When managing commercial fleets, service managers are saddled with important tasks such as ensuring driver safety, staying abreast of auto checks, handling operations, and monitoring driver performance. The difficulty of this role increases significantly as the fleet grows larger.
Without the use of advanced technology, fleets are more prone to scheduling errors, accidents, increased operating costs, driver mishaps, and poor monitoring.
Over the years, automation has spread across the transportation industry. The market is saturated with fleet management software that takes the burden of these tasks away from the managers.
What is Fleet Management Software?
Fleet management software primarily collects, stores, processes, monitors, and generates reports on fleet activities throughout the transport cycle. Information about the driver, vehicle, fuel, accidents, and road conditions is reported through these software platforms.
On the corporate end, the software handles driver performance, communication, and compliance. In some advanced cases, the software integrates with systems to manage comprehensive rewards systems.
Usually, fleet management platforms are coupled with hardware such as cameras that record driver and road activity. Several of these management systems used advanced technology like artificial intelligence to capture and analyze data in more intuitive ways.
Fleet management software is important for many reasons, but most of all for its capacity to improve fleet productivity.
8 Ways Fleet Management Software Can Improve Productivity
Most fleet management software on the market target either the drivers, vehicles, managers, or all of these facets at the same time.
With the help of automation, fleet managers can easily handle the bulk of management tasks without becoming overwhelmed — which makes a significant difference in how the fleet performs as a whole.
Fleet management software can improve productivity in the following ways:
Improving Productivity for Drivers
Drivers benefit immensely from the use of management software and enhancements. Technology promotes positive driving habits, provides real-time driver coaching, and significantly improves working conditions.
- Promoting Positive Driving Habits
Through the use of fleet management software, drivers can quickly become aware of certain negative driving behavior they demonstrate and fine-tune their skills overall.
Being aware of these harmful behaviors or habits is the first step to correcting them. For example, the Driveri platform can identify certain harmful behaviors that drivers may demonstrate subconsciously, such as distracted driving.
Ordinarily, without fleet management software, distracted driving would be difficult to monitor, and may even go unnoticed until it leads to an accident.
When drivers have a non-threatening environment where they can learn to perform better, productivity is bound to increase.
- Creating Coaching Opportunities for Drivers
Some fleet management software promotes positive driving habits through driver coaching. For some software, this happens through feedback and performance reports after the transport cycle. It can also be derived weekly, monthly, or according to the manager’s preference.
The more advanced systems use artificial intelligence to coach drivers in real-time. This boosts productivity in two ways:
- First, it ensures that drivers are aware of their errors and how to rectify them while driving.
- Second, it ensures that employees can easily understand these errors and issues without feeling oppressed by a manager.
The coaching system alerts drivers of threats while advising them on the best course of action to take. In some ways, this is equivalent to having a personal driving robot in the vehicle at every point in the trip.
This is valuable, not just for the drivers who can work better while becoming aware of risks quickly, but also for managers who benefit from lower operating and maintenance costs due to fewer accidents and more productivity.
- Improving Drivers’ Working Conditions
The transportation industry is facing a severe driver shortage, projected to hit 160,000 by 2028. Among the numerous factors contributing to this shortage is a lack of motivation and a lack of a positive work environment.
Poor management, communication, and biased criticism without evidence create a hostile work environment even for the best-performing drivers.
Fleet management software creates channels that address these shortfalls. For example, it fixes the problem of poor management by giving managers a more efficient and accurate way to monitor and communicate with their drivers.
The platform also ensures that managers are armed with enough road and driver performance data to make the best decisions for their fleets. It has a built-in communication system as well as sensors and cameras for evidence-based reporting.
Combined, these features enforce a positive environment, driven by evidence and feedback. This, in turn, motivates the driver to be more productive.
Software Benefits for Vehicles
Fleet management software is beneficial for fleet vehicles because it provides insights into vehicle health, sends service reminders for maintenance schedules, and prevents accidents that damage vehicles.
- Vehicle Health and Diagnostic Insights to Streamline Maintenance
Usually, fleet vehicles undergo scheduled maintenance with costs ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Although this is a popular and arguably good strategy to ensure that all vehicles stay in great shape, it is not the best option for several reasons.
Even with scheduled maintenance, vehicles can hide underlying faults that could cause accidents or lead to increased repair costs.
Vehicles can also suddenly develop faults on the road, leaving drivers stranded until they find a technician to fix the problem.
Some smart fleet management platforms manage vehicle health, using machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect and diagnose faults often missed by humans. This gives drivers an extra layer of assurance that their vehicles are in good condition and raises the flag for preventive maintenance measures.
- Proactive Maintenance Reminders
Another way that fleet management software is beneficial to vehicles is by reminding drivers and management of future checks and driver evaluations.
Sometimes, drivers may ignore vehicle faults that seem minor, perhaps because of tight work schedules. Errors with scheduling and reminders can also serve as excuses to miss servicing dates. Unfortunately, these minor faults and errors can lead to accidents in the future.
Fleet management software can create and store maintenance schedules as well as send out reminders. It provides a better way to organize these events so that vehicles remain in optimal condition.
- Preventing Costly Accidents and Damages
When accidents occur, fleet managers have to tackle issues such as claims, legal problems, and injuries. Another important issue is the cost of a decommissioned vehicle after an accident. This applies to the cost of repair and the cost of rerouting all work deliveries intended for that vehicle.
Since fleet management software reduces the likelihood of an accident on the driver’s part, the financial burden on managers is reduced.
Improving Productivity for Management
- Maintaining Accurate Operations Records
Since fleet management platforms store data, including road data and other operational information, managers can track fleet data and keep accurate records.
This would otherwise be difficult since it would require human effort to document such data and generate comprehensive reports. It would not only cost more, but it would also lead to gaps and inaccuracies in the stored records.
Using the software, managers can optimize efficiency and focus more on other important tasks. It also saves the company the stress of hiring and managing more people to perform a single task.
Service managers can detect issues in other parts of the fleet and act on them using accurate records. This leads to better productivity on the part of the fleet manager, whose work is considerably easier and more convenient.
- Accurate Driver and Incident Records
Accident data is essential, especially in legal battles where one party has to prove that they are not liable.
Fleets can benefit from automated management systems that record accident data from different perspectives instead of just traffic cam footage. For example, it uses forward and side external and internal cameras to collect data. It also has sensors that can detect and report other relevant metrics in the case of an accident.
Where, ordinarily, blame could easily be assigned to a driver without evidence, accusations will be based solely on evidence. This creates trust between drivers and managers since drivers know they will not be accused of causing accidents based on bias towards them or their track records.
Long-Term Benefits of Using Fleet Management Software
Although it may seem like an unplanned addition to your budget, the long-term benefits of using fleet management software far outweigh the initial cost. They cover many tasks that would ordinarily require many extra additions to your workforce.
Tasks such as data collection, sorting, analysis, and monitoring would ordinarily be handled by people who you would have to keep on payroll while also dealing with the risk of human error. You will spend less to maintain a fleet management software platform than it would cost to actively retain extra people on the payroll. Some other long-term benefits of fleet management software include:
- Improving the company’s daily workflow. It can streamline processes such as handling work orders, charting productivity, and automation.
- Handling preventive and predictive maintenance in a more efficient way that ensures optimum vehicle conditions. This happens through smart checking, accurate diagnostics, and quick responses.
- Helping managers successfully scale their fleets in the long run. As the economy evolves rapidly, fleets are required to perform better and expand with limited budgets. By charting the exact value of vehicle usage and equipment, such software systems arm managers with the information needed to scale.
- Improving the quality of a manager’s decision-making process over time. Decisions are based on the amount of information that can be accessed at a time. Ordinarily, information is limited to how much data people can collect during day-to-day fleet operations. Software increases this data and even stores data from multiple sources. Such data can be accessed via intuitive dashboards that are easy to navigate.
Managing a fleet of vehicles can become more difficult as operations scale and budget allocations reduce. There is only so much a fleet manager can do with limited information about the fleet.
Managers also cannot focus on every driver or vehicle at every point, and hiring more people in management will cost a lot and do little to solve the problem.
Let’s look at it this way; on every trip, data about the vehicle, driver, road, location, traffic, and any other activity needs to be collected. This type of data can expose hidden patterns that can be used to improve fleet performance and profitability, so it has to be analyzed.
Operation data also needs to be collected and organized into an accessible form. Driver safety has to be accounted for, and someone has to organize and keep up with vehicle maintenance schedules. The list goes on.
After covering the costs of hiring all the people who are needed to keep these administrative processes running, there is no guarantee that they will always yield desirable results.
On the other hand, using management software to streamline this process will cost less and provide more value since artificial intelligence systems can function millions of times faster than human capabilities allow.
In the current transport climate, the smartest move is to optimize efficiency, safety, and profitability while keeping costs to a minimum. The driver offers the opportunity to do this and more.
This article originally appeared on netradyne.com.