Ongoing fuel costs, driver safety and keeping tabs on a fleet of vehicles continue to present challenges for any transport business. As the year draws to a close, Fleetmatics has shared its top for predictions for what will best prepare fleet managers for 2018.
- Collecting and analysing data
Modern developments in technology such as telematics systems and fuel cards mean that tremendous amounts of data relating to driver and vehicle behaviour is available to transport managers. The next big challenge – or opportunity – is not only capturing the data from vehicle tracking technology, but truly understanding how to harness it and respond to data-driven insights, to make effective fleet management decisions, and drive business profitability.
- Reduce downtime
The ability to accurately record vehicle idling has been a challenge for fleet managers. Excessive idling wastes a significant amount of fuel and diminishes a fleet’s productivity. A driver might sit in the vehicle with the engine and air-conditioning running if they arrive early to a job, which means valuable fuel, and time, is wasted. Drivers practicing poor habits, such as speeding and harsh braking, are also burning fuel unnecessarily. A vehicle tracking solution enables fleet managers to make informed decisions based on driver performance. This information can help continuously improve efficiency. With the ability to track exactly when vehicles are arriving and departing from sites, fleet managers are able to identify areas of wasted time and where fuel dollars are being wasted on needless kilometres. This helps enable drivers to take the most efficient route to the job, saving time and reducing unnecessary costs.
- Rising fuel costs
75 percent of Australian fleet businesses cite fuel reduction as their key priority, according to a new report commissioned by Fleetmatics. And the price of fuel is set to increase. Transport businesses require a solution to reduce fuel wastage. Fuel costs can get out of hand very quickly if not monitored effectively. Again looking at modern advancements in technology, companies with a fuel card expect their employees to only purchase fuel for the company vehicle. But this isn’t always the case. Employees may be filling up their personal car or a mate’s car with the company fuel card. This means the company is paying for the employee’s personal fuel. This is also the case if a driver uses a company vehicle to run person errands after hours. Not only does this waste fuel, it adds wear and tear to the company vehicle.
The key to overcoming fuel budget blowouts could be vehicle tracking, both today and in the future. Businesses with fuel card integration, which integrates fuel card usage data with a vehicle tracking system, can identify when the vehicle was not at the pump when its assigned fleet card was used. For example, a fuel purchased report provides transaction activity for each vehicle on demand without digging through your monthly fuel card bill. This report serves as a baseline for fuel usage improvements, which is essential for fleet managers trying to put a lid on fuel costs. They can use this data to pinpoint fuel-wasting driving behaviours and inefficient vehicles.
Driving a truck has been identified as one of the most dangerous occupations in Australia, with one out of every three workplace deaths last year involving a transport worker. With risks this high, it’s clear that driver safety needs to be an ongoing priority for fleet managers – today and in five years’ time. They need to take advantage of the latest in technology and safety features. Keeping track of how vehicles are being driven is only half the battle when it comes to having a safe work environment. The most critical step is encouraging drivers to maintain a high calibre of driving style at all times. We’re seeing Australian organisations invest in vehicle tracking technology. Near real-time access to data on how individual drivers are behaving on the road provides visibility into who is driving too fast, braking harshly or taking corners too hard. The software sends configurable alerts back-to-base when safety thresholds are crossed. With the ability to take quick action, fleet managers can target repeat offenders to curb unsafe driving habits, before they lead to more serious incidents.
Todd Ewing is the director of product marketing at Fleetmatics.