How technology is improving trucking and fleet management

Operating a commercial fleet poses a considerable number of challenges for any organisation. It takes a significant amount of planning and understanding to keep track of all the vehicle needs and scheduling throughout the day.

These tasks are usually carried out by a fleet manager, who traditionally had to rely on a series of manual processes like calling drivers to find out where they were. But over the last couple of decades, improved technology has made these tasks significantly easier, taking some of the pressure off fleet managers.

Vehicle tracking technology, or telematics, is allowing fleet managers to gain far greater insight into the activity of their fleet. The impact of telematics is significantly improving key areas relating to commercial fleet operations, which not only benefits customers but businesses as well.

The first area that’s seeing a significant benefit is driver safety. Long working hours and busy or difficult roads can pose a danger to commercial fleet drivers. Improving driver safety should be a key goal for any fleet manager, and telematics provides the ability to do so.

In-cab coaching devices leverage telematics data to provide feedback to commercial drivers based on their driving behaviour. Audio and visual feedback allows drivers to self-correct any behaviour which is deemed dangerous. This behaviour includes speeding, harsh braking and cornering. By alerting drivers to this behaviour, it not only improves their own safety on the road but also helps other road users.

Improving the efficiency of a commercial fleet is the second area that telematics impacts. Through in-cab coaching, fuel efficiency is also improved. Along with alerting drivers to dangerous actions, the in-cab systems also highlights wasteful actions such as harsh acceleration and engine idling. By reducing these actions, the fuel efficiency of commercial vehicles improves. This can then have a significant impact on the operational costs of a commercial fleet. By saving money in areas such as fuel costs, businesses could have additional finances available to invest in other areas that could help advance the business.

Furthermore, by reducing the amount of fuel being used, companies can reduce their environmental impact, as less CO2 is being released into the atmosphere from their fleet. Telematics also allows companies to collect the data produced from their vehicles and use this data to plan sustainability goals for the business. In the short term, this can generate fuel usage goals for a commercial fleet. In the long term, it could provide the data needed to analyse which vehicles could be replaced with more efficient and environmentally friendly options such as electric vehicles.

Efficiency is also improved through the ability to view the live locations of vehicles throughout a commercial fleet. By installing vehicle tracking technology, fleet managers have access to live location data at any time during the day. This allows them to better analyse the routes taken by their drivers by viewing aggregated historical data alongside live data. By doing this, fleet managers can identify drivers consistently taking less efficient routes, or routes which have been planned poorly and encounter heavy traffic regularly. Better planning of routes and better communication to drivers about specific areas to avoid can help improve the efficiency of a commercial fleet and increase productivity as well.

This leads to one of the main areas where customers can benefit from commercial fleets using telematics. As the productivity of a fleet improves, customers can be served quicker, which leads to improved customer satisfaction. In specific industries, this can be extremely beneficial. One such example is the construction industry. If a customer is waiting for some building materials to arrive on site, it could reduce the overall project costs if that material arrived quickly. Delays or slow deliveries of materials could increase the project costs due to having to pay for other parts of the project while waiting for specific materials to arrive. If fleet productivity is improved, more customers can be served in a day which would allow a business to fulfil more orders and increase revenue. Having a commercial fleet which operates efficiently and productively can be extremely useful in combatting driver shortages, which has become an issue for some companies operating fleets.

Similarly, vehicle tracking can improve the customer service of a company by allowing for estimated delivery times to be communicated accurately. For delivery companies or companies requiring on-site customer visits in particular, this can be crucial to ensuring good customer service. By using telematics to view live locations, significantly more accurate arrival times can be calculated and that information can be passed on to customers.

Overall, there are many significant benefits that vehicle tracking can bring to a commercial fleet. The improvements to safety, efficiency and customer service are key areas which a business operating a commercial fleet should be looking to excel.

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