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There are numerous factors involved in effective and efficient fleet management, including investing in the right technology and utilizing it to protect your investment. It also hinges on having a robust maintenance program to carefully maintain and manage your fleet in order to avoid unforeseen costs and expensive downtime. Excellence in fleet management also works under the premise that if it's not measured, it's difficult to manage; therefore, key performance indicators are essential. Here are four tech solutions to consider in building your overall strategy.
Telematics are one of the most useful tools for fleet operators to account for deficiencies in their route planning. Additionally, they gain better control over field problems, safety performance, and delivery performance of the fleet that is being managed.
Telematics by every measure are worth the investment, as they have a very quick payback. In addition, they provide fleet managers with the tool to gain insight into their fleet and know everything going on in all areas of fleet operations at any given time. Telematics generally gather data and information on the distributed fleet and feed it to a platform where it is remotely monitored. This capability allows fleet managers to drive smart and informed decisions in real-time, preventing problems before they occur. This enables fleet operators to improve performance and deliver shipments on time, in the condition desired by the shipper.
There are numerous software platforms available to aid in effective management of distributed fleets. These include transportation management systems, warehouse management systems, and many other software platforms – often cloud-based – that allow fleet managers to have knowledge of everything going on within the fleet itself. Such software usually integrates well with existing enterprise applications and are a boon to overall operations of the supply chain in which the fleet works.
Effective fleet management relies heavily on discipline, maintenance management, and the smart use of technology tools (such as cloud-based software programs). These programs provide fleet managers with schedules to follow and actions to complete on a calendar basis or on a condition-based basis. Fleet managers are wise to invest in maintenance management tools that allow them to better perform the required maintenance at the right time.
Maintenance management should include energy conservation programs, as well as fuel maintenance programs that monitor fuel consumption in relation to operational practices. This allows the fleet to achieve better miles-per-gallon and operate more efficiently by being wiser and smarter with fuel consumption. This also reduces total operating costs, as well as provides substantiation for fleet managers to consider incorporating alternative fuels and other energy-saving measures into the fleet.
For any fleet, it is important to have a very disciplined safety program. Transportation can present many safety challenges, including hazards to people and assets enroute, accidents, malfunctioning equipment, and adverse weather conditions, to name a few. Drivers and operators, as well as valuable assets such as containers, vehicles, and railcars, each have their own unique safety concerns. The best offense is a strong defense when it comes to safety.
This usually means having an education program that makes all personnel aware of the prevailing safety risks that exist within fleet operation. It also means conforming to a disciplined schedule of training personnel and implementing the needed equipment to ensure that the fleet is operating safely. Fleet managers must also stay in compliance with the host of regulations imposed by regulatory bodies and do this in collaboration with a comprehensive safety training program.
Safety programs should focus not only on driver safety but also include data analysis of the information gathered through the previously mentioned telematics installed on the distributed transportation assets.
In short, effectively managing a transportation fleet means successfully handling the inherent risks the fleet faces daily. According to Quantzig, a consulting firm based in the UK, an overall best practice in fleet management should center on risk management.
"In today’s complex business scenario, devising a solid fleet risk management strategy is essential to tackle key challenges related to financial risks and responsibilities. However, managing fleet without compromising on the cost factors may seem to be challenging even for well-established businesses. As such, a robust fleet risk management strategy that covers various aspects of fleet management including safety policies, industry standards, and the associated costs factors is the need of the hour."
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