Acquiring a fleet of vehicles is arguably one of the major investment decisions that a business takes. If you own a fleet of vehicles, you need to invest time and efforts in managing it. Effective fleet management holds the key to getting the most out of your fleet. Businesses that fail to adopt best fleet management practices often have to go through the difficulties of watching their fleet dwindle one vehicle at a time.
Fleet management explained
Fleet management involves taking steps to organize and coordinate work vehicles. The focus of fleet management is to help businesses reduce operational costs, minimize risk, improve driver safety, ensure regulatory compliance, increase productivity, and reduce downtime (by scheduling maintenance in a timely fashion).
To accomplish these tasks, fleet managers use different software and other tools. Over time, the concept has gained popularity and is particularly relevant in today’s world where fuel costs fluctuate regularly, and governments keep on coming up with new trucking regulations. Fleet management involves overseeing performance and vehicle maintenance to improve productivity.
Benefits of fleet management
- Time and cost savings
- Improved driver safety
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Boosts productivity
Challenges faced by a fleet manager
When acquiring vehicles, a fleet manager has to take various steps to determine the suitability of vehicles. To secure the best deal, the professional has to take into account fuel, consumption, tax, and insurance expenses when negotiating the deal with the vendor.
Fleet managers also have to evaluate changes to different vehicle legislation and the implication of these changes. When allocating budget, they usually have to consider the vehicle’s resale value and effective life.
Meeting compliance requirements
A fleet manager must keep abreast of changing compliance requirements. Fleet supervisors are responsible for ensuring that there is a system in place that can generate a trail of information required for auditing vehicles and help speed up the insurance claim resolution process. Given the fact that vehicle legislation is changing at a rapid pace, fleet managers always have to be on their toes, constantly looking for new and updated information.
Given that fuel prices fluctuate regularly, controlling costs is the most difficult challenge that a fleet manager faces. To keep a tab on operating costs, fleet managers need to conduct a cost-benefit analysis at regular intervals; and if needing to cut costs, they have to use telematics and fuel cards.
To help ensure that people who manage your fleet perform their tasks effectively, you need to come up with a fleet management optimization plan. To assist you with this task, we have compiled a list of optimization tips.
Ensure timely and proper maintenance
Your vehicles, just like any other devices, need timely and proper maintenance to function smoothly. Just acquiring and neglecting your fleet won’t help. Faulty vehicles not just result in operational inefficiencies but can also give rise to safety issues. Additionally, poorly maintained vehicles can result in increased insurance costs and operational disruptions.
To get the most out of your fleet, you need to come up with a maintenance plan. Make sure fleet vehicles are checked for compliance with legislation. Instruct your supervisors to supervise driver daily walkaround checks and regular maintenance checks. Ensure that all reported defects have been rectified.
Educate your drivers
At the end of the day, it is the prudence of the person behind the steering wheel that makes all the difference. When you are working on a strategy to optimize your fleet, the importance of educating your drivers cannot be emphasized enough.
Train your drivers to spot and report vehicle problems. Educate drivers on best driving practices such as checking engine oil at regular intervals and avoid pulling the hand brake too hard when stopping. They must also be trained to troubleshoot minor problems. In case of major problems, drivers must notify managers as soon as they spot the repair issue.
Fleet managers are responsible for developing and implementing driver health and safety policies. They must train their drivers on how to react after an accident. To ensure claims can be handled swiftly, drivers must be educated on proper reporting procedures. Supervisors managing your fleet are also responsible for educating drivers on safe driving habits.
Opt for a fleet management software
A fleet management software can help your teams with several tasks such as tracking driving behavior, route optimization and coordinating work vehicles. A fleet management software also facilitates two-way communication, helping your drivers and in-house team members coordinate effectively.
Additionally, your managers can use the data generated by your fleet management solution to come up with an action plan to improve safety and efficiency of your fleet. A fleet management solution can help plan every movement between departure and arrival and adopt lean practices.
Come up with a plan to reduce idle time and wait time
Waiting time refers to time that a driver spends waiting while their vehicle is being loaded or unloaded. Idle time can be defined as the time for which drivers let their vehicles’ engine running while taking a rest stop. To keep a tab on operating costs, you need to come up with a plan to reduce both idle time and wait time. While proper planning holds the key to keeping a tab on wait time, training your drivers to inculcate effective driving habits can help reduce idle time.
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