Vehicle tracking solutions that can help protect drivers and customers

Author: Mike Elgan

Technology has transformed fleet management, changing it from a burden to an opportunity. Fleet management, which includes vehicle tracking solutions, is the monitoring and operation of any commercial vehicles through each vehicle's life cycle, including not only trucks, vans, cars, motorcycles, trailers and forklifts but also the equipment used with and for those vehicles.

Vehicle tracking solutions are a subset of overall fleet management, but it's more than just tracking. Beyond monitoring the vehicles' location, fleet tracking is also a direct form of risk management—risk to your drivers, equipment and to your company's reputation.

Advancements in fleet management have elevated the fleet manager's role within organizations because fleets have become an opportunity for cost optimization and a source of greater revenue, as well as an important part of risk management and regulatory compliance.

What comprises fleet management

A modern fleet management system is made up of the following components:

  • Telematics: The integration of telecommunications with vehicle data. It's the area of technology that enables real-time transmission of all aspects of a vehicle's location, operation and function.
  • Field service and dispatch: The human monitoring and interaction between a base and far-flung drivers.
  • Diagnostic trouble codes: The telemetric data that indicate problems with a vehicle.
  • GPS integration: The use of satellite-based location data with other sources of data to get valuable fleet management insights.
  • Fleet management back-end software system: The integrated application that brings together fleet management data into a coherent picture.
  • The Internet of Things: Connected sensor-based devices that, when combined with analytics software, can revolutionize your fleet management operation.

The benefits of fleet management 

  • Safety: Fleet management and tracking improve safety by monitoring how drivers are driving, enabling companies to ensure safe vehicle operation, and also producing data that can be used for better driver training. Vehicle tracking solutions can monitor the quality of driving by recording hard braking, fast acceleration and speed, and even rate or score drivers' safety performance by analyzing this and other relevant driving data. It can also reduce the cost of ownership for vehicles by tracking mileage, monitoring the condition of various vehicle systems and hence enabling preventative maintenance.

    The risk-management dimension of better fleet management and the benefits of vehicle tracking system software and hardware can't be overstated. Beyond safety to drivers and the public, fleet management and vehicle tracking can limit a company's liability.
  • Savings: Fleet management saves money and creates efficiencies in myriad ways. One is to improve driver retention, enabling training and mentorship, as well as improved productivity. Another is fuel management and improvement of routes and operation times.

    Telematics can not only predict mechanical and other problems, but it can also minimize downtime and help with the optimization of remarketing each vehicle—all of which can improve cost-efficiency. It also enables accurate budgeting, because with better data predicting, costs in the future can be made more accurately. In a nutshell, a fleet management investment can offer an enormous return on investment (ROI), while simultaneously giving you the data that demonstrates that ROI.
  • Compliance: It also helps with compliance. Recent regulations require commercial vehicle operators to use an electronic logging device to record the number of service hours. 
  • Privacy and data protection: Fleet managers and drivers need to ensure that their vehicles are following security best practices in order to avoid these threats, and fleet management tools can help improve data privacy.

The big picture of fleet management

Business management consultant Peter Drucker famously said: "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it." And that's what fleet management is all about—fixing problems by capturing data, analyzing it and then improving it. Every industry is different and will have different metrics for what to measure and improve. These key performance indicators (KPIs) emphasize different things in different fields.

For example, a school district's fleet management of school buses will measure the students' safety above all other metrics, and the KPIs will include all vehicle safety measures (speed, braking, etc.) and route efficiencies. A company car fleet might emphasize KPIs relating to efficiency and fuel economy, as well as mechanical metrics that enable optimal service and remarketing. A company managing a fleet of 18-wheelers might focus on mechanical metrics to prevent breakdowns and improve efficiency and safety.

No matter what kind of organization you own or work for, smart fleet management can dramatically improve safety, cut costs, facilitate regulatory compliance and create new opportunities for business growth, better customer service and more.

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