Fleet Management: What are the challenges faced by Fleet Managers?
Fleet managers play a pivotal role in any transportation company or a logistics company when it comes to selecting and maintaining vehicles and keeping up with delivery and distribution schedule. Fleet management plays an essential role in the transportation industry as fleet managers strive to minimize risks associated with vehicle investment. Fleet management companies are always on the lookout to improve efficiency, productivity and reduce their overall staff and transportation costs. Successful fleet managers usually have years of experience in the field dealing with fleet operations, logistics, contract negotiation, fleet maintenance, and fleet management systems. However, fleet management can sometimes challenge to deal with even after years of experience in the field.
Your drivers time – one of your greatest costs and assets too. A key focus for you, as a fleet manager, should be to minimize wasted time and down time. And to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to maximize your drivers’ productivity.
New technology has transformed this by streamlining things like refueling, reporting and routing. It is also removing the need for manual data entry and form filling.
What about your own productivity as a fleet manager? It’s something that isn’t talked about as much but lack of automation and manual input from drivers – it doesn’t just waste their time. It wastes yours too. The same survey of fleet managers found that on average, respondents were spending more than three hours a week following up on drivers’ tachograph mistakes. That’s nearly 21 working days in a year! Time that could be much better spent.
So, if you haven’t already – look at automating data collection to improve both drivers and your own productivity.
Can you do more, with less? This is something that goes beyond the Fleet Managers role. It’s something that is being demanded of nearly every person in every department. Better results at a lower cost.
Sometimes that is just not possible to achieve. But, as much as we grumble, quite often it is.
The key is to have accurate information at your disposal and forecasting tools. Because otherwise you can end up making false economies. What you cut on one side, can end up costing you or having a negative impact elsewhere. For example, one trend that is seen is that many fleet managers have started moving towards pooled vehicles to maximize efficiency and reduce personal use. But a knock-on effect of that is that they’ve not been able to track individual driver behavior as easily. And this is affecting their ability to manage driver safety and productivity.
Fuel price volatility
One of the most challenging things for a Fleet Manager to cost and keep a handle on is fuel. This is because prices can be so volatile and difficult to forecast. And with fuel accounting for up to 35% of costs for organizations with large fleets, any prices movements have large impacts. If you underestimate fuel costs, you may be left having to make drastic cutbacks in other areas to cover it. Aside from trying to get access to the best forecasts and fuel price predictions, fleet managers can also try and mitigate their risk by reducing overall consumption.
It’s simple really. The less fuel you use and the less a % of overall costs it represents – the lower the impact of price fluctuations on your business.
Managing geographically dispersed teams
Large commercial fleet management companies have operations spread across state lines and international borders. Fleet managers have a hard time tracking all operations and also communicating with drivers remotely. Additionally, locating each vehicle in the fleet can be a tiresome task as it may require continuous zooming and scrolling across a map. To combat such issues, the transportation industry is turning to technologies such as advanced mapping and spatial clustering to facilitate fleet monitoring.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of them all, is just the level of uncertainty fleet managers are operating within. So much is changing, on every level.
None of us know for certain what the economy will go on like.
The technology available and the data we have access to as a result, is evolving at an incredible pace. What will our fleets look like in a few decades? What will the Fleet Managers’ role look like in a few years?
And will you even still have drivers? 41% of fleet managers are expecting autonomous vehicles to at least be making up part of their fleet in the next 10 years.
With so many challenges out there, don’t underestimate the massive impact that doing the small things well can have. Keep working to get the basics right – safety training for your drivers, remove manual data entry and avoid false economies when cutting costs.
Also keep constantly monitoring fuel prices and forecasts, track your fuel consumption and reduce waste with accurate fuel management systems.
And the key piece of advice I can give you – keep-up-to date. Things are changing at such a fast pace. Sign-up for industry news, follow blogs and communicate and share your experiences with your fellow fleet managers.