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What is Fleet Management? Everything You Need to Know

By Jackson Hand December 15, 2020

Ensuring that their fleet of vehicles is run  safely and efficiently is a big challenge for New Zealand businesses. This is where fleet management can help. Fleet management  aims to streamline fleet operations  and increase productivity, while simultaneously promoting the safety of vehicles and drivers. This way, it can help businesses of any size to run a better-organised fleet, increase revenue and improve customer satisfaction.1

Before going into depth about the various technologies involved, let’s first start by covering the basics: what is fleet management?

Fleet management 101

Fleet management is the process of managing and organising commercial vehicles. The most basic function of this is GPS vehicle tracking, which works thanks to telematics. This allows a fleet manager to track vehicle location, monitor driver behaviour and overall condition of vehicles. Fleets can then be controlled accordingly to help improve safety and help mitigate risks. In some industries, fleet management also takes the form of asset tracking, for managing equipment such as cranes, forklifts, bulldozers, trailers and specialist tools. 

The overall goal of fleet management is to enable  efficient and productive vehicle use , while improving the safety of fleet drivers and vehicles. This can be achieved by using a combination of vehicle tracking, fuel consumption reporting, driver monitoring and vehicle maintenance management.

How does the fleet management process work?

GPS tracking software is at the heart of the fleet management process. This is based on a GPS system that works through either GPRS, satellite, radio or a combination of all three. Satellite communications tend to be the most expensive data transmission method, but it’s the most effective choice for tracking vehicles in remote locations where the cellular signal is weak. Satellite is also critical for tracking vehicles that travel into terrains in which the geography limits the capabilities of a GPRS signal.

Let’s now take a more detailed look at some of the specific functions of fleet management services and how they work:

  • Vehicle tracking: Internet-based tracking devices allow the fleet manager to view the exact position of every vehicle in the fleet. In the event of a mishap, they can send help and restore services as quickly as possible, helping reduce vehicle downtime and delays for customers. 
  • Vehicle status notifications: Receive updates on the status of a vehicle. These include notifications regarding speeding, non-arrivals, lengthy idle time  and unauthorised vehicle access.
  • Points of interest: Search for and identify useful locations near where you make regular customer visits—the nearest petrol station, for example. Analysing these routes can help you improve efficiency and the service you offer customers. Fleet management software allows you to set up custom points of interest using geofences.
  • Communication with the driver: Dispatchers can send instructions, orders and messages about specific routes or new destinations directly to the driver. The driver can respond to messages and confirm instructions.
  • Assess driving behaviours: To understand potential problem areas, managers can study data on fuel consumption, speed, braking and engine use. This data can then be used to educate and coach drivers appropriately.
  • Driver management : Track various employee statistics for the entire workforce. These include the number of hours worked and time spent on travel, which help to manage productive time and preserve worker safety, with the appropriate hours of work and rest.
  • Route planning: With near real-time traffic information, fleet managers can develop and adjust route plans to help bypass traffic jams and avoid late arrivals.
  • Goods control: The storage temperature of goods is monitored to verify that it always remains at the correct level. Notifications appear whenever a vehicle’s doors are opened, to help prevent breaking the cold chain.

The key benefits of fleet management software

Fleet management solutions can benefit businesses and enhance their operations in a number of key areas.

Helps promote a safer working environment

Fleet management has the potential to create a safe environment for workers. By identifying dangerous driving behaviours, fleet managers can find areas of concern and implement training and education initiatives accordingly. Meanwhile, monitoring vehicle conditions helps you to maintain the vehicles in the fleet so that they remain safe to use. These positive factors can have the knock-on effect of helping to enhance the day-to-day experience for a workforce, increase their satisfaction, work effort and efficiency.

Helps reduce fuel consumption and fleet maintenance costs

Fleet management technology gives managers the chance to spot issues early and identify fuel cost savings. Track fuel usage and other vehicle and driver performance indicators on fuel management  dashboards, making it easy to identify maintenance and fuel needs. Add in other milestones like WOF expiry and service deadlines and this can help to increase the lifecycle of your  fleet’s vehicles significantly.

Improved reporting

Analyse your fleet’s performance over time. See important trends for each team, department or across the entire fleet. Our customisable fleet data dashboards make it easy to review your progress towards KPIs or budgets, with near real-time fleet analytics provided by our fleet tracking system. Among other factors, these analytics include distance travelled, total idling time, stops duration, vehicle activity (hours worked) and harsh driving.

Increased customer satisfaction

Customers can benefit from fleet management technology too. Bookings and appointment reminders are simplified and automated notifications can be set up to  help provide the best possible customer service experience. Customers can track their ordered goods or services and receive more accurate status updates and ETAs.

The future of fleet management

The complexity and potential of fleet management systems are continuously growing, with new trends appearing all the time.

Internet of things

As processors become ever smaller, more powerful and better connected, fleet management systems will process and store data from a wider variety of sensors and inputs. This can help to make decisions with the best available data on hand. For example, fleet dash cams can capture video of harsh driving events or traffic accidents that not only help protect your drivers, but also can have an impact on insurance costs for your entire fleet.

Augmented reality

Essentially, augmented reality involves “Generating a virtual image on top of a real image, enabling interaction in real-time, seamlessly blending 3D (or 2D) virtual objects with real objects.”2 When it comes to fleet management in New Zealand , and elsewhere, this technology could be used to provide drivers with additional safety information. Vehicle windshields could act as screens, with displayed information such as flash traffic alerts or a speedometer.

Autonomous vehicles

Self-driving vehicles could take the strain and pressures off drivers and allow them to focus on job orders, updating notes and sending invoices. Telematics technology could provide these autonomous vehicles with the means to recognise traffic jams or other road issues in near real time and divert their route accordingly. There’s still some way to go with this technology, but it’s a key focus for the future of fleet management.

Focusing on the future can continue to push fleet management towards improving the connectivity of a workforce and the operation of its vehicles. Greater technological improvements can allow for informed decisions to be made, as they’ll be based on comprehensive studies of real fleet performance


Jackson Hand

An industry specialist and regular contributor, dedicated to help businesses of all sizes save money and overcome challenges associated with managing fleets.

Tags: Field Management, Team Management, Productivity & Efficiency, Performance & Coaching, Safety, Cost Control, Customer Service, Dispatching & Scheduling, Revenue & ROI, Vehicle & Asset Security, Vehicle Maintenance

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