Forecasts tell us what weather to expect, where and when, in impressive detail. However, with satellite technology and predictive analytics combined, weather forecasting is set to become even more sophisticated. It will give fleet managers and drivers near real time data on the weather and its influence on the road and driving conditions, so helping them deliver their cargoes more safely.
Beyond one dimensional forecasts
Many drivers rely on their smartphones and free mobile weather apps from forecasters such as Météo-France or Weervoorspelling. These apps are excellent but are relatively one dimensional, giving little detail on the implications of the weather on traffic and road conditions.
This is where organisations such as WeatherTelematics and The Weather Company are intervening. IBM-owned The Weather Company, known for its consumer-focused service www.weather.com, has already created a mobile app that delivers weather predictions especially for drivers. It is now working to bring weather and road conditions data into predicting traffic patterns along specific routes. The app is interesting because it follows and analyses the weather via six factors that specifically impact truck driving, namely fog, high winds, the build-up of pools of water on the roads, wet roads, ice and snow. It provides a picture of the road conditions for drivers a couple of hours ahead. There is also an alert service that can trigger voice notifications of weather-related risks to drivers. (source: Trucks.com)
These new weather forecasting applications will improve driver safety by enabling drivers to take informed decisions about safe driving. These decisions include:
- Modifying their speed and driving approach in less favourable weather.
- Taking alternative routes to avoid accidents on road sections that become dangerous in particular weather conditions.
- Deciding whether or not to be on the road in the case of extreme weather conditions.
Analysts Frost & Sullivan report that telematics devices are enabling fleets to reduce fuel costs by up to 25% with a 30% reduction in idling time. FleetOwner magazine reports that detailed weather forecasting and data services give fleet operators a return on investment (ROI) many times the costs of the services provided, whilst providing significant operational cost savings and improving safety.
For example, if, as a fleet manager, you find out about perilous conditions or the weather impacting traffic patterns on the roads, you can communicate this information to your drivers and help them find an alternative route thereby reducing delays, trailer downtime, fuel costs and potential damage to your reputation through delayed deliveries.
Data on weather combined with other information generated by telematics and sensors on trucks and trailers can provide useful empirical evidence when fleet managers handle accident claims with insurance companies, rather than the typical reconstruction of events that rely solely on opinions and frequently unsubstantiated observations. (source: FleetOwner)
In addition to truck specific weather forecasting applications based on weather analytics becoming more widely adopted, there will be opportunities for those businesses which have information about disruptive weather patterns and can predict their impact on supply chains For example TransFX is developing a “trading platform that will enable shippers, carriers and third-party logistics firms to lock in freight rates ahead of major weather events and other natural disasters, such as earthquakes, or social and infrastructure breakdowns.” (source: TTNews)
Among several signs that “predictive road conditions services” are going to be a major market,s Google has filed a patent application entitled “Systems and methods for predicting weather performance for a vehicle”.
In addition, Bosch, the automotive OEM, announced in July 2018 that it will partner with Foreca’s road weather experts to develop predictive road condition services. Whilst its emphasis is on cars, it is interesting to note that Bosch believes it will take some 20 million connected cars to cover roughly 80,000 kilometres of road in Europe to obtain the appropriate levels of data to launch a fully predictive road condition service. “For this reason alone, road weather forecasts will initially [sic: at the time of the service’s planned launch in 2020] be the only reliable source of information for drawing sound conclusions about road conditions, especially in rural areas where there is less traffic.”
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