AVID: Automated Vehicle Integrated Data-Exchange 441st Vehicle Support Chain Operations Squadron – Telematics Team Mr. Tim Patterson, MSgt Fredrick “Van” Burke, (M)Sgt Marquis Thomas, and Mr. Jason Smedley
Over the last quarter century, the world has seen a boom in the vehicle technology realm. When compared, the modern vehicle greatly overshadows those of the early 1990s. Advancements in the automotive industry have come in every form, from push button starting, on-board diagnostics, 360-degree radar sensors, GPS, electric/hybrid engines, and now even self-driving vehicles. However, the Air Force’s Vehicle Management (VM) processes and practices were still heavily dependent on manual labor. The enterprise relied upon unit-appointed Vehicle Control Officials (VCO) to provide data and monitor their vehicles for malfunctions. When vehicle problems were identified, the VCOs would then coordinate with their base Vehicle Management for repairs. Receiving information from thousands of different entities, coupled with human error and delays, caused inconsistencies within the fleet management information systems and placed AF VM Flights in a reactionary position.
To combat the ever-growing gap between process and technology, the 441st Vehicle Support Chain Operations Squadron‘s Program Management Flight began researching how to leverage and automate the vehicles own data collection. The solution identified was a robust vehicle telematics system that would be able to integrate with vehicles’ on-board diagnostics and transmit that data through cellular signal to web-based dashboards. The devices can provide automated data from the vehicles’ engine control and powertrain control modules to monitor utilization, fuel economy, engine oil life, and malfunctions. After testing a number of devices, the Telematics Team decided GeoTab USA was the clear choice, and on 30 September 2021 the contract was finalized, creating the Automated Vehicle Integrated Data-Exchange (AVID).
The AVID program will support effective, efficient, and safe vehicle use by transmitting on-board diagnostics vehicle data, static vehicle data, and when enabled, global positioning system capability, to a FedRAMP secured cloud. Fleet Managers at all levels will have the ability to accurately monitor vehicle fleet efficiency by tracking utilization which will assist in justifying vehicle authorizations and sustainment dollars. Additionally, the new AVID program implements our vehicle fleet’s first steps into predictive maintenance capabilities, using the device’s ability to communicate vehicle trouble codes directly to the maintenance control section as they occur. This provides VM activities the ability to have insight on real time fleet data that will ultimately decrease diagnostic and repair times, further reducing man-hours and vehicle down time. The automated data being collected from the GeoTab devices will also provide documents such as collision reports, harsh acceleration and braking, and excessive idling reports that can generate fuel cost savings and reduce wear and tear on the fleet.
In November of 2021, the team initiated a three-phase device deployment plan. The first phase of the plan focused on delivering GeoTab devices to the bases with the largest vehicle fleets. The second phase encompassed the next 106 locations and all Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve locations. The third phase delivered the remaining 186 smaller fleets and Air Force Global Strike Command units. Ultimately, the deployment plan outfitted 21,613 vehicle assets at 281 Active Duty, ANG, and AFRC CONUS locations by February 2022.
The AVID program is a new and evolving program, and the 441 VSCOS has plans to expand into the OCONUS bases in the future. The data that has been collected thus far is just the tip of the iceberg on what these devices will offer the Air Force vehicle fleet, and 441 VSCOS is excited to see how telematics will shape the future for AF Vehicle Management!
Authors: The 441 VSCOS Telematics Team is led by Mr. Tim Patterson and is supported by MSgt Fredrick “Van” Burke, (M)Sgt Marquis Thomas, and Mr. Jason Smedley. Together they developed a telematics deployment strategy, and likewise wrote this article, with the goal of modernizing Vehicle Management practices for the next generation of Air Force vehicle fleet managers and maintainers.