumption, giving them an insight into fraudulent activities or other factors.

What affects fuel consumption?

Fuel consumption of a vehicle depends on several internal factors such as distance, load, engine tuning, vehicle characteristics, and driver behaviour, as well as external factors such as road conditions, traffic and weather. However, not all these factors may be measured or available for fuel consumption analysis. Hence, it’s a challenge to model fuel consumption with limited data while taking all other influences into consideration. This is where Machine Learning provides excellent value by studying and using various data and patterns to create highly accurate customized fuel consumption analysis.

So, what is Machine Learning?

Machine Learning is a field of computer science which gives the computer the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. It is defined as the practice of using algorithms to extract data, learn from it, and then forecast future trends for that topic. It is closely related to the field of computational statistics where we build a mathematical model for data prediction. Building this model can be done either by supervised learning or unsupervised learning. 

How AssetTrackr uses Machine Learning

AssetTrackr uses smart principles of machine learning to track, manage and analyze fuel consumption of your vehicle. Fuel tanks are generally irregular in shapes and projecting fuel level at any instance is difficult not just for these kinds but also for regular-shaped tanks. Also, inside the tank, often there are reinforcement rings, partitions, mechanical fuel level floats etc. which makes it difficult to use a mathematical formula.
 AssetTrackr uses machine learning principles where the model is trained using supervised learning. During installation, we take calibration data in terms of fuel volume and sensor height. Sometimes it is not feasible to do the calibration of the tank because of it’s large holding capacity. For those cases, we apply unsupervised learning where we start off with mathematical formula based on structural mechanics to calculate fuel and iteratively update the formula to reduce error over a period of 2-3 weeks until we get the desired accuracy. This process is carried out in unison with the customer where we require data related to refills and pilferage during those intervals. 
We then use this data to train our model using regression with gradient descent(a process of reducing error from the model). Amongst various regression models, we choose the best model for your tank with minimum error percentage. Once the model is trained we do validation to check the correctness of the model. 

We have also studied the consumption pattern of the vehicle across segments and we currently classify vehicles in three categories:

  • Low consumption, usually 4 tyre vehicles.
  • Medium consumption, usually 6-10 tyre vehicles.
  • Heavy consumption, usually 14-18 tyre vehicles.

Across these segments, we have studied the consumption rate and has successfully developed a smart mechanism to detect pilferage, refills and even abnormalities in fuel consumption during trips. Since our solution is customer-oriented we also provide in-depth analysis of mileage using speed profiling. We study the consumption vs speed pattern of a vehicle during a trip and categorize it into various speed categories along with the consumption rate. This gives us insight about how speed affects the consumption rate.

Machine Learning in Telematics Industry can have a significant impact on fleet management, showing the way to more detailed predictive analysis and add tremendous value to Total Cost Of Operation (TCO), Fuel Consumption Management, Vehicle Safety, & Predictive maintenance in fleet operations. 


How Tyre Pressure Monitoring System can reduce the tyre maintenance costs while increasing your profit margins

The commercial trucking & fleet management is a fiercely competitive business. There is an increased pressure that comes with shrinking global economy along with narrow profit margins. This effectively forces the business owners to somehow reduce the costs of day-to-day operations. Vehicle management is also a big part of daily functions. However, maintenance of tyres is not something that’s on priority. That’s a big mistake, as inefficient tyre management can actually affect your bottom line. So it is a necessity to introduce an efficient Tyre Pressure Monitoring System.

Tyre Pressure Monitoring System

Tyre maintenance can easily be overlooked

Like any other equipment on your vehicle, tyres do need proper upkeep. If you think about it, it’s the only “moving part ” on your vehicle, that is always in action. A tyre consists of an individual layer of fabric, with a frame of steel tightly bound in rubber. When a tyre is running on a relatively low-pressure, the rubber is forced to stretch beyond its permissible limits. As the material is a mixture of fabric, steel, and rubber, if it is allowed to stretch for a long period of time, the bonds might break and the tyre can blow-out.

Tyre performing under abnormal pressure – Recipe for disaster

Even if we don’t talk about an extreme condition like a blow-out, a tyre performing under low pressure soon becomes a liability. As the low-pressure tyre has been stretched to its extreme for a very long time, it would not be able to retain even the normal pressure. This means that it gets weakened over the time and you have to ultimately replace the tyre. That’s a sheer wastage of a resource and expenditure straight out of management’s pocket.

Now that’s a situation that could have been easily avoided

You can imagine a similar situation for an overinflated tyre as well. That’s how important tyre management is to the whole operation. And this is fairly common too. The chances are, if you’ve got your vehicle on the side of the road, it’s more likely a tyre issue. Bad tyre management has an adverse effect on overall operations.

  • Higher fuel costs – Maintaining a healthy tyre pressure has a direct effect on your fuel economy. Less than normal tyre pressure leads to more rolling resistance. It means more drag for the vehicle. We can directly relate this to higher fuel costs.
  • Overall Safety – It is not difficult to imagine that an under-inflated tyre has a higher chance to end up with a disastrous accident. Maintaining a good tyre pressure is directly related to the safety of the driver and the vehicle.
  • High business costs – High number of tyre failures automatically lead to added downtime, which directly affects your balance sheet at the end of the year.

 

“In short, optimal tyre inflation is critical to the success of your business.”

Is there a way to automate tyre maintenance?

The conventional systems for maintaining the tyres are past their due date. Normally, a driver is expected to look at tyre pressures from time to time, yet it is not a viable option anymore because:

  • Tyre pressures vary with time and the nature of roads.
  • Tyre pressure changes with varied driving styles.
  • Older tyres tend to release pressure at a much faster rate as compared to the new ones.
  • For a large operation, it’s impossible to manually calibrate the tyre pressures.
  • You can’t rely on drivers for handling such a crucial part of your business.

To take care of these inefficiencies, you need to install a TPMS or tyre pressure monitoring system on your vehicle. The system will prove to be your key to savings, efficiency, and safety.

Tyre Pressure Monitoring System – How does it work?

A good Tyre Pressure Monitoring System provides you with real-time tyre pressure data, to ensure that your tyres (and your vehicle) perform at an optimal level. The installation procedure is quite simple. A direct pressure sensor is installed on all wheels. If the tyre pressure goes up or down abruptly, there is a wireless signal that sends the key monitoring data to a centralized controlled interface. From there it is transmitted directly to the interface that is easily accessible inside the driver’s cabin. This, in a nutshell, is the standard operating procedure for a direct TPMS.

The sensor in each wheel generates a timely warning and can alert the driver instantly if the pressure falls below a predetermined level say due to a quick air loss caused by a puncture. The driver will also know about gradual air loss over time.

Real-time monitoring

The best part is, the system works in real time. The information is provided directly to the drivers, and they don’t even have to move their fingers. It is easily available on an interface over a smartphone as well. Imagine a scenario. One of the tyres is fast losing pressure. Instead of knowing about the situation when the tyre goes kaput, you will get to know about the pressure warning well in advance, to ensure that you can manage the situation. It is such an important factor for the safety of vehicle, passengers and the goods being carried.

Tyre Pressure Monitoring System reduces the tyre maintenance costs

“With the help of Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, you’ve moved from a reactive style of tyre management to proactive one.”

Long-term benefits that shine through

  1. Fuss-free, easy to load interface – You can see the tyre pressure information in real time using the interface easily accessible over standard browsers. It just requires a normal internet connection.
  2. No software required – The data is stored on cloud so you don’t have to worry about backup, data loss or anything else. In fact, the entire solution requires no software to be installed at the customer location.
  3. Real-time alerts at your fingertips – The remote tracking capabilities are top-notch and you would never miss any important data point. You get alerted each time the tyre pressure falls below a certain threshold. This is high-level tyre performance solution, right at your fingertips.
  4. Prevention against tyre theft – The Tyre Pressure Monitoring System also adds an extra layer of much-needed security. Let’s say the vehicle is parked in a remote area, or in dark. If someone tries to fiddle with the tyres, an anti-theft signal would be transmitted to the driver on the interface. This effectively means you can rely on the TPMS for protection against theft.
  5. Increases the tyre life – The system ensures that optimal pressures are maintained. With the help of tyre monitoring in real-time, you never have to see a deflated tyre again. Naturally, it helps to increase the life of each tyre.

Conclusion

Whether we talk about the industrial operations, large commercial fleets, or even personal vehicles, you need an automated tyre management system that helps you keep the overall operation efficient and fuss-free. If you think logically, with increased fuel savings, improved daily operations, and reduced inefficiencies, a good tyre management system adds a lot of comfort to your life. This is something that you cannot afford to miss. We recommend to invest in a good TPMS right away.

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AssetTrackr Helps Daily/Dina Thanthi Streamline Their Newspaper Distribution and Address Missing Newspaper Bundles Issue

Daily Thanthi Uses AssetTrackr GPS Tracking Device

Daily/Dina Thanthi, which was started in 1942, is one of the most popular and largest Tamil daily newspaper in the country. It is printed in more than 16 cities across India including Chennai, Madurai, Dindigul, Tiruchirapalli, Tiruppur, Thanjavur, Tirunelveli, Nagercoil, Coimbatore, Salem, Erode, Vellore, Cuddalore, Pondicherry, Bangalore and Mumbai. Everyday about 17 Lakh copies are sold and it has been recognised as India’s no.1 Tamil newspaper. However the main concern for the Daily Thanthi has been to ensure that on daily basis all their copies reach their readers in time. So, they are in need of a vehicle tracking software to keep track of their deliveries. Continue reading AssetTrackr Helps Daily/Dina Thanthi Streamline Their Newspaper Distribution and Address Missing Newspaper Bundles Issue