Before the introduction of the data-based analytical platforms and dashboards we today know and love, fleet managers didn’t have much information to help them make informed decisions about their fleet’s operations.
They’d probably have a good idea about their vehicles’ location, but they wouldn’t have been able to tell if their drivers were using fuel rationally, if their driving habits negatively affected public safety and the environment, or the plethora of other useful information we have access to today. Also, their vehicle management strategies were largely crude, wasteful, inefficient, and took too much time and effort.
Thankfully, those times are long gone. Today, the entire world revolves around data generated, acquired, and/or processed through modern technology (and in other ways) to run things smoothly. This is why the phrase ‘big data’ has grown in popularity, referring to a large amount of data (both structured and unstructured) that businesses receive and use every day. However, it isn’t the volume of data that’s most important here.
It’s what you do with it.
Thanks to big data and business intelligence provided by various sources, you can analyze valuable information about every single part of your fleet, regardless of its size or function, and gain actionable insights that drive better decisions and strategic moves.
Such a huge role that data plays in fleet management means that, in addition to carrying out your usual vehicle managing duties, your job is to also gather and keep all the fleet-related data meticulously organized. This way, you and everyone else included in the process can understand this data and use it to your fleet’s advantage.
Proper data-driven fleet management makes a difference
Nowadays, if you don’t have meaningful data at your side or you’re not utilizing it the right way, your vehicle management strategy is lagging heavily behind the competition. This creates blind spots (no pun intended) in your operations and can leave adverse consequences across your organization.
However, if you’re implementing proper data-gathering methods, you’ll notice plenty of positive effects on your job tasks, vehicles, drivers, and ultimately, the entire business. These effects include:
More efficient fleet operations
Having continued access to real-time and past data about various parts of your fleet in one place will help simplify and streamline your job, as all the tasks involved in it are done more quickly, effortlessly, and in a more organized fashion.
For example, you’ll be able to easily set reminders, take care of deadlines, manage ongoing deliveries and assignments, and even reduce phone and email communication with various stakeholders.
One of the tasks involved in this line of work is sharing with others the information you gather, be it with your drivers, suppliers, mechanics, the C-level management, and the like. It may require a lot of time and effort to respond to each information request as it arises, so why not provide relevant information in advance?
Predictive analytics of your operations and communications will help you anticipate the questions you may receive from specific people and inform them in advance about the matters you already know will interest them. This will speed up or even automate information distribution where possible.
Speaking of automating processes, studying your fleet’s day-to-day routines will allow you to identify manual procedures that can be replaced with automated solutions. As a result, you won’t just save time, but also reduce the chance of human errors related to manual work.
For instance, if your drivers still write their Daily Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs) on paper, they’re wasting time and resources, not to mention contributing to the destruction of our forests. Also, their writing might be difficult to read by other drivers, leading to possible miscommunication and resulting failures. This is why it makes sense to move this process into the digital sphere, allowing the drivers to just check the boxes and type easily readable notes.
Optimized fleet expenses
If your fleet is operating on a tight budget and you’re responsible for every cent that goes into it, you understand how much work goes into carefully planning the expenses. Having access to a large volume of data about your fleet’s operations will also allow you to better plan the fleet’s budget and allocate resources.
In other words, analyzing areas such as fuel consumption, maintenance, vehicle usage, delivery times, and so on, and comparing them with each other, will allow you to identify patterns that affect spending. Then, you’ll be able to address those patterns and make cuts where possible, reducing the fleet’s overall expenses.
Let’s say you’ve decided (or were told to by the C-level) to cut some expenses. You can analyze areas where such cuts can be made, for example the supply chain, and then compare supplier trends (like performance and/or costs) to decide which one(s) you should keep or part ways with.
As a fleet manager, you’re already well aware of the importance of reports, both for your own decision-making, as well as to keep the upper management in the loop. Analyzing and making connections between different data points (pieces of information like profit, expenses, the age of vehicles in your fleet, etc.) facilitates the creation of insightful reports.
The phrase ‘the more, the merrier’ makes perfect sense here as the higher amount of data points you can connect to each other results in a deeper understanding of various issues. For instance, connecting a driver’s fuel usage with traffic violations may provide some conclusions about their driving habits.
Some vehicle management platforms can even automate the reporting process, allowing you to select various KPIs to compare and contrast, schedule the reports, as well as send them on to other parties.
Promotion of safety culture and preserved business reputation
Your drivers’ behavior behind the wheel is directly connected to their safety, as well as the safety of other traffic participants and the precious cargo you’re in charge of.
Poor driving behavior may also affect the perception of your business by the public. After all, if your drivers are committing traffic violations, they’re doing this with your company’s logo clearly displayed on the offending vehicles. Guess what the public’s going to start associating this logo with? If your answer was ‘poor driving behavior’, you can pat yourself on the back.
Being able to analyze and generate reports on driving events such as harsh braking and acceleration, speeding, and idling, as well as all the alerts your drivers trigger while driving, will allow you to take proper measures at reducing harmful behaviors. The more of these traffic safety indicators you’re measuring and reporting, the more improvement in driver behavior you’ll notice over time.
Where is all this data coming from?
Knowing all these benefits you and your business could experience, you’re probably wondering how exactly does one properly collect and analyze all this big data? Glad you asked.
Fleet managers often have a variety of sources at their disposal to provide them with valuable data they can use toward efficient fleet management. These include:
1. Your drivers
The drivers are one of the most important sources of vehicle data as they’re the ones most closely familiarized with their vehicles being the ones to spend the most time with them. Thanks to this, they’re the first line of defense against failures because they can identify if anything is out of the ordinary even before the regular maintenance checkup is performed.
Recognizing this role of drivers in detecting and preventing breakdowns, the authorities have introduced DVIRs, mandating drivers to perform daily inspections of their vehicles and report any deficiencies before and after their driving shift. In the DVIRs, drivers cover any problems that might affect:
- safety (soft brakes, worn-out tires, etc.)
- drivability (misfiring, rough idling, etc.)
- body (cracks, dirt, etc.)
- other equipment (navigation, air conditioning, etc.)
Your drivers may also provide valuable data on the timing and success of every single trip or delivery, as long as you provide them with a practical and easy way of reporting.
Your maintenance team, whether in-house or outsourced, is another great source of information, second only to your drivers. As they perform maintenance at intervals you set for them, and following the checklist you provided and/or approved, your mechanics will give you detailed reports on the condition of your vehicles and their individual parts.
Thanks to these reports, you’ll know exactly which parts need to be purchased, if any of the vehicles in your fleet has reached the end of its lifecycle and has to be replaced, or if there are any other problem areas that need addressing. This will allow you to arrange and allocate resources for these purposes more quickly and efficiently.
In your vehicle management tasks, you’re occasionally dealing with suppliers of your fleet’s various requirements, including cargo, vehicles, fuel, equipment, insurance, leasing, outsourced maintenance, etc. These suppliers will provide you with a large body of accurate data that concerns contracts, renewals, as well as all of your fleet’s ongoing expenses and new requirements.
4. Fleet management system
While the above-mentioned data sources are indeed indispensable, the best way to gather information on every part of your vehicle and properly organize data you receive from different places is through a good vehicle management platform.
A capable data-driven fleet management solution is the perfect assistant in your everyday tasks as it provides detailed and comprehensive information on multiple areas of your fleet, allowing you to access and process it all from one place. Safe Drive Systems’ fleet management platform provides a unique blend of hardware and software technology that includes:
- two-sided real-time dash camera
- radar-based collision prevention system
- Electronic Logging Device (ELD)
- AI cloud data
Together, these elements produce a large body of information (both in real-time and retrospect) you can use to better your management operations, including:
- GPS location of every vehicle
- driving speed
- vehicle mileage
- engine hours
- route efficiency
- fuel economy
- driving behavior
- maintenance needs
- warnings about road hazards
- accident events
False modesty aside, no other service on the market can provide you with this much data in a single place.
What isn’t monitored isn’t managed – now is the time to implement the next-level data-driven fleet management
Using big data and modern technology to transform your fleet managing operations for the better may appear daunting at first. However, it carries immense positive effects, both in the short and in the long run, allowing your fleet to keep up with the competition or even get ahead. With all the data Safe Drive Systems can give you, you’ll be able to not just experience the benefits listed above, but also:
- keep tabs on your vehicles’ whereabouts
- draw and assign geo-fences
- get reminders and notifications on all driving events
- schedule maintenance
- comply with the laws and regulations
- monitor driver eco-score
- avoid collisions
It’s your responsibility to start taking advantage of all this wealth of information today or you risk being trampled by those already relying on it to make their fleet operations run smoothly.
If you’re ready to bring big data into your fleet management game, you’re going to need to best partner at your side. Great news – you can stop wasting your time looking for such a partner because you’ve already found us. Schedule a free consultation immediately and one of our experts will give you a recommendation best fitting your fleet.