Fleet Management System 101: Complete Guide

DFleet AMR - Fleet Management System

Fleet management systems have entirely revolutionised how many companies operate from top to bottom, providing ways to substantially lower operational costs while improving productivity. 

Today’s blog aims to deeply delve into how such systems work to impact business operational efficiency. 

What is fleet management?

Generally speaking, fleet management involves activities that minimise the risks associated with supply chain management, speed management, fuel management, health and safety management, accident management and subrogation, and telematics (tracking and diagnostics), to improve efficiency, productivity and reduce transportation and staff costs.

Fleet management has gradually transformed over the last decade. It now encompasses much more than procuring and maintaining vehicles. This includes warehouse and compliance management, operational efficiency and environmental impact attributes.

What are fleet managers responsible for?

For the most part, fleet managers are responsible for performing fleet inspections, scheduling maintenance, reporting, and paying attention to vital metrics that shed valuable insight into vehicle performance.

What does a fleet management system do?

A fleet management system is essentially an administrative tool that provides total control over a fleet via complex features like real-time tracking, reports, route history, geofence zones, and trip logs.

Fleet management systems facilitate a series of specific tasks related to fleets like tracking procurement costs, scheduling maintenance and servicing tasks, route optimisation, and measurement of fleet performance via reports and charts.

Previously, fleet managers employed spreadsheets to track fleet information. However, current fleet management systems provide a centralised technology-powered location with all fleet-related information. 

The two main types of fleet management systems that are currently prevalent today are AMR and vehicle tracking fleet management systems: 

AMR fleet management systems 

The last decade has seen a rise in robot-based industrial automation, with industrial robots proving comparatively inexpensive while capable of executing repeated tasks at high speed and great accuracy. 

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) and Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) systems constitute robots designed to safely work collaboratively with humans in close proximity in industrial and commercial settings, without any protective fencing. 

In practice, AMRs can be intuitively programmed and controlled through dedicated AMR fleet management systems that optimise robots’ operational assignments, organise fleet movements, define and establish routes and monitor traffic. 

Additionally, fleet management systems help balance AGV and AMR battery life and manage charging activities while automating the intralogistics process.

DF Automation and Robotics offers affordable fleet management systems that help to regulate your fleet of AMRs and integrate them with third party systems to optimize delivery operations and productivity. DFleet, our in-house developed FMS System is designed specifically to manage the fleet of DF AGV and AMR systems. It comes with key features such as battery monitoring, location identification, traffic and task management between multiple AMRs at the same time.

Vehicle tracking system

Businesses with extensive fleets that consist of different vehicles all probably use fleet management systems. 

Whether haulier, courier, sales, service, utilities, or emergency services, different fleets require adequate management to control associated costs, remain competitive and meet customers’ expectations.

A key component of such fleet management systems is a vehicle tracking component that is typically GPS-based or sometimes based on GLONASS or cellular triangulation.

In practice, once the vehicle location, direction and speed are determined from the GPS components, extra tracking features transmit this information to a fleet management software application via both terrestrial and satellite means. 

However, satellite tracking, while more expensive, is vital if fleet tracking is required in remote environments, without interruption. 

Overall, fleet management systems aim to control the entire lifecycle of vehicles while also reducing associated risk, improving operational efficiency, productivity and ensuring compliance with legislation. 

 

Fleet Management System DFleet AMR
Fleet Management System DFleet AMR

Benefits of fleet management

Fleet management systems help improve cost efficiency, safety, service delivery and visibility into operations. They also help to achieve regulatory compliance, automation and to streamline dispatching. 

So let’s comprehensively break down what these benefits mainly entail, shall we?

1. Cost efficiency

Expectedly, fleet managers constantly seek to reduce the costs throughout the fleet, which means identifying and eliminating unnecessary expenses to make fleets cost-efficient.

Without fleet management systems, fuel, maintenance, and operational costs would quickly get out of control for businesses. 

In practice, such systems can help fleet managers curate fuel efficiency programs to combat fluctuating fuel prices. They can even implement asset tracking mechanisms to reduce theft and misuse and increase productivity and profitability.

2. Vehicle tracking

Whether it’s a fleet of 10 or 1,000 vehicles, tracking each vehicle location can be highly complicated, challenging at best, and a nightmare at worst. 

Optimal fleet management systems constitute efficient GPS tracking and telematics mechanisms to locate vehicles and deliver better insight into fleet operations.

Furthermore, businesses contingent on a mobile workforce usually have high capital expenses that spiral out of control unless they are managed closely. 

Particularly, fleet managers can leverage telematics to reduce a fleet’s costs and increase profit margins by:

  • Lowering fuel costs by reducing fuel wastage throughout a fleet.
  • Increasing and optimising asset utilisation so a fleet can complete more jobs with fewer employees and vehicles.
  • Catching potential maintenance issues before they become more significant problems that cause vehicle breakdowns.
  • Reducing instances of personal use of vehicles or vehicle misuse with real-time tracking.

3. Safety and accident reduction

Road accidents always pose a severe risk for businesses dependent on drivers and vehicles. Additionally, accidents usually significantly impact businesses financially, even more when there is an injury. 

Since drivers represent one’s business, overly aggressive and dangerous driving can affect one’s brand’s reputation even if they do not get into an accident. 

Fleet management systems can be helpful to:

  • Determine the best and worst-performing drivers.
  • Curate driver coaching programs to correct aggressive and dangerous driving.
  • Monitor driving history to continually track improvement and offer additional training if needed.
  • Protect one’s business from litigation and exonerate drivers.

4. Improving customer service

Increasingly, fleet management systems are being adopted to augment the customer service experience by:

  • Optimising route planning with location data for on-time deliveries and service arrivals.
  • Providing accurate ETAs with real-time tracking so customers know exactly when to expect one’s team.

Industries using fleet management

Fleet management mechanisms are mainly deployed in the management of:

  • Commercial motor vehicles such as cars, vans, trucks, specialist vehicles (like mobile construction machinery), forklifts, and trailers
  • Private vehicles used for work purposes 
  • Aviation machinery like aircraft (planes and helicopters)
  • Ships
  • Rail cars
  • Non-powered assets like generators, tanks, gearboxes, dumpsters, shipping containers, trailers, excavators.

That being said, fleet management systems are currently being mainly employed by organisations that provide services like:

  • Transportation
  • Cargo
  • Vendors
  • Waste Management
  • School Transportation
  • OEM Companies
  • Construction Vehicles
  • Refrigerated Trucks
  • Logistics
  • Courier companies
  • Gas Delivery companies
  • Bank Cash Vans and many more
  • Fuel Monitoring
  • Fuel Theft

Fleet management software

Fleet management software systems basically deliver interfaces through which businesses can access all the relevant information pertaining to the performance of their fleets, whenever they desire it. 

In practice, the average fleet management software comprises an intricate database with multiple applications. These enable one to record and report the actionable attributes that can improve operational efficiencies and drive down costs This further helps in reducing downtime and improving productivity.

Fleet management software also helps fleet managers to obtain objective information into driver safety. This means, highlighting dangerous practices, like speeding or harsh braking, and distinguishing drivers who require more coaching. 

Such software is also integral to ensuring that a fleet remains compliant with local regulations while supporting proactive maintenance efforts. It enables fleet managers to get the most out of their assets with preventative maintenance schedules. 

Open Source Fleet Management System

How does fleet management software work?

Fleet management software typically consists of small telematics devices that connect to a vehicle’s onboard diagnostics port. 

Though installation methods can widely differ, most solutions are “plug-and-play” and don’t require a mechanic for installation. 

In practice, the telematics device continually collects data like real-time vehicle location; distance travelled, speed, vehicle fault codes, fuel usage, harsh braking, rapid acceleration, etc.

Subsequently, this data is sent to an online fleet management dashboard through a satellite, Bluetooth, USB, or cellular connection. Here, it is organised into a set of tools and reports that can be employed to track and manage one’s business.

Most state-of-the-art fleet management software solutions maintain a mobile application to facilitate driver productivity and allow fleet managers to manage fleet operations remotely.

In summary, fleet management software systems improve the management of:

  • Vehicles, assets and equipment
  • Maintenance and repair
  • Fuel and emissions
  • Parts and inventory
  • Accident and risk management
  • Drivers including driver licence checks
  • Workshops and scheduling
  • Inspections, defect reporting and audits
  • Regulatory and legal compliance
  • Budget and forecasting

Common features of advanced fleet management software

  1. Availability on mobile (for driver & employees) and web app (for transport admin) to make the usage easier.
  2. Real-time vehicle tracking to improve control over all fleet vehicles.
  3. Automated route generation, optimisation of employee configuration, estimation of travel time & route distance with smart roster planning.
  4. Customised/automated reports and analytics for future enhancements.
  5. Employees feedback mechanisms through an employee transportation management app, which enables driver performance analysis.
  6. Advanced safety solutions to facilitate safe rides for employees.
  7. Real-time instantaneous activity alerts and prompt notifications to admins.
  8. The ability to send SOS alerts to monitoring teams on any emergency, typically via IVR (Interactive voice response), safe reach calls for employees during commutes, with auto escalations to ensure prompt action.
  9. Streamlined communication with audit trails for conflict resolution.
  10. Automate scheduling of escorts to ensure the safety of female employees.
  11. The ability for an admin to receive alerts and notifications on rash driving or overspeeding, in order to make informed decisions.
  12. The ability for an admin to receive fleet health check alerts, including DL expiry alerts, vehicle registration expiry alerts, non-compliance alerts, etc.

The future

Fleet management revolves around a business efficiently managing its fleets and asset information. It starts from acquisition to disposal, reducing costs, improving efficiency and ensuring compliance across their fleet operations.

By using fleet management software tools, fleet managers can effectively plan for more efficient routes, lower the excess fuel usage, and eliminate risky driver behaviour or even reroute company vehicles to a customer in need. 

In the coming years, we expect fleet management systems to expand in capability. 

For example, in terms of data visibility as organisations increasingly adopt artificial intelligence to exploit and aggregate data in centralised systems. 

We also expect more organisations to benefit from 5G with increased coverage, instantaneous notifications to keep teams more connected and boost productivity. 

5G technology should also advance GPS and telematics tools to offer faster real-time vehicle updates regarding safety, health and performance. 

This means providing more comprehensive and actionable insight into maintenance needs and helping fleets to better combat downtime.

We hope to see more prototypes of autonomous vehicles as fleet trucks could drive themselves with the help of telematics programs that work in tandem with autonomous cars. 

Needless to say, this helps to keep an eye out for traffic obstructions and road issues in real-time or even send messages to vehicles to take different routes or quick detours.

More Posts