Fleet Management: How to Run an Efficient Commercial Fleet
Fleet management doesn’t need to be a difficult and gruelling task. In fact, operating an efficient fleet is something that is easily achievable when you know what you are looking for and have the right fleet management systems and fleet-related products and services by your side.
With fleet management, small and effective changes can bring big results in the form of big improvements, big savings, and a more effective fleet that better serves your customers.
It is not all about the fleet, though.
Fleet managers play a pivotal role in any company with a logistic element to it. They are responsible for selecting and maintaining vehicles to keep deliveries and distributions on track whilst staying within a given budget.
In this article, we are going to cover a few proven fleet management tips that have been shown to lead to increased efficiency.
What is Fleet Management?
Any company that uses commercial vehicles to function engages in some sort of fleet management operations. Whether a company has one commercial vehicle or one thousand, the purpose of fleet management is the same—to oversee performance and fleet maintenance in-order to increase productivity and help a business run efficiently.
Fleet managers are the people in charge of fleet operations and are typically tasked with responsibilities such as vehicle maintenance, fuel procurement, overseeing fuel consumption, driver management, route planning, and the implementation of programs and/or initiatives that are designed to increase productivity and reduce waste.
Fleet managers often use fuel cards and telematics systems, amongst other things to aid fleet management by increasing efficiency and reducing operational costs.
How to Make a Fleet More Efficient
By efficient, we don’t just mean improving the output of your fleet and getting deliveries to your customers faster. We also mean better cost efficiency, fuel efficiency, and efficiency in terms of vehicle life, amongst other things.
These are all important fuel management considerations that any fleet manager should be paying close attention to.
1. Use Fuel Cards
Fuel cards don’t just make it easier for your drivers to purchase fuel, they simplify business administrative tasks, too. This is because all fuel cards come with some form of fleet management software as standard.
Using this fleet management software, you are able to see a top-down view of your fleet and its fuel usage, fuel efficiency, driver activity, mileage, and other pieces of valuable information.
Reporting tools make it simple to gain a complete overview of your fleet’s fuel usage and fuel spend. Additionally, detailed historical reports on fuel purchases and usage by vehicle, driver, department, or group can allow you to identify inefficiencies and make changes. This improves efficiency and reduces your fleet’s fuel bills.
Fuel cards deliver a whole host of other benefits, too. Cheaper priced fuel, discounts on bulk purchases, fraud protection, and periodic HMRC-friendly invoicing that simplifies accounting are just a few of these.
2. Regularly Service Vehicles
Good fleet management includes the regular servicing of fleet vehicles, even if you don’t think that they need it and even if they have not been involved in any incidents.
Keeping your vehicles serviced and in good working order helps to prevent vehicle downtime and improves fuel efficiency. With regular servicing, potential problems can be caught and rectified well ahead of time and are not given the chance to manifest into more serious problems that pull your vehicles off the road.
It’s not only that, though. There may be a few small, non-critical problems that won’t necessarily cripple your fleet but can still decrease your fuel efficiency. For example, some of your vans’ engines may have a problem that is harming fuel efficiency by reducing miles per gallon. Whilst a few lost miles per gallon here and there may not sound like a lot, they soon add up over time.
Regular servicing and maintenance mean that your fleet is always operating in full and unfettered working order.
3. Use Telematics Systems
Telematics systems are powerful monitoring tools that can assist in preventative maintenance, much like that mentioned in point number two. Telematics also provides lots of real-time, actionable data that can help reduce fuel consumption, improve driver behaviour, and solve problems with problem drivers and vehicle use that goes against company policy.
Telematics can easily be fitted to your fleet vehicles and are connected to a central hub. From this hub, you can see where your drivers are, what they are getting up to, and how they are handling your vehicles, amongst other things. This is all done in real-time, allowing for point-in-time rectification of problems and discrepancies.
For example, telematics can provide you with information about driver activity that includes speed, acceleration, revs, harsh braking, and gear usage. These are all important metrics that need to be kept in check because they have a direct impact on fuel efficiency.
Telematics form the core of fleet management and help hold your drivers to account for their driving while you gain an insight into their habits, fleet fuel efficiency, and any areas with room for improvement where costs can potentially be saved.
Being able to pinpoint your drivers in real-time also helps with real-time routing. Route planning doesn’t just end when you have signed off a plan and sent your driver on their way, unexpected situations can arise to throw a spanner in the works. For fleet management, knowing drivers’ exact locations with telematics systems lets you re-route them via the next best route to their next job.
4. Provide Training Courses and Sessions to Drivers
You shouldn’t just hand over the keys to a brand-new fleet vehicle to drivers until they have undertaken some form of training course or session tailored to your company.
Whether this is a day-long session surrounding your company’s policies regarding vehicle use or is a week-long practical training course where your drivers’ road-based skills and competencies are being assessed, there should be something.
Training sessions inform your drivers about what is expected of them, provides the opportunity for them to be taught fuel-efficient driving, gives you the opportunity to tell them what they can and cannot do in their fleet vehicles, amongst other things. Drivers that have undertaken training sessions are far more likely to respect your fleet vehicles and take care of them on the road.
5. Plan Driver Routes
Proper planning of driver routes is another important part of the fleet management job description.
Route planning makes economic sense, and when done properly, you may end up with fewer fleet vehicles on the road running at full capacity rather than extra vehicles running at half capacity. The cost of running one full vehicle is less than the cost of running two half-full vehicles, and you may even be able to condense everything down into a smaller vehicle depending on your operations.
Route planning also helps your drivers take the most fuel-efficient route (hint: this isn’t always the shortest and quickest one!) which bolsters the cost savings even further.
Data for Fleet Management Decision Making
When it comes to your fleet’s performance, good fleet management is the key to making improvements and saving money. To unlock the very best savings, however, you need hard data to base confident decisions on, and the use of telematics and fuel cards with their limitless data is the best way to do this.
With them, you can procure cheaper fuel, see which drivers and vehicles are following company policies and procedure, see how much fuel your fleet is using (and potentially wasting), and identify inefficient areas where savings can be made, amongst other things.
Every fleet on the road today has scope to have improvements made to its efficiencies—fleet management is an ongoing task that keeps vehicles in check and full working order so that companies can benefit from costs savings.
If you are ready to take the next steps for your fleet and want to find out more about fuel cards and telematics systems, and how they can aid your fleet management efforts, use the iCompario service.
Using iCompario you can find and compare a wide range of commercial fleet fuel cards, telematics systems, and solutions such as route planning.
Vehicle tracking can give you a bird’s eye view of your fleet at all times, making it quick and easy to manage all your drivers. You can deal with breakdowns or accidents immediately and even check the driver dashcam footage or speeding incidents from your mobile phone.
As a free comparison site, iCompario can help you find the right system for the right price.