With the rise of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), mobile apps and subscription-based services, businesses have the option to automate their fleet management operations. Nowadays, sophisticated tools like fleet management systems can minimise a fleet operators time spent on administrative tasks to focus on what’s important, improving efficiency, fleet performance, and managing compliance-related issues in a cost-effective manner.
A fleet management system is the engine for today’s fleet managers, vehicle operators and business owners and this is your complete guide to understanding the benefits of a fleet management system and what to look for when choosing a provider.
Before getting into it, let’s recap. Fleet management is the process of managing the operations, safety, compliance and productivity of your vehicles as a whole, the individual vehicles and their drivers.
It should be noted that the below describes a fleet management system that incorporates in-vehicle-management-systems (telematics). There are many benefits to using a fleet management system however the benefits can be amplified when incorporating telematics.
How does a fleet management system work?
A fleet management system uses hardware to store and send vehicle data via a telematics device. Each device is installed into the vehicle or asset. For heavy equipment, trucks and assets, the device is hardwired and includes a built-in Global Positioning System (GPS). It provides a satellite-derived location and other data back to a web portal in your computer, via the IoT. Light passenger vehicles, and assets with an OBDII port, can simply plug the hardware, with an embedded SIM, directly into the port.
This data feed from the device includes the tracking of live odo readings, vehicle location, travel routes, trip history and driving behaviour. It also monitors vehicle health. Depending on the provider, it may come with additional features such as service reminders, geofencing, roadside assistance, fringe benefits tax (FBT) management and more.
Who should use a fleet management system?
You may be the OH&S Manager looking to reduce risk and improve driver safety; a CEO or CFO looking to optimise your return on investment, or the Fleet Manager, responsible for the day-to-day operations – no matter the role, a fleet management system benefits all stakeholders.
The most apparent benefit of a fleet management system is that it significantly reduces repetitive and administrative tasks and streamlines the process of managing a fleet.
Why use a fleet management system?
The purpose of a fleet management system is to collect, collate, and make sense of all the data generated by a vehicle. These data insights can then be viewed on a web or mobile app by a user. It can also be shared through an API (An acronym for Application Programming Interface, which is a system intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other). The API feeds directly into your company’s existing business systems, like a CRM platform or different technology stacks. This system is designed to optimise and automate fleet management processes and programs.
However, there are many more benefits to using a fleet management system.
Complete visibility of your entire fleet
A fleet management system allows vehicle managers and operators to track the location of a vehicle at any given time. This enables fleet managers to optimise the usage of their vehicles. It comes in handy when allocating jobs based on proximity and keeping track of the time spent at each job. It also helps with tracking stolen vehicles, out of hours usage, and in the unfortunate circumstance of a roadside accident, the fleet manager can pinpoint the vehicle and immediately send help. Some system providers go as far as to automate and initiate roadside and incident support, ensuring help is sent without a moments delay.
The ability to monitor driver behaviour
A fleet management system provides fleet managers with deep insights into driver behaviour through monitoring driver speeding, harsh cornering, and braking. Some telematics providers also cover vehicle usage and fuel costs and come with the ability to set geofences to ensure drivers still are within a set radius. This is valuable data that is used to build driver safety and training programs and also helps with insurance and liability claims.
If the fleet manager needs to communicate a message to drivers about a job, or a hazard – a fleet management system provides driver communication and advisory capabilities.
The ability to monitor vehicle health
A fleet management system provides insight into the health of any individual vehicle within the fleet directly through a fleet management portal or API.
A fleet management system can provide instant information on battery health, engine health, fluid levels and other regular wear and tear etc. Ensuring the vehicles get serviced as and when required based on data rather than having to count back to a vehicle’s last service.
Such 24/7 visibility into vehicle issues also saves vehicles from off-road time due to breakdowns, which can affect a fleet’s overall performance and profitability.
Also, prompt maintenance of vehicles lowers the capital cost of the depreciation associated with fleet vehicles.
Some fleet management systems even offer predictive maintenance analytics – for example, the capability to notify the fleet manager of an impending battery failure up to four weeks in advance.
In the improbable event of a breakdown, some fleet management systems also offer in-built fleet emergency roadside assistance. Getting timely aid can add a lot of value from a driver safety as well as a vehicle maintenance perspective.
Generate a higher return on investment and fleet optimisation
A fleet management system allows fleet managers to optimise routes, for example, using remote vehicle tracking to assign jobs to drivers all within a small area to minimise fuel use and time travelling between jobs. It also allows fleet managers to optimise assets. For example, the data collected may show that a job can be done just as effectively using fewer vehicles.
Improved fleet efficiency leads to improved delivery times, which is sure to lead to happier customers and better reviews for any business.
A fleet management system helps businesses ensure fleet compliance. Fleet areas of compliance include vehicles and acquisition, specification and remarketing, maintenance repair, parts and warranty, safety and risk mitigation, licensing, registration and permitting, infringements and fines, and driver compliance.
A fleet management system provides a ‘single source of truth’ – a central repository of essential information about drivers, vehicles, repairs, insurance and more. This provides businesses with a comprehensive overview of the fleet and makes the process of auditing and managing compliance straightforward.
With in-built alerts, the system makes it easy for fleet managers to track manage paperwork, for example, if a driver’s licence is due for renewal, the process can be initiated in time to avoid any downtime. Similarly, alerts can be set to track and remind the vehicle operator when registration is due for each vehicle.
Considering the benefits fleets can accrue from a fleet management system over time, it becomes a useful and essential tool for any type and sized fleet. It does not matter if your business operates a fleet of 5 or 5000 vehicles – a fleet management system will make it easy for you to manage it.
The following article was originally posted by Intelematics and has been republished with permission.