What Is An Open-Source Fleet Management System (+Examples)

Fleet management activities allow companies to organise, manage and coordinate their vehicles to increase efficiency, monitor driver behaviour, reduce costs and adhere to legislative compliance measures. 

Over the last two decades, fleet management has evolved with more companies adopting technology to better manage their fleets. This article aims to discuss ‘open-source’ fleet management technologies, their characteristics, and their benefits to organisations. 

What is a Fleet Management System?

A fleet management system is essentially a computerised administrative tool that provides a company total control over business operations that involve vehicle fleets. For example, ordinary cars, aircraft (planes, helicopters), ships, vans and trucks, and even rail cars.  

Because companies with vehicle fleets need an organised infrastructure to help them with their daily activities, a fleet management system avails centralised access to an array of technological tools that help as real-time tracking, and with reporting, telematics (route history), geofencing zones, speed management, fuel management and trip logs. 

What is an Open-Source Fleet Management System?

Traditionally, open-source systems are software systems that are publicly available for others to use, modify and share. As such, they are community-focused, with publicly available documentation. 

That being said, an open-source fleet management system is essentially a free version of an advanced fleet management software that gives users basic features necessary for ordinary fleet management. 

In practice, such systems are modelled after premium fleet management systems but do not have as many features as a complete fleet management software. However, they do give a taste of what full premium software has to offer. 

Benefits of using an Open Source Fleet Management System

  1. Available Community: Because open-source systems are created, modified, and maintained by a community, one can easily find solutions since others have a shared interest in the software. This allows for faster problem solving, development and troubleshooting.
  2. Transparency: Open-source software provides transparent access to its codebase. This means users can see new developments, changes, and bug fixes.
  3. Lower upfront costs: While most open-source software is not always free, there are no licensing fees. This means the upfront cost is lower.
  4. Merit-based solutions: Since profits aren’t a big deal, every decision is made to make the product the best it can be since there is no bottom line. 
  5. No contracts: Because of their community-based nature, open-source fleet management systems have no contracts.

Cons of an Open Source Fleet Management System

  1. Poor Compatibility: In some instances, proprietary hardware requires specialised software/drivers to function properly. Unfortunately, such software drivers are only available from specific manufacturers, which introduces some risks when using open source systems. 
  2. No Warranties: Open-source software licenses typically have limited or no warranty. 
  3. Hidden Costs: Open-source software is not always free, and can sometimes have hidden costs.
  4. Support Shortage: There can sometimes be a lack of support services as a company can be at the mercy of the community. This can become stressful if the community is slow to respond and not reliable.  

Main features within an Open Source Fleet Management System

  1. Tracking and management tools enable businesses to manage their fleets efficiently. 
  2. Live reporting capabilities like the ability to forecast, track and manage all your resources in real-time—from people, vehicles or equipment.
  3. Tyre management capabilities like the ability to track tyre stocks and performance based on various factors like NSD and wear & tear.
  4. Fuel management tools to keep a check on the mileage of each vehicle. For example, to know how far a vehicle has travelled, or to identify vehicles that aren’t getting the required mileage.
  5. Renewals management features to keep updated with compliance dates, or to send specific notifications to users/vendors.
  6. Driver management functions to keep track of drivers’ documents, performance, and KPIs.
  7. Inventory management tools that track purchase dates, transfer or assign spare parts, raise and receive PO, or check vendor payments for multiple workshops.
  8. Job card functions to assign proactive and reactive services, and designate spare parts from the warehouse.
  9. Vehicle inspection tools that enables companies to schedule an inspection of vehicles and notify drivers when the investigation is due. 
  10. Advanced quality and performance analysis feature that check the performance of a vehicle based on transit time, routes used, and journey conducted.
  11. Maintenance features that give maintenance trends reports 
  12. Dispatch management tools to assign jobs to drivers, track where they precisely are, and see their job status.

For more on how fleet management systems work, check out this video

Best Open-Source Fleet Management System

  • FleetcoFleetco is an open-source web-based fleet management system built with the PHP programming language and a MySQL database. It’s easy to use and very intuitive, without needing any installation or network configuration.
  • Everlance: Everlance is a fleet management software solution with features like GPS fleet tracking, route optimisation, dispatch management, automatic mileage tracking, and expense management. Its free version allows for 30 automatic trips per month and unlimited receipt uploads.
  • Odoo: Odoo is a popular open-source ERP that has a fleet management module that allows users to save service vehicle records, contracts, and tags. Additionally, it can be extended to perform GPS tracking, fuel management and dispatch management. 

Final Remarks

Open source fleet management systems can enable cash-strapped organisations to improve their business operations and lower their operational costs substantially while improving their productivity. Later on, if they desire more advanced features, they can always upgrade to premium fleet management solutions.

The article is a part of our comprehensive series on “Fleet management system”.