How to pick the right smart display solution for your fleet

Smart displays are wireless touchscreen devices with built-in Wi-Fi and the ability to interact directly with the screen. For waste fleets, smart displays are mounted in-cab units that provide unprecedented real-time information to drivers and dispatchers about a truck’s load-weight, route status, service completion, vehicular telemetry, driver activities and much more.

Smart displays manage a wide range of inputs from a vehicle’s onboard systems including cameras, scales, RFID readers, tire pressure and fuel monitoring, as well as other devices. They ensure easy and real-time communications and information transfer between drivers, vehicles and the back-office.

For today’s waste and recycling organizations, smart displays are becoming an essential tool for fleet operations optimization. There are many smart display options on the market. Indeed, a Google search for “smart displays for waste fleets” will turn up nearly three million results!

How do you pick the right one for your operation?

We’ve compiled some important tips on what you should look for:

  1. Toughness – Waste collection environments are tough. Trucks are rugged. Road and weather conditions can be arduous. Drivers are in constant motion in demanding timeframes. So it stands to reason that your smart display needs to be as tough as possible. Make sure that you select a solution that is field-proven for the most punishing conditions.
  2. Visibility – Having an onboard smart display is all about getting eyes on the ground – knowing what’s going on in and around the truck at all times.  Make sure your smart display has picture capture capabilities from multiple angles (ideally four), video recording options and the ability to see a live camera feed from the back office. Further, from a reporting perspective, a visual presentation of performance measures should allow you to identify trends in driver behavior, track vehicles and service performance, and measure efficiencies.
  3. Intelligence – Smart displays are called “smart” for a reason. If you’re investing in this essential solution, you need to make sure that it will deliver value for a longtime. Make sure the display and computing platform are powerful and up-to-date. It should run the latest Windows imbedded version. For longevity, it needs expanded memory and superior processing power, and it needs to have J1939 and J1708 vehicle bus support.Usability – A smart display needs to enhance – not detract – from the driver experience. It should improve safety by reducing driver distractions and optimizing automation, and eliminate the need for cell phones or other mobile devices. It must also allow for real-time video and audio functionality and flexible interfaces to ensure easy interaction with the control system.  The touchscreen must be hands-free and operable with gloves. It should further ensure visibility even in harsh sunlight or snow glare conditions.
  4. Compatibility – Your smart displays should integrate seamlessly with your back-office software and systems. You don’t want to be forced into a situation where you have to employ expensive IT resources to customize integration. Check with vendors about system requirements and compatibility, and verify real-time remote connectivity between the back-office and vehicles, 4G and Wi-Fi communications, VoIP capabilities, and the ability to integrate with your scales and RFID reader solutions.
  5. Reliability – Every one of your trucks represents tens of thousands of dollars in revenues per month to your organization. An unreliable smart display will not only impede your operations, but also your team’s willingness to adopt and maximize its benefits.  Put simply, you need a smart display that will function reliably every day for years. Do not settle for a cheaper alternative. It will cost you much more in the long-term.

If you have any questions about smart displays that make sense for your fleet – feel free to contact me for additional insights:

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