Overcoming the challenges of fleet management

Addressing Fleet Technology

Overcoming the challenges of fleet management

The ever-increasing challenges that fleet managers face may seem impossible to overcome—fluctuating fuel costs, increased maintenance costs and stricter emission regulations, not to mention, the most important challenge for any fleet manager: security—keeping employees and properties safe.

While pressures in the industry have increased over the years, technology has experienced significant advancements, specifically cloud-based software management and GPS device hardware. Benefits of cloud-based, GPS systems for security fleets include:

  • Instant install. A plug-and-play device that installs within seconds in a vehicle’s dash.
  • Thought leadership. Reduce inaccurate reporting, streamline your efforts and cut costs before your competitors.
  • Trim insurance premiums. Check with your insurance dealer on special rates when purchasing tracking solutions.
  • Doing the right thing. Increase your efforts to keep people safe.

This new breed of fleet technology can help increase the efficiencies of a fleet, allowing the fleet manager to sleep at night knowing that he or she can report decreased cost, minimized liability and satisfied, safe customers and employees.

Vehicle Maintenance

The average driver knows that a vehicle gets its best gas mileage when it operates at peak condition. Routine vehicle maintenance, such as properly inflated tires, has been proven to improve fleet fuel economy by four to 10 percent. However, essential maintenance can often be overlooked.

New plug-and-play, cloud-based, GPS tracking solutions can help choose the best routes, saving time, fuel and mileage. This ultimately reduces overall wear and tear on vehicles and streamlines maintenance processes.

If you manage a small to medium fleet, you know that vehicle maintenance is considered a premium feature by many solution providers in the GPS tracking industry. This technology, such as Azuga B2 System, can give small and medium fleets benefits that were only available for Fortune 1000 companies a few years ago.

Employee and Customer Safety and Assurance

The use of a cloud-based, GPS system to track employees will give your business peace of mind during any type of location visit or investigation. A tracking solution will provide real-time snapshots of locations, entry and exit into virtual perimeters, and duration of stay.

These systems communicate directly with an online tracking platform and read engine data up to 60 times more than standard GPS tracking systems. With this functionality, proof of visit can be provided quickly, accurately and in a streamlined manner.

All of these metrics are important, not only for employee safety but for customer safety as well, and delivering this information to your customers will assure them that they are being taken care of.

“Going green” is a good way to assure your employees, customers and community that you are doing your part to enhance their way of life. Fleets are inadvertently reducing their carbon footprint by simply using GPS tracking. Here are few simple steps in order to fully integrate a “green” program into your fleet management solution.

Step 1: Track fuel usage and idling time to set a baseline for the first 30 days after deployment.

Step 2: Analyze fuel usage and idling; then, establish your green program goals and new performance requirements.

Step 3: Create driver incentives and recognition awards for achieving and/ or exceeding program goals and communicate these goals to your team.

Step 4: Upgrade communication channels to the community, existing customers and prospective customers with a “go green” web page, newsletter communications, “green” tag lines in advertisements, and social media updates on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Reckless and Distracted Driving

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), excessive speeding may decrease fuel economy by up to 20 percent. Even more surprising, the National Safety Council reports that one employee crash is estimated to cost $24,000. Of course, there are strict regulations, policies and laws that help enforce safer driving habits within the industry. However, nextgeneration GPS devices can come to security fleets’ aid.

These cloud-based software products can make information on speeding, hard braking, sudden starts, miles driven, cell phone use and personal use of the company vehicle available in real time to fleet managers. Evaluating driver speeds and braking is a key factor in monitoring driver behavior practices that will ultimately decrease fuel cost and minimize risk. While reckless driving may seem imminent within fleets, speeding and hard braking is very dangerous, even sometimes fatal. In fact, it is responsible for 40 percent of workplace fatalities.

In addition to reckless driving, distracted driving causes nearly 28 percent of all fleet vehicle crashes. Distractions come in all forms, including eating while driving, changing the radio station, texting and/or talking on a mobile device or locating the quickest route.

Most large fleets’ operations have distracted driving policies, and as those policies evolve, there is a trend toward focusing on the distractions caused by consumer electronic products. Researchers at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute observed more than 1,700 drivers and discovered that three out of every four drivers using a cell phone committed a traffic violation. They also found that talking on a cell phone while driving makes a driver four times more likely to crash, and texting while driving increases the chances of a crash by 23 times.

Be Safe. Be Smart.

Alarming statistics have prompted 47 states to enact legislation related to talking/texting and driving, creating an additional layer of liability where company vehicles are concerned. Distracted driving is particularly dangerous while behind the wheel of any operating fleet vehicle because the driver is always on a mission to get somewhere very quickly.

To reduce crashes, minimize risk and mitigate lawsuits, fleets must prevent employee usage of mobile devices while driving through both stringent safety policies and a new breed of enforcement technologies. In short, by eliminating distractions, tracking driver behavior and regularly servicing fleets, your company can reduce the number of crashes, save tens of thousands of dollars and significantly reduce risk.

Within the past three years, cloud-based software and management, along with GPS device hardware has experienced significant advancements in technology and cost savings. Yet, according to a recent security fleet survey, only 44 percent of fleet vehicles are equipped with GPS devices. Out of this percentage, only a small amount of fleets use the GPS capability to its full capacity.

The challenges and pressures of the fleet industry are enormous. On the bright side, these tracking solutions, dubbed “the future of GPS tracking and driver behavior applications,” will continue to evolve and become more efficient as services become more streamlined, accurate, easy to use and affordable, making this solution more attractive to fleet managers.

This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Security Today.

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