Fleet management software helps fleet managers operate efficient car or truck deliveries, among other objectives, on optimized routes and with minimized idle time. These solutions consider critical information, such as time windows and available drivers, to create routes that enable employees to hit more destinations while remaining on schedule. Fleet management tools have mobile components allowing for on-the-go updates and communications surrounding changes. The objective is for managers and fleet employees to work together for maximum efficiency in delivery operations.
These tools can integrate with financial software, as well as CRM systems, order management software, and warehouse management software. Fleet management fits under the larger umbrella of distribution software, alongside transportation management, which helps companies choose the best mode of travel for their product.
To qualify for inclusion in the Fleet Management category, a product must:
Fleet management software is vital to fleet operations and fleet managers, particularly within the trucking and delivery industries. Solutions are designed to optimize fleet performance, reduce operation and maintenance costs, conduct fleet tracking, and improve driver safety. Fleet management solutions provide real-time GPS tracking, real-time vehicle performance data, route planning features, and more.
The software provides asset management functionality by monitoring the health of the major assets of a company” its vehicles. With the advent of the IoT and the increased capabilities of vehicle sensors, fleet management software is equipped with even more tools to help fleet operations employees create a more efficient and effective fleet. Fleet management solutions are often used in conjunction with, or as a complement to, other distribution software such as transporatation management.
Your business can use fleet management software to solve a host of business problems and gain advantages over your less technically inclined competitors.
There are a few key employees that use fleet management software on a daily basis. Let’s dive into how each of those employees utilizes fleet management solutions to improve the efficiency and efficacy of the company as well as themselves.
Vehicle Fleet Manager: The vehicle fleet manager is responsible for fleet operations, which includes the maintenance and management of the company’s vehicles. As the individual tasked with overseeing the readiness of the fleet, the vehicle fleet manager uses fleet management software for tasks such as vehicle tracking, scheduling vehicle maintenance, monitoring vehicles’ performance, fleet tracking, and collecting real-time data from in-use vehicles. Fleet management solutions help vehicle fleet managers maintain a holistic view of their fleets, while providing data-driven insights so they can solve individual vehicle problems.
Drivers: Drivers, via a mobile app, use fleet management software to access customer information, mark delivery status, pull route and navigation information, collect signatures, and track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as hours on the road, mileage completed, and more. Fleet management solutions make drivers’ jobs easier by giving them access to all pertinent information while they’re in the field through the mobile app. Drivers can use the data that fleet management software tracks in order to identify their strengths and weaknesses and leverage that information to improve their performance.
Fleet Manager: The fleet manager is the employee in charge of the entire vehicle fleet. Fleet managers are looking for ways to optimize overall fleet performance. To do this, they use high-level insights, combed from the data that fleet management software collects, and turn those insights into action. The actions they take are designed to improve the performance level of the fleet as a whole.
For instance, a fleet manager looks at the data gathered by the fleet management software and sees that drivers are wasting fuel by idling longer than necessary. This means they are taking longer to make their deliveries and slowing the entire delivery process down. The fleet manager rearranges routes and develops a protocol designed to curb idling time. In turn, the reduction of idling time leads to reduced fuel consumption and more savings.
Fleet Maintenance Manager: Fleet maintenance managers are tasked with ensuring that all vehicles are in proper working order and performing as efficiently as possible. The fleet maintenance manager uses fleet maintenance software to track the performance of each vehicle in the fleet. They make use of the tracking capabilities and the sensor data transmitted from the vehicles in the fleet to stay abreast of any changes in vehicle performance from journey to journey.
Maintenance managers use fleet management and fleet tracking software to track overall vehicle health in real time, as well as to schedule maintenance activities and input work orders. Currently, fleet maintenance managers can use the historical data gathered by the software to schedule recurring preventative maintenance activities. As intelligent sensors become more prevalent, fleet maintenance managers will increasingly be able to perform predictive maintenance by using real-time data to gauge whether a part is likely to break down before it actually does.
Warehouse Manager: Warehouse managers do not typically use the full complement of tools available within most fleet management software. Instead, they use the tracking software features to discern which vehicles are in the warehouse, which are out delivering goods, and what goods are still in the warehouse. Warehouse managers are more concerned with keeping accurate inventory, and fleet management solutions help them do that.
Technician: Some fleet management software has features designed specifically for shop floor technicians. These features include the ability to input work orders, keep accurate historical maintenance data, assign work, and create related checklists; all of which contribute to streamlining technical operations. For technicians, fleet management software means less time performing administrative tasks and more time spent working on the fleet’s technical problems. For the company, this means less money wasted on vehicle downtime, and potentially avoiding all downtime via preventive maintenance.
Fleet management software is useful for any company with a fleet of vehicles. Businesses use fleet management solutions’ multifaceted feature sets to solve a variety of problems and secure advantages over their less technologically savvy competitors. Route optimization, fuel consumption management, comprehensive fleet tracking, and the reduction of accident rates are all vital benefits that companies can secure by implementing a fleet management solution.
Established companies with huge fleets, such as FedEx, UPS, and Greyhound, all use fleet management systems to optimize fleet productivity and uptime. However, fleet management software is not only for companies with massive fleets; small businesses can also take advantage of the wide range of features offered to optimize their own deliveries and maintenance activities.
What are Telematics? You may encounter the term “telematics” when reading about fleet management and vehicle monitoring, so let’s briefly cover what it means. Vehicle telematics, typically referred to simply as telematics, refers to the transmission of information about the vehicle for tracking purposes. Telematics refers not only to GPS tracking, but anything vehicle-related, including engine performance, fuel consumption data, and more. The information is captured by the telematics device, also known as a black box, which uses a network to transmit the data to an external location. Telematics are a vital part of fleet management systems, as they provide detailed fleet tracking data to managers keeping an eye on physical assets such as vehicles and ships.
Companies within the transportation industry have a host of unique business problems that fleet management software helps them solve. There are many different parties involved in a transportation or delivery transaction, and fleet management solutions help all of them to improve the experience in its entirety.
Accountability: Absent of “good” data and the performance-related insights it provides, there is a general lack of accountability when it comes to fleet performance. Fleet management software bridges the information gap and gives managers the tools to capture and use good data sets, along with accurate real-time information to engineer informed strategy. Arming operations employees with powerful fleet tracking and management tools and providing a central hub for historical performance data means an increase in accountability for everyone involved in the fleet. Concrete numbers on driver performance increase driver accountability; putting fleet management tools in the hands of managers removes any excuses for not optimizing fleet performance.
Information storage: Fleet management software acts as a centralized electronic hub for all fleet-related information. This includes maintenance records, driving performance, and fuel consumption and route records, among other important pieces of information. Consolidating records into one central hub that allows easy data access is key to staying on top of historical trends; more importantly, it helps improve business practices based on empirical evidence as opposed to gut feelings. Fleet management software also allows for the electronic storage of records if you are still using paper records of any kind.
Client Communication: Clients like to be in the know, particularly when it comes to the location of valuable goods they are expecting. Armed with fleet management solutions, fleet managers can relay real-time information gathered from the field to their clients. The real benefit comes in the form of an open client communication channel, which businesses can use to head off problems prior to the end of the client relationship, after which they can exert no power over the client’s opinion on the business. If there is a delay, clients want to know why and how the company is fixing the issue. Fleet managers can use their fleet management solution to relay information about the exact location of a vehicle carrying a shipment to a client and field any follow-up questions as well.
Coordinator to Driver Communication: Prior to the arrival of fleet management solutions, drivers had to rely on paper maps and radio communications to plan their routes and keep in contact with their dispatchers. Routes were fairly set in stone, and on-the-fly changes were difficult to carry out. Now, armed with the communication channel afforded by fleet management tools, drivers and dispatchers can stay in constant communication. This makes adapting to changing circumstances much easier for both parties, and avoids the potential for miscommunication by committing everything to record.
Scheduling: Fleet management software often offers scheduling capabilities to its users. Dispatchers and route planners can send out schedules to drivers so they know where to be and what time to be there. Users of fleet management software can adjust schedules based on customer preferences, sales volume, real-time weather updates, and more.
Payments: Fleet management solutions occasionally offer billing and payments features built in, eliminating the use of another solution to secure payment from clients or dole out remittances to drivers.
Real-time Monitoring: Companies use fleet management solutions in order to monitor both vehicles and drivers. With the advent of the internet of things (IoT) and the huge number of intelligent sensors available for use, companies are increasingly able to monitor every aspect of performance.
Sensors can transmit real-time diagnostics to drivers and managers, produce alerts when there are road hazards, monitor and prevent distracted drivers, and more. Better yet, most solutions offer detailed reporting functionality, so the massive amounts of data gathered by intelligent sensors and monitoring devices are digested and turned into actionable insights. Fleet managers can use this data to shape maintenance policies as well as carry out preventive maintenance on vehicles that may be at risk of breaking down and causing the company to lose valuable uptime.
Vehicle monitoring is only going to expand in complexity and scope, as the number of intelligent IoT-connected sensors increases. Machine sensors are able to track factors such as pressure and force, light, flow, sounds and vibrations, motion and displacement, and electronic and magnetic fields, as well as position and proximity. The more detailed the sensor data, the more accurately maintenance technicians will be able to predict when a part will break down and how to prevent that in the smartest, most efficient way possible. In short, telematics are solving the issue of transparency by giving clear insights on the inner workings of physical assets.
Driver Safety: As long as there are accidents, driver safety is one factor that can always be improved. Accidents are (hopefully) going to become a thing of the past as autonomous car technology improves and sees widespread adoption. In the meantime, fleet management solutions typically provide lane departure warning and speed monitoring features. These features allow you to identify high-risk drivers before they cause an accident while pointing to concrete evidence of high-risk driving behavior. Real-time updates on traffic and hazardous driving conditions give drivers another tool in the fight for safety on the road.
Event Recording: Before the adoption of telematics and fleet management solutions, if an accident occurred it would take the collective memories of people at the scene to piece together what actually transpired. Some fleet management software offers event-triggered recording and transmission using telematics. This feature can be coupled with video footage from the vehicle to put together an exact record of any event that might happen on the road. This can be used to protect drivers from blame in the event of an accident, and to ensure that companies can take whatever corrective actions necessary to improve driving performance and safety records.
Fuel ManagementOne of the largest costs of running a trucking or transportation business is the cost of fuel. Fuel is what powers your fleet, and if you maintain a large fleet your vehicles guzzle tons of it every day. Managing fuel consumption is a key aspect of running an efficient fleet, and fleet management software helps businesses do that. Fleet management solutions provide information on vehicle fuel consumption, allow managers to plan fuel efficient routes, and track vehicles so that dispatchers can plan the most efficient fuel stops.
The GPS tracking functionality that fleet management systems contain typically has real-time traffic information built in, so drivers and route planners can stay informed and change routes according to the information. Fleet management software typically tracks idle time, or the time that a vehicle is running but not moving, which is another key aspect of fuel management. Fleet managers can use that information to draft driver policies and notify drivers when they are wasting fuel by idling for too long. Idle time may not seem like a huge deal, but for a large fleet every drop of fuel wasted adds up.
Route Optimization: Route optimization is one of the crucial business problems that transportation companies solve with fleet management software. Think of a huge transportation fleet like that of FedEx and the complexities involved in planning routes that make sense and optimize fleet performance. Fleet management software helps companies such as FedEx accomplish that, as well as maintain compliance with the increasingly complex rules created by organizations like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Integration: Fleet management software brings a lot of different features together and provides a single platform from which fleet management staff can direct operations. One of the key integrations is with on-vehicle telematics devices, which gather on-board data and transmit it to external sources. In the case of fleet management software, the data is transmitted directly to it and managers can maintain meticulous records.
Maintenance Management: Every physical asset degrades over time and requires regular maintenance in order to perform; vehicles are no different. Vehicles, whether they’re trucks or cars, are the twisted metal backbone of any transportation or delivery company. Fleet management software offers a host of features that target maintenance management. These features range from tracking scheduled maintenance checks to inputting work orders and maintaining a comprehensive log of all work performed on the vehicle in question.
Users of fleet management software hold a host of competitive advantages over companies that do not use it. One of the major advantages is that fleet management solutions provide a holistic overview of an organization’s fleet. This is particularly useful for companies with massive numbers of vehicles. Sure, if you have a few trucks it’s easy enough to keep a spreadsheet with all of the pertinent information; even then, by not using fleet management software, your business is missing out on potential savings and alleviating the multitude of headaches that come with managing physical assets. Instead of carrying out preventive or even predictive maintenance, you may experience significant downtime as one of the vital members of your fleet is put out of commission because of a preventable occurrence.
Fuel Consumption: It’s easy enough to tell drivers to watch their fuel consumption, but gathering hard, quality data on the actual amounts of fuel they are burning each journey is extremely valuable. One might say it’s invaluable, but there is a calculable value in the form of fuel cost savings. Realizing the savings that come with reducing fuel consumption is a boost to your profit margins, not to mention the PR boost that accompanies carbon footprint reduction.
Improved Client Relations: Fleet management solutions offer GPS tracking capabilities, allowing fleet managers to keep a constant watch on their shipments and the exact location of every member of their fleet. This helps immensely with client relations, particularly in the event of a late shipment or a delay caused by inclement weather. Instead of responding to angry client inquiries as to the status of their delivery, managers can stay informed and relay the situation to the client to appease their desire for accurate information.
Driver Performance: Numbers drive the transportation business, especially if a company is tasked with ensuring efficiency and optimizing fleet performance. In many cases, fleet performance is dependent on driver performance. Fleet management solutions offer GPS tracking to ensure drivers are always on route, as well as a variety of other tracking methods designed to make certain that drivers are performing at their optimal level.
Reduced Insurance Costs: By implementing a fleet management solution and reaping the aforementioned benefits, your company has the potential to reduce downtime and road accidents. The second point is key, as reducing the number of accidents your drivers get into will reduce your cost of insurance. Any company—whether it be a multinational one enjoying the benefits of economies of scale, or a local business operating a fleet of three trucks—is looking to reduce costs. Reducing accident rates will certainly provide a push in the right safety- and profit-filled direction.
GPS tracking: One of the vital features of fleet management systems is GPS vehicle tracking. Managers use solutions’ vehicle tracking software features to keep an eye on where their assets are in real time. Apart from simple location tracking, the telematics that most vehicles are equipped with can track aggressive driving behaviors, harsh braking, low tire pressure, and more.
Real-time alerts: The production of real-time alerts is one of the most useful features of fleet management software. Real-time alerts can range from reporting low tire pressure to pushing out event reports as they occur. Solutions that leverage telematics hardware already on board can alert the employees that need to know about engine issues in real time, as well as provide vehicle health scores based on real-time data.
Detailed reporting: Vehicles generate a ton of data and will continue to generate even more as the IoT allows companies to leverage the advanced reporting capabilities that on-board telematics offer. Quality fleet management software options feature detailed reporting functionality, to allow users to create specific and detailed reports containing the exact data they need. Fleet management software will often integrate with the black boxes located within most commercial vehicles to grab as much real-time data as possible.
Engine performance data: Using telematics and the enhanced reporting capabilities afforded by intelligent devices, fleet management software can transmit real-time data on engine performance. Dispatchers, managers, and drivers can stay on top of engine performance and adjust driving styles or routes accordingly.
Route optimization This is another aspect of fleet management software that nearly all solutions contain. Route optimization is a fundamental tenet of organizing a transportation or delivery company. Goods need to be transported as efficiently as possible, taking into account route length, potential delays, fueling stops, and the like in order to craft the best route possible. An optimized route saves on fuel costs and time spent on each delivery, as well as improves overall performance. Fleet management solutions provide rich maps that can be used to create efficient routes.
Customer feedback: Companies often face difficulties in collecting customer feedback, especially when it comes to positive feedback. Clients usually only take the time to write feedback if they want to complain about something that went wrong during their experience. Fleet management software offers an easy outlet for customers to constantly connect with and provide feedback to the company they are working with. In practice, this means that companies can head off and prevent potential unpleasantries from occurring in the first place through the use of a built-in communication channel provided in certain fleet management solutions. Coupled with the enhanced transparency afforded by real-time GPS tracking and alerts, fleet management software becomes a powerful customer relations tool.
KPI measurement: Using fleet management solutions, businesses can set key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure actual performance against them. Fleet management software offers granular measurements, so there are more possibilities for setting specific KPIs.
Work orders: Fleet management solutions sometimes provide a work order feature, through which technicians can create a work order directly within the application. The software will also keep a repository of historical work order data, so technicians can view the entire maintenance history of the vehicle they are servicing.
Fuel management: Fleet management software typically features a fuel management system, which tracks fuel consumption throughout the journey. Managers can use the data to see when and under what conditions fuel consumption rates are optimal, and then leverage that data to direct route optimization, driving policy, and other strategies that impact fuel consumption.
Compliance: There are fleet management solutions that also offer features designed to help your business stay compliant under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. The FMCSA is responsible for reducing the number of traffic accidents involving large vehicles; the organization has instituted regulations to that goal such as limiting hours of service (HOS) and keeping up vehicle maintenance standards. The features include electronic logs of hours driven to stay under law-defined HOS regulations, which outline exactly how many hours drivers can be actively driving after a certain number of hours of rest. Drivers can mark if they are on duty, off duty, in the sleeper berth, or driving; the information is captured by the in-vehicle app. In addition, solutions offer pre-trip inspection record logs to help businesses stay FMCSA compliant.
Fleet management is a complex business with a ton of physical assets and people to coordinate. There are bound to be issues that arise during the administration of all of of those moving parts; fleet management software can help solve those problems.
Measuring ROI: Measuring return on investment (ROI) can be difficult when implementing a software solution. In the case of fleet management software, there are some concrete numbers that businesses can examine to ensure the solution they’ve implemented provides the benefits they expect from it. Fleet management solutions keep track of all of a company’s fleet data and allows for the creation of customized reports, so businesses can point to the numbers within the report as the evidence of their ROI. Savings on fuel costs from reduced idle time, route optimization, and reduced insurance costs are all measurable benefits gained from implementing fleet management software. Increased productivity leads to more deliveries in a shorter time, with more money saved and drivers covering fewer miles.
Maintenance: Maintenance will always be an issue for any company with physical assets; software helps alleviate those issues. Fleet management systems are multifaceted, and one of those facets is maintenance focused. Much like a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), fleet management solutions often feature a place to track maintenance, specifically for vehicles, which includes placing work orders and the maintenance of work history records for individual vehicles.
Weather Delays: Inclement weather is a major impediment to transportation companies. Fleet management software gives businesses valuable tools to find reasonable alternatives to shutting down operations. In addition, fleet management solutions provide an avenue of communications for drivers and customers, which helps ensure driver safety as well as transparency between your company and your clients.
The fleet management industry has not changed much over the past several decades. Now, however, fleet management software offers businesses the opportunity to leverage new technology and reshape their business processes.
Artificial Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence presents a huge opportunity for driver enablement as well as a huge improvement in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). ADAS that use deep learning and machine vision technology are being deployed in vehicle fleets to improve the safety of both drivers and everyone else on the road. In addition, vehicle maintenance managers will deal with less unplanned downtime as systems become more intelligent and are able to leverage their ability to order preventive maintenance as needed.
Autonomous Fleets: Driverless vehicles are on everyone’s minds these days, and the situation is no different for the fleet maintenance industry. Autonomous truck pilot programs are popping up everywhere as driverless technology is finally catching on as a real possibility. While fully autonomous fleets are likely still a few years away, this is nevertheless an industry trend to keep an eye on. In addition, there are still massive legal battles to be fought in the near future, as the inevitable errors that self-driving vehicles will make occur; however, the prospect of trucks humming along highways around the world sans human pilots is bright.
Internet of Things: Preventive maintenance is already in use, but can end up costing businesses money on unnecessary repairs. Predictive maintenance with the use of IoT-connected sensors is likely to become prevalent in the next few years. Essentially, predictive maintenance is predicated on taking the real-time data, transmitted from the IoT-connected sensors within the vehicles, and using it to carry out maintenance activities on parts that are degrading—before they hit the point at which they break down. This leads to less downtime, as breakdowns are prevented, along with less money being spent on unscheduled, otherwise unnecessary maintenance that is solely based on past performance metrics.
Real-time tracking is becoming more prevalent throughout the industry as fleet management and related software actively supports the capability. There are already solutions providing detailed real-time data related to driver behavior, event recording, road hazards, engine and overall vehicle performance, and more. Moving forward, companies can begin to leverage the massive amount of data that is being gathered and use it to shape more well-informed policy, with the ultimate goals of keeping drivers safe and optimizing fleet performance.
Vehicles are getting smarter with the widespread adoption of the internet of things (IoT). Human drivers are invariably imperfect, so there has been a push to develop technology that bridges the gap created by those imperfections. Internet-connected audio and visual technology is being put on board to collect real-time data and push it to fleet managers. Operations managers will be able to use that data to not only craft routes and strategy for future application, but to optimize performance in real time.
Fleet management software fits within the Distribution software category along with Transportation Management solutions. Transportation management software allows businesses to select a carrier, track shipments, provide freight audit, and issue payments to vendors providing the transportation services. Fleet management software is occasionally included within transportation management solutions to cover the tracking, auditing, and payments functionality, and is included under the larger umbrella of distribution software.
Fleet management software is also closely connected with trucking software as both are concerned with using tracking software features to manage the transportation process. Fleet management solutions cover fleets of all vehicles and include maintenance features, while trucking software is focused entirely on the trucking industry and is less robust in its feature set.
Solutions within the fleet management category typically integrate with software such as warehouse management solutions, which tracks inventory, storing, and shipping for goods. The goods that warehouse management solutions track are usually shipped using the vehicles within a fleet that is managed by a fleet management solution.
Shipping software helps businesses coordinate and streamline their outgoing shipments to customers with features such as comparative carrier pricing on shipments, bulk editing and printing of shipment information, and custom tracking and confirmation notifications. Shipping software usually integrates with fleet management software.
Supply chain suites are all-encompassing solutions that cover the entire production process through shipping and delivery. For this reason, supply chain suites often provide fleet management capability.
Inventory control software is dedicated to tracking company inventory. Fleet management software often integrates with inventory control solutions to provide users with the ability to track inventory and what vehicles it ends up on. Fleet management solutions then use GPS tracking to ensure the goods are delivered as promised.