What is fleet management?

If your firm runs commercial vehicles of any kind, you need a fleet management solution. Whether you have hundreds of vans or just a couple of company cars, a clear plan for keeping these running smoothly is a must.

But what is fleet management? And what tools can you use to make this task as easy as possible? Read on to find out.

The basics of fleet management

Fleet management is an approach to looking after your company’s vehicles across every stage of their lifecycle. It starts with purchasing or leasing and covers maintenance, driver tracking and fuel management. At the end of a car or van’s life, it also ensures there’s a clear replacement and disposal plan.

This isn’t just for firms with large numbers of vehicles. It also applies even if you’re only running a small number of cars or vans, and if you’re using a ‘grey fleet’, where employees use their personal vehicles for work purposes.

The goal of this is to improve efficiency, cut fuel costs, keep your drivers safe and maintain compliance with the rules. This covers everything from monitoring driver behaviour and tracking routes to having up-to-date MOTs and insurance and meeting working time regulations.

Effective fleet management ensures there’s a single hub that covers all aspects of your vehicles’ operations. This is also where the fleet manager comes in.

The role of the fleet manager

The job of the fleet manager is to oversee the day-to-day operation of the firm’s cars, vans or trucks. They have a wide range of responsibilities and so need a good mix of skills, from accountancy to strong communications and the ability to multitask.

In general, a fleet manager’s roles will include the following:

  • Controlling costs. Ensuring operating costs are kept as low as possible is a primary task of the fleet manager. This can include getting a good deal on initial purchases or rentals, as well as keeping ongoing costs down. This can be done by improving fuel efficiency or managing the use of services like fuel cards.
  • Vehicle maintenance. Keeping your fleet on the road is vital to the success of any business. This means ensuring cars and vans are regularly serviced and checked for any faults.

    The latest smart technology
    can alert you to any potential issues before they become a problem, allowing you to plan your schedule and reduce the risk of a breakdown.
  • Ensuring driver safety. As well as ensuring your fleet is mechanically sound, a good fleet manager should also be keeping an eye on driver behaviour.

    Tools like telematics can keep a full log of their actions. It can show you if they were speeding, for instance, or if any harsh inputs have been made on the steering or brakes. This lets you step in with training or advice where necessary.

Driving a car with closeup of dashboard

  • Tracking vehicles. It’s essential that you know where your vehicles are at all times. GPS tracking tools give you a complete picture of your current situation and let you make changes.

    For instance, it can show you if drivers are taking inefficient routes between jobs and therefore help better plan your operations. What’s more, it can quickly alert you to any unauthorised vehicle use or track down a stolen car.

  • Ensuring compliance. It’s also up to the fleet management team to ensure their vehicles are road legal and that drivers are meeting their requirements. However, this doesn’t just include keeping MOTs and insurance valid.

    You should also be tracking any mileage claims for expenses and tax purposes and ensuring drivers aren’t breaching working time rules. This also covers ensuring your drivers are fully licensed for the vehicles they operate. And, you’re keeping a record of any issues such as penalty points.

How does fleet management work?

This can seem like a lot of plates to keep spinning, especially if you’re managing a large fleet. However, there are a range of tools and technologies that can make life easier.

Telematics systems are an important part of this, and are used by around 86% of fleets. What’s more, mileage tracking tools, servicing and maintenance schedulers and vehicle checking apps all have their role to play.

These all fall under the banner of fleet management software – something no professional can do without.

Understanding fleet management software

Digital data with logistics in background

Fleet management software solutions are vital for cutting through the data and giving you a clear picture of what’s going on in your business.

Having all the relevant information at your fingertips means you can make better decisions about all aspects of your operations. This applies both in the day-to-day management of your fleet and for longer-term strategy, such as which fuel card to go for or how often to replace vehicles.

Fleet management software typically covers several key areas, including:

  • Driver management – Records, expenses, driving behaviour etc.
  • Vehicle management – Inventory, maintenance and repair, licensing, disposal etc.
  • Operations management – GPS tracking, route planning, fuel usage reports etc.
  • Regulation management – Expenses, tax, working hours, emissions, etc.

The benefits of effective fleet management

It should be clear how good fleet management can improve every aspect of your operations. But what can this translate to in real terms? Here are some of the proven benefits of these tools.

  • Reduced fuel costs. Smart telematic solutions can reduce the MPG of your fleet by as much as 20%, while a fuel card can offer significant savings every time you fill up.
  • Improved safety. Companies that monitor driver behaviour can see a 42% reduction in the number of safety incidents, according to figures from Teletrac Navman.
  • Less downtime. A predictive maintenance schedule reduces the time your vehicles spend in the garage or broken down at the roadside. It can cost firms up to £800 a day for a van to be off the road, so this also saves you money.
  • Better insight. Fleet management tools let you know exactly what your drivers are doing whenever they’re on the road. This means you can plan your vehicle usage more carefully and ensure you’re meeting your duty of care to your drivers.

To learn more about fleet management, get in touch with our experts to see what tools and technologies can benefit your business.

Image of a motorway with digital data overlay

What is telematics?

Telematics is a big deal for the fleet sector. Deploying this technology lets you transform your fleet management, giving you better insight into every part of your operation. This can be used for everything from better route planning to ensuring safer driving.

If you aren’t using telematics, you’re in an increasingly small minority. According to Teletrac Navman, 86% of fleets used this technology in 2019. That’s up from just 48% two years earlier, showing just how quickly telematics is growing.

So what is telematics, and what do you need to know to make it a success?

What is a telematics box?

A telematics box is a small device that’s fitted to your vehicles. It’s sometimes called a ‘black box’ and it works in much the same way as one on an aeroplane. It collects a wide range of data about the vehicle, letting you know exactly what it’s been up to.

Key information collected by telematics systems include:

  • Location
  • Speed
  • Driver inputs
  • Fuel consumption
  • Vehicle faults
  • Idling time

These are just a few of the systems telematics technologies can monitor. With an advanced solution, you can keep an eye on every aspect of your fleet’s performance and your drivers’ behaviour.

How does it work?

There are a few key parts to any telematics system. The first is a GPS tracker. This monitors the vehicle’s movements and provides you with a clear map of exactly where it’s been and how long it took to get there.

Secondly, there are a range of sensors hooked up to various parts of the vehicle to gain further information. These can measure throttle, braking and steering inputs, for example, but it doesn’t stop there. With the right sensors, you can measure everything from when the doors are opened to the temperature of a trailer.

Finally, there’s a mobile data connection to transmit the data back to your system. After all, the info is useless unless it can be collected and analysed. This typically uses a 4G mobile connection or a radio network, though some can even connect via satellite.

All this data is then fed in real time back to your business, where it’s evaluated by fleet management software. This then provides insights into your fleet’s activities and highlights recommendations for improvements in a range of areas.

Why you should be using telematics

Having a telematics device installed therefore offers many benefits to your business. For instance, insurance companies often offer discounts to customers who have this technology installed. This means you can start saving money even before the key is turned in the ignition.

However, the advantages of telematics are very wide-ranging. Here are some of the key ways it can give your fleet a boost.

Reduced fuel costs

Cutting your fuel consumption is a key benefit of telematics. The technology does this in a number of ways.

For instance, data from GPS systems can be used to improve your planning. Fleet management software can identify more efficient routes that cut out unnecessary mileage or minimise time spent in traffic with the engine idling.

Telematics also helps your drivers understand how they can change their behaviour to use less fuel. If an employee is accelerating or braking too harshly, for example, this can be picked up by the black box’s sensors. This information can then be used to give them advice on how to adopt a smoother driving style.

Indeed, according to Verizon Connect, users of GPS tracking technology report an 8% drop in their fleet’s fuel consumption since adopting the technology.

Safer driver behaviour

It’s not just improving fuel consumption where driver behaviour can be improved. The use of telematics also plays a vital role in making sure your drivers are as safe as possible on the road.

One of the simplest ways it does this is by making drivers aware their actions are being monitored. This is often enough to change their behaviour, encouraging them to take fewer risks such as speeding and steering erratically.

If the system does detect concerning driver inputs, this allows fleet managers to step in and offer training. They can even deliver a warning if an individual is found to be frequently breaking the rules of the road.

Improved maintenance

Telematics boxes are often connected directly to a car’s main computer. This allows them to access and report on any error codes or other diagnostics flagged by the vehicle’s sensors.

Being able to view data on wear and tear in real time means you can schedule maintenance proactively. You can set up systems to program a service based on mileage, time or engine use, for example. This is much more accurate than relying on manual tracking and greatly reduces the chances of anything going wrong.

It also allows you to spot faults as soon as they occur, removing the need to rely on driver reports for any issues such as engine warning lights. Therefore, you can fix these problems  before they have a chance to lead to a breakdown or unplanned time off the road.

Better planning and management

We noted above how telematics can help optimise route planning for fuel efficiency, but this is far from the only way it can improve your fleet management.

For example, it can provide firms with a clear, accurate picture of exactly how long employees spend behind the wheel. This can be vital in ensuring you’re meeting rules for driving hours and keeping the correct records.

Elsewhere, if someone is using a vehicle on their own time without permission, you can spot this easily. You can even set limits on where a vehicle is allowed to be, so you can be alerted by the GPS systems if a driver travels outside this perimeter.

The benefits of telematics solutions are clear. If you’d like to learn more about these options and what options are available, get in touch with our experts to see how you can save time and money.

Construction tool theft on the increase as sites forced to closes

Plant and asset robbery surges as construction sites shut down amid the current circumstances. The Construction Equipment Association (CEA) has reported a sharp spike in thefts up to 50% in the last few weeks.

Combined Industries Theft Solutions (CITS) stated, “As a result of the (pandemic), some construction sites have been forced to close, and personnel, including on-site security, have left. Under these circumstances, organised criminal gangs may try to exploit the situation.”

Nick Mayell of the CESAR remarked, “The abrupt abandonment of work-sites has left machinery unsecured and vulnerable.  Whereas a company would normally ‘wind-down’ for seasonal closures by ‘off-hiring’ kit and moving their own machines – sites have closed overnight – in the blink of an eye – and the thieves are having a field day.”

As a result of increased theft, it is advised to remove all major plant and valuable assets from sites. Many contractors have also highlighted the importance of installing tracking devices: “For owners of construction plant, it may be useful, for example, to ensure that tracking companies are alerted to the plants’ location”, CITS commented.

Jenny Smith, Product Manager for Tele-Gence, states: “It is vital for your valuables to be tracked for heightened security and visibility now more than ever. At Tele-Gence, safety and protection for your vehicles and assets is our priority.”

Tele-Gence is an intelligent fleet management platform that offers vehicle tracking and asset monitoring. Find out how you can improve security with Tele-Gence.

3D-printed parts ‘could be future of vehicle development’

SEAT’s CUPRA design team has unveiled a new 3D printing production technique that the
manufacturer claims could revolutionise car design in the future.

Using 3D-printed parts to test aspects of design like aerodynamics, performance and styling
could be a game-changer for the industry at large.

Swift and efficient production and testing

Xavi Serra, head of technical development at CUPRA Racing, said: “The main goal is to
have a lot of parts in a short time.”

“We can quickly test a wide variety of designs and furthermore, this technology enables us
to react swiftly to any changes in the design process.”

Engineers have developed new production techniques for CUPRA’s Leon Competicion
racing car, with the model featuring a host of 3D-printed parts, including door mirrors, air
intakes and cooling intakes.

Processing from design to having the item ready to fit to the car can be done is as little as 20
hours, while up to six different components can be produced at the same time. It all means
the trial and testing of new components can be significantly sped up.

Mr Serra concluded: “This technology is and will continue to be key in countless fields to
make the most complex ideas a reality.”

Jenny Smith, Product Manager for Tele-Gence, commented: “Developing new, more efficient
ways to test and develop components in the design phase could make the production of new
models all the faster, as well as helping manufacturer’s to save on cost and time spent in
development.”

Your business can benefit from affordable telematics with no hidden start-up fees or
long-term commitments. Find out how at www.tele-gence.com

Future of Transport review could see new tech boost for UK travellers

A review into transport legislation will aim to deliver cleaner, greener, smarter and more
flexible transport solutions for UK travellers in the coming years.

The Future of Transport review is being undertaken by the Department for Transport and
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

 

More efficient use of existing infrastructure

A consultation will now review existing UK transport law in relation to how small
amendments could be made to promote more efficient use of transport infrastructure and
services moving forward.

Announcing the scheme, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stated: “We are on the cusp of a
transport revolution. Emerging technologies are ripping up the rulebook and changing the
way people and goods move forever.”

“Our groundbreaking Future of Transport programme marks the biggest review of transport
laws in a generation and will pave the way for exciting new transport technology to be tested,
cementing the UK’s position as a world-leading innovator.”

In addition, a £90 million fund has been allocated to support trials for new technologies that
could lead to decarbonisation of transport in many cities up down the country, including
Portsmouth, Southampton, Derby and Nottingham.

Looking to the future of UK transport

Secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy and COP26 president Alok
Sharma concluded: “This review could drive down transport emissions by making greener
ways to travel available to more people.”

Indeed, new opportunities to cut carbon output will be pursued in Southampton and
Portsmouth, where trials will be carried out to research the impact of helping motorists to
better plan their journeys through the use of mobile apps.

A series of ‘mobility hubs’ will also be developed in Derby and Nottingham that will aim to
promote an increased use of public transport among travellers with the creation of a new
website that will offer subsidised journeys and simplified payment methods for its users.

Finally, the West of England Combined Authority will pursue how new technologies could
help to bring together people, operators and authorities. It will aim to see how a combined
approach to booking journeys through multiple modes of transport could make lives easier
for travellers.

Jenny Smith, Product Manager for Tele-Gence, commented: “Tweaks to existing legislation
that could help to promote a cleaner, more efficient future for UK travellers could go a long
way towards helping to reduce the nations carbon footprint. The uptake of new innovations
in the way journeys are carried out should bring welcome benefits for all.”

Your business can benefit from affordable telematics with no hidden start-up fees or
long-term commitments. Find out how at www.tele-gence.com