• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • Events
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
BW Businessworld

Getting To The Bottom Of Fleet Dilemmas

Photo Credit :

Smartening the fleet vehicles’ operations by providing a broad range of solutions for different vehicle related applications such as satellite locating, data logging and data communication is all about fleet management. Improved business competition and customer expectations, increasing vehicles, fuel costs and driver scarcity are challenges posed to the fleet operations. To minimise these overheads, it is necessary to accurately manage commercial vehicles and shipments in real time.

Market overview
As per Markets and Markets study, the fleet management market is expected to grow from $10.91 billion in 2013 to $30.45 billion by 2018 globally, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 22.8 per cent. Companies in fleet management sector follow dynamic strategies like enhanced technology, personalized solutions and acquiring relatively small domain experts. The key players in fleet management solutions are Qualcomm, Motorola Solutions, TomTom, Masternaut, Accenture, Trimble Navigation Ltd., Garmin International, Fleetmatics, Verizon Networkfleet, Pointer Telocation Ltd.

With enhanced communication between correspondents and field operators, business intelligence is developed through fleet management solutions. Present day telecom network with GPS and wireless technology permit company to observe its fleet remotely by integrating a variety of functions such as real time vehicle location, geo-fencing, various alerts (speed, idle, maintenance) and advanced reporting. Each fleet vehicle is equipped with an onboard GPS tracking device that communicates across the wireless network, providing details on location, direction of travel, and speed. Other vehicle specific information, such as ignition status (on or off) and other fleet manager defined inputs, is also collected and transmitted in several areas at predefined rate. Mobile computing technology provides high performance as well as outstanding usability. All of these components together enable the delivery of vehicle management, transport management, driver management and mobile workforce management applications linking vehicles and enterprise systems with the help of telecom wireless network.

Benefits of Fleet Management System
  • Decreases fuel costs by reducing unauthorised vehicle use, curbing excessive speeding and lowering idling
  • Reduces vehicle component wear and tear, which lowers risk of mechanical failure by tracking maintenance
  • Reduces workforce and overtime costs through precise time tracking
  • Increases customer satisfaction with accurate and faster response time
  • Facilitates direct communication with drivers and operators
  • Increases vehicle productivity through real-time location intelligence

Fleet Management in Digital Age
Improving information and telecom technology has made profound impact on fleet management. The critical parts of the fleet management, where technology has influenced the transportation industry drastically, are discussed below:

Vehicle Maintenance and Repair: The digital era has dramatically affected the technicians that maintain and repair vehicles and equipment.

Because of extensive computerisation of modern vehicles in the digital age, technicians who used to maintain and repair vehicles had to be quickly replaced by skilled engineers. Software solutions and other technological tools such as fleet management information systems, electronic equipment repair and part manuals, e-mail, barcode readers, and hand-held devices have added value to fleet maintenance operations. Many of the fleet management tools have become as necessary to the fleet maintenance as screwdriver and wrenches. With the help of communication network, many fleet organisations have placed computer workstations in their shop floor. Technicians can access information from electronic information resource and data processing tools. This increases the technician’s efficiency and reduces fleet maintenance costs. Devices like PDAs (personal digital assistants), pen-tablets when combined with bar-coding and wireless communication technologies can massively streamline data capture, increase data integrity and develop technician knowledge. With the help of real-time information, these tools help decision makers to manage fleet maintenance resources, workflow, and customer service level in an efficient manner.

Parts Management: Due to advanced technology, procurement and part management of fleet organisation has experienced change in traditional business process. In house manager maintains the parts inventory with automated part management modules by fleet information system. These modules can help part managers to optimize inventory size and structure, meet seasonal parts requirement and place stock replacement orders. Many growing fleet organisations are also introducing e-commerce solutions and procurement cards to streamline parts procurements and supply chain processes. PDAs, tablets, wireless bar-code scanners and bar-code printers are the tools which help in simplifying inventory audits, daily parts order processing and increasing operational productivity.

Fuel Management: Replacing traditional work process like fuel-station attendants and manual record-keeping, most of the fleet organizations have deployed computerized fuel management systems. This helps fleet operations to reduce their overhead expenses and improve record keeping. Nowadays fuel sites include leak and spill detection systems, tank monitors and fire warning systems to ensure safety and to maintain Environmental Protection Agency compliances.

Fleet Management Operations: In the electronic era, technological advancement has led to tremendous increase in data on vehicle and fleet operations. This impacts the performance and costs of fleet management organization. This big data has put pressure on the fleet managers so as to maintain and manage and provide the information to required entities at right time to ensure proper decision making. The sources could be management information systems, ERP, fuel management systems, GPS and other databases. The implementation of push technology can lessen the problem of fleet managers by delivering key management information automatically through emails, faxes, websites, pagers, PDAs and other communication channels.

Figure 1: Services provided by Fleet Management System
The digital age has provided fleet management with a splendid range of solutions and tools which give countless opportunities to improve the productivity and efficiency of the fleet organisations.

Hemant Joshi is a Partner with Deloitte Haskins & Sells.