Managing a fleet of company vehicles can be a difficult and time consuming task that many companies do not have the expertise to handle internally. On top of keeping track of vehicles and drivers, vehicle management also includes repairs, maintenance, fuel management, and tracking. Vehicles must be equipped with appropriate safety equipment, as well as being registered and licensed for appropriate use. Furthermore, a degree of financial skills are required to make decisions about vehicle financing, depreciation and cost of use.
Many companies make use of fleet services to maintain their vehicles. Fleet services provide the management of a large group of vehicles for a company. The fleet may include any large collection of vehicles, including cars, trucks, trailers, boats and rail cars. Fleet management services are dedicated to ensuring that a company's vehicles are used as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
The use of a dedicated fleet service makes it easier for companies to focus on their income generating activities and customer service while the fleet managers do the work of coordinating shipping needs and implementing transport solutions that reduce costs and increase net profits. Some solutions may be as simple as mapping out more efficient transportation routes that cut down on fuel expenses and others may be as complicated as planning out vehicle financing and replacement over the course of many years.
A fleet service will manage all the technical aspects of a large vehicle fleet. They will schedule routine maintenance, inspect vehicles for safety and mechanical issues and arrange repairs as they become needed. Vehicles will be regularly connected to a computer that collects data on how well the vehicle is functioning and how much fuel it is consuming. These details are collected and analysed so that informed decisions can be made about vehicle replacement and routing.
Data received from the car's on board computers may be used to provide profiles for specific drivers. Fleet managers can use the information to view a driver's average speed, how often they stop and stay stopped, their braking habits and where they are driving. This information is particularly valuable in high security situations. For example, an armoured vehicle fleet may be used to carry large sums of money and be at great risk for a robbery. Awareness of unplanned stops or detours from the scheduled route can alert the fleet managers of suspicious behaviour.
With data from the vehicle's computers, fleet services are also able to manage their drivers and take action when poor driving habits have the potential to put the company at legal or financial risk. Companies may be held accountable if their drivers get into an accident or cause an injury. Fleet managers can use vehicle data to identify drivers with risky behaviour, like using excessive speed, frequent and sudden braking, or taking unreported routes.
Recently, advances have been made in fleet management so that over-the-air (OTA ) security can control vehicle fleets. This level of security monitors if the vehicle is stopped and then allows the vehicle to be disabled remotely once it is safe to do so. This allows the fleet service manager to recover stolen vehicles and recover lost or stolen cargo. More advanced OTA systems can also prevent engine start-up or even slow down a vehicle with gradual downshifting.
Remote disabling systems can also include a panic button system for the driver. The driver pushes the button in an emergency and this notifies the dispatcher who can then assess the situation and call in emergency services or disable the vehicle if necessary.
Fleet services cover a wide range of needs. From reducing vehicle costs, coordinating shipping and driver management to providing high level cargo security, a fleet service is an efficient way to manage a company's vehicle needs.