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Go Green

An RFID-enabled mobile asset-management system can help increase fuel efficiency and decrease carbon emissions.
By John Greenland Jr.
Aug 20, 2007Given the current state of fuel prices and the corporate drive toward carbon neutrality, organizations are under increased pressure to employ technological solutions to more efficiently manage their mobile assets. Some analysts are predicting fuel prices between $4 and $5 per gallon by the end of 2007, which would be a big hit to operating margins for any organization with a significant investment in vehicle-based resources. Add to this the push to reduce the effect of greenhouse gases on atmospheric global climate change, and it's easy to see how tools deployed to increase fuel efficiency and decrease emissions will not only add to an organization's bottom line but also make it more politically and environmentally attractive as well.

One significant area where technology can be employed to aid in the reduction of fuel consumption and carbon emissions is mobile asset management. Such solutions utilize advanced technologies, coupled with comprehensive analysis and management software providing fleet operators with real-time insight and analysis into their fleet's performance. Mobile asset-management solutions enable companies to streamline operations and maximize the performance of their mobile assets, by tracking and monitoring vehicles, machinery, trailers, vessels and cargo, as well as drivers and operators.

The more sophisticated mobile asset-management solutions incorporate aspects of GPS navigation, wireless communications technology and Internet access, in addition to equipping vehicles with telemetry sensors (wireless or wired), RFID interrogators and communication devices. The information gathered by these technologies can then be used to facilitate online interaction with vehicle fleets, work-process automation and in-depth cost analysis for critical business decision-making in real time. This type of comprehensive solution can be employed to implement best practices for advanced fleet management, real-time workforce management, communications and messaging, vehicle maintenance and diagnostics, route and resource efficiency, cost management and advanced analysis and management reporting.

Installing mobile asset-monitoring systems in the vehicle, and enabling real-time alerts through Web portals or mobile devices, keeps fleet managers apprised of exceptional conditions without having to continuously monitor every vehicle in the fleet. These monitoring devices can be connected to any electronic systems that evaluate the various components of the vehicle's operation, including the fuel sensors, odometer, tachometer, engine controller, brakes and emission computer. RFID readers capture location and activity data on the driver, from an RFID-enabled identification card, as well as on the cargo, through RFID tags on pallets or individual products. This information is transmitted to the on-board computer, then sent via cellular communications technology to the monitoring system's data center.

Mobile asset-management systems allow a user or administrator to finely tune the criteria of exactly which measurements of certain components constitute exceptional operating conditions. Information and alerts for those exceptions can then be sent to the user or administrator using the most efficient mechanism (such as e-mail, voice mail, Web site, mobile device or text message). For organizations looking to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions, mobile asset-management systems can offer many benefits.

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