Companies with medium to large fleets feel the pressure from competitors who have already successfully adopted Fleet Management systems. Smart Fleet and Safety managers have identified weak operational processes and understand that they can mitigate these pain points by implementing a sophisticated fleet management system.
Fleet Management is the management of commercial and private assets such as vehicles, vans, straight trucks, cars, heavy machinery (construction equipment), and trailers. Fleet management’s scope also covers aviation equipment like airplanes and helicopters, nautical equipment such as ships, and even traditional rail cars and shipping containers.
Fleet Management solutions fulfill transportation companies need to remove the associated risks of vehicle acquisition, improving efficiency, payroll and staffing, driver safety, driver health, regulatory compliance, driver infractions, compliance violations, driver behavior, missed billable hours, and much more.
During the onboarding process the fleet management software company will typically provide you with a service agreement that you will need to complete. This is usually done electronically. Once the service agreement is complete you will receive some variation of login credentials. These steps may not be in this exact order. You will login to the cloud fleet management portal using the internet. The size of your company and the arrangement with the fleet management software company will determine your implementation and provisioning process handled by the fleet management company or yourself.
When adopting fleet management technology the fleet and assets must be equipped with GPS modems. Cloud software is used to view your fleet information, such as the location of your fleet. The size of your fleet and the location of your depots will determine the installation timeline and implementation. The installation typically takes about 1 hour for the first vehicle and about 30 minutes for each additional vehicle. This time estimate assumes that your fleet is only installing a tracking device. Often companies understand that hardware like in-cab cameras, and forward collision and lane departure, can help to mitigate risk and improve their bottom line. Not to mention the added and very valuable benefit of lowering your fleets insurance rates by utilizing a camera and gps system in tandem. Installation of the hardware bundle (Camera + GPS) may take more than 1 hour.
Methods of Data Transmission:
The most common method of transportation for the data from the asset or modem to the cloud software is typically cellular. Most fleet management software companies rely on cellular for data transmission because it is inexpensive and the scope of coverage is very broad and accessible.
Another type of data transmission is satellite data backhaul. Satellite data backhaul is more expensive, and only required when transportation companies are hauling sensitive cargo, or are in very remote regions. An example could be a transportation company working for the Department Of Defense (DOD) this cargo may be so sensitive that the dispatcher can not go 10 seconds without constant communication and location data from that asset and driver. Remote locations can also demand the use of satellite data backhaul. If you work in remote locations like oil-fields where there is little cell tower infrastructure, satellite may be the only option to communicate and transmit data from the fleet management software server to the modem or asset in the field.
Provisioning and Implementation:
Once the hardware has been successfully installed the customer portal will need to be fully provisioned, configured, and implemented. Usually for larger fleets the fleet management company will provide a professional service and complete your account setup. However, this can vary between fleet management providers. Typically fleets with 5 units or less will need to complete the provisioning and implementation process themselves. If the implementation is completed for the transportation company they will enter your assets or (vehicles), vehicle ID, driver details, etc. They may also setup a series of reports for your back-office such as geofence notifications, speeding notifications, violation reports, etc. Your fleet management software is now setup.
We would advise that you dedicate resources to learning and understanding the fleet management software, and take advantage of any training material, instructional videos, webinars, and training courses that are available to you for free. The more familiar you are with the fleet management software, the better you will be at utilizing the tool to its fullest potential allowing you to identify, mitigate, and improve important areas of your business. Fleet Management companies like Omnitracs.com partner with companies like Gentrifi GPS to deliver implementation services to clients with SMB Fleets. So, if you are lucky you will be doing business with a Omnitracs Gold Certified Partner like Gentrifi GPS, who will take the time to tailor the solution to fit your companies needs, and provide around the clock support and guidance during this onboarding process.
Vehicle tracking is at the core of any fleet management system. Vehicles are equipped with a GPS enabled vehicle tracking device. The vehicle tracking device can either be a hardwired solution, OBDII plug-in solution, or a wireless solution. The vehicle tracking device or modem sends packets of data to the server which then interprets that data using parsers to display the latitude and longitude of that asset on a mapping screen such as Google Maps. The packets typically include basic details about the asset such as; location, time stamps, account, speed, altitude, and device ID.
High level the fleet management systems interpret the packets using a parser then reverse geocodes the latitude and longitude to display in the Graphical User Interface (GUI), AKA “customer portal”. Most fleet management companies are partnered with either Microsoft Bing maps or Google maps for access to their extremely expansive database of location and tracking information.
Fleet Management Applications:
Fault Diagnostics – Certain modems that connect to the vehicle engine computer (ECM) can collect engine diagnostics referred to as fault diagnostics, or check engine lights. This software can also collect speed, fuel consumption, idle time, gear utilization, and other important information related to the vehicle and the engine.
Location Information – Shippers and receivers want tabs on their loads. Fleet management systems give quick and reliable location information that can be shared with shippers or receivers to help ensure smooth and prompt scheduling. The parent company will be able to locate their assets quickly, as will the receiver checking on the location of an incoming load.
Integration – Large enterprise size companies often demand complex integration capabilities that are robust and capable of handling customized and demanding API and KPI integration. Partners and Internal teams at fleet management companies can help guide customers through this process. It requires in-depth discussion with the truck management system and fleet management software companies to land on a solution that meets the needs and requirements of the business application.
Utilization – Monitoring fleet utilization can help to reduce fuel costs and increase productivity. Time at location can also help to maximize billable hours. The idling report can help fleets pinpoint areas they are losing money. Vehicles are often re-sold when companies are no longer in need of that asset. Minimizing utilization can prevent truck wear and tear and many unnecessary expenses.
Fuel Usage – Fleet management can help fleets monitor their fuel usage with applications that detect increases and decreases in fuel consumption. This is software can detect the average MPG for your entire fleet, rank each driver from most to least efficient, calculate the average time spent in top gear, heavy acceleration, deceleration and more.
Data And Analytics – Data and analytics come standard with any enterprise level solution. This can be used to measure the progress of any size fleet. With access to robust analytics and reports, safety and fleet managers can dig into the data and determine where there is opportunity to improve their operation with full transparency.
Routing And Planning – If your organization runs dedicated routes and needs to deliver goods and services on-time, efficiently, and effectively, a routing and planning tool within a robust fleet management application suite will help tremendously. Using fleet management software companies can get an accurate strategy to ensure they are traveling the appropriate route for their business. Actual vs. planned data can deliver invaluable performance information that can let you know how you are performing, and where resources are being wasted.
Reporting Dashboard – Fleet management software can deliver reliable and transparent data to leadership fostering visibility, knowledge, analytics, reporting, and notifications that will drive sales and encourage efficient, effective, and safe fleet operations.
User Access – User access and permissions are available in any best-in-suite fleet management software. This gives companies the ability to distribute user access in a controlled way that allows the entire company access to tools they need to be successful. Furthermore, the user access can extend to depots or other affiliates that can interpret and utilize the fleet management information.