If you have more than two company vehicles, you have a fleet. As with all business components, fleets need managing and this can include a wide range of duties including vehicle financing, maintenance, tracking and diagnostics, driver management, fuel, and health and safety management. Fleet management minimises the risks associated with vehicle investment, improving efficiency, productivity and ensuring that overall transportation costs are kept to a minimum. They are either dealt with by a dedicated in-house fleet management department or outsourced to a fleet management provider.
One of the most fundamental components in fleet management is vehicle tracking. Modern technology in the form of GPS tracking devices has made tracking and diagnostics much more efficient and easier, leading to far more efficient fleet management overall. Vehicle trackers allow a fleet manager to know exactly where every vehicle in the fleet is at any given time and gives them the opportunity to plan the most efficient routes and reduce waiting time for customers. Vehicle tracking also introduces safety and crime prevention elements by allowing a silent alarm to be triggered if the vehicle is stolen or involved in an accident. This is particularly important if the fleet operates in more remote areas and can mean a far more rapid response to an emergency system. The introduction of ‘Low-Jacking’ technology also means that if a vehicle is stolen, the engine can be disabled remotely by the fleet manager and the Police can be directed to the exact location of the vehicle. This reduces recovery time for stolen vehicles and therefore the costs associated with vehicle theft.
Tracking systems can also provide fleet managers with crucial data for mechanical diagnostics including mileage and fuel consumption, speed and direction. This enables fleet managers to build up a profile of the activities of both driver and vehicle and if the driver is persistently speeding, for example, the fleet manager can then implement actions to reduce this behaviour. Speeding uses up fuel and by monitoring the average speed of the vehicle, larger fleets can make considerable savings in their annual fuel bill. It also presents a far better image of the company to the general public, particularly if your fleet is made up of sign-written vehicles or carries the company’s logo.
One very important part of fleet management is duty of care. In April 2008, the UK’s Corporate Manslaughter Act was strengthened to target company directors as well as their drivers where road accidents that resulted in deaths were caused by fleet vehicles. The Police now treat every road death as an ‘unlawful killing’ and are determined to bring prosecutions against company directors who fail to provide clear policies and guidance for employees who drive on company business. Vehicle tracking systems incorporate software that can build up a profile of a driver’s habits, so enabling fleet managers to monitor behaviour on the road and just how safely company vehicles are being driven. Part of fleet management is also the essential maintenance of fleet vehicles, ensuring that every vehicle is roadworthy before leaving the depot. Diagnostic information provided by vehicle tracking systems can make this task much easier, preventing vehicles that may be faulty or dangerous from being used. This ensures that a fleet manager’s duty of care to both the public and their employees and drivers is maintained at the highest level.
Fleet management is a complex and far-reaching position and is far more than just knowing where drivers and vehicles are or occasionally checking the oil levels in the fleet vans. With the assistance of modern technology such as GPS devices or vehicle tracking systems, that job has now become much easier.