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How to keep better track of your vehicle fleet

Knowing exactly what your vehicles are doing and where they are is essential. It’s only when the wheels are rolling that they generate revenue for your business. With the right planning, maintenance and control over how the vehicles are actually used, it becomes easier to manage the entire business – and avoid unnecessary costs. One way to gain both an overview and control is to use a fleet management system.

What exactly is a fleet management system?

Fleet management is about managing the vehicle fleet in a rational and efficient way. So perhaps it isn’t very surprising that there are a whole host of different systems for doing just that. A fleet management system (FMS) is simply a piece of software that is connected to the vehicles and has different features designed for managing a fleet of vehicles.

Vehicle manufacturers often have their own proprietary systems – which are then only made available to their own vehicles. But there are also many independent systems to choose from. Everything from basic systems with just a few functions, to complex systems for managing large fleets of vehicles.

Why do I need an FMS? 

For a haulier with one or two lorries, a system like this may not have much benefit. But when the size of the vehicle fleet means that you can’t keep track of every detail at the same time, an FMS can provide great benefits. Here are some examples of the benefits of an FMS:

  • Fuel costs – identify deviations in fuel consumption and take measures to reduce fuel costs.
  • Vehicle maintenance – by keeping track of and planning for maintenance, you avoid not only unexpected downtime due to breakdowns but also the resultant costs. What’s more, you can increase the service life of the vehicles.
  • Real-time monitoring – GPS technology lets you see exactly where each vehicle is at any given time. You will often also find features for planning runs so you can make optimum use of cargo space and fuel, while also increasing customer satisfaction thanks to more precise delivery times.
  • Driver behaviour — information about every driver’s driving style, e.g. idling and the use of various technical solutions, can be used to both improve fuel economy and reduce the risk of personal injury and stress.
  • Reporting – the system gives you an overall picture of both the status and use of the vehicles. Put simply, you can see how your fleet of vehicles is doing and performing.

Yet for many people, perhaps the main perceived benefit is reducing manual administration. Manual processing is time-consuming and that time/resource can instead be allocated to performing more transport runs.

Which FMS should I choose?

It’s really like choosing any other administrative system. Take your own business and specific needs as the starting point. Then consider which features are required to meet these needs – this gives you a basic requirements specification.

Because an FMS is a cost, you should weigh this cost against the functionality and expected benefits. Although the very purpose of acquiring an FMS is to streamline and reduce your costs over time, there’s no need to pay for features or services that you might not use. This is why you should also find out if the system can be upgraded retrospectively. For example, can it be adapted with new add-on features if such a need arises in the future?

Speaking of the future, with the rapid development of sensor technology and telematics, it’s likely that transport vehicles will provide fleet management systems with increasingly detailed information, including from the vehicle’s component systems. So who knows, perhaps in the future FMS will evolve into systems for managing and controlling autonomous (self-driving) goods vehicles? We can only speculate about that, of course. But one thing is certain, it’s already the case that a shrewd investment in the right fleet management system can help to boost the profitability of a haulage company.

Are you interested in other approaches to boosting profitability? If the answer is yes, download our guide How to boost your profitability.

Download the guide here

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