Can We Live Without Vehicle Insights?

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Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett

First what are Insights?

Your car’s computer gathers and transmits information about how your car performs under various conditions—like when you’re stomping on the gas.

According to IBM

“IBM® IoT Connected Vehicle Insights extends the power of cognitive computing to connected cars, acquiring data from sensors and systems to improve the in-car experience. Today’s cars are moving data centers with onboard sensors and computers that can capture information about the vehicle and access it in near real time. IBM IoT Connected Vehicle Insights is an IBM Cloud service that you can use to retrieve, manage and analyze big data from connected vehicles.”

It’s all designed to improve your business, or so says SAP.com.

It’s about optimizing your fleet. Instead of drivers checking in via CB radio, dispatchers know everything about where you are, what speed and direction you’re traveling. They know when you’ll need to refuel.

Does it sound a little invasive? Yes! But it also allows logistics companies to optimize everything they do.

It is meant to go hand-in-hand with monitoring inventory and warehousing. For example, Walmart is pretty famous for their distribution model. While the specifics are a proprietary secret, in general it involves using the content of trucks as part of their warehouse system.

In an old logistics scenario, trucks would pick up an entire order from a factory when it’s completed and taking it to a distribution center to be stored until loads are dispatched to stores. Now trucks pick up smaller batches of product daily as they are produced. These trucks can swing by several factories or warehouses in a day so their load contains a mix of products. Then when a store orders a case of inventory the nearest truck can drop it off on the fly.

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When it comes to day-to-day operations, the number one cost for logistics business would be fuel costs, hands down.

A logistic business is one which organizes movement of materials.

The key with vehicle insights is that all the information is fed live to the company.

It produces graphs which might mean nothing to you unless you have a degree in statistics, but it all amounts to time and motion–saving time and reducing the amount of motion (that is movement of traffic) involved. It’s about knowing where all your vehicles are at any one time, and what’s on them, so that you can reroute them on at a moment’s notice.

It is hard to think of cars or trucks as “moving data centers” but this is how IBM puts it. Nor is it easy to imagine what they call “big data” coming from such a business, but that’s another way of saying that there is a huge output of data available to analyse.

What about unsafe practices:

How do you know that a specific driver is keeping to the best rules of the road?

Car insights are used to monitor driving performance and decision-making. Only a few years ago this was accomplished via putting the company phone number on it’s trucks so virtuous members of the public could report bad the behaviour of drivers. Many companies also employed a “governor” which limited the maximum speed of it’s fleet vehicle.

But times have changed. Nowadays the driving patterns can be investigated at a distance. The idea is that drivers will take fewer risks if they know someone is watching. Whether that’s true or not, hasn’t been statistically proven. Clearly it’s not a popular feature for drivers who don’t enjoy being micromanaged. Most drivers who are forced to be conscious of how they are driving are more stressed and perform more poorly than drivers that are simply paying attention to the road and not to how they’re driving.

Weather and Traffic—the real benefit:

Perhaps the biggest blessing to drivers themselves is aiding them with unfamiliar weather conditions and constantly changing traffic. When one vehicle hits a traffic slow down it will notify other vehicles to try an alternate route. It will also let a destination know that their shipment is delayed.

In summary, car insights allow companies to see problems for themselves and do more with the information, which can translate to money. However, this could also mean less and less freedom for drivers in such enterprises. Safety and money is one thing, but what is the real toll on the health of drivers who feel like they’re under a microscope all day at work?

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Cutting Down on Your Vehicle’s Gas Consumption

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By Staff

Over the course of the past few years, the price of gas has risen dramatically, causing some drivers to look for more fuel-efficient alternatives. Some owners have made the switch to hybrid models, while others have turned to dubious gadgets that claim to save you gas money when all they really do is leave you feeling burned.

Gimmicks don’t work when it comes to fuel efficiency, and you shouldn’t have to feel as though you need to abandon your truck to get behind the wheel of a tiny all-electric model. There are some simple things you can do today to improve the fuel efficiency of your ride, so let’s look at a few of them.

Allow the air to flow

When was the last time you had the air filter in your vehicle replaced? Replacing an old, clogged filter is one of the easiest, most effective ways to improve performance.

The type of filter that you use is also important. Get rid of the old-school paper model and replace it with a performance air filter. Those old paper filters tend to restrict airflow, which essentially means that your engine is being forced to choke. The performance filters are usually made of cotton or foam materials, both of which allows air to flow more freely. When oxygen gets into your engine, less fuel is used than would normally be consumed when you have a clogged filter.Metha_Mustang Chrome 5

Not only does a performance filter deliver better fuel efficiency, it also adds a little extra horsepower to boot. The fact that cleaner air is flowing through your engine means that the overall condition of your vehicle is improved. One word of warning here is that misusing the extra horsepower can quickly negate any improvements the filter makes to your mileage. Don’t go heavy on the gas pedal.

Improve the Aerodynamics on Your Vehicle

If you drive a truck, there are sure to be times when you feel it is being dragged along the road. Your tailgate is often responsible for this feeling, as the air that flows over the truck and into the open bed ends up being derailed by the tailgate.

One simple fix here is to add a tonneau cover to the exposed truck bed, as this will allow the airflow to bypass the tailgate. Generally speaking, you can expect to see a 5-10% increase in gas mileage as soon as you add that cover.

If you don’t like the idea of a cover, you might instead consider switching to an air-flow tailgate. These gates employ a mesh or louvered design that allows air to flow more freely than it does with a traditional tailgate, thus eliminating a good percentage of drag. The results with this type of gate are not as positive as you get with a cover, but it’s a much better, not to mention safer, option that running with the tailgate down.

Check the Tire Pressure

CJ_Auto Safety 2If aerodynamics are not an issue, and you have a new performance filter but are still having gas mileage issues, it might be time to check your tire pressure. If those tires are under-inflated, your engine is going to need to work that much harder to move the wheels. It’s not uncommon to lose around 2 mpg by simply riding on tires that are borderline flat. You are also looking at wearing out the tread faster, which means laying out money on new tires.

A digital tire gauge is accurate and easy to use, and finding the ideal pressure for your vehicle is usually as simple as finding that information on a label in your door well. Try to stay as close to the recommended tire pressure as possible, as over-inflating the tires can be just as costly.credit-squeeze-522549_1920

Maintain a Regular Maintenance Schedule

Automakers tell you about regular maintenance for a reason. Having your oil changed and your engine inspected on a regular schedule will not only help with gas mileage, it will also help extend the life of your vehicle. A little preventative care today can save you a lot of money in the future.