The 2023 Guide to Fleet Management
A business that needs any commercial vehicles to function, will need some form of fleet management. Basically, fleet management is carried out to oversee all fleet maintenance and performance to make sure that the business runs as smoothly and optimally as possible.
The responsibilities of a fleet manager stretch far and wide as they may be tasked with vehicle maintenance, overseeing and optimising fuel consumption, driver management, route planning and any initiative that can lead to an increase in productivity and a decrease in instances of waste with the business.
The evolution of fleet management
As everything else has had to grow and adapt to the times, so has fleet management. In the earlier days, the role of a fleet manager was similar or often compared to a head mechanic. This role was usually awarded to the person who knew most about the fleet vehicles and what they needed to operate.
As companies grew and technology advanced, the role of a fleet manager evolved and began to require more varied skills. They no longer just needed to tend to vehicles. Now, fleet managers were required to manage vendor relationships, conduct training, coordinate with other departments in the business and track procurement budgets.
With the advancement of technology, basic telematics systems appeared in automotive manufacturing centres as early as the 1970s with desktop computing emerging in the 80s and GPS technology taking off in the 1990s. As the evolution of fleet management began, the 20th century saw computer technology become more and more viable in automotive manufacturing.
By the 21st century, the groundwork was laid for more IT-centred fleet management. With business technologies constantly improving, fleet managers needed new tools to keep up with the latest practices. As a result, no matter how big or small the fleet, managers need to have technological solutions to help them manage all the essentials related to their fleets.
Why is fleet management crucial?
1. Better fuel economy
Fuel costs are amongst the biggest expenses a fleet pays. Reducing fuel spend can result in huge savings. Advanced fleet management software that handles routing and dispatch can help find the shortest path in real-time, accounting for weather and traffic that might otherwise burn extra fuel.
2. Encourage better driving
By tracking and addressing driving habits like speeding and harsh braking, your company won’t just save fuel – you will also promote safety, creating a healthier, safer environment and lowering the chance of collisions and accidents.
3. Insurance savings
Having precise and accurate fleet data can smooth over insurance claims. With data available on vehicle speeds and driving habits at the time of an accident, a fleet manager can prove its driver was following protocol, proving when one of your fleet drivers was not at fault.
4. Deter thieves
Motor vehicle theft is a serious concern for commercial fleets, as even a temporary loss of a vehicle can lead to a major loss of income. Fleet management software allows a company to establish geofences, which alert the manager if any vehicle moves beyond a set geographic region. It’s an easy way to learn immediately when a vehicle is in an unauthorised area and can help identify theft right away.
New technology brought along many new benefits for smart fleet management.
There was more visibility
Some vehicles might have been used more previously and by having manual logbooks, it would be difficult to compare the statistics of every vehicle in a fleet. With an automated tracking tool, fleet manager could gain immediate insight into which vehicles were being under-utilised and which were over-utilised.
Drivers became more responsible
Before vehicle monitoring tools were available, many drivers were lax with their driving behaviours which led to more damage repair and shortened vehicle lifecycles. With new technology and insights, drivers have become more conscious of the way that they drive, reducing the risk of accidents and extending vehicle use.
Vehicle maintenance and scheduling is made easier
When managing large fleets of cars, the administration involved such as licence renewals, maintenance and scheduling can be a nightmare. Fleet management software allows you to easily keep track of and take care of these tasks. No more manual logs to be done and phone calls to confirm service dates. These can al be set as automated notifications to be sent as a reminder of all the necessary tasks that need to take place.
How can fleet management software help your business today?
Vehicle utilisation is key
The past two years, fleet managers have experienced difficulties sourcing new vans and cars for their fleets as a result of ordering constraints caused by a controlled allocation system instituted by OEMs.
In 2021 the global auto industry made 1.5 to 5 million fewer vehicles than originally expected due to supply chain issues. There is a huge pent up demand for fleet vehicles, with some fleets having had their orders cancelled in the past two years. The shortages in several supply chains are essential to finishing new vehicles which include microchips, steel, plywood and rubber. Organisations that rely on vehicles to move their products are now having to compete for a place in line when it's time to add or replace their vehicles, a crucial part of their operations.
The vehicle shortage means that fleet managers will have to be very strategic when route planning and optimal fleet utilisation will be key.
Fleet managers need to adopt a plan of action to ensure that their fleets are used to maximum capacity while continuing to increase productivity and profit for the business.
Implement Fleet Management Tracking Software
When used correctly, fleet management software can help managers improve their daily operations and performance. With smart technology solutions, you’re able to gain insights into all the routes and stops and format them in a sequence which will maximise the utilisation of vehicles, assets and drivers. This can be a daunting task for any fleet manager, but with an experienced telematics service provider like ABAX, your vehicle utilisation can be automated to deliver the best results.
Stay connected with mobile and web apps
Having full visibility into pending and completed tasks is important when it comes to optimising your team’s productivity. A fleet tracking system can help keep each team member in sync and maximise fleet efficiency. With a tracking app, you can gain immediate insights into vehicle status, inspection status and any reported issues on vehicles or that staff may be facing. The available data gives fleet managers the necessary information to prepare for audits and checks but also to help track company assets and improve data accuracy.
Plan for maintenance
Downtime can be caused by inefficient fleet utilisation, eating into company profits. Fleet managers need to ensure that every vehicle is in good condition to avoid unanticipated breakdown and repair, which can affect utilisation. A telematics system allows you to create a preventative maintenance schedule which can help you enhance and lengthen the lifespan of your vehicles. Fleet managers can set service reminders to be notified about routine maintenance which can eliminate administration work and increase overall fleet productivity.
Improving fuel spend
Fuel price increase in the UK
With an unpredictable market, it is crucial for every business to be armed with the right data to better manage their costs, especially when it comes to fleet management.
Fuel is one of the largest expenses for businesses operating a fleet and with the constant increase, the mismanagement of fuel spend can be detrimental to a business.
In 2022, fuel prices hit a record high in the UK with the average price of petrol hitting 191.53p-per-litre and diesel reaching 199.05p in July. Slight relief came when prices slowly started falling again in August 2022 but in these uncertain times, businesses need to prepare for anything.
Red Diesel Ban in the UK
Businesses in the construction industry have faced their own nuance of challenges after a ban on red diesel was introduced by the government. From 1 April 2022 it has been illegal to use red diesel in vehicle and construction machinery fuel tanks in the UK, except in very limited and specific circumstances. This law change was introduced to help meet climate change and air quality objectives.
This means that construction companies need to make the switch from red diesel to white diesel, which has higher cost implications on their operations. Companies need to review their processes and ensure that they’re complying with any new law. This will always raise awareness of the cost implications of paying higher duty on diesel, which needs to be factored into their planning.
All businesses operating a fleet and machinery need to be especially prepared. It is as important as ever to track your fuel spend and ensure that your business is not leaking fuel (literally and figuratively). With fleet tracking software, you can ensure that every litre is used optimally and not being wasted in your business.
Track fuel spend by:
Gaining visibility over routes taken
Be sure that your drivers are taking the shortest route when on delivery or out on jobs. Implementing efficient driving routes is necessary to make cost-effective decisions so that any misuse of excessive fuel consumption can be eliminated to save on costs.
Monitoring driving behaviours
Fleet management systems allow you to monitor driving behaviour, so you can spot any trends and ensure drivers are navigating the roads in a safe manner. You’ll be able to check if your drivers are accelerating harshly or braking at the last moment and how often they go over the speed limit. This enables you to spot any issues and provide additional training for those drivers who may need it.
Analysing accurate data
Get the precise data about distance travelled by your fleet and calculate the amount of fuel consumed with fuel monitoring systems. You can also save the data for later analysis with the help of an automated fuel control system to ensure that your fuel spend is optimal.
Getting automated reports
Fleet managers can receive information on events in real-time, like fuel levels, unauthorised vehicle usage and frequent engine idling so that they are able to investigate what the mileage is, as well as any irregular fuel spend.
How have our customers profited from our fleet tracking system?
You can learn from companies like Fibre First that chose ABAX’s solutions to improve their driver behaviour and haven’t looked back since.
The Milton Keynes based company had been receiving up to 10 speeding tickets a month on their company vehicles. This was running up major costs for the company and in addition, vehicles were often taken home by drivers and used outside of normal working hours without authorised use.
By working with ABAX, the fleet manager was able to gain visibility into the use of the vehicles and take the necessary steps to control the vehicle usage, resulting in clocking up less mileage.
Better driving behaviour instantly led to a significant reduction in the number of drivers receiving speeding tickets, reduced accident risks and the company also began saving on fuel costs and time.
And here's what Boss Cabins said about ABAX Vehicle Tracking:
Help you focus on staff retention
The job market as well as talent pool in the UK remains competitive. New CIPD research shows that almost 45% of UK employers report having vacancies that are hard to fill. A large reason for this has been as a result of the need for a pay increase to match the increased cost of living.
A highly competitive job market and uncertain economic landscape means that growing headcount is either not in scope or not possible for many companies at this time.
Only a handful of organisations are able to raise wages in response to recruitment difficulties and so employers are found exploring alternative options such as upskilling their workers to attract and retain talent.
Fleet managers should realise the potential benefits that lie with the use of fleet tracking software to retain staff, such as:
Not only is fleet software a tracking mechanism, but it can also be a safety mechanism, providing employees with a sense of security. The rise in crime and theft can cause concerns for employees that find themselves having to be offsite and travelling often. Giving them peace of mind that their safety and security is top of mind is crucial to ensuring that your employees feel like you care about them.
While oftentimes, employees can view vehicle tracking solutions like ABAX as ‘Big Brother’, the tracking system also offers a duty of care to staff, making sure that their employees are safe.
On one occasion our ABAX tracking system was used to locate the vehicle of an engineer from Red Van Plumbers who was having a heart attack, enabling emergency care to be sent directly to him after he had called his wife to raise the alarm, but didn’t know his exact location. The ABAX system meant his location could be passed on to the emergency services and he was taken to hospital where he recovered.
During a time where staff retention is key, running incentive programs that reward staff is important. By monitoring driver behaviour, good driving habits can be rewarded by offering drivers bonuses or time off to encourage conscious driving.
Providing work balance
With the insights provided by our tracking system, you can ensure that employees have a balanced workload. Making sure that no employee is over utilised or another underutilised is key to ensuring that your team feels valued and as if they matter.
Reinvesting in staff and business
Data analysis and insights can give you visibility on the utilisation of vehicles and staff so that you’re able to see exactly which resources are being wasted. By cutting unnecessary spend and resources, you’re able to increase business profits that can be reinvested into the business and the staff for upskilling, year end bonuses and even pay increases.
Gain access to driver tracking
When it comes to fleet management, many companies are focused on specifically tracking their vehicle. New trends are seeing a shift in telematics from asset-only tracking to asset-and-driver tracking.
This functionality in a tracking system allows you to know who was using the vehicle during specific times. This makes it easier to associate certain events with an individual driver.
Benefits of behaviour monitoring system:
Useful for management to identify whether drivers might need extra training
Drivers can receive valuable feedback on driving habits from telematic reports
Tracking and dashcam technology can provide drivers with added security
This is a smart tracking solution to ensure safety, maximising vehicle health and informing drivers of areas to grow and improve.
Electric Vehicle fleet adoption
A few years ago, electric vehicles may have been viewed as a luxury, optional item. However, with the cost of fuel rising consistently more businesses are adopting EVs into their fleets.
Fleet management companies will increasingly veer toward this option and by the end of this decade, it will be no surprise that we’ll be in a world where Electric Vehicles are the norm.
Keeping with this change, fleet management companies must also upgrade to using fleet management systems that are equipped to handle the new set of variables, challenges, and benefits that an Electric Vehicle Fleet brings.
Fuel versus EV comparisons show that EV fleet adoption has long term profit benefits for businesses. According to FleetNews, businesses could save as much as £904 per year on fuel costs if they swapped a petrol vehicle for an Electric Vehicle, while switching from a diesel model could save £775 per year.
With the word becoming more accommodating with charging stations for EVs, the adoption of electric fleets is rapid. To help manage EV fleets, ABAX solutions offer telematic solutions to help you maximise on all the benefits associated with electric fleets.
The economic benefits of EV tracking
Taking environmental responsibility seriously is a great competitive benefit in the market. The environment report generated by your telematics system will give you an indication of how much CO2 you emit in any time period. By replacing the highest polluting vehicles first, you can quickly see how fast your CO2 emissions decrease.
Figure out how many EVs you need
The vehicle utilisation report can uncover the actual need of vehicles based on the number of trips and distance driven. By analysing the percentage each car has driven you can easily see which vehicles your employees prefer. With these insights you might discover that you need less EVs for your fleet than you realised, saving on purchasing and replacement costs.
Save on time wasting battery charge
Looking for lost and stolen tools can be frustrating at best but it can also create a large amount of wasted time. The average worker then spends around 38 hours looking for tools annually. With the help of BLe-trackers, your drivers can use their phones to search for assets via Bluetooth and the number of unnecessary trips will decrease.
Route planning to remain charged
The live map view will help you improve and plan your routes better. By using live and historical data to help your drivers pick the ideal route, avoid traffic jams and high speed roads, you’ll be able to make sure the dispatched vehicles have enough battery charge to get the job done.
You’ll always be tax compliant
The HMRC regulations apply to EV fleets as well as fuel vehicles. The business mileage reports will be generated automatically, always leaving you in control of your mileage expenses. Whether you're claiming back business mileage yourself or managing a fleet of mileage claim vehicles, the easy-to-use ABAX mileage claim solution works flawlessly.
Security features of fleet management are getting smarter
Tool, equipment and vehicle theft is on the rise in the UK. Replacement tools and equipment cost the industry £15 million a year, while predictions show that the average builder will experience the loss of £10,000-worth of tools in their lifetime.
Stolen vehicles or equipment costs fleet-based business about an average of £12,250 each year and for fleets with more than 100 vehicles, the data suggests that fleets lose, on average, £21,000 each year.
With theft on the rise, especially during the economic downturn, no business is safe from theft and owners need to take all the necessary steps to increase their security.
Geofencing provides a simple solution to a complex problem. Geofencing is a location-based service that creates virtual boundaries around specific areas to monitor the movements of people, assets, and fleets.
To make the workload easier for a manager, all changes and creation of a Geofence are done at the same place. The new ABAX Geofence gives a good helpful overview of the details, like when and who created the geofence and which assets are affected.
With ABAX Geofence, businesses can monitor the inventory status of tools, equipment, and machinery in real-time, which will help improve logistics, response time, reduce fuel costs, and increase the recovery of assets in the event of theft with immediate notifications and real-time location tracking.
ABAX - Experts in tracking your fleet
Identifying the need for solutions that help customers run businesses smarter and more sustainably, ABAX has grown to be one of the largest telematics companies in Europe with solutions for mileage claims, tool tracking, and equipment control with over 500 000 tracked units all over the world.
With eight office locations across Europe, more than 350 employees and over 15 years of industry experience, ABAX have provided customer-centric solutions for countless businesses to improve efficiency, comply with legislation, and increase profitability.
A fleet tracking system is an excellent resource for your business and offers a multitude of benefits that you can enjoy each and every day. Installation from ABAX takes only 10 minutes, so you can save on installation costs and keep your fleet on the road.
ABAX offers peace of mind if you ever have an issue with a unit, as you can call our free 24/7 support line and quickly speak to an actual person. If the issue is a fault with the unit we will replace it free of charge, as lifetime warranty comes as standard. We work with a wide clientbase in all sectors, ranging from companies with large fleets of vans, down to small plumbing or electricity firms with a minimum of three vehicles.
Whether you’re sending out drivers to carry out deliveries or travelling to clients' homes to provide a service, ABAX’s fleet management software can help.