When it comes to fleet management, there is a lot to juggle: various types of assets, multiple employee roles, rules and regulations, driver safety, substantial costs like fuel and much, much more.
From safety to compliance, there are also risks present throughout the fleet management process. With modern technology now available and tailored to fleet management, savvy fleet managers are using that technology to eliminate risks and manage their fleets more efficiently.
1. Monitor driver behavior
Studies have shown that more than 30 percent of all motor accidents are caused by only 4 percent of drivers. As a fleet manager, it is vital to ensure employees are stringently following safety rules at all times. Supervisors are given responsibility for the safety of their employees, and effective discipline is a must. No unsafe actions can be overlooked, and monitoring all drivers’ behavior is the best way to keep employees safe and the fleet running smoothly.
If an accident does occur and the driver is at fault, the driver and/or company’s penalties would be contingent on active insurance coverage for property damage and bodily injury. Based on severity, an accident also could cause the company’s insurance premiums to increase. For the company and fleet, this means vehicle downtime and a potentially reprimanded driver, not to mention any reputation damage done. To ensure safety across all fleet drivers, it is crucial to monitor each driver’s behavior. Luckily, technology has evolved to a place where fleet managers simply need a mobile phone to get the information they need.
Mobile-based fleet management software collects driver behavior data and scores drivers based on actions such as speeding, hard braking and rapid acceleration so fleets can eliminate safety risks. If an accident does occur, a fleet manager can review driver behavior at the time of incident. Keep in mind, this data is easy to collect but is only as effective as the attention given to it. All information must be reviewed and action must be taken as close as possible to the time of the discrepancy; otherwise, information is useless.
2. Track asset location
Every fleet manager is sensitive to the risk of fuel theft. It’s a sad reality, but it happens in businesses every day. Route compliance discrepancies have become a similar issue. Drivers taking vehicles off route for personal purposes or by simply not following set procedures can mean wasted fuel and unnecessary vehicle mileage. Whether a fleet has two or 200 vehicles, properly monitoring drivers to protect against fuel theft and route compliance issues can prove to be difficult and time-intensive.
With the rise of telematics, monitoring route compliance and exact fill-up locations has become a much easier task. By using a combination of GPS tracking and fleet management software, fleets can ensure fuel theft is not taking place and trip records submitted by driver-operators are entirely accurate.
These systems will track vehicle location and fuel transaction data, showing the fleet manager a map view of the fill-up location and the actual vehicle location at the time of fill-up. Using vehicle location data, fleet managers also can locate a vehicle at any point in time and across a complete trip. This ensures drivers are on the approved route and not wasting fuel. Analyzing accurate trip records can help pinpoint problems in routes and optimize the use of each fleet vehicle.
3. Schedule maintenance and set reminders
No other business area requires more planning and scheduling of people and assets than fleet management. If the fleet isn’t properly managed, it can be costly. Studies show that downtime for a single vehicle can cost more than $760 per day. And if the fleet isn’t in motion, business productivity is hindered. Proper planning and scheduling of maintenance eliminates the risk of breakdown, which can directly affect driver safety, and ensures fleets have vehicles and equipment ready when needed.
Fleet management isn’t just about maintaining assets, though. Employees touching the fleet, especially driver-operators, must be properly managed as well. This means keeping employees compliant, as well as managing drug tests, license and tag renewals and required training to avoid penalties.
When using fleet management software, fleet managers can put maintenance and renewal schedules on autopilot. By creating maintenance workflows for each vehicle and setting reminders for service tasks (oil change, PM-A) and renewals (tag, license and certification), fleets can ensure important tasks are completed on time. To provide a seamless process, reminders can be directed to the appropriate people within the organization via email.
When it comes to maintenance, modern fleet systems will support usage-based maintenance (UBM), or predictive maintenance, which allows fleets to eliminate risk without spending hours per day on maintenance scheduling and forecasting. UBM systems track asset utilization and forecast maintenance tasks based on actual vehicle utilization (rather than simple time- or odometer-based intervals). This saves time and allows fleets to more closely predict and budget for future operating costs.
4. Perform detailed inspections
Driver-operator inspections (pre- and post-trip) are a huge part of scheduled maintenance. Along with preventative maintenance inspections and scheduled component repair, driver inspections should make up about 30 percent of the scheduled maintenance workflow. Ensuring all vehicles pass inspections will not only increase uptime and improve on-road safety, but also eliminate the risk of complex compliance issues.
These inspections will identify any issues in their formative stage, allowing fleets to schedule maintenance without interrupting the utilization of the vehicle, thus avoiding downtime. This way, fleets can maximize resources and schedule mechanics and parts to be available when the asset is brought into the shop. Routine inspections keep employees safe on the road and ensure the business can continue functioning at peak capacity in accordance with rules and regulations.
Many fleets have a hard time getting driver-operators to complete inspections completely and accurately due to cumbersome paper-based processes. When using a fleet management software for inspections, drivers can easily perform vehicle walk-arounds and inspections on a mobile device, documenting any issues or potential problems in just minutes. Inspections are accessible at any time to prove compliance on each vehicle.
5. Store accurate asset details
Knowing everything about company assets is key to operating a successful fleet. However, keeping track of every vehicle’s specs and details can prove to be difficult and time-consuming. Because a vehicle identification number (VIN) is like a vehicle’s DNA, it can provide information crucial to the usage and maintenance of a vehicle throughout its entire life cycle.
When detailed vehicle data is accurate and accessible, it can be used to make smarter decisions regarding the fleet. VIN data can inform maintenance and usage decisions (choosing the right asset for the job), vehicle comparisons and vehicle replacement (getting rid of the right assets at the right time).
Decoding and storing VIN data with fleet management software allows users to compare specs and performance of fleet vehicles at any time. Note: VINs decode in just seconds. Specs like towing capacity, clearance and weight would be key for heavy-duty jobs while vehicles with the best fuel economy and safety ratings would be ideal for long-distance trips.
Over time, the fleet will change based on the needs of the business. Fully understanding the fleet helps spec the right vehicles as the fleet grows and replace the appropriate assets when needed.