The Ultimate Guide to Fleet Management Systems
Fleet Management Systems
Date posted: 2 September 2016
New technologies have had a huge impact on all kinds of business and introduced different ways of working, from how we pay for goods with contactless payments to apps designed to order taxis.
The same goes for transport based business; GPS and its monitoring abilities has transformed organisations that use multiple vehicles. Courier services, haulage, taxi firms or a fleet of cars used by your team to get to meetings and appointments can all use fleet management systems or vehicle tracking to make the business more efficient and improve the condition and safety of your vehicles.
What is fleet management?
A fleet management system or fleet tracking system uses GPS to track the vehicles used by your business. Each vehicle is fitted with a tracking device and can be monitored from a computer, phone or tablet. It provides you with data about length of journey time, fuel consumption and you can see where your vehicles are across the regions you manage.
Fleet management systems come in all shapes and sizes. There are simple off-the-shelf systems which will suit many businesses through to more bespoke fleet tracking options to cater for specific needs. Whether your fleet comprises three or 3,500 vehicles, it’s possible to find a fleet management system which will meet your needs.
Would my business benefit from fleet management?
If your business relies on vehicles then the answer to this is most likely yes.
Monitoring the journeys of your vehicles means that you can gather data on:
- How long journeys take
- The best and worst times to use various routes
- Fuel consumption and how to better manage it, enabling savings to be made
- How well vehicles perform and how often they need to be serviced or need maintenance work, ensuring safety of staff but also allowing you to make important decisions about the most reliable and cost effective vehicles to buy for use in your fleet
- How to reduce your carbon emissions and contribute to a company’s corporate and social responsibility commitments.
For further information read our guide on the business benefits of fleet management systems.
Need to speak to a fleet management system expert?
Who needs fleet management systems?
Lots of organisations have a use for fleet management. Part of the challenge, in some cases, is to put a business case together to demonstrate the specific advantages that matter to your business.
Examples of business that utilise fleet tracking include:
- Taxi companies can let customers know when they expect to arrive and if there are any delays.
- Meter reading vans are able to better manage their workload and the relationship with the customer waiting in for someone to arrive in the 8am to 1pm arrival window.
- Haulage companies can accurately manage timings and ensure that drivers take breaks.
- Delivery services can improve customer relations and better estimate delivery times.
Depending on your business, fleet management can have a multitude of benefits, including allowing you to gain a better understanding in terms of how long it takes to travel between locations; making informed decisions that improve efficiency such as changing the time you choose to promise to deliver items so that your drivers can avoid a particular hot spot at its busiest time; and managing the expectations of customers more accurately.
All those using fleet management can conserve fuel and save money, as well as improve road safety and reduce speeding convictions.
What do I need to know?
You need to decide what you want from your fleet management system. This might mean speaking to an expert, especially if you have a large company and complicated requirements; or it might mean trialling it yourself with a standard package.
Ideally, consider the purpose of your business and how it might be improved if you knew more about your vehicles and their journeys. Key benefits include:
- Improved customer service and relations
- Driver safety such as reduction in speeding, time management and regular breaks
- More efficient fuel consumption
- Optimum vehicle maintenance and servicing
- Potential reductions in vehicle insurance
Want to know how Fleet Management Systems could benefit your business?
Getting into fleet management and qualifications
Fleet management is not a traditional career that people aspire to from a young age, yet. It does, however, attract people with a range of skills, including an interest in technology and computers, accounting and finance, business and risk management. A critical part of the job is communication, as fleet managers will be liaising with drivers, senior executives, suppliers, auditors and more.
This range of skills makes fleet management an interesting and varied role for those who choose to work in it.
If you’re seeking to become a fleet manager you may want to start by working for a large organisation – perhaps in haulage or logistics – and learn as part of the team and work your way up. Starting with a smaller business, not yet using fleet management, is another way in – both to get experience and to build your CV.
The National Careers Service has a profile of a car fleet manager’s role and further information.
There aren’t currently specific qualifications that you need to get into fleet management, but once you do get started there is legislation to ensure compliance and training is available via professional institutions to support and develop you in your fleet management role.
Employing a fleet management systems expert
You may already have a fleet manager, seek to employ one or appoint a fleet management company; whichever route you choose, you need to be sure that the person or persons responsible for your fleet management know what you want them to monitor, how to report back and that they can use the technology.
With technologies developing and changing at such speed, you really need to make sure that you employ someone who is quick to learn and can develop their skills and knowledge to keep up to speed. Part of this may require some investment from the business in their personal development, but this will pay off as you will get the most from the fleet management system that you use.
A smaller company may choose to use a fleet management company, as there may not be the volume to justify taking on a full-time fleet manager; or you may choose to train someone in your company to do it. Make sure you consider the costs, the time it takes and, if this will be an additional responsibility for a current member of staff, what the impact will be on the work that they already undertake. There are fleet management systems that you can buy and implement yourself, or give someone else the responsibility, but the person will need to have enough technical knowledge to deliver what you need.
If you choose to employ someone, whether full or part time, they will also need to understand the financial benefits and have some ability to crunch the numbers and introduce some kind of reporting system to ensure that fleet management is delivering on the objectives that you identified as important to your business.
Larger companies may need a team to deliver the fleet management needed. This may require someone with experience to recruit, build and train a team or work with a consultancy to deliver the services. This is another element to the decision-making process, as there are pros and cons to having an in-house fleet management team versus using an external consultancy.
An external consultancy is guaranteed to have the skills, but you will need to spend time making sure that they understand your business and objectives. Developing an in-house team will allow you to have a dedicated group who know your business inside out, but if you need to recruit from outside the business then you will still need to teach a new employee about the organisation, its ethos and goals.
Resources and information
Whether you’re looking to recruit, develop a team or gain employment in fleet management, there are a number of organisations representing professionals in the discipline and offering training, development and events.
Launched in 1992, the Institute of Car Fleet Management [www.icfm.com] is a good port of call. It holds an annual conference where training, discussion and networking takes place. It also offers training and qualifications from introductory to advanced levels.
The Freight Transport Association offers qualifications focused on larger vehicle fleet management skills. Both these organisations offer training and qualifications recognised within the industry and are valuable sources of information for employer, employee and the curious who want to seek to introduce fleet tracking to their business.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) also addresses fleet management, particularly from a safety point of view and offers courses, including the Management of Road Risk (MORR), driver behaviour and collision investigation.
Fleet Management Case studies
With so many companies using fleet management in their business you’d think there would be plenty of case studies available but, despite its popularity, it is still an area that isn’t necessarily highlighted in detail on company websites.
Anglian Water claims to have saved £650,000 a year on fuel, £60,000 on insurance and £10,000 per month on tyres by being able to manage tyre wear. With a fleet of over 2,000 vehicles, their initial approach was to run a year long trial on just short of a quarter the fleet – about half the vans – in order to gather the data and see which elements of a tracking system to introduce.
As a result, a fleet services team was established and it takes a service-based approach to the business. This involved a lot of work with the unions in order to bring them and the drivers on board with the new system, which could have been seen as a way to check up on drivers. Focusing on safety and reducing speeding fines and convictions has saved money, increased safety and helped drivers to keep their licences – a driving ban can mean unemployment for a driver and the fleet tracking helps reduce speeding and associated risk.
Tesco has a fleet of thousands of vehicles and the growth of online ordering for delivery has contributed to growth in the last few years. Back in 2011, the company took steps to reduce its carbon footprint by focusing on driver behaviour. Using fleet tracking, the company has been able to see how drivers use fuel and highlight fuel wasting activities. The data has seen the introduction of additional driver training, which has increased efficiency by 8% in miles per gallon used. This has not only improved Tesco’s environmental and sustainability credentials but saved them money, vital in recent years with the recession, followed by slow economic growth.
Uber has caused waves in the taxi industry across the world, but there is no doubt that the use of fleet tracking systems to allow customers to see where their taxi is and the value of their fares has transformed the expectations of taxi users in the cities in which it operates.
Another major passenger carrier using advanced fleet management systems is Transport for London (TfL). Always early on the uptake of new technologies, London buses are monitored closely to try to ensure the services don’t arrive too close together; to manage the heavy traffic in the UK capital and to introduce apps for passengers so that they know when to leave the house or can use QR codes at bus stops to find out when the next buses are due. TfL have truly embraced fleet management systems in their attempts to improve transparency and please customers.
If saving money on your fleet costs sounds like a great idea…
Fleet management and your business
The ease of simple fleet management systems means that introducing it to your business shouldn’t be too complicated, and there is expert help on hand.
Whether it’s improving driver safety; reducing costs and carbon footprint; increasing efficiency and building better customer relations – there are many benefits to fleet tracking. Perhaps it’s time to look at how it might benefit your business?