If you look at the meaning of telematics, it is roughly defined as the merging of two terms:
- Telemetry: The automatic measurement and wireless transmission of data from remote sources. In general,telemetry works in the following way: Sensors at the source measure either electrical data (such as voltage or current) or physical data (such as temperature or pressure).
- Analytics: The systematic computational analysis of data or statistics.
So if we put the words and their meaning together we get: telematics, which is the analysis of automatic measurement from remote sources transmitted wirelessly. Applied to the warehouse, it means a forklift hooked up to a wireless telematics device generates data that provide a myriad of possibilities.
Sensors may, for example, collect data on:
- Lift and propulsion motors/hydraulics.
- Seat belt and other safety devices.
- Deadman, travel, and lift.
- Location of forklifts and pallets, whether by measuring the signal strength of an (AP) Access Point or by using 2D bar codes in the ceiling (a new product from TotalTrax provides feet-level accuracy).
- The lifting, release, and movement of pallets.
- Job coding (What type of warehouse job am I preforming now?).
- Batteries (By reducing bad charging behavior, battery life is prolonged).
But the real possibilities are not only in the distinct data that any one of these data points can provide, but also what they can do together. For instance, when foot-level location is provided alongside job coding and pallet detection, you can all of a sudden emulate the functionality of a Labor Management System (LMS). The telematics system is also like an automated industrial engineer (IE), providing the same data in real time that your industrial engineer derives from the use of stopwatches and motion studies, both time-consuming methods when it comes to benchmarking labor standards.
Then you have the safety aspect and the dramatic reduction in injuries, lost time, and equipment damage just from monitoring forklift movements, impacts, and safety checklist accuracy. The Hawthorne effect comes into play here – people tend to correct bad behavior when they know they are being observed.
And when you hook this kind of telematics system to an existing LMS/WMS, the rich, real-time data improves the accuracy and timeliness of the decisions that the tasking engine in the WMS makes, leading to true “Interleaving”. This alone can provide enough ROI to pay for a new telematics solution in under one year.
It is, as the saying goes, a win-win.