How Technology And Data Is Improving Fleet Management

by Sachin

Companies who operate a commercial fleet are starting to fully embrace the advantages which can come from understanding and correctly utilising the data generated from connected vehicles. To create a fleet of connected vehicles, companies are installing telematics systems across their fleet which gather data on how the vehicles and drivers are performing.

One area which has seen a huge benefit from data analysis is route planning. For any company operating a commercial fleet, ensuring vehicles are taking the most efficient routes is vital. To ensure the productivity of a commercial fleet is as high as possible vehicles can’t be spending extended amounts of time sitting in traffic congestion. At certain times of the day, congestion problems are inevitable, rush hour in the morning and evening on certain roads, for example. However, through careful route planning, it is possible to find out if there are more efficient alternative routes that vehicles can take. In some cases, taking a longer route but avoiding the main congestion areas will actually be quicker than using the shorter but congested route. It can also save the company money as sitting in congestion and letting the engine idle is proven to increase fuel usage and therefore cost the company more money.

Vehicle tracking technology allows fleet managers to analyse exactly how long journeys are taking and go into detail regarding the time between specific points. Furthermore, after vehicle tracking has been installed, the data can be viewed for each journey. The advantage of this is fleet managers can view averages for specific journeys in order to compare options for their drivers when planning journeys.

Understanding route data can also save the company money when it comes to low emissions and ultra-low emissions zones in cities around the world. London, for example, has recently introduced an ultra-low emission zone which charges vehicles to enter if they do not comply with the emission levels set. This was particularly worrying for some businesses who feared they would encounter very high costs just to go about their day-to-day activities, such as deliveries. Vehicle tracking can offer a solution though. By analysing the location data, fleet managers can see exactly how many times their vehicles enter these zones. If they are entering these zones purely as part of a route on their way somewhere else, rather than stopping for a job or drop off, it is possible to work out the cost/time benefit of travelling through these zones. Fleet managers may find that the £12 per day for cars/small vans or £100 for lorries, is worth paying because of the time it saves on the overall journey and the increased productivity it allows the fleet to achieve.

For vehicles which have to enter the zones for jobs or deliveries, vehicle tracking can help here as well. Fleet managers can analyse the data to see if fewer vehicles can be used to cover all the jobs in the zone. For example, if before the zone was introduced ten vehicles entered the area to conduct deliveries during the day, is it now possible for only four vehicles to enter and manage all the deliveries for the area covered by the zone? This would reduce the number of vehicles entering the new zone and therefore save the company money if the vehicles do not comply. Alternatively, the data can show how many times a month a vehicle enters the zone, and fleet managers can therefore work out if it would be cost-effective to upgrade the vehicle so that it complies with the regulation. This vehicle could, therefore, enter the zone without paying a charge. However, if the old vehicle enters the zone so few times that it would not be worth the money to change the vehicle, this can be calculated.

The technology used in vehicle tracking can also improve the safety of drivers in a commercial fleet. For a fleet manager, this is extremely beneficial. Not only does it allow them to provide a safer working environment for their drivers, but it enables them to track the maintenance requirements of the vehicles much more closely. By doing this, fleet managers can better plan around when a vehicle may be off the road for maintenance work. This allows them to adjust the workloads of other vehicles to better compensate for missing a vehicle from the fleet. For small businesses with small fleets, this can be extremely helpful, as maintaining the productivity of a fleet is crucial when growing a business.

Overall, understanding what can be achieved with a fleet using connected vehicles is vital for fleet managers in today’s business environment. Not only are there benefits to the business which could save and make the organisation money, but customer service can be improved, which should be a goal for any business.

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