6 Things Fleet Managers Need to Know in 2017
Fleet Management Systems
Date posted: 3 November 2016
The fleet management industry is changing all the time and new innovations, trends and features come onto the market regularly. It is a competitive industry and it can be difficult to stay ahead of the curve.
With all the car technology like vehicle tracking and in-vehicle cameras available nowadays, the way you work is changing all the time and successful businesses and leaders are those that can keep up with the fast pace of change.
So, what changes are on the horizon for the 12 months ahead? Knowing the technology that will be launched in the next year will help you plan ahead and make sure your business is ready for the change.
With this in mind, we’ve taken the top 6 things all fleet managers need to know in 2017 and explained how they will affect the industry, as well as giving you the edge over the competition.
This is still a fairly new introduction to fleet management but telematics is already having a huge impact and will continue to shape the business next year.
A telematics system which shares information across your company will give you a much better level of knowledge about how your fleet is being used and help you to spot any potential pitfalls. If you look at your vehicle locations and then cross-reference it with a map of customers, you can make sure you get the right cars to the right places in the most efficient way. You can also track how much fuel has been used, compared to the number of miles driven in a particular car or van. Has there been too much fuel purchased for the number of miles a driver has logged? This helps you stay on top of the amount of fuel you are using and which journeys use the most, as well as find any discrepancies and make sure everything is being used as economically as possible.
The key thing for 2017 is taking the telematics already available and then using them to create a data picture of your business. The more data you plug into your telematics system, the clearer the image you will build up of your business overall. You can take information from GPS vehicle tracking software, fuel cards, load tracking software and even maintenance information. While using this technology is nothing new, the way it is integrated and pulled together to create an overall picture is the future.
2. Get your data on the go
Everyone is glued to mobile phones and they can be used for anything from finding your route to ordering food. But getting your fleet management data straight to your mobile phone is the next big thing for 2017.
Few people, including fleet managers, leave home without their phone so to get all the information you need straight to your phone means you will have it all (literally) in the palm of your hand.
You can see everything from where a vehicle is now, where it has been and even give you a Google Street View of the area so you can see what your drivers see. It will also help you assist your drivers when sending them on jobs as you can give accurate directions and even warn of traffic problems. Having information sent to you, or having it easily checkable on an app, means you can react quickly to any issues that may arise.
Knowing when a vehicle is likely to break down sounds like you’d need to have superpowers but it is something which will be available to fleet managers in 2017 with the increase in technology.
By collecting data from engines, you can tell when your vehicles need a service, oil change or pick up any other routine maintenance issues. You may set a six-month service schedule for your vehicles, but if one car or van does many more miles than another you may find it breaks down before you get to your scheduled service. Plugging in this data alongside fuel usage and miles driven will give you an accurate picture and allow you to set a service schedule based on usage. Set it to give you alerts when you reach a certain pre-set threshold and you can get that vehicle in for maintenance quickly and avoid having it break down which will see you lose time and money.
4. Fuel management
The biggest headache for a fleet manager is getting better fuel management. As fuel prices start rising again, getting the best level of efficiency is key to helping your business stay profitable. There are a few key things you can do to make sure you are getting the most from your fuel.
Make sure you are using the right size vehicles
Use newer, more efficient vehicles and look at the size of the vehicle your fleet is using. If a driver can do the same job in a smaller sized van or compact car then you will immediately start making savings. You should also look at the size of your fleet – would it operate more efficiently if it were smaller or larger? You need to carefully calculate the precise number of vehicles you need to ensure your business is profitable.
Hold your drivers accountable for the amount of fuel they use
A driver is the main influence on how fuel efficient your fleet is. Leaving the car running during deliveries, revving or accelerating and braking hard can all affect the amount of fuel a driver uses. Gauge how much fuel your drivers should be using based on their vehicle’s MPG and routes, then set them targets to fall within a certain percentage of this consumption. A reward scheme for the best drivers may well see rapid improvements.
With fuel prices starting to creep up again, the amount individual drivers are using will soon become top of the agenda once again.
Look at alternative fuels
While gas or electric cars have been around for a long time, the next 12 months will see them really start to take off. There are now thousands of charging points and alternative fuel stations around the country which makes these vehicles easier to use. And the number of gas and electric refuelling points is set to increase every year until 2026. So an investment in an alternative fuel fleet now could mean you get ahead of the competition in the future.
A slightly controversial innovation is the use of wearables on drivers to track how much sleep they have ahead of a day or night on the road. These handy little gadgets are just like a watch but they can monitor how much rest a person has and how deep or interrupted that sleep is. It means you can increase driver and fleet safety by being alerted if one of your employees is too tired before they head out onto the road. This allows you to step in and avoid accidents or issues.
Some of these look just like a wristwatch or a FitBit and are unobtrusive while feeding back vital information. Wearable tech is already making a big impact in the car manufacturing and fitness industries. Smartwatches are also becoming the norm, so it seems likely this increase will continue into next year.
6. Driver safety
The issue of driver safety is always there and in 2017 it will remain a top priority for fleet managers. Crashes at work can cost companies billions of pounds every year and affects ongoing business costs such as insurance premiums. While safety at work isn’t a new development, the importance it has in a business is changing. Making safety the main message of your business is a key advantage that will set your company above others in 2017. And a safe driver is also a fuel-efficient driver so you could be saving money as well as keeping your drivers, and other motorists, safe on the roads.
Think about setting goals for your drivers such as the longest time without any speeding penalties or spot checks on drivers to make sure they are wearing a seatbelt and don’t have a mobile phone in the cab.
So taking all of these trends into account, you should make sure to stay ahead of the competition in 2017. In the fleet management industry, it is more important than ever to be the most fuel-efficient and have your drivers on the road for the most time possible which is where this new technology can help.
If you are not doing these things in your business currently you may well be left behind. Invest in your company’s future now and the changes you make will ensure your business is resilient to any future changes.