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Steering managers toward the best fleet management system

Steering managers toward the best fleet management system
Lowered fuel consumption, better compliance management and increased driver safety are just a few of the benefits an effective fleet management system (FMS) can have on a fleet. With a never-ending need for better operational efficiency, the global FMS market is witnessing strong growth and expected to reach US$28.7 billion by 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.8 percent, according to a recent report by research firm MarketsandMarkets. The declining cost of hardware and connectivity along with a need to comply with government regulations are just a few of the factors driving growth.

With the market expected to continue in an upward trend, FMS companies are looking to provide systems that not only meet but exceed the requirements of fleet managers. This means systems that go beyond simply optimizing operations — it means smarter systems with a number of features that maximize return on investment (ROI) and make managing fleets easier.

What fleet managers want

Scott Sutarik, Associate VP,
Commercial Vehicle
Solutions, Geotab
Optimizing operational efficiency is always the overall goal of an effective FMS; however, fleet managers want and need more out of their system.

“Fleet management solutions that go above and beyond basic requirements, help to position fleet managers and their businesses for success when it comes to data-driven decision making,” said Scott Sutarik, Associate VP of Commercial Vehicle Solutions at Geotab. “Outside of the standard FMS features, fleet managers are looking for a solution that will evolve with them as their business and business needs change in the coming years.”

Convenience, according to Laura Maxwell, Product Marketing Manager at Fleetio, is the most common theme requested. “Fleet managers are looking for a system that allows them to manage their fleet from anywhere and saves them time by reducing the effort needed to complete common fleet management tasks. Enabling fleet managers, mechanics, foreman and others to access and log data on the go keeps the fleet humming along. The ability to automate data entry and handle specific tasks and business cases automatically helps save a ton of time.”

Fleet managers are also looking to address more specific issues, such as reducing idling time, reducing downtime and improving productivity.

By reducing unnecessary idling time, fleet managers could reduce fuel costs and emissions. “An effective FMS will provide the ability to visualize total fleet idling and will monitor weekly and monthly idling trends with custom reports,” Sutarik said.

Managers are also looking to minimize unnecessary vehicle downtime, which can be done through predictive maintenance and diagnostics. “An FMS may allow fleet managers to identify potential vehicle issues in a timely manner and set up regular maintenance reminders to assist in prioritizing and preparing for repairs,” Sutarik added.

Additionally, improved efficiencies and productivity can be achieved by accessing data such as number of customer stops made a day and routing. An FMS that provides such data would allow fleet managers to get the most out of their fleet and gain better insight into the utilization of vehicles within the fleet and routes taken.

Key considerations to be made

Laura Maxwell,
Product Marketing Manager,
Just as choosing the right FMS could boost operational efficiency, choosing the wrong system could result in unexpected added costs, or worse unreliable technology. In order to avoid the pitfalls of a “bad” system, several considerations should first be made.

Maxwell noted fleet managers should consider what will be required of their fleet to fully utilize the benefits of the solution. She suggested mangers ask themselves some of the following questions: Do you need to purchase and install in-vehicle hardware? Do you need to download and update software regularly or is the solution web-based? Is the solution mobile-friendly — can you access fleet data from anywhere? How many seats do you need to purchase?

As in most cases cost is a prime consideration, and both upfront and ongoing costs should be considered. “A fleet management solution should be viewed as an investment that may lead to more benefits and opportunities down the road,” Sutarik said.

A flexible solution that can be molded to a fleet’s objective can help ensure maximum ROI, advised Maxwell. “A system that’s flexible enough to mold around your fleet while still being user-friendly will help you get the most out of your spend. Systems that allow you to create business rules, alerts and custom workflows based on your internal processes can help you squeeze each and every dollar out of your investment.”

Sutarik also suggested taking into consideration whether the solution is event-based or time-based. “Rather than updating at a given time interval, the solution will provide updates and feedback whenever an event change occurs to provide a clearer picture of what is happening with a vehicle.”

Usability of the solution is another factor. “Today’s solutions should utilize the power of the cloud to process the data, which allows for much more cost efficient devices that are plug-and-play and easy to maintain and transfer between vehicles,” Sutarik added. Other considerations should include if the solution will work with any type of vehicle and the solution’s ease-of-use.

All these factors, however, affect the price and the ability to see ROI from your vendor(s) of choice, Maxwell noted. “You’ll want to choose vendors that fit within your ideal framework. This might not be exactly how you operate today but how you would like to operate moving forward. Choose a solution that aligns with and helps you achieve your strategic goals.”

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