- Omnitracs is acquiring video-based safety firm SmartDrive, the fleet-management software company announced Wednesday. The two companies plan to combine specialties to create an "industry-first converged, end-to-end platform" for safety, driver productivity, workflow, routing, dispatch and compliance, Omnitracs said in a press release.
- The platform will also assist drivers with decision-making, alerting and driver coaching, "a virtual co-pilot that will lead to significant safety, fuel efficiency, operational and financial gains for fleets," the announcement stated.
- Fleets that use Omnitracs and SmartDrive were "tired of having two separate vendors" with so much commonality, Chief Commercial Officer Greg Nelson said. Integrating the services and making them more efficient will reduce overall costs for fleets, SmartDrive Chief Operating Officer Jason Palmer said.
As transport technology advances, more vendors offer devices and sensors with siloed data streams, which results in redundancies and other inefficiencies for fleets, according to Omnitracs. The company's purchase of SmartDrive aims to fix that.
"This is a strategic acquisition that fills a void that we've been searching [for]," Nelson said. "It solves the final piece of the convergence ... aspect that our clients are demanding."
SmartDrive's platform, hardware and risk-analysis service will be "converged" with the Omnitracs One platform, creating a product based on artificial intelligence and machine learning that mitigates risk in real time, and offers data flows from the cab and vehicle sensors, to dispatch, to the back office, according to the announcement.
Convergence also means the companies' mutual clients will no longer have to deal with two sets of hardware, two data plans and limited ability to integrate information between the systems.
"I think one of the real advantages, as we look at the combination, is the ability to converge not only the hardware, but also the data and information that's flowing from the vehicle and from the back-end systems. And in order to be able to really drive the future of fleet optimization, it's important that you've got a normalized information stack across the vehicle and the back end systems," Palmer said.
One reason this type of solution hasn't seen widespread adoption yet is because video-based safety is relatively new. Nelson and Palmer agreed the safety technology — whether it's a forward-facing camera, an in-cab camera, a side camera or a combination thereof — is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the market. SmartDrive has been building its data and now has the largest compilation of risk-driving events, with more than 250 million stored, Nelson said.
The popularity of video-based safety among fleets has been evident in the past 12 months, Nelson said, as nuclear verdicts and compliance have come into the spotlight. Palmer attributed the growth to the continuing evolutions of HOS and more widespread use of telematics.
"[Clients] are seeing the ROI that it delivers, both from a driver perspective and just efficiencies across the entire ... organization," Nelson said.
The acquisition is set to close in October. At that time, Omnitracs will provide more information on the products the partnership will yield, as well as product timelines, Nelson said.