Posted by Satrak on
Effective fleet management is about more than just fulfilling customer orders or cutting costs – or even both of those combined.
Truly effective fleet management also means minimising maintenance costs and vehicle downtime, matching your vehicle capacity with your human workforce, making efficient use of the man hours you pay for, and tackling issues like congestion and carbon emissions.
While you may feel it is impossible to keep close control over fleet vehicles once they leave your base and hit the open roads, there are ways to effectively monitor their mechanical condition and the way they are driven, as well as exactly where they are, throughout each journey and across the full duration of the working day, using tracking software that is easily installed and can be transferred from one vehicle to the next when you replace or upgrade your fleet.
Where possible, it can be advantageous to allocate specific vehicles to specific drivers, so that your employees get a feel for the engine, steering and other mechanics of the car or truck, and can spot when anything starts to go wrong.
But in any case, regular inspections are important too, to look for signs of wear and tear, specific damage to the engine and drivetrain, and to take action on any anticipated breakdowns before they occur.
Regular inspections by somebody other than the allocated driver also make sure every vehicle in your fleet is seen by a second pair of eyes, helping to remove the risk that the driver may have missed something that demands attention.
Basic tracking can identify the number of miles driven or the amount of fuel used, but what you really need to know is the combination of the two – your fuel efficiency over the total distance driven.
Tracking your fleet in this way can flag up incidences of inefficient driving, such as heavy acceleration or braking, which wastes energy from the engine and can add to total fuel consumption.
By identifying such incidents and training drivers in a more conservative approach to starting, stopping and changing speed or gear, you can shave crucial percentage points off of your fuel costs.
Your drivers might have favourite vehicles, and it makes sense to keep the same pairings of man and machine as far as reasonably possible, but remember to put efficiency first when making your selection.
If a specific driver covers significantly more than the average number of miles, make sure he or she has one of your most efficient vehicles, whether in terms of carbon emissions or fuel efficiency.
These will often go hand in hand anyway, meaning that allocating your newest, most efficient vehicles sensibly can further remove from your total fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, along with any taxes or other costs you might face as a result.
Tracking software doesn’t have to work in isolation, with data only retrieved when your vehicles return to base – it can offer a live overview of exactly where your vehicles are at any given time.
GPS can pinpoint your vehicles to within two metres, with updates every two minutes throughout the day, so that you have clear coverage at all times.
An obvious benefit of this is the ability to spot vehicles that are stationary when they should not be, or those that have deviated from their expected route – which is often for a legitimate reason such as a diversion around roadworks or a police incident.
The data you collect by tracking your vehicles is important for maximising efficiency, but it goes beyond that too – it gives you direct control over your fleet wherever it is, however widely distributed, and even when it is out of your own line of sight.
Tracking software is your ‘man in motion’, sitting silently under the hood and reporting back to let you know where vehicles are, if they are moving as expected, and if they are being driven safely and efficiently.
With the collected data you can then demonstrate to the authorities and other third parties that you are fulfilling your duties to monitor your fleet, to minimise your carbon emissions, and to protect the safety of fellow road users and pedestrians.