Challenges and solutions in public transport fleet management
Source: Prasanth Aby Thomas, Freelancer
Fleet management solutions have become an integral part of public transport in several countries. An efficient fleet management solution is the best answer to some of the most complex problems that fleet managers face on a daily basis.
According to a blog post from the transport services provider National Express, fleet management is not just about owning and operating vehicles. In fact, the real function of fleet management covers every single stage of a fleet’s life cycle. This begins at acquisition and goes on to utilization, maintenance, and retirement. The ultimate goal of a fleet management solution would be then to minimize costs, lower risks, improve efficiency, better safety and reliability
, all the while meeting regulatory requirements.
Having said this, the difficulties involved in fleet management are not minor. Managers are often hard-pressed to meet some strict requirements. Here we take a look at some of the challenges in this field and the best ways to deal with them.
Identifying the location of vehicles
The blog post from National Express points out that knowing where your vehicle is at each point of its trip is important. Not just to be sure that the vehicle has not been stolen or hijacked but also to be able to provide the right information to customers who might call up asking for the whereabouts the vehicle.
“GPS-powered fleet management systems track your vehicles’ location in real time, affording you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your vehicles are where they should be,” National Express said. “In the case of vehicle theft, which, according to the FBI, amounted to a nationwide loss of US$5.9 billion in 2016, you have a better chance of recovering your properties when you know where they are. Geo-fencing, which is a useful vehicle tracking feature that leverages RFID or GPS technology, alerts you whenever drivers enter or leave a virtual geographic boundary. This helps with notifying customers that their rides have arrived or letting drivers know that they’re entering a no-go zone.”
For a fleet of the public transportation system to function properly, it is important that each vehicle and its drivers stick to a prescribed schedule and route. This will include a fixed time to pick passengers up and drop them at destinations through a predetermined route. The problem is that this mustbe done taking unexpected incidents like accidents, road blocks, customer issues and other similar matters into consideration. A good fleet management solution could go a long way in ensuring that such concerns are taken care of automatically, assigning the best substitute routes in case of an incident and notifying drivers of the same.
“In the face of rising consumer expectations, particularly in a competitive industry such as transportation, maintaining a strong reputation is key to longevity,” National Express noted.“Helping to ensure timeliness of services is just one advantage fleet management systems provide. The data they track allows you to optimize routes, maximize driver journeys, and make necessary dispatch adjustments on the fly.”
There are no two ways of looking at this. Safety is of utmost priority in fleet management. In the U.S. alone, data has shown that death from road accidents remain at alarmingly high rates despite concerns being voiced often.
From a business perspective too, accidents are costly for a transport company. Even when the damage is covered by insurances, there are chances of a company getting sued. A fleet management solution comes handy here.
“Fleet management software tracks not just the location of your vehicles, but also alerts you of driving incidents that can jeopardize driver, commuter, and pedestrian safety,” National Express said.“These incidents include heavy braking, hard acceleration and speeding, among other things. The data gathered about driver behavior can be used to develop individualized coaching and training programs.”
From a business perspective, keeping the costs as low as possible is always a necessity. This gets all-the-more critical during times of economic concerns. There are several ways in which transportation companies may lose money. Here are some of them that could be dealt with a top-quality fleet management solution.
At each point,you need to be able to track your vehicles and make sure they are used to their maximum capacity to avoid wasting resources.
Regular maintenance is key. With new technology coming in, it would even be possible to undertake predictive maintenance of machines that would reduce any unfortunate breakdowns.
You might have some of the most reliable drivers in the world, but it would help to be able to keep track of where they are with the vehicles, to avoid any misuse of the property. Doing this will help ensure productivity remains at optimum levels.
Meeting regulatory mandates is necessary to avoid running into unnecessary costs such as fines. With a fleet management solution,you can ensure that all your vehicles are running in the prescribed manner.