Fleet managers are entrusted with managing the operations of a fleet efficiently and profitably. Managing a fleet involves the management of a team of personnel who handle various tasks daily to keep the operation running. Constant monitoring of information and personnel is a major productivity challenge faced by the fleet team.
The key factors that affect productivity are time and expenses. An efficient system to curtail and streamline them both will see an increase in productivity.
The productivity challenges faced by the fleet managers involve the office team, drivers of the fleet and the customers. Here is a look into the challenges faced in the different aspects of fleet management.
1. Time Spent on Administrative Tasks
Fleet management involves loads of administrative tasks to be done to keep the fleet in operation efficiently and profitably. The tasks are unavoidable but highly time-consuming.
Providing quotes for new customers, invoicing the existing ones, identifying workers for each task, delegating tasks to them, collating reports sent by the fleet, keeping customers informed, managing expenses are the daily activities that consume time when done manually.
This concentration on daily mundane matters affects the productivity of the fleet managers and their team. This productivity challenge can be mitigated to a large extent by adopting suitable fleet operation software.
This will aid the fleet management in the prompt and easy management of routine operations. The fleet managers can then focus on core business matters.
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The software will help in a digitized workflow with less paper records to be stored. Searching for records will take less time. The chances of miscommunication and human errors will be very low.
Routing and scheduling of the vehicles, managing vehicle expenses, scheduling vehicle maintenance and vehicle checks can be done efficiently in less time.
Minimizing time is essential as time is directly related to money. The actions and tasks may sound trivial but it does add to costs and costs affect productivity.
2. Fuel costs
Fuel expense is a major productivity challenge for all fleet management. Fuel prices vary with the global conditions, cost of crude oil and the government levies.
Keeping fuel costs to the minimum is the key to running the operation profitably. This involves tracking fuel consumption, fuel overuse, driver behavior and idling time.
The extensive and winding route the fleet operates on results in the excess use of fuel. The driver’s driving habits also result in extensive fuel consumption. The sudden braking and speeding, and idling of the vehicle cause an increase in fuel consumption.
A fuel optimization software application can create efficient and optimal routes for the vehicles so that they are continuously on the move with the least idle time off the road. Reducing the idle time reduces engine wear and tear and correspondingly the maintenance costs.
The digitized system records, stores and tracks all the data being sent from the vehicles. It enables fleet managers to monitor driver behavior and performance.
3. Vehicle Maintenance Costs
Regular maintenance of the vehicles is required to keep the fleet running smoothly. Routine and preventive maintenance has to be scheduled for every single vehicle in the fleet to prevent breakdowns. Keeping the fleet operating efficiently is a major productivity challenge faced by fleet managers.
Scheduling maintenance, routine as well as preventive, manually is time-consuming and prone to errors. A maintenance software application will greatly reduce the time required for this activity and will be more accurate. No vehicle will be overlooked.
The maintenance expenses incurred vehicle-wise are tabulated. This will help in deciding whether to refurbish or replace the parts, to retain or discard the vehicle from the fleet.
A decision can be taken on vehicles lying idle in the yard whose insurance and registration expenses are still incurred by the company.
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The fleet needs to comply with the emission regulations of the regions it operates in. The management has to decide on the composition of the fleet depending on the regulations. They can decide on the purchase of vehicles running on alternative fuels that have less or zero emissions.
The fleet management can decide on what type of vehicle to buy for the fleet and which vehicle can be disposed of based on the data available.
4. Management of Drivers
A key productivity challenge for fleet managers is driver productivity. Driver safety and behavior is of major concern to the fleet managers. Good drivers are an asset to the fleet.
The costs incurred in maintaining drivers are high. This expense is offset by their behavior on road and safe driving skills.
Driver safety programs have to be conducted periodically to keep the drivers abreast of the traffic regulations and road rules. They should be educated on good driving habits.
Excessive speeding, accelerating, sudden braking are actions that are detrimental to the vehicle and are hazardous to the traffic on the road. Idling of the vehicle is another common action that results in excess fuel consumption. It affects the operation of the engine. The drivers have to be briefed on how to keep costs down.
Periodic assessment through software applications can help monitor driver behavior. This data helps the management in taking decisions as to whether to retain or retrench the driver. Rewarding good performers monetarily or otherwise will help increase driver productivity.
Communication with the fleet team and drivers is another productivity challenge faced by the management. Miscommunication with the fleet drivers often results in loss of time and additional cost.
Communicating with drivers on the road can be difficult. Fleet managers spend hours trying to reach drivers on the road and the other members of the fleet team. This is a waste of time which could otherwise be used productively.
Communication software helps in relaying messages and orders to the drivers with clarity. Messages are sent directly from the vehicle to the managers regarding their on-road status and expected time of arrivals without distracting the driver.
These regular updates keep the management in touch with the field team. Response time to unexpected events is quick avoiding the occurrence of major catastrophes.
Prompt communication is certainly a time and money saver, the two main factors influencing greater productivity.
6. Inability to Deliver
The fleet managers often complain of their inability to adhere to delivery schedules which impacts their business negatively. The inaccurate estimation of delivery times and erratic delivery of goods causes customer dissatisfaction. This causes undue frustration to the fleet management and discord in their relationship with the customer.
The customer requires to know the exact time frame within which the goods can be delivered and the exact date of delivery. A digitized software application monitors and provides the customer with the required information with great clarity and accuracy.
Fleet managers can provide a precise time of delivery to the customers. Any change or delays can be communicated quickly and with ease.
This automated system will help to reduce logistics costs. It reduces the time spent by management on trivial issues thus freeing them up to focus on greater aspects of customer service. An efficient fleet management program alleviates the management team, drivers and customers from a lot of stress.
Fleet management has to be on their toes as the operating environment is volatile and fast-changing and is a productivity challenge.
Eliminating manual administration and data entry system, instituting safety training for drivers and depending on unreliable data while reducing expenses are the basics which have to be focused on to keep the fleet operations profitable and productive.