What is fleet management?
If your company depends on commercial vehicles to do business—whether that’s 20 vans or 200 semis—you’ve got a fleet. Ensuring your fleet is at maximum productivity and efficiency, as well as minimum cost and risk, is the practice of fleet management.
Organizations have been trying to perfect fleet management virtually since Henry Ford rolled the first car off the assembly line. It’s not easy, but it is possible. The best fleet managers are able to control operational costs and efficiency, vehicle maintenance and utilization, driver safety and compliance, route planning, fuel consumption, and much more.
Fleet management technology is used to help fleet managers save time, money, and manpower, while getting insights that can only come from advanced machine calculations.
What is fleet management software?
Fleet tracking software, also known as vehicle management software, is technology that allows managers to gain greater oversight and accomplish specific tasks relating to the company’s vehicles and personnel.
A far cry from outdated manual processes of the past, modern fleet management software collects a range of complex data sets and automatically converts them into easy-to-understand and easy-to-use information. Fleet managers use this information to coordinate their fleets and drive down operational costs while ensuring maximum safety, efficiency, and compliance with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations.
The purpose of fleet management software is to maintain an accurate and up-to-date overview of vehicle diagnostics, geolocation, and identifying risky or unsafe driver behaviors while simultaneously reducing manager workload.
Equally important, it can ensure that drivers are rewarded and recognized for their fabulous and safe driving habits. With data stored on a cloud-based platform and easily accessible in real time from multiple locations, fleet management has never been more straightforward.
The bigger the fleet and the more specialized the fleet functions, the more data points your vehicle fleet management software will need to collect – and the more time you will save on manual input and analysis. However, even small fleets can benefit from fleet manager software solutions.
Some examples of specific fleet functions that can be tracked, monitored, and managed using fleet management software include:
- Procurement costs
- Vehicle registrations, titles, and travel permits
- Driver license management
- DOT compliance
- Engine diagnostics
- Fuel consumption
- Maintenance scheduling
- Vehicle servicing
- Route optimization
- Risky or unsafe driver behaviors
- Personnel training
Why you need technology for fleet management
Effective fleet management is both an art and a science, and it would take a superhuman to handle everything on their own. Do you have to use a robust, expensive fleet technology solution to manage your fleet? No, and smaller fleets may shy away from the investment. But the entire industry is becoming more and more reliant on automated processes, artificial intelligence, and fleet management software that can do it all, so you’ll need the technology sooner or later. It’s the only way you’ll be able to stay competitive and keep your business growing.
Whatever your specific needs are surrounding your vehicles, drivers, and day-to-day operations, fleet management technology’s greatest gifts are automating manual processes and dynamically providing fleet managers with valuable data. You’ll have more time and more information to make better, more thoughtful decisions backed by data. Implementing this type of fleet management software will be worth the insights you receive—guaranteed.
It’s important to note that fleet management solutions are either “real-time” or “passive.” Both types of technology offer a variety of features, including vehicle location, direction, speed, routes, etc., but there are distinct differences between the two.
With real-time fleet management tools, you know what’s happening in the field, as it happens. Fleet managers can get live updates on the types of events they need to know about and, depending on your system, even video footage. Fleet data is aggregated and packaged into neat analyses that show clear trends and problem areas. With real-time fleet management solutions, it’s easier to monitor operations and make quick decisions that can help improve efficiency and safety.
Passive fleet management solutions collect valuable data, but by the time you get the data, it may be too late to act. Typically, data is collected through a device in a vehicle and then downloaded manually or wirelessly. Generally, it takes longer to compile the data and these passive systems don’t provide as much analysis.
Types of fleet management solutions
As you begin your hunt for a fleet management solution, it’s important to know there are a few general categories—it may help narrow down your search by deciding which of the two are the best fit for your fleet.
Fleet management with GPS fleet tracking
Modern fleet management solutions offer much more than dots on a map when it comes to GPS functionality. Look for software that locates, tracks, and manages your fleet vehicles (ideally in real time) with interactive maps to help you respond faster to what’s happening on the road and efficiently manage resources. Advanced GPS fleet tracking allows you to find and dispatch drivers instantly, set geofences with notifications, share ETAs with customers, and review full trip histories.
Do you know how much fuel is costing you every month? Should you be spending that much, or can your fleet be more fuel efficient? Fuel can be controlled more than maintenance costs, and the best fleet management technologies can help you do that. Your fleet management system should provide reports on fuel consumption and trends, driving behavior that contributes to inefficient usage (such as hard braking), and the like.
Fleet management with video
Video can change the way you operate and protect your business. Your fleet management software should offer cloud-connected video that tells the true story of what’s happening in your fleet. Some video devices have the ability to continually record and are able to parse out specific incidents based on triggers you set (for example, collisions or speeding).
Video is a powerful tool that many fleets have already adopted. Video helps fleet managers improve fleet performance and reduce costs by:
- Verifying incidents quickly so they can know what is going on in their vehicles in real time.
- Providing hard evidence against false claims that can save companies thousands in legal fees.
- Leveraging human review and machine vision with artificial intelligence to identify clear examples of risky driving behaviors that can be used to coach drivers.
Having video telematics as part of your fleet management solution is quickly becoming a standard for a fleet management tool, versus a “nice to have.”
What to look for in fleet management software
If you don’t know where to start when evaluating fleet technology solutions, don’t worry. Here are the most important features to look for in fleet management software:
Ease of use
First things first—the fanciest, mightiest fleet management system in the world won’t help you much if it’s not easy to use. Get a live demo of any fleet software you’re considering and then take it for a test drive. Is the navigation intuitive? Can you get to what you want with minimal clicks? Does it automate everything you need it to? Does it have a clean, appealing interface? You’ll be using this system every day, so make sure it’s friendly and accessible.
You should be able to access your fleet management solution on the go—it’s a mobile world, and it’s certainly a mobile industry. You’ll need fleet software that you can log in to from anywhere with an internet connection. Ask any fleet management technology vendor if their system is mobile-optimized and accessible from desktop computers, as well as smartphones and tablets. And also make sure the fleet management technology is compatible with all major browsers.
Fleet data that provides actionable insights
There are a lot of fleet management solutions that can provide you with reams of data—but you don’t want an overwhelming information dump. You need fleet management technology that can collect and analyze the data for you. Look for software with dashboard summaries, trend reports, driver rankings, and other telematics data that will help you make informed, smart decisions.
How to pick the best fleet management software
Whether you’re looking for coach, truck, or car fleet management software, there are several factors to consider. If you’re not sure how to pick between the options available, these are some of the most important things to bear in mind.
We’ve already referenced some of the most sought-after categories for different types of fleet management systems. Software for GPS tracking, fuel, and speed management, and telematics aside, the next most popular (in and most cases, necessary) features include:
Route Optimization – Route optimization software allows fleet managers to define the optimum journey for each job and identify idle time on the road and at pick-up/delivery sites.
Diagnostics – By integrating diagnostic trouble code notifications, drivers and fleet managers are made aware of mechanical problems faster. This enables them to fix minor issues quickly before they turn into more significant problems on the road.
Hours of Service (HOS) – Tracking driving hours, rest periods, and the number of consecutive days spent on the road is essential for legal compliance and reducing fatigue that leads to accidents and collisions.
Mileage – Reports provide information on each vehicle and its route, including daily driving limits and unauthorized mileage, allowing managers to determine revenue and cost per truck per mile.
Preventive Maintenance – With preventative maintenance software, fleet managers can get automated notifications for maintenance service tasks like tire rotations, oil changes, and brake inspections.
Asset Management – Asset tracking software provides essential information on where equipment is at all times, how often they are used, and when they are replaced.
Risk Management – Identify types of risk ranging from physical risks to equipment risks, human risks, location risks, and more, helping you improve the overall safety of your fleet.
Fleet Safety – Machine vision and artificial intelligence (MV+AI) technology can help you detect distracted driving, it also provides driver safety insights for positive driver recognition and remote coaching opportunities.
Rising operational costs like salaries and insurance mean managers need a solid grasp on fleet utilization metrics to reduce inefficiencies and drive their businesses forward. This is true for fleets of all types and size and is a driving force behind the widespread adoption of fleet management software.
For larger fleets, fleet management tools are essential to keep up the pace in the face of fierce competition. For smaller fleets, they offer the opportunity to achieve faster growth.
These factors make advanced fleet management technology a necessity rather than a luxury. Every fleet will face its own unique challenges. Still, as long as your software solutions are properly implemented and optimized for the size of your operation, fleet management technology will undoubtedly save your company time and money.
Investing in fleet management software will undoubtedly improve your organization’s customer service because your managers have access to real-time data. Using this, they can dispatch the nearest driver for each job, handle delivery status calls more efficiently, and give better estimations on arrival times.
However, it’s also essential that your fleet managers have all the customer support they need to focus their efforts. At Lytx, we pride ourselves on our dedication to customer support and providing access to reports and insights to help you measure your progress.
Fleet management software pricing and the return on investment are usually the primary considerations for businesses looking to invest in fleet management technology. With Lytx, you get far more out of your investment than just our software. We offer customized support at every stage of the process, from trial to implementation and beyond, to ensure a return on investment.
In more than 20 years of industry leadership, we’ve grown to help more than 4,000 fleets improve safety, productivity, and compliance. We’re collecting billions of miles of driving data every year and using this ever-growing database to continually refine the accuracy and effectiveness of our technology to provide the best fleet management software solutions.
How Lytx helps with fleet management
Lytx offers customizable fleet management solutions to fleets of all sizes, across all industries. With Lytx’s telematics technology, fleet operators and managers have the tools to improve operations, shore up safety, and take the best care of their drivers and vehicles. Our solutions are proven to change driver behavior and deliver a rapid return on your investment to save you time, money—and most importantly, lives.
Schedule a demo to learn more about how Lytx can help you manage your fleet.