A quick guide to a fleet management system

Managing a fleet of vehicles can be very challenging, at least, from a cost control perspective. After all, vehicles are indeed an expensive asset for fleet companies; mainly, due to heavy fuel and maintenance expenses. To make matters worse, fleet managers often lack visibility into daily fleet operations, as well. This means that they cannot deal with arising problems in time. To that end, a fleet management system can help managers to streamline a series of complex daily operational tasks; and, in the long run, build a wholesome strategy to boost their business bottom line.

What are the basic functions of a fleet management system?

Nowadays, managers turn to vehicle tracking software to find solutions to — once considered — unresolvable problems. So, in a sense, the basic functions of a fleet management system are designed towards this orientation. 

Broadly speaking, on a software level, its main functions include:

  • Monitoring
  • Collecting
  • Measuring
  • Storing
  • Processing
  • Classifying
  • Notifying
  • Reporting, etc.

On one hand, such software uses GPS technology to track the real-time (or near-real-time) location of fleet vehicles and drivers. On the other hand, it uploads actionable data to the central system — and, at the manager’s disposal. In short, it’s an elaborate system that oversees every aspect of fleet operations, through its different tools and features; all, while tracking every possible fleet-related information, for further utilization.

What metrics can a fleet management system track?

A fleet management system can track and provide information on:

1. Fleet vehicle status and health

Fleet vehicle status and health metrics fall under asset management — one of the most critical aspects of a fleet manager’s job. As any fleet manager knows, an asset, in fleet management, is considered anything owned by the company; including vehicles, vehicle parts, equipment, etc. 

To get to the point, a fleet management system tracks both the location and the condition of each vehicle in real-time; thus, allowing the manager to handle their assets much more effectively and even act proactively, to prevent precarious situations. 

2. Fuel usage

Managing a fleet of vehicles comes with fuel costs — which, depending on the company’s size, make up the majority of operational expenditures. Keeping fuel costs low is a challenge; however, it is a significant objective for a fleet manager. Be that as it may, fuel consumption is not easily calculated manually; let alone for an entire fleet of vehicles. Τoday, daily expenses in fuel can be monitored, therefore controlled.

Using the capabilities of fleet management software, monitoring and calculating fuel usage per vehicle and trip become an easy task for a manager. What’s more, such software monitors the status of the engine, at all times; for instance, how long the engine stays on, in states like idling, for instance. Thanks to data provided by a fleet management system, excessive engine idling can be prevented, helping achieve fuel economy, in the long run. 

In addition to excessive idling, through the system’s dashboard, a manager can also monitor other unsolicited driver behaviors that are linked to higher fuel costs; such as, harsh braking, speeding, etc. By addressing such behaviors early on, a manager can effectively reduce fuel costs.

4. Maintenance needs

It is a fact that vehicles that are not maintained properly, tend to wear and tear more quickly. For this reason, in the case of a fleet business, preventive maintenance is, without a doubt, a pressing matter. Without preventive maintenance, the company not only faces operational problems; but also bears a financial burden. 

By using a fleet management system, a fleet manager can effectively implement preventive maintenance practices. That goes to say, with a fleet management system, they can forestall unexpected breakdowns, and, consequently, avoid costly repairs. To elaborate, as the system monitors the health of each vehicle, it sends alerts and notifications whenever it identifies technical faults or estimates that something is out of the ordinary. This way, the manager can act to prevent unwanted situations.

Beyond that, a manager can also set notifications for various maintenance requirements, as a reminder; so whenever there is scheduled maintenance coming up, the manager is informed timely. Also, they can monitor driving behavior that can wear down or damage fleet vehicles.

5. Driver behavior

With increasing pressure on fleet drivers to be more productive, anxiety to meet the deadlines often follows. As a result, drivers tend to behave less mindful and more aggressive behind the wheel; and, needless to say, careless and aggressive drivers are a liability for a fleet company. That’s why correcting hazardous driving behaviors is of paramount importance. 

On this account, an efficient fleet tracking system can ensure driver safety, compliance with rules and regulations and, consequently, business viability. To be more specific, through the driver scorecards feature, a fleet manager can pinpoint certain dangerous driving behaviors, and address them before it’s too late. 

Even in the case of an accident, a manager can make more informed decisions, for example, when it comes to avoiding fines, or getting insurance claims, etc.; given that they have all the details available regarding the accident, through the fleet management system.

Why use a fleet management system?

1. More informed decisions

By tracking key metrics like vehicle status, maintenance, fuel consumption, and driver performance, on a daily basis, it can help a fleet manager make quick, data-based decisions. And with more informed decisions, safety is ensured and costs decrease, offering a chance to focus on increasing the company’s bottom line.

2. Streamlined operations

A modern fleet management platform is equipped with everything a manager needs to streamline their fleet operations. As mentioned, with such a tool on board, the probability of errors is minimized, driver productivity is increased and vehicle performance is improved. Besides, the more efficiently vehicles and drivers perform, the more hassle-free operations become. 

3. Time effectiveness

There’s no doubt that a fleet manager’s daily routine is hectic; considering that they have so many tasks — and responsibilities — weighing down on them, and so little time to pull them off. This results in them losing track of time, ending up doing overtime and, ultimately, getting burned out, and being unproductive. 

The good news is that with a smart fleet management solution, a fleet manager can perform multiple tasks much faster — and more efficiently. Eventually, many routine jobs get automated, freeing time for managers to focus on other aspects of their business. 

4. Cost efficiency

As a corollary of time effectiveness, reduced costs are yet another benefit of utilizing the capabilities of fleet management software. That goes to say, when a fleet manager can address issues on time, and organize fleet operations more efficiently, they save money that would otherwise be lost to inefficiency. Of course, this can be best achieved with technology.

For one thing, monitoring vehicle health at regular intervals prevents breakdowns, hence costly repairs; to say nothing of work hours lost — with everything this entails — due to excessive downtime. Using a fleet management system can help keep up with routine maintenance, ensuring fleet vehicles are kept in good condition. This results in extending their lifespan and maximizing their output. 

Another costly problem that can be dealt with effectively, utilizing a fleet tracking system, is poor driver behavior. By monitoring driver performance, a manager can offer drivers the necessary training to correct careless and aggressive driving patterns. This not only saves a lot of money — owing to less fuel usage and vehicle wear and tear — but also ensures fleet safety; not to mention customer satisfaction.

All in all, when everything, and everyone, is under control, overall fleet productivity increases; which, in turn, boosts Return on Investment (ROI). 

5. Increased profitability

It goes without saying, when ROI increases, profitability increases as well. To illustrate, monitoring every aspect of a fleet business helps identify all the problematic areas; thus, the manager can act upon rectifying them. Having all the necessary data on a centralized platform, they can oversee fleet operations and eliminate errors. Along these lines, operations get optimized and profitability is ensured.

TL;DR

Efficiency in modern fleet management depends upon the utilization of fleet management software that can perform the necessary daily processes, without demanding much time and effort on the manager’s part. 

In fact, with such a system, a fleet manager can easily monitor all the important aspects of their fleet, and its daily operations; from vehicle status and health, fuel costs and deductible mileage, to maintenance needs and driver behavior-performance — all of which have a strong impact on the company’s bottom line.

Hence, a fleet management system is not only essential for streamlining operations and improving productivity, but also for cutting down expenditure and increasing profitability.