What is Fleet Management?

Fleet management is a discipline required in organizations where transportation is a key part of the overall operation. It consists of tasks related to managing drivers, vehicles, assets (such as trailers and equipment) and vendors of solutions ranging from leasing, insurance, technology, fuel procurement, service and maintenance and more.

Specific functions include:
  • Vehicle and asset acquisition and lifecycle management
  • Hiring and managing the driver pool
  • Hiring and managing third party transportation companies
  • Managing the fuel program
  • Managing tax compliance and vehicle registrations
  • Managing the vehicle service program
  • Compliance with federal and state hours of service (HOS) and inspection requirements
Fleet management helps motor carriers to operate as efficiently as possible. It enables them to minimize vehicle investment risks, improve productivity and efficiency, and also trim their overall staff and transportation costs. The goal is to control the entire lifecycle of the commercial vehicles in their fleet.

Fleet Management Systems

Fleet operators often rely on a Fleet Management System, comprised of software and hardware that allow them to track and manage their fleets. In each vehicle is a device with sensors that collect relevant data, such as the vehicle’s location and engine status. The fleet management software receives and interprets the data from each vehicle and the entire fleet. 
Fleet management software handles all facets of operating a modern fleet. It assists operators in increasing cost-effectiveness through fuel management, determining and preventing theft and loss, and improving vehicle maintenance. It can also improve vehicle safety and compliance, driver/workforce management, scheduling and dispatching, GPS tracking, as well as map and route planning. It also assists with matters like vehicle loitering and unsafe driver behavior.
A fleet management system will record a variety of data depending upon the set-up. Typically, those hardwired into a vehicle’s engine (a telematic system) will gather more reliable engine status data than the kind that rely on a USB or Bluetooth Wi-Fi connection. For example, EROAD’s telematic system records accurate data and provides reports that can significantly improve fleet productivity, optimize customer service levels, and reduce costs and downtime.

Benefits of Fleet Management Solutions

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Increasing efficiency
Fleet management software improves operations and performance through increased equipment and other asset availability, decreases maintenance and repair costs, and increased vehicle utilization.
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Compliance, tracking and security
Fleet management solutions also greatly assist with compliance and security tools and monitoring and tracking. For example, the insights gained from fuel expense reports can help reduce fleet fuel costs by as much as 30%.Better efficiency is also achieved through location tracking. This means any wayward vehicles can be course-corrected faster, saving money and time. Over time, the system’s reports identify the fastest routes for future efficiency increases.
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Safer fleets

Speeding and harsh braking can be tracked by most fleet management systems, letting a fleet manager identify bad behavior and promote good behavior.

ELD compliance is just one component of fleet management, but it can protect everyone’s safety while helping fleets avoid the high financial losses incurred by accidents and legal challenges. A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) report found commercial drivers using electronic logs reduced their total crash rate by 11.7% and lowered their preventable crash rate 5.1% versus trucks not equipped with e-logs.

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Cost savings
The cost savings afforded by fleet management software can be significant for fuel efficiency, equipment, and labor. For instance, if a vehicle is idling, the fleet manager can be notified and excessive or frequent idling can be addressed with drivers to reduce future wasted time.Fleet management software also tracks and reports overtime hours. This is another key benefit since fleet managers are informed in real-time of a driver’s overtime hours, rather than later when it’s too late.

Fleet Management Software and the ELD Mandate

The FMCSA established a legal mandate that took place December 2017 that states U.S. commercial motor vehicles must track drivers’ hours of service (HOS) with an electronic logging device (ELD). It requires that ELDs capture data on how often the engine is running, if the vehicle is moving, the miles driven and duration of engine operation (engine hours).

With an ELD-compliant fleet management system installed, no other equipment is necessary. It’s designed to log, store and transfer any required data needed to pass roadside inspections.

All manufacturers of ELDs must certify that their products meet the rules governing the technical standards of the ELD mandate. To be considered compliant, fleets using AOBRDs for HOS must have ELDs installed and in use by the mandate deadline of December 16, 2019.

Any fleets using AOBRDs for HOS must be upgraded or replaced by ELDs that appear on the FMCSA register. Vehicles can be put Out Of Service (OOS) if they aren’t compliant.  Find out the differences between AOBRDs and ELDs.

Benefits to Fleet Managers

Fleet managers using a fleet management system can benefit by having the ability to analyze and/or make suggestions on usage and expenditures in order to contain costs. They gain the ability to better examine variable costs and deal more easily with less predictable fuel markets or other unexpected expenses that might arise.

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Fuel consumption
Since it’s hard to predict fuel prices, being able to plan around fiscal challenges is a clear advantage. A fleet management system can alleviate some of the demands and pressure on a fleet manager’s already limited time and resources by providing reports that in make operational changes or auditing fuel reports easier.
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Driver safety and productivity
Managers may struggle to keep up to date on all current regulations and run safety education programs, but fleet management software’s predictive analytics may enable them to reduce them to reduce preventable accidents and the associated repair costs, downtime and liability.

Fleet Management Considerations

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Health and wellness
Without question, the main priority of fleet management should always be the safety and wellness of your drivers and others on the road. It’s what prompted FMCSA to bring about the ELD mandate.Fleet management is necessary in ensuring accidents are handled appropriately. Following insurance reporting rules is also paramount so that claims are managed efficiently and expediently. Fleet management also entails making sure repairs are made swiftly. Accidents happen, but fleet management can help by minimizing the risks for them to begin with.
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Complying with the ELD Mandate
For each vehicle, making sure all data is accurate and readily accessible is essential for accident investigations and auditing purposes. Fleet managers must handle all aspects of fleet risk management and compliance. This means careful documentation is necessary, as are daily checks, defect reporting, inspection sheets, insurance, etc.
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Fleet vehicle procurement
When deciding on the best vehicles to buy for a trucking fleet, it pays to consider all the factors. Typical ones are: determining suitability and purpose of vehicles, negotiating deals with vehicle manufacturers, fuel consumption, vehicle resell value and employee expectations.For optimum flee management though, it’s important to also evaluate factors like vehicle legislative changes, taxes and insurance costs.
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Avoiding information overload
Because fleets generate a tremendous volume of data, those handling fleet management risk losing precious time and energy updating and sorting through all of it. Of most concern though is how they might miss noticing relevant, valuable information. This can be costly, too. Fleet management software helps them navigate all of the data and create reports focused only on the key areas for analysis.
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Additional responsibilities
Fleet management faces new requirements, too. Matters like controlling environmental concerns and mobility management mean heightened levels of responsibility. Fleet management solutions can also help in those areas.
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Equipment maintenance
Whether internally or externally managed, fleet maintenance programs ensure that vehicle checks are fully compliant. This includes routine maintenance, driver vehicle inspection reports, pre-purchase vehicle inspections, and confirming all reported defects have been addressed.
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Respecting privacy
As most commercial truck drivers have adopted ELD devices, they typically refuse to go back to paper logbooks. Not only do many feel safer navigating the roadways, many find ELD devices help them report more road time because e-logs capture duty status changes to the nearest minute.The ELD mandate includes provisions that safeguard the driver’s privacy. For example, if driving in personal conveyance mode, the driver’s location is only available within a 10-mile radius. Managing driver expectations is critical to successfully implementing a fleet management system.
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Driver retention
It’s also advantageous to provide incentives to drivers based on the driver benchmarking fleet management software can provide. This might be done through bonuses given to drivers who are improving their safety metrics or being more fuel efficient.

EROAD offers the best fleet management

EROAD’s fleet management enables you to run a safer, more efficient fleet and reduce the burdens and costs associated with manual paperwork. Our superior accuracy provides your business with the best data available to help you improve productivity and customer service, reduce operating costs and maximize up-time.