Drivers and trends in fleet management in 2019
Source: Prasanth Aby Thomas, Consultant Editor
Factors driving the growth of fleet management often differ from market to market. Globally, though, these include the rising need for security and interest in electric vehicles (EV).
“Latin America fleets have more of a focus on driver safety and security,” said Stephanie Voelker, VP of Enterprise Sales Solutions at Geotab. “North American markets are moving to EV which have very different telematics needs than conventional combustion engines. Fleets moving to EV for instance, need to know that they have enough charge to complete a delivery or service run. In fact, EV and alternative vehicles are a big focus in the EU as they strive to meet CO2 reduction targets throughout the region; as such, advanced engine telematics is required to accurately measure the gas emissions on combustion engines.”
The adoption of strict data privacy rules in the EU has also changed certain aspects of how telematics is deployed across Europe. Extra attention to any personally identifiable information makes the driver’s data more secure.
“This has also driven the development of new functionality like Geotab’s ‘Privacy Mode’ which ensures that trip data outside of a driver’s normal working hours is not made available to their fleet managers and employers for example,” Voelker added. “New rules require new ways to meet the needs of the users while still maintaining compliance with government regulations.”
The role of big data
Data has always played an important role in fleet management, as operators collect information to make decisions. However, with technology advancing further, data is set to play a bigger role in this segment.
According to the solutions provider Fleetio, the availability of more data is helping organizations take more proactive decisions. For instance, while doing vehicle inspections, a driver or an operator can check an asset and immediately enter data into a device, which can then be collected and analyzed.
“Through digitization, users can immediately transmit information in real-time thereby streamlining data collection, reducing pencil-whipping and allowing administrators to quickly access information,” Fleetio said in a blog post. “It also provides an opportunity to easily share information across multiple teams so the proper stakeholder can seamlessly access it.”
Increased use of telematics
Fleet management solutions are, at their core, driven by telematics and GPS-based tracking. Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), now mandatory in the U.S., are expected to become the norm in other countries too. With the real-time insights that telematics provides, customers and operators can be aware of every situation and act upon them
Gaurav Kumar, Founder of Cyrrup, which offers fleet management solutions in India, pointed out that the growing logistics market driven by door delivery services are helping the fleet management industry. These, and others like app-based cab companies, need to be constantly aware of what their employees are up to.
Cost management through software
As with other business processes, fleets have costs that need to be accounted for. Given the nature of their operations that could take vehicles to distant locations, accounting is not always easy. Fleet management solutions are increasingly expanding their features to offer options to manage the financial side of the business as well.
“Tracking and understanding costs is an essential function for any business. Some of the most substantial costs for fleets include vehicle replacement, maintenance, fuel, insurance, and wages,” Fleetio said. “Fleets previously had to spend countless hours updating accounting numbers and the tedious work was prone to errors. Cost tracking and reporting solutions offered by fleet management software continue to expand — thus lessening the burden of tasks like data entry — allowing fleets to track its spending and automatically calculate the cost per vehicle.”
Much of the developed world is seeing a dearth of skilled personnel in the industry. This has prompted several companies to make concentrated efforts to retain those who are already working for them.
“Operators with the necessary skills are offered a variety of compelling benefits from various companies, which can negatively impact smaller companies’ ability to compete for talent,” Fleetio said. “In order to compete, companies are offering signing bonuses, professional development training, and other performance bonuses to incentivize operators. Additionally, creating an inviting company culture with transparency and inclusion is another approach to prevent additional turnover.”
The autonomous dream
Efforts to make vehicles autonomous continue
. Companies like Tesla and the Google-owned Waymo are making progress, but it would be safe to say we are still far away from autonomous vehicles making inroads into the fleet sector. Even when the technology is ready, government regulations will need to be rewritten. However, it is likely that before vehicles go full autonomous, we are bound to see a greater amount of partially automated systems.