The right software platform can unlock significant cost savings.
For any company with a significant fleet of vehicles and/or heavy equipment, active and effective fleet management is critical to reducing downtime, optimizing fleet operations, prolonging asset lifecycles and reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO), all of which can go a long way toward improving the bottom line.
RELATED: 6 Keys to Effective Fleet Management
Achieving effective fleet management is nearly impossible without a good fleet management software solution. The most important features will vary from company to company, but a well-designed user interface, easy-to-use dashboards with one-click actions, automated reporting and easy integration with internal back-office systems can make a platform more effective. Platforms that include a mobile app make it possible to easily manage fleet from the field.
A good cloud-based fleet management solution helps you:
1. Know where all your equipment is
Thanks to telematics, fleet management software can pinpoint, preferably on a map, where every connected asset is located at any given time, even if assets are spread out across multiple jobsites. This can allow you to find “hidden” equipment, reduce yard scavenger hunts, and avoid transferring equipment from site to site unnecessarily. The best software solutions let you track assets in real-time from any device.
2. Prevent theft
Geofencing alerts that notify you when an asset isn’t where it should be can help reduce theft and unauthorized use.
3. Track and improve utilization
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. With software that tracks utilization by asset type or specific asset over time, fleet owners and managers can begin to identify under-utilized assets and either reallocate them or evaluate them as potential rental candidates.
4. Monitor driver and operator behavior
Reviewing reports on how an asset is being driven or operated can lead to improved worker safety and asset longevity. Speeding, heavy braking and acceleration, frequent reverse travel and other behaviors may signal the need for feedback and coaching.
5. Plan and execute predictive maintenance
Just-time maintenance based on factors such as engine hours, which some fleet management solutions track, can take a bite out of maintenance costs while preserving the lifespan of vehicles and equipment. A good fleet management solution will help you create maintenance schedules for each asset based on usage. Fault code alerts can tip you off to problems before they lead to costly failures.
6. Understand your TCO
Most fleet management solutions allow you to view the costs associated with owning and operating a specific asset, including maintenance costs. Knowing your TCO for each asset or asset class is critical to making strategic, data-driven decisions on how to optimize replacement cycles and when to rent instead of own.
7. Remain in compliance
Vehicle and equipment inspection checklists and reminders help ensure you’re in compliance with regulations.
8. Lower operating costs
Fuel usage reports and alerts related to excessive idling can help you lower fuel costs, while predictive maintenance can lower repair and preventive maintenance costs.
9. Reduce manual administrative processes
Third-party software that’s easy to integrate with in-house programs can reduce manual data input and administrative redundancies.
Managing both owned and rented assets
Rental fleets also require careful management in order to keep a cap on total spend. United Rentals’ Total Control is an account management system for United Rentals customers that can double as a fleet management solution for customers’ owned fleet.
Total Control lets users pinpoint the location of both rented and owned equipment and schedule reports and alerts, including geofencing alerts. It also allows customers to benchmark their utilization across a variety of asset classes against that of their peers, and to quantify the cost savings of improved utilization. Low-utilization alerts and role-based notifications that inform the right manager of overspending on purchase orders, or of late returns, can help customers spend less on rentals.
The platform, which includes a mobile app, makes it easy to off-rent equipment with the touch of a button. It allows splitting across purchase orders and easily integrates with internal ERP systems to streamline procurement, billing and payment processes.
Managing a fleet of vehicles and equipment is a complex undertaking. The right fleet management software can make it easier to properly maintain assets, track and increase utilization, and make smarter purchasing and rental decisions.
Marianne Wait is an editor and writer who creates content for Fortune 500 brands.