The arrival of so-called “big data” is revolutionising fleet management. Thanks to connected vehicles and clever software, fleet managers are increasingly able to make everyday data-based decisions, heading off potential issues.
From identifying idling hotspots and gaining insight into fleet health, to locating the best driver for a job, here are some of the difficulties data can help you overcome on a daily basis.
Keeping the fleet healthy
Technology allows vehicle maintenance and repair requirements to be based on fuel usage, miles driven and driver behaviour data – as well as traditional service schedules.
Preventive maintenance is key to keeping vehicles on the road for longer. By collecting data from cars, vans and trucks via telematics, it’s possible to pick up other maintenance issues or determine whether a vehicle needs a service or oil change.
In some sectors, getting drivers to customers quickly and efficiently is essential.
So, for instance, a team could be diverted from one job to another if their current location is known and they are the closest.
Ideally, fleet management software should include an online dashboard which is presented in a way that can be understood and acted upon. It also needs to be customisable and made available via a laptop, PC or mobile app for real-time decision-making based on GPS locations.
Alerts based on specific thresholds can also be set up so that fleet managers can be made aware of current and potential issues without having to analyse data.
“Black box” data can also be used to highlight incidents such as excessive speed and harsh braking, and so identifying high-risk drivers and journeys. This data can then be used to inform staff training.
In addition to the safety risk of poor driver behaviour, it’s essential that speed is monitored. For instance, it’s been estimated that driving at 80mph can use as much as 20% more fuel than when a vehicle is driven at the legal limit of 70mph. Not only does speeding cost companies money, but employees also risk the reputation of a business and their own careers for the sake of a small saving in time.
Vehicle idling can be a big expense for many fleets because it wastes fuel and potentially increases maintenance costs. Telematics can identify specific times and places where unnecessary idling takes place, such as during driving breaks, waiting at depots or interacting with customers in the case of delivery vans.
GPS tracking systems allow fleet managers to see where company vehicles are at all times, meaning that downtime can be reduced in the case of van and truck deliveries, for instance.
It also means that it’s possible to assist drivers when sending them out on jobs in case they need accurate directions or help navigating their way around traffic problems.
Telematics can highlight issues for drivers, especially when they are on long haul or multi-stop routes. Rest stops are vital and vehicle tracking enables fleet managers to assess their drivers’ wellbeing by monitoring whether they are taking enough breaks. Ultimately, a healthy workforce leads to safer drivers – and a healthy bottom line.
Mileage fraud is one of the most common types of employee theft and costs companies millions of pounds each year.
It’s still an issue because many companies continue to require their employees to submit their mileage reports on paper mileage logs or spreadsheets.
Telematics is a more accurate way to capture mileage and allows companies to track private as well as business mileage.
More than two thirds (68%) of businesses in the UK are saving money on their vehicle fuel bills as they’ve adopted telematics, according to research by RAC Business .
Used properly and responsibly, data not only makes a fleet manager’s job easier, it can help keep drivers safe, cut down on fraud and increase efficiency.