Fleet Management: Keeping Drivers Safe and Operations Efficient
Fleet trucks traverse from the coastal interstates in Los Angeles, to the rural highways in Indiana, to the bustling freeways in New York all to fulfil our essential operations. Fleets bring us our Amazon “coffee-making alarm clock” and edible “relationship savors”, but also our food, our water, and very relevant today, our medicine. Through the power of fleets, we are able to globally connect the world and solve problems that seem impossible to solve.
Take the COVID-19 vaccine. Each different vaccine required a different incubation temperature, had a different shelf life, were all vitally important, and required unrealistic urgency. However, logistics companies and fleets around the country tackled this problem and now we have an expedited timeline of full vaccination set at end of May. Fleets are crucial to our existence as an interconnected society and are the well-oiled machine in fulfillment.
Fleet managers exist to take on the labyrinth of fleet operations and create a sustainable system for companies to excel. Fleet Managers oversee things such as vehicle maintenance, fuel consumption, driver management, vehicle acquisition and disposition, among other things.
Fleet Management Roles
The first role and responsibility in fleet management is developing a strategy for the fleet. This takes the shape of setting specific goals and priorities for the fleet. Each fleet will have a different strategy as they serve different functions and have different makeups. One example of this includes fleets deciding whether to purchase or lease vehicles. Generally, though, fleet strategy centers around safety and efficiency for their drivers, as well as cost optimization for their operations.
Fleet Acquisition & Services
Acquisition- The next role of fleet management acts on the fleet strategy: acquiring the fleet vehicles. In this, managers must consider the benefits and losses of purchasing used or new vehicles, the make and model of the vehicle (and class of vehicle their drivers are eligible to drive), and the branding for these vehicles. Acquiring the vehicles is crucial because every vehicle acquired is now a representation of the company.
On top of that, fleet managers must properly forecast how many vehicles to acquire to effectively complete their operations. Besides just the appearance of the fleet, properly predicting the vehicle’s lifespan and load capabilities are essential to having successful fleet acquisition, and ultimately optimizing the cost of the inventory.
Services- Fleet services include registration and registration renewal of the vehicles, as well as monitoring and adjusting overall fleet structure. Proper fleet management is a continuous process of restructuring the fleet strategy to better execute the company’s end goals. This can mean rebalancing the fleet, relocating certain vehicles, and constantly being proactive to prepare for the future.
Vehicle & Driver Management
Maintenance- Maintenance of fleet vehicles helps extend the vehicle life, saving money in the long run. Good fleet management not only repairs and fixes problems in vehicles swiftly but takes preventative maintenance measures to avoid long repairs. This can range from proper driving practices to routine checkups and constant monitoring.
Energy- Energy management, like maintenance management, can save or lose companies huge sums of money. An integral responsibility of fleet management is to monitor fuel usage and continuously look for ways to become more fuel efficient. Some fleets travel immense amounts of miles every day, leading to massive expenses on fuel. When fleet managers can identify ways to save gas (optimized routes, sustainable energy sources, etc.) it can vastly help their bottom line. On top of that, today incentives are increasing in transforming the fleet to a more sustainable model, one that contributes a smaller carbon footprint overall. Fleet managers are responsible for planning an eco-friendlier future.
Driver & Safety
Safety- Safety is another integral responsibility and challenge of the fleet manager. Safety of every driver can be very difficult when drivers are hundreds of miles away from the fleet manager. However, it is still extremely important to keep drivers safe. Technology like Positioning Universal’s FT7500 and AI Fleet Camera Solution can heavily help with fleet safety and will be described more in the next section. Other practices such as driver policies, education, and testing also help prepare and ensure a safe fleet. Another effective practice includes rewarding safe drivers and incentivizing safe driving practices.
Driver- Driver management extends beyond just driver safety though. The truck driver life is a unique experience, and fleet managers find ways to keep their drivers motivated and excited about their work. Driver retention is very important in the fleet world today. Especially because there is a truck driver shortage nationwide.
Technology allows for fleet managers to execute and optimize things never before possible. Devices like Positioning Universal’s FT7500 and AI Fleet Camera Solution allow fleet managers to monitor driver location, behavior, and even allow for better fuel optimization. Fleet managers may be hundreds of miles away from their respective drivers, but with technology they can sit in the passenger seat with all of them (this will link to other blog post about advantage of dual facing dash cam).
The final responsibility of the fleet manager is disposing (reselling in most cases) of vehicles. This requires managers to know when the right time to sell is and where the right place to sell is. Fleet managers maximize the resale value of their vehicles to decrease the loss of that vehicle and help acquire a new replacement vehicle. Properly executing this function allows for a seamless transition of vehicles with minimal down time.
Fleet management is a very crucial role for a very crucial function. Fleet efficiency and consistency is vital to the functioning of our country and economy, and fleet managers ensure both. While a daunting task, technology such as the FT7500 and AI Fleet Camera Solution simplifies fleet management and allows for fleet managers to make confident decisions and keep their drivers as safe and productive as possible.